Case study: Targeted approach to improving diabetes awareness among BME groups pays off

A diabetes awareness campaign by NHS England and NHS Improvement, aimed at people from black and South Asian ethnic groups, reached in excess of six million people and drove a surge in the use of an online diagnostic tool.

The campaign targeted specific ethnic groups
The campaign targeted specific ethnic groups

Type 2 diabetes can result in heart attacks, strokes and blindness, and costs the NHS almost £10bn a year.

Black people and those from South Asian backgrounds are not only four times more likely to be diagnosed with the condition than those from white backgrounds, but are also affected at a much earlier age – from about 25 as opposed to 40.

The vulnerability of these groups prompted health comms chiefs to devise a highly targeted campaign to raise awareness of their level of risk and encourage people to adopt healthy lifestyles in terms of diet and exercise.

Leicia Feare, comms and engagement lead, NHS Diabetes Programme, NHS England and NHS Improvement, told PRWeek: “This is the first national campaign NHSEI has led specifically targeting people from black and South Asian backgrounds.”

Research that had previously been done with these demographic groups was “invaluable” in helping to develop the campaign.

“All of our messaging, materials and tactics have been designed around what people from the communities we are trying to target told us,” she said.

A key message of the Healthier You campaign was that Type 2 diabetes can be prevented, or delayed, by making changes in what you eat and how active you are.

It encouraged people to sign up to a free diabetes prevention programme – with another core message being that people should know their risk.

People from Black Caribbean, Black African, Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities were the target audiences.

The campaign employed a blend of PR targeting specific ethnic media outlets, using a mix of case studies, influencer and celebrity support, social marketing through Facebook and community engagement. The first phase of the campaign, which started at the end of August, concentrated on Facebook advertising and ethnic print and online media.

It generated nearly five million impressions on the platform, and an audience reach of 4.4 million across print and online, along with a social reach of two million. There has also been a significant rise in the number of black and South Asian people using the Know Your Risk online tool, with a four- and fivefold increase from the baseline respectively.

The second phase, focusing on broadcast TV and radio coverage, influencer support and community engagement, began last week and will run until the end of the year. It faces a challenge in the coming weeks, with community work not possible due to lockdown restrictions.

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