Impact of raising awareness

FORT KENT, Maine - Many times, raising awareness about a cause is the first step to solving a problem or garnering support of the public to take action.

But the bigger question is –does it really make a difference?

According to the American Journal of Public Health, there are nearly 200 awareness days, weeks and months on the U.S. National Health Observances calendar. The Journal’s May 2015 article, Health Awareness Days: Sufficient Evidence to Support the Craze, says, “If left unchecked, health awareness days may do little more than reinforce ideologies of individual responsibility and the false notion that adverse health outcomes are simply the product of misinformed behaviors.” In April 2015, The Atlantic published an article titled, What Good is Raising Awareness? According to the article’s author, Julie Beck, “The evidence really is lacking on what good these awareness days do.” Further in the article, however, she suggests that awareness days coupled with actions that go beyond awareness days with the dissemination of information about a condition, its risk factors and help for people living with a particular condition is where the biggest impact lies.

Northern Maine Medical Center (NMMC) employees have taken the first step and have announced a list of monthly dates to help raise awareness about a particular health condition or initiative.

According to Amy Levesque who coordinates the calendar, “We believe this activity will engage employees to take the first step and help raise awareness by wearing a designated color on a specific date each month.”

The intent is also to help begin a conversation around the particular initiative with coworkers as well as patients. Levesque further said, “The color days make it fun yet it raises awareness for serious matters that we deal with every day in healthcare.” Employees who do not have a particular color of clothing are offered ribbons so they can still participate.

The first color day was held on June 7th to bring attention to cancer survivors. Employees wore the color purple to coincide with National Cancer Survivors Day. On the next color awareness day scheduled for July 16th, NMMC employees will be wearing the color yellow for sarcoma awareness. Members of the public are invited to join in and help spread the awareness.