Conozca las preguntas, (Know the Questions) a new, multimedia Spanish-language campaign launched by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and the Ad Council, encourages Hispanics to get more involved in their health care and to talk with their doctors about their medical concerns. The national public service advertising campaign, which features television, radio, print and Web ads, offers tips to help Hispanics prepare for medical appointments by thinking ahead of time about questions to ask their doctors during medical appointments. The public service announcements (PSAs) direct audiences to visit AHRQ's Web site at http://www.ahrq.gov/preguntas where they can find tips and other important health information in Spanish.
AHRQ research shows that Hispanics tend to seek medical treatment advice from friends, co-workers and even casual acquaintances rather than going to the doctor unless they are very sick. Some Hispanics report avoiding asking doctors questions out of respect or because they feel intimidated or embarrassed.
"Getting a diagnosis from a doctor rather than guesses from co-workers, friends, and others is a key to good health and good health care," said AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D. "While Hispanics face challenges in getting access to health care services and a higher rate of uninsurance, good communication with health care professionals is one step they can take to improve their health and health care quality." The campaign supports the Department of Health and Human Services Action Plan to Reduce Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities, the Department's first-ever strategic action plan to reduce health disparities among racial and ethnic minorities in the United States.
AHRQ's recently published 2010 National Healthcare Disparities Report found that, compared with whites, the proportion of Hispanics who report having poor communication with their health providers is widening and the percentage who regularly get important screening tests to check for diabetes or cancer is not improving. AHRQ data show that 47 percent of adult Hispanics reported not having seen a doctor in 2008, compared with 29 percent of adult non-Hispanics. This included 37 percent of insured Hispanics aged 18 to 64, compared with 29 percent of insured non-Hispanics, as well as 15 percent of older Hispanics versus 10 percent of non-Hispanic seniors.
"Hispanics who go to the doctor and are unclear about his or her instructions should speak up," said AHRQ Scientific Review Officer Ileana Ponce-Gonzalez, M.D. "The lesson is that there is nothing to fear—doctors appreciate patients asking them questions if they don't understand something"
Conozca las preguntas was created pro bono for the Ad Council by Revolución, an ad agency based in New York. Aliza Lifshitz, M.D., a practicing internist in Los Angeles who also serves as editor-in-chief of VidaySalud.com and host of Univision radio's weekly health show "El Consultorio de la Dra. Aliza," is also participating in the campaign.
"Many Latinos are timid with medical professionals and turn to peers before turning to their doctors or other medical professionals," adds Dr. Lifshitz. "I hope that this public service campaign empowers Latinos to speak up when they have questions and to more effectively communicate with their doctors so they get the best health care possible."
AHRQ and the Ad Council also will be implementing a mobile marketing program to further engage the Hispanic community in the campaign messages. A mobile version (WAP) of the Web site will be developed and users will have the opportunity to opt in to receive biweekly text message alerts for tips on talking with health care providers, getting prescriptions and medical tests, and the benefits of getting more involved in their health care. Mobile users can text "preguntas" to 80676 to opt in to the program.
"We are proud to continue our efforts with AHRQ to get these critical messages to the Hispanic community," said Peggy Conlon, president and CEO of the Ad Council. "The new PSAs speak directly to the insight that we learned from research—many Hispanics tend to seek medical advice from friends and family, rather than approaching their doctors. This campaign is motivating and compelling, and I'm confident that the Hispanic media will support it."
The PSAs are being distributed to approximately 2,500 Spanish-language media stations nationwide. Per the Ad Council's donated media model, all of the PSAs will air or appear in advertising time and space donated by the media.