Background Although one in four Europeans are affected by rheumatism, the various symptoms and preventative measures are still largely unknown by the public. Sensitisation campaigns are helping people to become more aware of this illness.
Objectives Raising awareness of rheumatic diseases, preventative measures and publicising the work carried out by Rheumaliga Schweiz within the following dialogue groups: wider public, those affected by the illness, relatives of those affected by the illness, health professionals and disseminators. Brief, clear messages are used to demonstrate the preventative measures that are necessary and the conditions under which a person should visit his/her doctor in order for the situation to be investigated further.
Methods Rheumaliga Schweiz dedicates its annual campaign to a specific subject area each time. The focus of the campaign is either a specific illness (e.g. rheumatoid arthritis) or an area of the body (e.g. painful feet). By focussing on a single subject area, Rheumaliga Schweiz is able to reach target groups more easily and enable those not within these target groups to gain access to the wide group of topics surrounding rheumatism. There are two fundamental dialogue groups that are differentiated between: 1) the general public and 2) those affected by rheumatism.
In the first dialogue group, the focus is on sensitisation and prevention. It has been proven that prominent ambassadors make this subject more accessible. If possible, it is also beneficial if the prominent ambassador has a personal connection to the subject in question. Ambassadors work together with Rheumaliga Schweiz to choose a concise statement which is used for all media activities. Depending on the subject area focused on within the scope of the campaign, Rheumaliga Schweiz selects public events as a platform for informing the public about preventative measures and for presenting Rheumaliga Schweiz in a setting that is far removed from the illness.
In the second dialogue group (those affected by rheumatism), the focus is on providing more in-depth information to highlight courses of action and to encourage empowerment. This takes place in the form of health conferences throughout Switzerland with presentations by specialists.
The following channels are used within the framework of the entire campaign: Web dossier, web videos, publications, members' magazines, print and online media.
Results Focussing on a single group of topics makes it easier to address the public at large regarding the perception that only people aged 60 and over suffer from rheumatism. Prominent ambassadors facilitate media activities and remove the barriers surrounding rheumatism. This helps to lift taboos surrounding the topic. Success can be seen in the form of an increasing number of people downloading web content, a higher number of requests for brochures and a higher level of media presence.
Conclusions Multichanneling activities combined with prominent ambassadors make it possible to carry out successful sensitisation campaigns with a large media presence. Selecting a single subject to focus on enables us to combine our efforts and involve different ambassadors. Public events provide the opportunity for generating new contacts without major obstacles.
Disclosure of Interest None declared