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Media Matters

Let’s get the right message to the right people at the right time.

Photo of Estela Kennen
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What challenges or opportunities are you trying to address within the problem? (200 characters or less)

Patients and caregivers see fragility fractures as an inevitable part of aging, and thus do not know to advocate for or take advantage of potentially life-altering anti-osteoporotic treatment.

The phone rings, and just like that, your life changes. It’s THE call, the one you’ve been dreading for years: Mom fell and broke her hip. You slump on the couch, momentarily overwhelmed. And then the thoughts start: message spouse and kids, pack an overnight bag, and google “broken hip” because for all the time you’ve spent anticipating it, you realize you don’t know much. 

Every year, half a million Americans experience geriatric fractures. The overwhelming majority of the time, these fractures are treated as acute conditions, and their underlying cause is not diagnosed, much less treated. For a variety of reasons, doctors don’t make the connection, and patients and caregivers don’t know to ask. All too often, they are left thinking fractures are an inevitable part of aging. It’s time to change that. 

Patients and caregivers run to search engines upon experiencing new symptoms or receiving a diagnosis (Zschorlich et al, 2015; Heath Union, 2016). In fact, they spend more time researching health info online than they do talking to doctors (State of Healthcare Searches Online, 2013). This makes the time after a first break a prime opportunity to intervene on caregivers’ (and patients’) knowledge, beliefs, and attitudes regarding fragility fractures -- and their connection with osteoporosis. Regardless of the search term used, the bulk of people will end up being funneled to pages on a few dozen websites. 

This project is a campaign for those handful of health and information sites to emphasize a few key messages about:

  •  the link between fragility fractures and osteoporosis,
  •  the risks of untreated osteoporosis, 
  • the availability and benefits of treatment, and
  • a clear call to action: for caregivers and patients to ask about the appropriateness of a bone density scan or anti-osteoporotic treatment.

When caregivers bring up well-informed, open-ended concerns, providers listen -- and act. And alerting caregivers and paitients to the possibility of osteoporosis, and the path towards hope helps them ensure they are receiving appropriate care.

The first step in this program is to pilot key messages with caregivers and providers for clarity, salience, and appropriateness. Step 2 is to launch a campaign to encourage key websites to integrate the messages into relevant webpages on their sites. 

Who is your target end user and why will they be interested? (650 characters or less)

Caregivers have a sense of foreboding regarding fragility fractures -- and are hungry for hopeful and actionable information, particularly info that fits, or at least acknowledges, their pre-existing understanding of fragility fractures. Health organizations and news sites are busy writing new content but will update their “evergreen” pages when given a compelling reason to do so: proof of message impact (the pilot study), a public health crisis (the osteoporosis care gap), and peer pressure (a co-sponsored campaign listing contributing sites).

How is your idea scaleable? (650 characters or less)

This intervention isn’t scalable so much as it is scaled. Because most people seek new health information through search engines, we can figure out which sites they go to. Intervening on a few dozen sites will impact what millions of people read -- right when they are most receptive to hearing the information. Because people often read new health information from more than one site, the consistent message across platforms will be self-reinforcing. Because most of the pages providing relevant information are “evergreen” pages that are infrequently updated and stay relevant indefinitely, one big, effective campaign will bear benefits for years.

What do/will you measure to know if your solution worked? (500 characters or less)

Pilot phase: Pre-post knowledge & attitude about fragility fractures, osteoporosis, and next steps using new messaging and control (current info). Campaign phase: Rate of adoption of new message; number of pages per site carrying new message, possibly number of visitors to relevant pages. Secondary measures (if possible): rate of caregiver initiation of questions regarding osteoporosis link and screening

What is the current stage of development of your idea?

  • Blueprint: We are exploring the idea and gathering the inspiration and information we need to test it with real users.

If you were to become a Top Idea, would you want to actively participate in piloting your idea?

  • I want my idea piloted, and I prefer to do my own piloting in collaboration with the health system and with assistance from the Challenge partner
  • I want my idea piloted, but I’d prefer not to be involved in the pilot and prefer that the health system adopts my idea for piloting with assistance from the Challenge partner

Tell us about yourself or your team (500 characters or less)

I conducted public health and health communications research at LSU Health Sciences Center and was the Geriatrics and Palliative Care Education Coordinator at Mercer University School of Medicine, and later worked for years as a freelance writer and editor. That combination gives me some insight into elder care, how health systems work, and the media environment. Finally, after this challenge started, my mother was diagnosed with osteopenia. I must admit, though, the care gap feels so flagrant that this challenge already felt personal before it “hit home.”

Location (50 characters)

Osan Air Base, South Korea

What is your legal / organizational structure?

  • We are individuals

Innovator/Organizational Characteristics

  • Female-led organization
  • Women’s health/rights focused organization

How did you hear about the Challenge?

  • OpenIDEO announcement email

Why are you participating in this Challenge?

Honestly, this challenge did not initially grab my attention. But as I read through the challenge brief and supporting documentation, it struck me that the osteoporosis care gap is a civil rights issue, and I got mad, and I got activated. I am here because osteoporosis may affect me as a daughter, a wife, a mother, a friend, a citizen—- and as the owner of a skeletal system. It is too prevalent and too costly a disease to shy away from.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Z Morris

Estela Kennen Yes! An outreach campaign that targeted the major sites and changed the narrative would be a huge win.

Photo of Estela Kennen

Thank you, Z! I’m not sure if this is the type of intervention the Challenge creators had in mind, but it feels like a no-brainer. People need to be educated on how to address problems, and that includes people in the media. The media has been taught about appropriate messaging with mental health, learning disabilities, terrorism, suicide, and many other areas — with varying degrees of success, but all with clear, indentifiable differences in how they approach those topics — and corresponding effects on media audiences. It can certainly be done with osteoporosis, too

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