Celebrities and Advocacy – a Trend Worth Keeping?

The world of patient advocacy and information sharing is shifting every day, and sometimes in a really cool way. One major change that is taking off are the voices of celebrities in advocacy. It’s really inspiring to see celebrities using their platforms for a good cause and to raise awareness for patients that may otherwise not get as much recognition.

Celebrities often share other aspects of their lives but to include something so personal, like a health diagnosis, is pretty vulnerable. But in that action, there’s an opportunity to create a new conversation surrounding patient care, which can have lasting positive effects.

It’s also true many people might feel the opposite here. That celebrities come with too much drama and superficiality to be considered as true advocates. But in show business, all press is good press and having a big name that helps a cause go viral can still really make a difference.

Do you remember a few years back the ice bucket challenge? In case you missed it, in 2014 celebrities helped raise major awareness for the viral dare-or-donate trend. Soon everyone was on Facebook pouring buckets of icy water on their heads and nominating friends to do the same.

The original intent was to raise awareness for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).  ALS is a motor neuron disease that causes muscle weakness and can impact a person’s ability to walk, eat, or even talk. There was a bit of controversy surrounding the actual challenge, like the fact some folks forgot to mention donating to the cause. However, in the end a reported $115 million was raised as a result of the trend in addition to being a recognizable term to so many more people.

Recently, we’ve seen celebrities like Lilly Singh, Selena Gomez, Bruce Willis and Amy Schumer come forward with their own personal health stories. Maybe this is a defining moment in how we see entertainers with influence.  Afterall, it is human nature to want to help within our own means. If celebrities can amplify the voices of patients, raise awareness, destigmatize health concerns, and even fund potential new treatments – we say, have at it.

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