Driving vs. Thriving: A novel approach to public health screening advocacy

Did you hear about Chris’s mint condition 1963 Shelby Cobra? Mechanics say he didn’t check the oil for decades, and the engine just seized one day on the way to work. When they opened it up, they say there wasn’t much left. Such a shame really.

Said Nobody. EVER.

Jazlin Mayhue is a researcher in Victoria, BC

Peter Hobza is a family physician in Victoria, BC

Robert O'Connor is a family physician in Victoria, BC

 

Introducing a new concept...

We all know folks who are not vigilant with preventive health for their body. However, a subset of them wouldn’t drive an irreplaceable million-dollar car until it was destroyed from lack of maintenance. A human’s life and body are irreplaceable, and worth at least a million dollars, when considering the price of an injury causing death. Therefore, it’s logical to help some people think of treating their body as well as a valuable car.

Concept to prototype

It’s tough to keep a machine going for 82 years. Broken appliances are often cheaper to replace than repair. The phone or computer that you have in your hands will likely not be the same one you own five years from now.

But it is actually possible to keep and maintain one single machine for the long haul, as demonstrated by the many citizens of Cuba who had to learn how to keep maintaining their cars for decades out of post-embargo necessity.

So with that, we set to the drawing board on examine body-versus-vehicle maintenance.

The current prototype for helping people think of treating their body as a valuable car is a distributable double-sided page: one side is a summary chart of considerations for maintaining a vehicle for many decades; flip it over and it is a chart of considerations for maintaining a human over a similar span.

 

 

Dimensions and specs

  • A one-shot summary trades absolute detail for initiating the topic in the first place.
  • ‘Print-short, doctor-office visit long’: The goal is not to replace a physician or allied health care provider. Rather, it is to have the patient consider attending the physician in the first place, so that there can be a discussion. Most screening needs lab requisitions. While the patient is in the office, the requisition can be customized to fit the patient’s specific needs.
  • Origami folding shrinks the full-sized prevention summary chart from legal-size down to a business-card sized object that can realistically fit into a back pocket, wallet or purse. The font size is readable by people in later decades.
  • A QR code on the pamphlet  links to a phone-readable website.

Aftermarket mods

Good hot rods have easily modifiable parts.

Screening criteria vary with time and geographical location. Some patients’ geographical areas may benefit from comparison to other local vehicle types: a snowmobile in the North, or a deluxe bicycle in an urban downtown core. Therefore, the freely downloadable pamphlets for patients and vehicles were built into a modifiable Microsoft Word document, allowing for easy customization.

Model launch

The plan is for guerrilla health advocacy in the field, via a staffed table-with-pamphlets next to a well-maintained classic vehicle at the car shows.  When enthusiasts come by to chat about the car, there is time also to discuss the maintenance thought experiment. Pamphlets are available if they wish to take one for themselves, family members or friends to further the thought experiment.

 

Final thought for the road

In a crowded messaging world, it can be challenging to break through to help people consider common preventable diseases that aren’t in constant news headlines. This may be one more avenue to help patients consider seeing their physician for routine fluid checks, instead of waiting for unexpected breakdowns.

Remember to visit the authors' website to find the templates: www.drivingvsthriving.com

This initiative was presented at the 2016 Family Medicine Forum.

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