Public awareness and health education: findings from an evaluation of health services for incontinence in England

Brenda Roe, Kate Wilson, Helen Doll

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Improving the health and well being of local populations is a feature of international and national health policy and initiatives. Promotion of health has been attempted traditionally via health education and public awareness campaigns. More recently, attention has been drawn to inter-agency collaboration and alliances in formalised health improvement programmes. This study has evaluated health services for incontinence in two health authorities in England in relation to health education and public awareness. One health authority had an established continence service and the other did not. A convenience sample of self selecting respondents from an earlier postal survey were interviewed via the telephone (n=376). Significantly, more people in the health authority with a continence service than the one without received information on incontinence from within formal health services (p<0.001) and read about services in health centres and clinics (p<0.001), whereas people in the health authority without a continence service were more likely to obtain information on incontinence from local newspapers (p<0.01) and local chemist shops (p<0.01). People in the health authority without a continence service were significantly more likely to feel that services could be improved than those where there was a service (p<0.0001). Only a minority of people with incontinence had received information about their condition or related health care and services. The availability of a continence service significantly influenced the information received. More information on incontinence had been obtained from informal sources than formal health sources. Local initiatives on the availability of services and how to access them, as well as health education information on incontinence may be more effective in raising public awareness and should supplement national campaigns.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-89
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Nursing Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2001

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