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Healthy Monday: Two Literature Reviews

January 01, 2010
CLF Report

Jillian Fry and Roni Neff

n our society, Monday is a special day in terms of status and opportunity - not only because it is the first day of the workweek, but also because it is a reliable and recurring vantage point within our calendar cycle from which people can begin or renew their commitment to improve their health behaviors. Knowing this, Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future researchers wondered whether this insight would be useful for health communications experts as they design behavior change intervention campaigns.

This publication contains two literature reviews conducted by Jillian Fry, MPH and Roni Neff, PhD, MS. The first review focuses on periodic prompts and their effectiveness in health behavior interventions. The second paper explores the cultural significance of Monday and its potential use in health promotion programs.

Fry and Neff concluded that frequent periodic messages can be effective in changing a range of healthy behaviors, including diet and exercise. They also found that Monday as a day of the week holds significance within Western cultures and may serve as a valuable day to send periodic health messages. In the U.S., almost 70% of us view Monday as the first day of the week and it represents a common cultural experience with both positive and negative associations.

While many people refer to or sing about the "Monday blues," Fry and Neff identified a number of websites, blogs and books that seek to reframe Monday as a positive experience and an opportunity to begin the week with a new perspective. A survey sponsored by the nonprofit Healthy Monday Campaigns found that more than half of 1,500 adults over age 25 viewed Monday as a day to "get their act together" or as a day for a fresh start. When asked what day they would most likely start a diet or exercise regimen, almost half chose Monday.

Health promotion interventions often lack a strategy for facilitating sustained behavior change. Fry and Neff suggest that future behavior change communication campaigns employing various methods of communication, such as periodic prompts on the first day of the week, could improve the understanding of the most effective ways to foster long-term behavior change.

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