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When to Use Qualitative and Quantitative Data in Public Health Messaging

As public health marketers, we look at a lot of data when designing our outreach materials. It is important to use data correctly when designing your messaging to ensure audience buy-in.

Quantitative Data

Quantitative data sets are helpful when conveying the statistics, such as the morbidity and mortality of a specific disease, to support broad actions. For example, quantitative data could be used in messaging that stresses the severity of a disease on a population to sway public opinion. Or it could be used to demonstrate the overall impact of a policy in order to convince legislators that a specific program is needed.

Qualitative Data

Qualitative data, such as focus groups and observations, aid in messaging aimed at individuals. Qualitative data can be useful for adding a personal or human element to information. It is also important to know how your audience feels about a specific program so that the qualitative data can be better tailored to their wants and desires.

It would not make sense to use population statistics when trying to change an individual person’s actions. It also would not make sense to use participant observations to convince policymakers to fund programs. While neither type of data is better, they do serve different purposes and should be used appropriately in public messaging.

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