Impact Makers

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Marketing for social good

Dr Nadia Zainuddin
School of Management, Operations and Marketing

Adding social marketing to the mix to improve health service design and delivery

Dr Nadia Zainuddin describes herself as a social change researcher, quick to challenge assumptions of what marketing can do. In her work, she applies marketing concepts and theories to issues of health and wellbeing to influence individuals, communities and organisations to bring about social change.

Her early research has focused on marketing approaches to influence participation in preventative or voluntary health services, such as cancer screening programs and blood donation – services which are freely available and a means of maintaining good health.

“Marketing helps us to acknowledge that people are not a homogenous group. We might do the same things but we do so for different reasons,” Dr Zainuddin says.

Recognising this, Dr Zainuddin says service providers need to go beyond communicating how their service benefits individuals and society to actively encouraging proactive behaviour among consumers and facilitating service use in different ways.

A better understanding of people's motivations, how they make decisions and respond to external pressures such as social norms and peer influence, is what Dr Zainuddin delivers with her market and health consumer research. Importantly, Dr Zainuddin does this while working directly with organisations providing health services.

Her PhD was just the beginning. Dr Zainuddin partnered with QLD Health to examine breast cancer screening services delivered by BreastScreen Queensland. Interviews and focus groups with women who had participated in their breast cancer screening service, in addition to an Australian-wide quantitative survey she undertook, gave Dr Zainuddin insight into what women valued most in their experience, from which she could develop a framework for improved service delivery. It’s a citizen-centric approach to public health and one she aims to take forward in her future social change research.

“When people derive value from their experiences, [and it can be emotional or social], they're more likely to do it again. That's really important for social change because you need a long-term commitment to that desired behaviour.”

Dr Zainuddin delivered a number of workshops for QLD Health, presenting her work to executive directors and health promotion officers across the state. Based on her research findings, changes were implemented to their service design and communication strategies to create better service experiences for women.

Blood donation

Equally important is understanding what discourages people from using health services that are freely available. Dr Zainuddin has worked with the Australian Red Cross Blood Service to understand what factors influence a blood donor’s intention to donate again and to identify ways to increase male participation rates because, broadly speaking, men are less likely than women to participate.

This has led to other projects, currently underway, for Dr Zainuddin to investigate the use of bowel cancer screening kits in the home and online services for men’s mental health. Her research to understand health-seeking behaviours will be pivotal as the nature of health service delivery changes, no longer confined to the clinic, and for healthy ageing.