PatientBond joins Upfront to become the market-leading, personalized patient access and engagement platform.  Read press release

Request a Demo
Watch Overview

3 Ways to Increase Patient Engagement in Breast Cancer Awareness Month

health-care-consumer-consulting-with-doctorOn the first of October, Times Square turned pink at 6:45 PM — and it wasn’t due to a spectacular sunset. Instead, it was a synchronized effort to showcase pink signage on the world-famous billboards to launch National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Throughout the day, events sponsored by, ABC Good Morning America, the American Cancer Society and others led up to the #LightTimesSquarePink ceremony.

While the ACS Mammogram Scan Van did make an appearance on the Plaza, health organizations are looking beyond a single, high-profile occasion to boost awareness and develop strategies for encouraging female patients to take a more active role in their health. Yet many wonder — in today’s consumer-driven healthcare, are bells and whistles what it will take to capture their attention? 

Address Inequalities in Breast Cancer Screenings

According to the Susan G. Komen® organization, some women face barriers to even getting breast cancer screenings:

  • Lack of insurance — women with insurance are 39 percent more likely to have a mammogram than the uninsured. The Affordable Care Act should improve access to health insurance coverage, but there are still millions of uninsured.
  • Low income — even with insurance, women with limited income are less likely to have a mammogram.
  • Lack of access — location and availability of transportation can hinder access.
  • Lack of a family physician — women who only seek healthcare in emergency situations may not receive recommendations for screenings that a family provider would suggest for a regular patient.
  • Cultural and language differences — misinformation that certain ethnic backgrounds are less susceptible to breast cancer or language barriers and lack of trust may keep women from seeking care.

Targeting segments based on such demographics for a community outreach campaign could increase awareness, but actually motivating desired behaviors is more challenging. How do we know?

Even among women ages 40 and older who have insurance, 29 percent have not had a mammogram within the past two years.

Motivate Healthier Behaviors

What separates the women who take advantage of insurance to receive regular screenings and those who don’t? What drives women to alter their lifestyle — diet, exercise or habits — to positively impact their health? Hospitals need deeper insights into these consumers to effectively address individual concerns and attitudes towards wellness.

Times Square turning pink or one-size-fits-all messaging simply won’t work. Using c2b solutions’ proprietary psychographic segmentation model, hospitals can identify five distinct psychographic segments and fine tune messaging to appeal to each segment or target specific segments that are most likely to respond:

  • Balance Seekers prefer options and choices, and desire access to various sources of straight-forward information to define success in their own terms
  • Self-Achievers like tools to use on their own, and want measures and benchmarks to chart progress
  • Priority Jugglers want to focus on their own health only when it limits their ability to handle other priorities in their life.
  • Direction Takers need a trusted authority to provide guidance.
  • Willful Endurers feel overwhelmed health issues, and are difficult to motivate.

In its national study of U.S. healthcare consumers, c2b solutions found some very interesting insights on patients with breast cancer.

  • The Willful Endurer segment was the most likely to have breast cancer.
  • Balance Seekers and Direction Takers were less likely to have been diagnosed with breast cancer
  • The percentage of patients with breast cancer were as likely to be Priority Jugglers and Self Achievers as is the general population.


Psychographic Segments

Balance Seekers

Willful Endurers

Priority Jugglers

Self    Achievers

Direction Takers

National Distribution






Distribution Across Patients with Breast Cancer






Development Index







This has significant implications: Willful Endurers are the most reactive among the segments when it comes to healthcare, and are the least likely to take steps to address a health issue. This can impact whether treatment is successful and positive outcomes are achieved.

Willful Endurers are very independent and live for the moment. Telling a Willful Endurer that they need to change their behaviors for a benefit they will not realize for months or years will not work. Patient activation is rooted in immediate benefit with Willful Endurers.

This is a challenging segment, but approaching Willful Endurers on their own terms can yield positive results. Appealing to their motivations by using segment-specific messaging and preferred communication vehicles can facilitate behavior change. c2b solutions has demonstrated this in work with a large employer’s wellness program. 

By better understanding what motivates individuals, hospitals are better positioned to increase engagement.

Leverage the Power of Fame

Last year, Angelina Jolie created a media frenzy when she elected to have a double mastectomy to minimize her risk of getting breast cancer. But what was most astonishing was the impact her announcement had on the number of women who requested genetic breast cancer tests.

Dubbed the Angelina effect, researchers discovered that the number of women in the U.K requesting referrals for the tests almost doubled in the months following her announcement. 

In a New York Times op-ed piece, Jolie wrote, “I choose not to keep my story private because there are many women who do not know that they might be living under the shadow of cancer.” Because of her family history, Jolie elected to be tested and discovered that she carries the BRAC1 gene, which increases her chance of having breast cancer from 12 percent to 55 - 65 percent. Sometimes awareness — and a well-known “poster child” — can have a positive impact where other messages fail.

Healthcare providers may want to make use of stories like Jolie’s as a tool for motivating those patients that may be at higher risk.

One thing is clear: The commercialization of Breast Cancer Awareness Month — from a ceremony at one of the most famous crossroads in America to a plethora of pink at sporting events ranging from college football to the WWE — is evidence that consumer-driven healthcare is here to stay.

What began as an awareness campaign launched in 1985 is now a juggernaut of consumer-oriented messaging that does, in fact, reach women across the country, if only because pink shoes on a football player are hard to miss.

Psychographic Segmentation and its Practical Application in Patient Engagement and Behavior Change


Submit a Comment

Request a Demo