Great comment from a good friend in North Carolina on the prior "shovel-ready" post:
Locally we rarely do market research. One survey we do perform is the Community Health Assessment, but only every 4 years. I have recently come to view the community health assessments as looking at what health status people have purchased.
Exactly. What purchasing choices are being made by individuals and by the community? That's a different question than the ones that typically get asked for a health assessment.

Could we instead ask WHY they have made that “purchase”/ lifestyle behavior, or even WHAT would make our public health option “sexier” for them to want to purchase it? For example, instead of asking “have you been diagnosed with diabetes?” could we ask “what stops you from testing your blood sugar every day?”? “How would you like to be physically active?” “What prevents you from doing that?” “What would it take to get you to eat 5 fruits and vegetable servings a day?”

Those are great questions-- and leadership is about asking the right questions.

I'm reading a book called Nudge, by Thaler and Sunstein-- it is about "choice architecture," about the way that policy-makers can "nudge" people to make appropriate choices (and still give people the freedom of options). As Shirin says, maybe that means making the healthy option "sexier," or maybe it means doing the research to find out what choices people are likely to make in certain situations and then adjusting the choice architecture to insure that most people are going to make the best choice for their health.

--Steve Orton