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Patient beliefs about healthy lifestyles may surprise you

Attitudes on what’s healthy vary widely depending on how patients define healthy
Stephen Heitz, Chief Innovation Officer | Tim Trull, Managing Director, Strategy

Patients agree they would like to live a healthy lifestyle. However, they don’t agree on what a healthy lifestyle really means. As a healthcare marketer, if you’re communicating with patients about being healthy, what do you say?

Attitudinal segmentation research uncovers the beliefs about how different segments define a healthy lifestyle. These insights can help you craft messaging that speaks to each patient in a relevant and meaningful way.  

LAVIDGE conducted a national consumer healthcare study in early 2020, with an amended survey in May 2020. The objective was to learn attitudes of healthcare consumers and define segments that share those attitudes—pre-pandemic and during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic.

The study uncovered four key healthcare consumer segments:

  • Team Players - like and trust their doctors and are confident in the healthcare system.
  • Bystanders - are intimated by the healthcare system and healthcare providers.
  • Crusaders - feel that everyone should have equal access to quality healthcare.
  • Boss - conducts their own healthcare research and challenges their doctors.

This is the seventh in a series of articles in which we reveal several “Light-Bulb Moments” our research uncovered.

LAVIDGE conducted healthcare marketing research which reveals patient beliefs about healthy lifestyles.

Light-Bulb Moment 7: Interest in a healthy lifestyle is common, but an understanding of healthy living varies substantially

Patient beliefs about a healthy lifestyle might surprise you.We all intuitively know that we should make healthy choices such as eating reasonable portions, not smoking and getting daily exercise. But do we live what we believe?

Unfortunately, our attitudinal research reveals that only 6% of respondents actually say they live a healthy lifestyle.

On the upside, the majority of study respondents say they would like to make a change with 46% overall very interested and 40% somewhat interested.

Let’s take a look at how interest in healthy living among the four segments shakes out among a variety of categories.

Beliefs vary widely on whether lifestyle has a significant impact on health

Some of the most glaring gaps between attitudinal segments appeared in  categories related to healthy diet, smoking, regular exercise, preventative dental health and regular wellness exams.

A majority of attitudinal research respondents agreed that some behaviors affect their health “a lot” including:

  • Healthy diet 75%
  • Smoking 74%
  • Regular exercise 71%
  • Healthy teeth 69%
  • Regularly scheduled wellness visits 59%
  • Drinking alcohol 52%

Bystanders, however, were substantially less likely than respondents in other attitudinal segments to say that the following behaviors have a significant effect on their health:

  • Healthy diet 54%
  • Smoking 50%
  • Regular exercise 51%
  • Regularly scheduled wellness visits 40%
  • Drinking alcohol 42%

When it comes to healthy lifestyle, Bystanders fall short of the rest

For marketers in search of those in need of medical care, Bystanders certainly fit the bill.

That’s because Bystanders define healthy differently than all the other groups identified in our attitudinal research.

Bystanders typically see less value in behaviors such as having a pet (tied at 27% with Team Player), being married or in a long-term relationship with a partner (24%), or seeing friends (25%). The same holds true for using non-prescription drugs (tied at 25% with Team Player) and meditation (25%), which Bystanders say have only a “small” impact on their health.

Not only do they put less importance on things that promote better health, Bystanders are also the attitudinal segment most likely to be the least healthy.  As shown in the previous section, members of this segment are not getting regular wellness checkups or concerned about getting their teeth cleaned.

Until you show Bystanders the value of being seen, they aren’t going to be inspired to make a healthy lifestyle change which includes making health care part of their routine. For them, consider developing marketing or public relations campaigns which teach them why preventative healthcare matters. This strategy will be far more effective in persuading them to book an appointment than ads showcasing a physician’s expertise, a facility’s convenience—or anything else.

After all, everyone—even Bystanders—want to feel healthy. Our research bore this out across all four segments

However, many respondents (21%) are worried about environmental impact on their health. This worry is amplified (70%) across older respondents across all segments.


Partner with our experienced healthcare marketing agency

Reaching patients who hold each of these beliefs—and targeting them one at a time for the best effect—requires attitudinal research. Going it alone, especially in a post-pandemic market, can be risky for medical practices in 2020 and beyond. More than ever, choosing the best agency to partner with for consumer healthcare marketing messages has never been more important.

Consumer attitudes are changing, and you need an experienced team with significant industry experience combined with access to developing consumer insight based on what your patients believe.

Our clients find just that with LAVIDGE.

In fact, healthcare marketing is a core category at our agency focused on clients based in the Southwest. We invest in primary research to keep abreast of consumer shifts in the national healthcare industry.

For example, in 2016, we launched our first healthcare research study and published the results in 2017. We followed up by publishing an entire content suite of healthcare-related advice on how to apply the information to a host of marketing and advertising services from Media to Public Relations to help industry players achieve their goals.

Our 2019-2020 study digs deeper and provides updates on what’s most important to health care consumers now.

Finally, because our strong roster of current and past clients represents a wide range of organizations in the health care category including Banner Health, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Delta Dental, SimonMed Imaging, Sonora Quest Laboratories, and TGen, it’s clear that LAVIDGE is an agency you can trust.

We’d love to welcome you into our family of clients and friends.

To learn more about our healthcare attitudinal research study, contact Dave Nobs.


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