Marketing materials urge patients to resume routine appointments to help prevent non-COVID-related health conditions
TAMPA, Fla. (March 2, 2021) – An interdisciplinary team of researchers at the University of South Florida has pooled its expertise and resources in order to help improve the effectiveness of public health messaging related to COVID-19.
The researchers are using innovative technology to review print ads, television commercials and other marketing materials published online to analyze how they can be used to better motivate patients to resume routine appointments and seek emergency care during the pandemic. The research entails combining eye tracking, facial expression analysis and survey data to provide new insights on how people react to public health messages. Their work will help address concerns in the medical community that patients may ignore regular checkups or minor ailments during the pandemic, which could lead to a wide range of serious health problems in the long term.
“This research is both impactful and groundbreaking,” said Rob Hammond, instructor and director of the Muma College of Business Center for Marketing and Sales Innovation. “By adding objective biometric data to opinion surveys, we can improve message assessments based on opinion surveys to attain the goal of producing more effective public health messages that can in turn save lives.”
Funded by a $25,000 USF COVID-19 Rapid Response grant, researchers are collaborating with public health agencies and businesses to combine neuromarketing and biometric tools from the Center for Marketing and Sales Innovation lab with expertise in social marketing and health communications from the College of Public Health and Zimmerman School of Advertising.
Baycare Health System has been a key partner, providing unaired video and print materials, as well as inviting some of its patient populations to participate in the study.
“BayCare is excited to collaborate with USF to help understand the effectiveness of public health messaging in the midst of a pandemic,” said Ed Rafalski, senior vice president and chief strategy and marketing officer for BayCare. “Through this research collaboration, our goal is to get better insight into consumers in the Tampa Bay area and how the ongoing pandemic affects their overall health care decisions.”
This project is one of several important public health research collaborations. Earlier this year, the team was awarded a three-year cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health to help develop and test culturally and linguistically appropriate information on resources for COVID-19 testing, health care, social services and the vaccine. The neuro-social marketing research team was also awarded a $250,000 grant from the Florida Department of Health Bureau of Tobacco Free Florida to create a protocol for testing anti-smoking advertisements. They expect to publish their findings within the next few months.
About the University of South Florida
The University of South Florida is a high-impact global research university dedicated to student success. Over the past 10 years, no other public university in the country has risen faster in U.S. News and World Report’s national university rankings than USF. Serving more than 50,000 students on campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee, USF is designated as a Preeminent State Research University by the Florida Board of Governors, placing it in the most elite category among the state’s 12 public universities. USF has earned widespread national recognition for its success graduating under-represented minority and limited-income students at rates equal to or higher than white and higher income students. USF is a member of the American Athletic Conference. Learn more at www.usf.edu.