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Keywords:

  • dissemination;
  • economic evaluation;
  • marketing;
  • screening and brief alcohol intervention

Abstract

Health research findings are of little benefit to patients or society if they do not reach the audience they are intended to influence. Thus, a dissemination strategy is needed to target new findings at its user group and encourage a process of consideration and adoption or rejection. Social marketing techniques can be utilized to aid successful dissemination of research findings and to speed the process by which new information reaches practice. Principles of social marketing include manipulating the marketing mix of product, price, place and promotion. This paper describes the development of a marketing approach and the outcomes from a trial evaluating the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of manipulating promotional strategies to disseminate actively a screening and brief alcohol intervention (SBI) programme to general practitioners (GPs). The promotional strategies consisted of postal marketing, telemarketing and personal marketing. The study took place in general practices across the Northern and Yorkshire Regional Health Authority. Of the 614 GPs eligible for the study, one per practice, 321 (52%) took the programme and of those available to use it for 3 months (315), 128 (41%) actively considered doing so, 73 (23%) actually went on to use it. Analysis of the specific impact of the three different promotional strategies revealed that while personal marketing was the most effective overall dissemination and implementation strategy, telemarketing was more cost-effective. The findings of our work show that using a marketing approach is promising for conveying research findings to GPs and in particular a focus on promotional strategies can facilitate high levels of uptake and consideration in this target group.