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Variations in involvement: motivating bystanders to care for senior citizens

Sarah Keller (Department of Communication and Theater, Montana State University Billings, Billings, Montana, USA)
Timothy Wilkinson (School of Business, Whitworth University, Spokane, Washington, USA)

International Journal of Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Marketing

ISSN: 1750-6123

Article publication date: 5 June 2017




The purpose of this study is to determine the impact of a senior service advertising campaign designed to increase volunteerism and financial donations among bystanders.


A cross-sectional mail survey was administered to 2,500 adults; 384 usable responses were obtained. Survey responses were analyzed by level of exposure and involvement in senior care.


High-involvement individuals viewed the ads more favorably and exhibited stronger senior caretaking intentions. Low-involvement consumers were less likely to see their own potential contributions to senior care services as effective.

Research limitations/implications

Characterizing involvement in terms of awareness, awareness involvement, perceived severity and perceived susceptibility, provides a starting point for future examinations of the relationship between involvement, perceived efficacy and various forms of promotion.

Practical implications

From a practitioner’s standpoint, this study identifies specific features of campaign design and audience profiling that might increase the effectiveness of bystander interventions. This study offers not only constructs that can be used for identifying particular audience subsets but also illustrates the practical ways in which perceived susceptibility and perceived response efficacy to a given issue can be addressed through a mass media campaign.

Social implications

Snowballing healthcare costs coupled with an avalanche of baby boomers entering the elderly phase of the life cycle make the need for bystander involvement in the lives of seniors increasingly important.


With limited theoretical and practical guidance on how to motivate bystanders to engage in prosocial behaviors, health communicators and marketers are challenged to address a vast range of public health issues that require citizen engagement. The research reviewed and presented here indicates the hope for engaging the public to become active players in making the nation a safer and healthier place.



Keller, S. and Wilkinson, T. (2017), "Variations in involvement: motivating bystanders to care for senior citizens", International Journal of Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Marketing, Vol. 11 No. 2, pp. 117-132.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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