The Importance of Messaging That ‘Cuts Through’ for HCPs and Patients

The Importance of Messaging That ‘Cuts Through’ for HCPs and Patients

Amongst the many lessons we will take away from the COVID-19 pandemic is the importance of getting public health messaging right. Mistakes – in this instance – can literally cost lives. The ‘Stay Alert’ campaign was widely criticised by the public and psychologists alike for its lack of practical guidelines. Campaigners have also been concerned by the lack of translated materials leading to late, or outdated dissemination of key messages to BAME communities.

Messaging is Key to the Work of HCPs

The issue of effective communication is central to much of the work that HCPs do. Handing patients specialist medications isn’t enough, in itself, to ensure their efficacy. The transaction is two way, requiring that patients take responsibility for administering the medication correctly in order to receive its benefits. And in the gap between prescription and application lies the crucial requirement for clear and effective communication.

HCP Messaging That Cuts Through

At LDA Research we’re interested in why communication between an HCP and their patient ‘cuts through’ in some instances, and fails to do so in others. What are the conditions required for messaging to be ‘heard’ and understood by patients? Where messaging fails, what are the causes and do they lie with the transmitter, or receiver of the information?

The LDA team has carried out numerous research projects with patients managing eczema, diabetes, COPD, high blood pressure and cancer. We collated our findings into ‘High Adherence Behaviours’ and ‘Low Adherence Behaviours’ in order to discern the differences in how diverse patient groups perceive a medical condition and their goals in treating it.

High Adherence Behaviours

Messaging is considered effective where the compliant behaviours are consistently adhered to by patients. We discovered that messaging is most effective where the condition being treated creates short term severe conditions, or where the conditions are severe and chronic. In both cases, the medication outcome is clear and unambiguous – a relief of severe symptoms.

A research project carried out by LDA Research with eczema patients found their condition to be “not life threatening but life altering.” Often sufferers are driven to seek out topical treatments in order to find relief. New injectable therapies such as Dupilumab require a high level of compliance; the patient needs to learn to self inject, manage medication storage and maintain a self injection regime. However, compliance is found to be high because the benefits are highly visible.

Low Adherence Behaviours

Eczema is a highly visible skin condition and sufferers often feel socially embarrassed by their symptoms. Conditions such as COPD, diabetes, asthma or high blood pressure are less visible. Where the symptoms of condition are more intangible, and the medication more preventative rather than curative, HCP messaging is often less effective. Patients may struggle to comply with their treatment regime.

In the case of asthma and COPD patients will tend to over-use rescue therapies, where the impact is immediate, and under-use preventative medication where the goal is deferred. What is lacking with preventative treatments is the motivational drive, possibly underpinned by an uncertainty as to the impact of the treatment on the disease.

4 Ways to Improve ‘Cut Through’ in Messaging

‘Cut through’ is critical to the health of patients, so the rewards of ongoing research and practical innovation in this area are substantial. Based on the work of LDA Research to date, we’re suggesting 4 recommendations for improvement:

  1. Aspirational Messaging. Where the impact of medication is intangible for patients, HCPs may benefit from a more aspirational approach. Asking the patient to imagine a future in which the symptoms are under control, and fully managed, helps to create a motivational goal even though the benefits are physically intangible at present.
  2. Patients Create Messaging. Communication is a two way process; what appears crystal clear as it leaves the mouth of the HCP can seem utterly opaque to the listener. Companies should invest in getting patients themselves to develop materials for other patients. Who better to understand where the barriers to behavioural compliance lie?
  3. Diverse Formats for Support. Supporting materials designed to help patients with their treatment regime need to take into account the range of recipients it is targetting. Web support, or phone apps may not work for all patients. Printed materials may also be required, available in a range of translated versions.
  4. Emotional Support Required. A research project carried out by LDA Research Project with cancer patients reveals the need for emotional as well as medical support during and after their treatment. They request the emotional impact of cancer to be acknowledged; in recognition of the patient as more than as set of physical symptoms.

Would you like to know more about the range of pharmaceutical and medical qualitative research carried out by LDA Research? Give us a call – 01525 861436