Assessment of social marketing education, training, and application in public health settings
Healthy People sets the decennial public health agenda for the United States (US). Healthy People 2020 includes objectives for social marketing education and training in schools of public health and for applying it in state health departments. In the present study, two online surveys were conducted to estimate the application of, as well as education and training opportunities available in, social marketing in the US. First, state health department professionals were surveyed online regarding application of eight social marketing benchmarks in their disease prevention and health promotion programs. Eight of 29 participating state health departments used social marketing. Second, an online survey was administered to associate deans of US schools of public health concerning education and professional development opportunities available for students and public health professionals, respectively. Forty percent (20/50) of associate deans participated. In the past academic year, four schools reported offering a social marketing course and six additional schools reported offering a combined health communication/social marketing course. Professional development opportunities in social marketing were even more limited. The present findings may serve as baseline measures for the national objectives to increase the use of social marketing in US disease prevention and health promotion. The paper concludes with discussion of the challenges for schools of public health and other enterprises in meeting the social marketing education and training needs of the public health workforce.