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It often comes several times a year to cities all over the world, causing thousands of individuals to fall victim to its trap. It feeds on the courage, will power, and determination, of its victims. As a result many individuals choose to stay from this “monster.” What could this monstrosity be? No, it is not any kind of undead creature but something more life altering towards your health. It is what is known as the “scary” health fair.

Health fairs are often based within local communities and meant to allow individuals the opportunity to learn about effective ways to improve their health. This is done through health screenings, informational booths (which  contain health related activities and demonstrations), and question and answering sessions conducted by physicians, nurses, researchers, and other health professionals. So how can something meant to be so beneficial to the community, strike such fear within individuals? Well, some individuals are afraid of knowing what the results of tests or screenings given at the health fair. Knowing about bad results could be worse than just having the disease the screening actually tested. As a result such individuals display an sense of fear and feel that they are better off not knowing, and therefore refuse to attend health fair events or even go to the doctor. An example of this can be shown in a study conducted within Sweden, regarding informing adults and their children of their genetic high risk to diabetes. It was found that adults who choose not to be informed of their (or their children’s) risk for the disease, may have felt certain factors of fear and anxiety regarding their diagnosis[i] This concept of fear is what drives many adults to make hazardous decisions regarding their health.

Another reason as to why individuals are so afraid of attending health fairs is the unwillingness to communicate health problems. It is often hard to motivate both men and women to talk openly about their health. Men and women, both young and old, can feel a sense of embarrassment when it comes to asking their physician personal questions about their health. It is therefore even more difficult, to speak to a complete stranger about your health concerns. So rather than voice their opinions, many individuals choose to keep quiet about the personal health problems.

Individuals within the community also become overwhelmed with the amount of information given to them while attending a health fair. Then, how can individuals feel more confident and less fearful about attending health fairs?

Listed below are ways that can reduce the fear of this “scary monster” known as the health fair:

1.  Don’t Go Alone. Take a family member or a friend with you. Not only will he or she be there to support you during the possible health screenings or tests you may receive, but you both can learn some vital information about improving your health together. The information that you both obtain can make a beneficial impact in the lives of those around you.
2. Do Research Before Hand. Learn about the health topics for each specific table beforehand. After visiting these tables, visit other tables possessing information that may catch your interest. This allows you to use your time effectively and reduce the risk of feeling overwhelmed.
3. Take Time to Relax. When feeling overwhelmed by the information that you received, step away from the “chaotic scary monster” and engage in another activity. You may choose to walk away from the commotion for a while or grab a quick bite to eat. After you have regained your composure, return to the health fair.

4. Take Some Reading Material. Take some of the pamphlets/brochures home with you to read through. Any information that you obtain could also be shared with one of your loved one’s as well. Even if the specific health topic may not be beneficial to you, pass it along to a friend or family member before throwing it away.
5. No Question is a Stupid Question. Remember a health fair is meant to educate and inform the attendees on how to take better care of their health. Whether it is an inquiry about your specific diet or clarification regarding the information that was shared during the health fair, take time to ask the booth attendants questions that you may have or may just want to know.

Feel like you are prepared yet to face the “scary Health Fair monster”? Remember the tips above and you will soon realize that health fairs truly do have the best in mind for you and your health. Please stay updated on events within your community. Also reference your local newspaper or community websites for when the next health fair may be coming to your town.

[i] Swartling, Ulrica; Eriksson, Stefan; Ludvigsson, Johnny; and Helgesson, Gert. Concern, pressure and lack of knowledge affect choice of not wanting to know high-risk status. European Journal of Human Genetics, (2007), 15, 556–562.