Health Marketing and the CDC

April 26, 2009
By

Have you ever heard the term “Health Marketing”? I certainly haven't, until recently when I decided to research a specific health topic. So I turned to the “credible source” of health information, the CDC (Center for Decease Control and Prevention), a government agency.

Feeling confident in my source (after all, they taught us about this source in the journalism school), I typed in the website address: www.cdc.gov

After surfing through flashy banners about viruses, flu and vaccinations, I decided to visit the section “About Us”. This is where I first came to learn about Health Marketing. I also learned that this is who updates CDC's website.

Well, naturally, I wanted to know what is Health Marketing and what does it have to do with CDC. I clicked on the link in the CDC's “About Us” section, which goes to: cdc.gov/healthmarketing page and discovered some interesting definitions of it. This one says:

[Health Marketing is]

“A multidisciplinary practice that promotes the use of marketing research to educate, motivate and inform the public on health messages”


Hmm. Then I sent a mass text message to my friends and asked them if they knew what Health Marketing was. Some of them responded something like this “I'm not sure, but it sounds like someone is trying to sell me something I don't need to buy”..

So I turned to my university health professors. They didn't know either.

Finally, I decided to call CDC.
I called the main number and got transferred to the Vaccinations department. The woman on the other end was prepared to tell me everything about the vaccination schedule. But that's not what I wanted to know.

When I asked her about Health Marketing, she hesitated and wanted to know how I know about it. I told her I saw it on the CDC website in the “About Us” section. While on the phone with me, she clicked and saw what I saw.

“Oh, health marketing! They are part of CDC. They are one of our branches,” she said.

After I hung up the phone, I felt that something wasn't right. There was a conflict going on.

How could CDC hold the interest of American people when it comes to their health and also have an interest of selling health products and services? Don't the two conflict? Am I the only one who sees this conflict of interest?

I asked people about it and some of them agreed with me. They reminded me that medicine is a commercial, for-profit industry and that it is no wonder that it is driven by health marketing. Yet others thought there must be some other explanation.

But whatever this is, I think the word “credible” no longer applies to information coming from CDC. At least, not in my book.

6 Responses to Health Marketing and the CDC

  1. Anonymous on April 28, 2009 at 2:56 am

    It seems to me that you are concerned that CDC is trying to sell you something. If CDC was trying to sell you some specific product or service for the financial benefit of a for-profit company I could understand your concerns but all I see CDC “selling” (for free I might add) is timely information for the benefit of healthy humans. Based on what I read I understood CDC to say that “Health Marketing” is a means to provide appropriate health information to the many varied segments of the world population (seniors, teenagers, women, men, gays, various ethnic groups, etc) by using proven and effective science (marketing!).
    What is CDC's Health Marketing selling you?!? Have you uncovered any financial ties to drug companies, health insurance companies, or hospitals that might benefit from CDC “selling” you false or misleading information? Have you found any indication that CDC *IS* distributing false or misleading health information?
    Wayne

    • Admin on April 25, 2015 at 5:53 pm

      If you search CDC on this website (type in CDC in the search box), you will see all the articles, examples and photographs linking CDC to misrepresenting and misleading the public about the safety of many medical products, specifically vaccines.

  2. Anonymous on April 28, 2009 at 3:03 am

    From CDC – About the National Center for Health Marketing (http://www.cdc.gov/healthmarketing/aboutnchm.htm)
    Mission Statement
    “A world where all people actively use accessible, accurate, relevant, and timely health information and interventions to protect and promote their health and the health of their families and communities”

  3. Anonymous on May 7, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    Yes, don't forget, it's timely marketing research information. Big difference from information coming from independent source (without commercial bias).

  4. Anonymous on May 10, 2009 at 6:00 am

    Specific product – yes! Shall we make a list? Let's start with the more obvious one.
    * Vaccinations (at least once a year for the flu season, but also for newborns, travelers and elders). Not to mention, pets. This is about $20 per shot multiplied by the amount of people being vaccinated each year = $$$$$ for a handful of the pharmaceutical companies….[I'll write more about this later].
    But this is just one example.
    My problem with this is the quality of information.
    It is increasingly hard to separate promotional or marketing materials from true facts coming from independent sources. The last place I expected to find this fusion was at CDC, a government agency, who is supposed to be impartial to such things.
    There is a big difference between presenting timely and accurate information form presenting timely and accurate marketing research information.
    Does it make sense?

  5. Anonymous on January 23, 2011 at 7:23 pm

    I hope to see more great articles in future as well. Cool … quality convertibles and sofas

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