HBS and Healthy Mondays
The Department of Health, Behavior and Society serves as a scientific advisor to The Monday Campaigns, a nonprofit public health initiative that offers weekly prompts to encourage healthy behavioral changes. HBS provides research support to help test and develop effective, evidence-based messaging and public education campaigns.
As the first day of the traditional work week, each Monday provides a weekly chance to start fresh, making it an ideal day to begin new personal health initiatives or recommit to existing healthy behaviors. The Monday Campaigns are built on the idea that leveraging this weekly opportunity may improve the likelihood of success with personal health goals.
The first Monday Campaign, Meatless Monday, started in 2003 as a collaboration between our colleagues at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF) and former advertising executive Sid Lerner. CLF continues to serve as the scientific advisor for Meatless Monday, which encourages participants to eliminate meat one day each week to improve individual health and the health of the planet. Building off the success of Meatless Monday, the Monday Campaigns have expanded to include initiatives that focus on smoking cessation, child nutrition, physical activity, sexual health, general wellness, and caregiver stress reduction.
Two literature reviews conducted by our colleagues at CLF demonstrated that the effectiveness of public health promotions may be improved by utilizing weekly prompts and leveraging Monday as a day to begin healthy behaviors. To build upon these findings, HBS researchers are now conducting a literature review that examines existing knowledge of the relative effectiveness of varying message periodicities (daily vs. weekly messages, for example) across a broad array of health behaviors.
HBS researchers also are exploring global Google search logs to determine whether people conduct more health-related queries on Mondays than on other days of the week. The first part of this study, which was recently published in the JAMA Internal Medicine, looked at searches related to quitting smoking, and found that people search about quitting smoking more often early in the week, with the greatest query volumes on Mondays.
A paper by HBS researchers, "Characterizing Periodic Messaging Interventions Across Health Behaviors and Media: Systematic Review" found that periodic messaging interventions appear to work for short-term health behavior change, particularly if the interventions include feedback and strategies. The paper was published in March 2014 in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.
A study published in April 2014 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine shows a consistent Monday surge in health-related Google searches over an eight year period. This adds to a growing body of evidence demonstrating that Monday can be a powerful leverage point for promoting healthy behaviors.
The following HBS faculty members serve as scientific advisors to The Monday Campaigns:
- David Holtgrave, PhD, Professor and Chair (Principal Investigator and advisor for sexual health initiatives)
- Larry Cheskin, MD, Professor and Director, Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center (advisor for obesity prevention initiatives)
- Joanna Cohen, PhD, Associate Professor and Director, Institute for Global Tobacco Control (advisor for smoking cessation initiatives)
For a complete list of past collaborative research projects, please visit our research archive.