Hint: people with less money think more often about health than the rich do.

The new logic of health engagement is based in anxiety, according to DDB:

1. Anxiety produces a desire for control

2. Believing we are healthy means we believe we are in control; health = control.

3. Anxiety produces a desire for health.

This new logic trail of personal health comes from results found in a survey conducted by DDB, the global advertising and communications firm. Health is the New Wealth, DDB concludes, and titles the survey report.

DDB’s thesis is that as the economy has proven to be (mostly) out of the average citizen’s control, people are looking to their physical health as something that can be controlled, or at least positively influenced. “Without health as a foundation,” DDB asserts, “nothing is possible.”

As household income falls, the amount of time spent thinking about health increases. The most important health priorities among global health citizens are:

  • Living without illness, cited by 31% of people
  • Feeling strong in mind and body, according to 20%
  • Living a long life, for 16%
  • Living without pain, among 11% of people
  • Preventing illness, and achieving my potential, for 9%
  • Overcoming a chronic illness, according to 5%.

DDB cites 3 methods people use to take control of their health:

1. Personal efforts, such as not drinking alcohol to excess, abstaining from tobacco use, taking prescription meds as prescribed, and going for annual check-ups.

2. External sources, in particular physicians as a safe haven, friends and family, and the Internet. Mass media a typically not seen as trusted sources for good and useful information by health citizens in the US, Canada, the UK, Germany, China, and Australia.

3. Understanding, generated through knowing “what” we must do, and “why” we must do it.

DDB conducted this study among 1,800 consumers in 11 countries including US, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, U, France, Germany, China, India, Australia and Singapore.

Health Populi’s Hot Points: For health citizens to ‘get’ to the new wealth that is health, they need to achieve that level of understanding where they know what they must do to achieve the desired level of health, as well as why to do those things. This requires a “two-way street,” according to DDB. It requires trust between health stakeholders and, as DDB concludes, “finding the community that already exists and engaging with it.” I couldn’t have said it better.

On a separate note, health citizens are clearly not a homogeneous bunch. Note the simple disparity between income groups illustrated by the chart. Engagement with health citizens will require a broad range of strategies. Susannah Fox noted at the recent Health 2.0 Conference that mobile health can be a game-changer — but only for those who get in the game. Rich vs. poor isn’t good segmentation, but this survey does reveal a lot about how people get motivated to engage in health. And control is the name of this game, according to DDB.