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Implementing a Promotional Campaign for the “Resources and Education for Stroke Caregivers’ Understanding and Empowerment (RESCUE)” Web Site

Wing KL, Hanjian JM, Findley KE, Knauff LE, Edwards H, Lee B, Uphold CR. Implementing a Promotional Campaign for the “Resources and Education for Stroke Caregivers’ Understanding and Empowerment (RESCUE)” Web Site. Poster session presented at: VA Research in the Southeast RFPs to Outcomes: Translating Research to Practice Conference; 2010 Jul 21; Orlando, FL.


BACKGROUND:Stroke is a major cause of disability and a leading cause of outpatient medical utilization. Non-paid caregivers, particularly family members, are the major sources of support for stroke survivors. Unlike other chronic diseases, strokes occur suddenly and family members have little time to prepare and adjust to their new roles. Consequently, national practice guidelines urge healthcare providers to educate and support not only stroke survivors but also their family members who manage the survivors' care. OBJECTIVES:To utilize health marketing strategies in developing and implementing a promotional campaign to raise awareness about/build an audience for a Web site of educational materials developed for caregivers of Veteran stroke survivors. METHODS:The first step in developing the promotional campaign for the project "Web-based Informational Materials for Caregivers of Veterans Post-Stroke" was to establish a branding identity. An alternative project title, Resources and Education for Stroke Caregivers' Understanding and Empowerment, was established and led to a descriptive acronym - RESCUE. A companion logo (incorporating a red and white life preserver) and image catalog of lifesaving/lifeguarding images were created. In March of 2009, the RESCUE Newsletter, the promotional vehicle, was launched. This electronic newsletter was designed to educate and inform VA clinicians, health educators and other stakeholders about stroke caregiving and the forthcoming Web site, and to establish the project/project team as a credible source of knowledge. The newsletter featured the RESCUE branding, lifesaving/lifeguarding and caregiving images while highlighting information from the RESCUE Web site Stroke Caregiving Fact Sheets. Each newsletter also provided stroke caregiving information available on the Web sites of our two primary partners: My HealtheVet and the American Stroke Association (ASA), and statistics about aspects of stroke caregiving related to the month's featured topic (ex. 'Sex After Stroke,' 'Long-Distance Caregiving,' 'Post-Stroke Depression'). Target audience members were selected from VA Outlook based on their position title (i.e., Physician, Nurse Educator, Librarian, Stroke Support Group Leader, Public Affairs). Non-VA contacts, such as key leaders in Veteran service organizations, stroke and caregiving support groups, and professional associations were also targeted. The Newsletter is distributed in three formats: HTML email, Web page, and PDF. STATUS:We are currently in the last segment of our study. The RESCUE website has been launched in both English and Spanish. We are currently in the process of conducting a usability study with providers and caregivers for the RESCUE website in Spanish. FINDINGS:Since its launch, the RESCUE Newsletter's circulation has grown from approximately 179 recipients to around 650 recipients. While each release of the newsletter resulted in numerous requests for inclusion in our contact database, adding a "subscribe" button to the RESCUE Newsletter Web page nearly doubled the amount of requests. Results of a Web-based evaluation showed that 85% of recipients found the content to be informative, and 54.3% shared newsletter content with a co-worker, patient or family member. By partnering with My HealtheVet and the ASA has led to additional exposure that the project and future Web site may not have received. The RESCUE Newsletter has received prominent placement on the VA Web health portal, MyHealtheVet, and the ASA has agreed to publish an article about the RESCUE Web site and its launch in the November 2010 (National Family Caregiving Month) issue of their Stroke Connections Magazine. IMPACT:The RESCUE Newsletter is seen as a reliable source of stroke caregiving information, and a valuable tool to help communicate this information to Veteran stroke survivors and their family members. Our strategy of targeting an appropriate audience for the Web based Newsletter helped to quickly increase the potential pool of users for the Web site of stroke caregiving educational materials.

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