These types of assumptions are a major limiting factor in the effectiveness of patient engagement efforts. Public service announcements have been the butt of jokes for decades to the point of practically being a comedy sub-genre. PSA’s aside, the deeper issue is the untested, unsupported assumptions. They create a barrier that prevents providers from seeking direct feedback from patients about what actually works. Instead, money is wasted on creating medically brilliant programs marketed or deployed in ways that alienate the intended consumers.
There are three assumptions in particular that are show-stoppers:
Low literacy or level of education = low intellectual capability
This mindset often leads to reductionist interpretations of behavior. A good example can be found in the past presidential election. Demographics like income and level of education were used to infantilize choices by those demographics. “They only voted for X because they are poor and uneducated.” Much less effort was spent understanding why specific messages appealed to those groups. Such attitudes when applied to healthcare result in “compliance” instead of “feeling empowered” being seen as the marker for good patient engagement.
People with lower incomes access media in radically different ways than everyone else
Real-world data strongly suggest otherwise.