P. Arcaro, A. Mannocci, R. Saulle, S. Miccoli, C. Marzuillo, G. La Torre
Social Marketing and Public Health
Social marketing uses the principles and techniques of commercial marketing by applying them to the
complex social context in order to promote changes (cognitive; of action; behavioral; of values) among the
target population in the public interest.
The advent of Internet has radically modified the communication process, and this transformation also
involved medical-scientific communication. Medical journals, health organizations, scientific societies and
patient groups are increasing the use of the web and of many social networks (Twitter, Facebook, Google,
YouTube) as channels to release scientific information to doctors and patients quickly.
In recent years, even Healthcare in Italy reported a considerable application of the methods and techniques
of social marketing, above all for health prevention and promotion. Recently the association for health promotion
“Social marketing and health communication” has been established to promote an active dialogue
between professionals of social marketing and public health communication, as well as among professionals
in the field of communication of the companies involved in the “health sector”.
In the field of prevention and health promotion it is necessary to underline the theme of the growing distrust
in vaccination practices. Despite the irrefutable evidence of the efficacy and safety of vaccines, the
social-cultural transformation together with the overcoming of compulsory vaccination and the use of noninstitutional
information sources, have generated confusion among citizens that tend to perceive compulsory
vaccinations as needed and safe, whereas recommended vaccinations as less important. Moreover, citizens
scarcely perceive the risk of disease related to the effectiveness of vaccines. Implementing communication
strategies, argumentative and persuasive, borrowed from social marketing, also for the promotion of vaccines
is a priority of the health system.
A typical example of the application of social marketing, as mentioned in the manuscript, is the campaign
to promote the proper practice of HPV vaccination through the use of effective and cost-saving communication
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