Social Marketing
Nutrition and Physical Activity


Plan Components for the Problem Description

I. Problem/health issueI: Problem/Health Issue

Define the Problem
How you define the problem in this stage will affect the rest of your program. Think this through carefully and see if you are making any assumptions about what the problem is that will send you in the wrong direction. You may also want to think about what types of approaches are needed to reduce or eliminate the problem. For example, a problem could be framed in any number of ways (i.e., an access problem, a policy problem, an educational problem, a behavioral problem). Think through how you frame the problem because it will likely have implications on your ideas for solving the problem. For example, you may assume that a group of people is overweight only because of their behaviors without paying attention to the influence of the environment in which they live.


Decide whether you want to define the problem as the existence or lack of a particular outcome (i.e., obesity) or the current state of people's behavior (i.e., not eating enough fruits and vegetables). Defining the problem in relation to an outcome leaves the door open for more behaviors to play a role, while defining the problem in terms of a behavior will lock you into a certain behavior early on in the process. Either is appropriate, as long as you are making a conscious choice.