A University of South Carolina trial study found that community-led grassroots social marketing can increase walking and improve the connectedness and health in underserved African-American communities. Sumter, Florence and Orangeburg participated in the study.
Published Oct. 22, 2012
A University of South Carolina trial study called PATH, or Positive Action for Today’s Health, found that community-led grassroots social marketing can increase walking and improve the connectedness and health in underserved African-American communities.
“This is the first study to provide evidence that grassroots social marketing can work in impoverished areas. Not knowing your neighbor is more common today. This is especially true in high crime areas where a neighbor could be a gang member. You don’t know, and it is the unknown that terrifies people,” Wilson said. “Getting out and walking increases awareness of your community.”
Sumter, Florence and Orangeburg participated in the study. Each community was given a slightly different intervention. Florence and Sumter had police-patrolled walking programs, with Sumter receiving an additional social marketing component. Orangeburg received general health education, with no walking intervention.
Sumter residents also were given input into the design of the health intervention program.
In Florence and Sumter, the study found sidewalk walking trails were cleaned up and patrolled in the evening by police officers whom residents chose and trusted. Scheduled walks took place three to five weekday mornings and evenings as well as Saturday morning.
However, Sumter saw a higher number of people walking per month. The community used social marketing to encourage participation and held Pride Strides, where residents could invite family members and church groups to walk with them. Sumter saw as many as 494 people walking in a month, while Florence only had about 40 people.
The USC study was funded by the National Institutes of Health.