Tips to Reduce Stigma in Your Health Care Marketing

December 22, 2022
Melissa Fors Shackelford, vice president of marketing strategy, Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, talks about reducing health care stigma in marketing

Melissa Fors Shackelford, vice president of marketing strategy, Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation

Let’s talk about something that often isn’t talked about enough in the health care industry: health care stigma. But more specifically, the role marketing can play in impacting social stigma around medical conditions.

If you’re embarrassed by your medical diagnosis, you will probably keep it hidden. You may not seek help, or if you do, you may find under-the-radar, less-credentialed and less-qualified people. You likely won’t talk about your condition with others in your social circles, further limiting the availability of helpful resources and information you receive. As a result, your medical care will likely suffer.

An often undiscussed symptom of many conditions is the stigma attached to them that results in secrecy and shame around the diagnoses. Some of these include mental health and substance abuse issues, and smoking-related lung cancer.

Two marketing professionals in these fields recently discussed “How Health Care Marketers Can Impact Stigma” during a recent conference in September.

Dan Jason, director of marketing and communications for the American Lung Association, and Melissa Fors Shackelford, vice president of marketing at Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, offered guidance for marketing-stigmatized conditions. Their recommendations include:

  • Building trust by marketing ethically
  • Using person-centered language
  • Focusing on success rather than the diagnosis
  • Focusing on positive imagery vs. reinforcing negative stereotypes.

Read the full article to see examples of successful campaigns that demonstrate these principles and learn how you can incorporate these principles into your own health care marketing toolbox.

Read the full article here: Health Care Marketers’ Critical Role in Reducing Health Care Stigma

Best regards,
Matt Humphrey