The saying goes that timing is everything. So is there a right timing for healthcare practitioners to launch their campaigns, sustain healthy behaviors and engage target audiences?

Yes, and according to research that timing is the first day of the week. Call it the “Monday effect.”

Investigators from The Monday Campaigns, San Diego State University, the Santa Fe Institute, and Johns Hopkins University analyzed “healthy” Google searches (searches that included the term healthy and were health-related, e.g., “healthy diet”) originating in the U.S. from 2005 to 2012. They found that, on average, searches for health topics were 30 percent more frequent at the beginning of the week than on days later in the week, with the lowest average number of searches on Saturday.

This pattern was consistent year after year, week after week, using a daily measure to represent the proportion of healthy searches to the total number of searches each day. American Journal of Preventive Medicine published the "big data" research.

The Monday Campaigns, a nonprofit public health organization associated with Johns Hopkins, Columbia and Syracuse universities, also conducts annual surveys through FGI Research.

The 2014 survey found that respondents said Monday was the best day for scheduling a doctor’s appointment – reinforcing that the first day of the week is when people mind their health and act on it.

So what are the PR implications of the “Monday effect”?

meatlessHealthcare practitioners can leverage the “Monday effect” by planning communications around the Monday cycle; leveraging Monday insights for more effective messaging, and using Monday as a platform for a range of health behaviors such as healthy eating, wellness, exercise, and medication adherence.

For example, Monday provides an opportunity to remind your target audience how to manage a specific health challenge via weekly newsletters. Or leverage the opportunity to motivate audiences through a series of short videos featuring “Healthy Monday tips.”

The Monday Campaigns create, launch and implement initiatives that nudge people towards healthier behavior every first day of the week. Each initiative has simple, direct messaging about using Monday as the day to get started on a healthier track. Since Monday comes around every seven days when people are “open to buy” health, it can be used as a cue to help create healthy habits for life.

The organization offers free research, creative concepts and resources, such as posters, toolkits, weekly recipes and tips -- thanks to founder and chairman, Sid Lerner, a former ad executive turned health advocate and philanthropist, whose goal is to bring marketing savvy to public health and position Monday as “the day all health breaks loose.”

Here are two examples of initiatives – one addresses healthy eating; the other sexual health.

Meatless Monday

In the business of getting consumers to eat healthier? Leverage Meatless Monday as one of your campaign strategies. It’s a simple ask – one day a week, cut out meat for your health and the health of our planet. Lerner founded the Meatless Monday movement as an easy, memorable way to encourage the public to eat better.

Associations and food brands have successfully applied Meatless Monday in their promotions. A few examples: The Mushroom Council created an e-cookbook. MorningStar Farms launched a website to engage its audience on a weekly basis, and held an SMT featuring Monday Campaigns President Peggy Neu talking about the benefits of foregoing meat one day a week.

The organization co-promotes our partners’ Meatless Monday activities through our website and social media channels (over 150,000 Facebook friends; 35,000+ Twitter followers).

Man Up Monday

Working with clients involved in sexual health?

man upStudies show that young men, and men generally, tend to ignore health problems until they become acute. The Man Up Monday initiative encourages men to take weekly stock of their sexual health by reflecting on their sexual health decisions, getting tested for HIV and STIs and restocking condoms.

In a pilot study conducted with Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Virginia, we learned that the campaign increased STI testing at their clinics by 200%.

College campuses have also benefited. For instance, Kentucky’s Murray State University saw an increase in use of testing services, with over half of students getting tested. Man Up Monday materials around campus caught their attention and encouraged them to go for testing. Most importantly, the campaign reached the university’s intended audience – the 57% of students who had never been tested for HIV before.

Other initiatives of The Monday Campaigns include the new DeStress Monday, Healthy Monday, Kids Cook Monday, Move It Monday, Caregiver Monday, and Monday 2000. All initiatives with their free resources are described at

So, healthcare PR practitioners, when developing programs for your companies or your clients, remember that the “Monday effect” could make a huge impact on the success of your campaigns because Monday is the day “all health breaks loose.”

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Cherry Dumaual, an alum of Spectrum Science and Marina Maher Communications, is PR and Partnerships Director at The Monday Campaigns. She's at @cdumaual.