|dc.description.abstract||Social marketing aims to influence the behaviours of target audiences to achieve social goals for ‘social good’ (Peattie & Peattie, 2009): that which benefits individuals, the community and/or broader society (Rothschild, 1999). However, Andreasen (2003) argues the field generally focuses on facilitating the adoption, rather than the maintenance, of target behaviours. This is problematic since it is typically consumers’ sustained performance of target behaviours that is ultimately crucial to social good (Andreasen, 2003, 2004). For instance, in social marketing’s primary domain of public health (Gordon, 2011), many health behaviours need to be repeated over time in order to be effective. Sustained abstinence from smoking, for example, is required for health benefit (Feldman & Christensen, 2008). Despite this, limited social marketing research examines the drivers of maintained healthy behaviour (Logie-MacIver & Piacentini, 2010). This is an important shortcoming since it is generally more difficult to perform, and therefore facilitate, behaviours that need to be repeated over time (Evans, 2006; McKenzie-Mohr, 2000). Thus, improved understanding of the drivers of maintenance behaviour, particularly in the public health domain, is vital.
Within the public health domain, many social goals, such as improved population health and reduced burden of disease, can be achieved by facilitating the repeat use of preventative and curative health services. Sustained use of therapeutic mental health services, for example, is central to improved wellbeing for those experiencing mental ill-health (e.g. Melartin et al., 2005; Ogrodniczuk et al., 2005). However, extant social marketing literature focuses on the impact of intrinsic, individual factors, while largely neglecting the effects of extrinsic service attributes, on the sustained use of health services (e.g. Masser et al., 2009; Zainuddin et al., 2011). Thus, the sufficiency of current understanding of this target behaviour is uncertain, since services marketing research shows service attributes are dominant drivers of service continuance (Paul et al., 2009). This research, consistent with social marketing’s adaption and adoption of commercial marketing theories and principles (Dann, 2010), therefore aims to explore the impact of service attributes on the sustained use of health services.
This study contributes to social marketing literature by improving understanding of the drivers of maintenance behaviour. In particular, it explores the impact of service attributes on a target audience’s repeat use of a health service: target behaviour that is instrumental to the key social goal of improved personal welfare (Andreasen, 1994). This is aligned with the call for greater focus on public services in social marketing research (Wood, 2012). Further, it provides qualitative insight into the usefulness of the theory of repeat purchase drivers for consumer services (Paul et al., 2009) in the context of non-commercial consumer services. Last, it offers social marketers knowledge of the service attributes, which are directly controllable, that could be employed to influence target audiences’ sustained use of health services.||