Previously discussed here has been the topic of on-line public health education and the use of smartphones as efficient channels to reach the young adult population (see: Placing Public Health Announcements on Google as Paid Ads, Seeking Solutions to the Chronic Disease Epidemic, Making e-Health Information Accessible with Smart Phones, The Mobile Web and the Future of eHealth). This approach is particularly relevant for messages relating to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as Chlamydia. It is for this reason that I paid close attention to a recent article regarding the adult male television viewership, or rather the lack thereof, of Conan O"Brien (see: O’Brien Undone by His Media-Hopping Fans). For those of you who distance themselves from popular culture, O'Brien recently ended his brief stint as host of NBC's "The Tonight Show". Below is an excerpt from the article
But to NBC’s surprise and disappointment, Mr. O’Brien fell behind his predecessor, Jay Leno, even among those 18-to-34 viewers, the group expected to be his core constituency....“The 18-to-34 group is so difficult to attract and the lower half, 18 to 25, is the hardest of all,” said [the president of a research firm]. Compounding the problem, said a senior research executive for another company, was the fact that Mr. O’Brien was especially appealing to young men. “And that group doesn’t watch television very regularly,” said [an unnamed executive]. Instead of watching Mr. O’Brien most nights..., those young viewers have been watching everything from similar shows like “The Colbert Report” on Comedy Central, to cartoons on the “Adult Swim” franchise on the Cartoon Network, and the ever-present array of sports and sports news on ESPN and its sister channels.
Every generation believes that one ones following it is going to the dogs. I will try to avoid this trap but merely reinforce the observation made above that U.S. men aged 18-34 spend much of their idle time watching cartoons and sports on TV and browsing the web. I would also add video games to this list. I assume that many of you already know this. In general, this segment of the population is quite healthy and only infrequently uses healthcare services. Most of them will mature into older adult males who will also watch sports events, perhaps lose their taste for cartoons, and also ignore their health. We need to invest more of our public heath education resources, meager as they are, in developing channels of communication with the male population, both young and old.
For a start, I would suggest spot public health announcements during major sports events broadcasts. I know, I know. This is prime television viewing time and expensive. Perhaps there is some opportunity to wedge public service announcements into some of these breaks relating to STDs and early detection of heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension. Or better yet, perhaps we could get some of these cartoon studios to develop short videos with a light touch about these topics for posting on YouTube.