Overcoming Specific Barriers
What is this Tool?
- Techniques for identifying and overcoming barriers that are often specific to a particular environmental or health promotion activity.
Why Would You Use It?
- Barriers are those factors that discourage people from taking an action they would otherwise do. If any environmental/health action is to be widely adopted by the public, common barriers to doing the action must first be removed.
- Individuals should not be held solely responsible for taking action; networks, organizations and communities must work to remove barriers to make "the right choice the easier choice". This is explicitly recognized in Health Promotion, and also holds true for environmental programs.
Relating this tool to social marketing exchange theory
From the perspective of social marketing exchange theory, desired actions can be made more attractive to consumers by minimizing key barriers. This may involve reducing costs (price), expanding distribution (place), adequately informing consumers (promotion), and /or redefining the actions themselves (product).
When Would You Use It?
- Before designing your program, identify the specific barriers that might discourage people from taking action. Make arrangements for overcoming these barriers before you start implementing your program, and continue finding additional and more cost-effective ways to do so on an ongoing basis.
- Provide personalized assistance in overcoming the barriers, if appropriate, once you have interested people in doing the activity.
How Would You Use It?
Go Boulder identified potential barriers for specific target audiences. For example, they found that one of the key factors discouraging business people from taking the bus was their concern about getting home if they had to work late or were in an emergency situation.
Get in the Loop - Buy Recycled found that far fewer people were actually buying recycled-content products than had been predicted on the basis of purchasing intentions. A telephone survey identified five main barriers that were preventing people from taking action: price, quality, low consumer awareness of product availability, consumer cynicism about environmental claims, and an unwillingness to put much effort into locating the products.
A literature review conducted by the AIDS Peer Education Program found that common barriers tied to abstinence included: being alone with your partner, using drugs or alcohol, becoming highly aroused by foreplay, being asked to engage in intercourse and peer pressure. Common barriers tied to condom use included: feeling shy, lack of money to buy condoms; not knowing where to buy condoms; an inability to openly discuss use of condoms/convince partner to use them; use of drugs or alcohol, condoms not being handy when needed; existing use of oral contraceptives; and "forgetting" to use a condom in the heat of passion.
Lack of money and information were two key barriers to improved nutrition, faced by clients at the Montreal Dietary Dispensary.
Identify potential barriers by using a literature search, focus groups and/or telephone survey.Refer to the step-by-step instructions in Getting Informed. If practical, consider using, or get help in using, multivariate statistical analyses to determine the relative importance of each barrier.
If practical, consider using, or get help in using, multivariate statistical analyses to determine the relative importance of each barrier.
Guelph 2000 provided free shade trees, helped people to choose the right trees and decide where to plant them, and provided the names of contractors who would plant the trees if the residents preferred not to do it themselves.
Go Boulder decided that it was cost effective and critical to build more bikeways, as well as overpasses and underpasses for bikes and pedestrians, gradually over a number of years. To make their business transit pass more attractive, a Guaranteed Ride Home program was devised.
Get in the Loop - Buy Recycled decided it could have little effect on two of five barriers, price and quality. It focused its efforts on overcoming the remaining three -low awareness, cynicism and lack of effort - using shelf talkers to identify recycled-content products at the point of sale.
During their presentations, the AIDS peer educators talked about the advantages of abstinence and condom use. They also enacted situations portraying the common barriers to abstinence and condom use, and demonstrated strategies to overcome them. Strategies for overcoming the barriers to abstinence included: avoiding being home alone with a partner (e.g. finding fun things to do with your partner as part of a group); avoiding use of drugs and alcohol; being aware of one's level of sexual arousal and knowing when to stop (e.g. deciding ahead of time on a desired level of intimacy); communicating one's wishes in an affirmative manner with a partner; and resisting peer pressure.
Strategies for overcoming the barriers to condom use included: sharing the cost of condoms; going to the drugstore with friends; refusing to engage in sexual intercourse without a condom; avoiding drug and alcohol use; carrying a condom at all times; practicing using condoms correctly ahead of time; and using condoms even when the female partner was on the pill".
Tip: The chart at the end of this section may provide you with some ideas.
Tip: Physical barriers are often the most important to overcome.
Weigh the importance of each barrier and the expected benefit from overcoming it, against the expected investment.
Get in the Loop - Buy Recycled was able to increase the purchase of recycled-content products by "simply" informing people - but this required an intensive campaign that included point of purchase reminders - "shelf talkers."
JEEP, BC21 PowerSmart and the Green Community programs (see ReCAP, Guelph 2000, The Environment Network and Peterborough GreenUp) provided the installation of energy and water conservation devices, to ensure that the devices would actually be installed, and installed properly.
ReCAP found that more people adopted their recommendations when the desired actions were demonstrated.
Go Boulder informed businesses about their Guaranteed Ride Home program.
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A Get in the Loop shelf talker.
To motivate clients to feed and care for their baby before birth, the Montreal Dietary Dispensary emphasized the idea of a fetus as an individual with real needs ones only the mother was in a position to provide. Women were taught that they were eating to feed their unborn babies, as well as themselves. A developing babys special needs for growth, the "building of a baby", was compared to the "building of a house" requiring the intake of nutrients as building blocks for the child.
In addition to offering the Guaranteed Ride Home program, Go Boulder provided discounts to promote its transit passes for businesses.
Get in the Loop - Buy Recycled identified a willingness to buy recycled if the key barriers could be overcome. In addition, it provided an extensive media and in-store promotion campaign.
The first 40 minutes of the Roach Coach workshops consisted of a slide show, and the last 20 minutes consisted of demonstrations and a question and answer period. The slides were specifically chosen to relate to common motivators and/or to address the potential barriers that had been identified.
What do you know about people's receptivity to doing the desired action?
If it is necessary to increase their receptivity, how will you do this?
Building Motivation Over Time
Financial Incentives and Disincentives
Vivid, Personalized Communication
Resource Alert for Canada and the U.S.A.: Sales-person incentives can encourage these key influencers to help consumers consider more energy-efficient appliances. Canadas EnerGuide for Household Appliances Program, and the US Energy Star Program can help you identify eligible (more energy efficient) appliances. To be effective, this normally needs to be complemented by a program to promote consumer interest and demand.
Resource Alert for Canadians:
The EnerGuide for Houses Program provides face-to-face opportunities to inform, demonstrate and provide personal assistance as required.
The Better Buildings Partnership provided participants with a list of pre-qualified Energy Service Companies (ESCOs), to support them in planning and carrying out their energy-efficiency renovations, and to address concerns that some had about working with ESCOs.
Greenest Citys Walking and Cycling School Buses enabled parents to provide children with personal assistance and supervision.