Pulitzer Prize-winning author Tina Rosenberg told a conference at UT Health Science Center that peer pressure if an often overlooked weapon that can be used for positive change in health care.
She told the Community Service Learning Conference that peer pressure could be the missing link to better health.
Positive peer pressure in all areas is the idea behind her book, "Join the Club: How Peer Pressure Can Transform the World."
"How people can use it to help us adhere to better behaviors, make changes in our life that we want to make and how we can design better health messages based on using positive peer pressure," Rosenberg said.
She said people don't get healthier based on new information or even fear, but based on the people around them.
"People change when they feel a sense of identification with another group of people who are just like them, but who have already made that change," Rosenberg said.
She points to Alcoholics Anonymous as a success story, but said it could be applied to most health problems. People recently diagnosed with diabetes, for example, are most likely to live a healthier life if they find others living with diabetes.
She said finding others who are similar keeps things positive, because everyone is on an even playing field.
"There is no sort of hierarchy. We're all at the same level, and we're all supporting each other and we're all holding each other accountable," Rosenberg said.
Even if the pressure is set up, it can still become a social cure, she said.