Some 86 million Americans are pre-diabetic, yet just 20,000 individuals enrolled in a Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) last year, according to Taz Hussein, a partner at Bridgespan’s Boston office. DPP has about all one could want from a health initiative, Hussein said, it was built off of years of National Institutes of Health research and was applied to a deliverable, community service with the help of the YMCA. But, clients still weren’t biting.
The curious behavior led Hussein to reach out to Bridgespan’s LinkedIn network and he found that the disparity was not an anomaly. Of the 85 respondents, 70 percent said that they’ve had shortfalls in program participation and half indicated that the matter has worsened during the past five years.
The findings and subsequent recommendations are highlighted in a new study, “Selling Social Change.” Hussein, a co-author of the report, indicated that Bridgespan’s work on this topic is still in its early stages and that leaders are looking for feedback in terms of what organizations are struggling with and where successes lie.
Findings and recommendations in the report are unique to initiatives that require behavior changes among participants — “good for you programs” such as health, family planning, youth development and job training. One key consideration early on is who is best to serve as a credible messenger for the program. In DPP’s case, for example, Hussein identified an instructor who successfully combatted pre-diabetes as a quality choice to help initiate a program. Other key recommendations from the report include:
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