Health and Wellness – An Important Theme for Black History Month

Author: Annette Malave, SVP-Insights, RAB

With only a high school education, Vivien Thomas worked as an assistant to a surgeon. Born in 1910 and without any formal medical training, he developed a procedure used to treat blue baby syndrome. He was a teacher of operative techniques and was a pioneer in cardiac surgery. He received an honorary doctorate from Johns Hopkins University in 1976.

Dr. Thomas’ contributions to the medical field are just one of thousands of reasons we celebrate the achievements of Blacks every year during Black History Month.

Each year, the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), publishes the theme for Black History Month. The theme for 2022: Black Health and Wellness.

Throughout 2021, there have been numerous reports on the impact the pandemic has had on the health and wellness in the African American community. The pandemic has caused many people to alter their behaviors and, based on the 2021 December COVID-19 study from MRI-Simmons, 64% of African Americans agree that it has changed the way they will act permanently. When it comes to health and wellness, Black adults 18+ are 28% more likely to have started a new health routine in order to lift their spirits.

Precipitated by behavioral shifts, the health and wellness category has experienced extensive upticks in ad spending. Advertisers ranging from doctors to clinics to health care services have boosted their share of voice across all media – including radio. As an emotionally connected medium, radio has the reach to grab the attention of Blacks, reaching 84% of them every week, per Nielsen. So, what are the health and wellness views of Black radio-listening adults? What actions have they taken to improve their overall health?

The news is good. Fifty-three percent are taking their health more seriously. How are they doing this? Based on the MRI-Simmons analysis, Black radio listeners have increased the following activities:

  • 44% are exercising more.
  • 40% are spending more time outdoors.
  • 26% are meditating or doing some sort of wellness activity.
  • 18% are practicing religion. (Prayer has been aid in overall health, both physically and spiritually.)

African American radio listeners also believe that this shift in behavior has improved their overall health. Sixty-one percent believe that medication has improved the quality of their lives. They are also more likely than the U.S. population to have purchased items to help them self-monitor their health. They are 52% more likely to have purchased a blood glucose monitor and 28% more likely to have purchased a blood pressure monitor as well. It’s also important to note advertisers in the health and wellness category should be wary of touting telehealth services – 47% believe that telehealth visits with doctors seem too impersonal.

This blog post began with a reference to Dr. Vivien Thomas. He was a trailblazer and should be recognized for his contributions. He understood the role that health and wellness plays in everyone’s lives.

Black History Month is a reminder to recognize and celebrate the achievements of Blacks throughout history and the positive impact so many have made. Blacks are also a powerful consumer group yielding a buying power of $1.6 trillion according to the Selig Center for Economic growth.

Addressing and connecting with Blacks is imperative for all businesses, including health and wellness organizations. Radio’s broad reach makes it an invaluable media choice for health and wellness advertisers. It is also a trusted medium. Sixty-seven percent of Blacks 18+ believe that AM/FM radio is trustworthy. Health and wellness is a very important and personal category. Advertisers in this industry should always address the concerns and respect the views of consumers. Radio, as a trusted medium, can help alleviate some of challenges that advertisers in this category will discover.


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