When you hear the term sepsis, what do you think? Do you know what it is? More importantly, do you know how to recognise the symptoms?
When I was asked to work on the sepsis campaign I had, rather embarrassingly, never heard of it. I had no idea who it affected, the severity of the condition, the scale of the problem, or the symptoms to look out for.
So, I went on a personal mission to educate myself on this condition. However, each piece of information I found referenced different terminology, symptoms, stats and mnemonics. After all my research I was no further forward on what sepsis was (in a nutshell) or how we could communicate this with the public.
As I walked into the initial stakeholder meeting with medical professionals, policy leads, news colleagues and our charity partners, I found there was an agreement that the challenge of how to explain sepsis in a clear, concise manner that would resonate with the public was one that had not been solved. As a collective we welcomed this challenge.
The more we discussed sepsis with expert medical professionals and sepsis survivors the better we were able to identify key statements on sepsis and its symptoms.
The big question now was – how do we turn this into a campaign?
In accordance with the Health Belief Model (HBM) by Rosenstock and Leventhal, a psychological health behaviour change model which can be used to explain and predict health-related behaviours, we needed to explore potential messages around sepsis to:
- Increase the levels of perceived seriousness of sepsis and the perceived susceptibility of catching it.
- Create a stimulus or a strong cue to action (i.e. encourage help).
- Increase confidence that people will know what to do if someone (themselves or others) thinks they might have sepsis by providing a simple call to action.
We then elected to use the Scottish Government editorial platforms to provide capacity for us to tell the story of sepsis.
The campaign was launched on the 5th of February 2018 by the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Shona Robison, and ran across:
- Bauer Radio network
- Local and national print media
- The Big Issue
- Posters and leaflets in GP surgeries, hospitals and pharmacies throughout Scotland
- Social media
The conservative estimated reach of the campaign is 1.3 million people and there has already been fantastic news coverage generated from the launch event. Whilst this might not be the biggest campaign, it’s certainly a start for raising awareness of sepsis.
Like many of the people who will see this campaign, I started with almost no knowledge of what sepsis is. For me, speaking with medical experts who deal with sepsis on a daily basis and meeting inspiring sepsis survivors such as Corinne Hutton and Craig Stobo made this campaign very special.
Every four hours someone in Scotland dies of sepsis. It’s worth remembering that behind this statistic are people with stories. I’m truly humbled to have heard some of these stories first hand, and to have worked on a campaign that hopefully results in less of these stories needing to be told.
For more information on the symptoms of Sepsis visits
To read Craig’s story visit
To read Corinne’s story visit