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Culturally Sensitive Campaign Increases Screening Rates

Marianne Aiello, for HealthLeaders Media, June 23, 2010

When UnitedHealthcare decided it needed to increase cervical cancer screening rates by 10%, it researched each segment of its patient population and found that Asian women had a lower rate of cervical cancer screening compliance than other groups. So the Edina, MN-based health system launched a direct mail communications campaign to convince more Asian women to schedule screenings.

Claims data and external research showed that the compliance rate for Asian women was 74%, compared with 77% and 79% for other ethnicities. United Healthcare's Consumer Communication Solutions group created a targeted campaign to boost cervical cancer screening rates, which won the organization a 2009 HealthLeaders Media Marketing Award.

"To address the low compliance among Asian American women, we knew that we'd have to try something different and decided to create a culturally sensitive piece for this population," marketers wrote on their entry form. "Since focus groups conducted with the client population revealed that language was not a barrier to accessing healthcare, the team opted to create the piece in English and tailor the imagery and message to make the communication more relevant to the Asian-American demographic."

To evaluate the effectiveness of the campaign, UnitedHealthcare marketers reviewed claims data three months after the mail date to determine if an increased number of patients who received the mailing scheduled cervical cancer screenings. They found that the Asian-American women test group had a 31% screening rate during those months, while the control group had only a 16% screening rate during the same period.

"This result suggests that the culturally relevant communication had a stronger impact with Asian-American women than the standard version did," marketers wrote. "The result demonstrated a 100% higher screening rate of the test group."

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