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Health communication is the study and practice of communicating promotional health information, such as in public health campaigns, health education, and between doctor and patient.The purpose of disseminating health information is to influence personal health choices by improving health literacy.
Health promotion is as stated in the 1986 WHO Ottawa Charter on Health Promotion "the process of enabling people to increase control over, and to improve, their health. To reach a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, an individual or group must be able to identify and to realize aspirations, to satisfy needs, and to change or cope with the environment. Health is, therefore, seen as a resource for everyday life, not the objective of living. Health is a positive concept emphasizing social and personal resources, as well as physical capacities. Therefore, health promotion is not just the responsibility of the health sector, but goes beyond healthy life-styles to well-being".
Public health has been defined as "the science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting human health through organized efforts and informed choices of society, organizations, public and private, communities and individuals". Analyzing the health of a population and the threats it faces is the basis for public health. The public can be as small as a handful of people or as large as a village or an entire city; in the case of a pandemic it may encompass several continents. The concept of health takes into account physical, psychological and social well-being. As such, according to the World Health Organization, it is not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.
Health education is a profession of educating people about health. Areas within this profession encompass environmental health, physical health, social health, emotional health, intellectual health, and spiritual health, as well as sexual and reproductive health education.
Because effective health communication must be tailored for the audience and the situation,research into health communication seeks to refine communication strategies to inform people about ways to enhance health or to avoid specific health risks. Academically, health communication is a discipline within communication studies.
Communication studies or communication sciences is an academic discipline that deals with processes of human communication and behavior. There are three types of communication: verbal, involving listening to a person to understand the meaning of a message; written, in which a message is read; and nonverbal communication involving observing a person and inferring meaning. The discipline encompasses a range of topics, from face-to-face conversation to mass media outlets, such as television broadcasting.
Health communication may variously seek to:
The term was generated when members of an ICA, International Communication Association, interest group adopted the term. Interdisciplinary marriage between health and communication was certainly a common-law relationship long before the term "health communication" was introduced. (Stacks & Salween, page 489) The research of health communication surrounds the development of effective messages about health, the dissemination of health-related information through broadcast, print, and electronic media, and the role of inter personal relationships in health communities. At the core of all of the communication is the idea of health and the emphasis of health. The goal of health communication research is to identify and provide better and more effective communication strategies that will improve the overall health of society. (Stacks & Salween, page 489)
The International Communication Association (ICA) is an academic association for scholars interested in the study, teaching and application of all aspects of human and mediated communication. It began more than 60 years ago as a small organization of U.S. researchers and now is truly international with more than 4500 members in over 85 countries. The Association maintains an active membership of more than 4,500 individuals in 85 countries, approximately two-thirds of whom are academic scholars, professors, and graduate students. Other members are in government, the media, communication technology, business law, medicine and other professions. ICA also has 59 institutional members and a growing number (16) of association members.
There are many purposes and reasons why health communication research is important and how it betters the health care field. The training programs of Health Care Professionals, or HCP, can be adapted and developed based on health communication research. (Stacks & Salween, 495) Due to there being a diverse culture that makes up the group of patients within the health care field, communication to other cultures has been taught and has been made a focus in health care training classes. Research suggests that nonverbal and verbal communication between health care professionals and patient can lead to improved patient outcomes. According to Stacks and Salween on page 496 some health care facilities, like hospitals are providing training and education materials to patients. The goal of hospitals doing this is to allow for patients to have a better outcome due to better communication skills. Over the years, there has been much research done on health communication. For example, researchers want to know if people are more effectively motivated by a positive message versus a negative message. Researchers examine ideas like, are people better motivated by ideas of wealth and safety or an idea of illness and death. Researchers are examining which dimensions of persuasive incentives are most influential: physical health versus economic, versus psychological, versus moral, versus social. (Stacks & Salween, 497) Impact of the Health Campaign-After research has been conducted and analyzed on the effects of health communication, it can be concluded that a health communication campaign that is requiring a behavior change causes the desired behavior change in about 7%-10% or more in the people who are in the campaign site than those who are in the control group. Also, the effects are stronger for adoption of a new behavior than cessation of a current behavior, about 12% higher.
When assessing how affective a health campaign is, the key determinant is the degree of audience reception, the quality and quantity of the message, the dissemination channels, and the larger communication environment. It is possible that an audience can be more receptive to some messages than others. The media channel and how the message is reached by the audience can affect the effectiveness of the health campaign. (Stacks & Salween page 498)
The efforts and effects of health messages and communication are often counter affected by alcohol and tobacco commercials. The advertisement for these items is often made to be glamorous and will contradict what was said in the health campaign. This can lead to the efforts of the health communication seem to be pointless.
Health communication professionals are specifically trained in methods and strategies for effective communication of public health messages, with qualifications in research, strategic development, and evaluating effectiveness.Health communication is taught in master's and doctoral programs. The Coalition for Health Communication maintains a list of such programs.
A master's degree is an academic degree awarded by universities or colleges upon completion of a course of study demonstrating mastery or a high-order overview of a specific field of study or area of professional practice. A master's degree normally requires previous study at the bachelor's level, either as a separate degree or as part of an integrated course. Within the area studied, master's graduates are expected to possess advanced knowledge of a specialized body of theoretical and applied topics; high order skills in analysis, critical evaluation, or professional application; and the ability to solve complex problems and think rigorously and independently.
Scholars and practitioners in health communication are often trained in disciplines such as communication studies, sociology, psychology, public health, or medicine and then focus within their field on either health or communication. Practitioners are pragmatic and draw from social-scientific scholarship, theories from the humanities, and professional fields such as education, management, law and marketing (Maibach 2008). Professionals trained in health communication encounter a wide range of employment opportunities spanning between the public, private, and volunteer sectors and have the opportunity for a large amount of career mobility.Examples of jobs in each of these categories include federal, state, and local health departments in the public sector, Pharmaceutical companies and large corporations in the private sector, and various non-profit organizations such as the American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association in the volunteer sector.
Sociology is the scientific study of society, patterns of social relationships, social interaction, and culture of everyday life. It is a social science that uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about social order, acceptance, and change or social evolution. While some sociologists conduct research that may be applied directly to social policy and welfare, others focus primarily on refining the theoretical understanding of social processes. Subject matter ranges from the micro-sociology level of individual agency and interaction to the macro level of systems and the social structure.
Psychology is the science of behavior and mind, including conscious and unconscious phenomena, as well as feeling and thought. It is an academic discipline of immense scope and diverse interests that, when taken together, seek an understanding of the emergent properties of brains, and all the variety of epiphenomena they manifest. As a social science it aims to understand individuals and groups by establishing general principles and researching specific cases.
Medicine is the science and practice of establishing the diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, and prevention of disease. Medicine encompasses a variety of health care practices evolved to maintain and restore health by the prevention and treatment of illness. Contemporary medicine applies biomedical sciences, biomedical research, genetics, and medical technology to diagnose, treat, and prevent injury and disease, typically through pharmaceuticals or surgery, but also through therapies as diverse as psychotherapy, external splints and traction, medical devices, biologics, and ionizing radiation, amongst others.
International Communication Association officially recognized health communication in 1975; in 1997, the American Public Health Association categorised health communication as a discipline of Public Health Education and Health Promotion.
Careers in the field of health communication range widely between the public, private, and volunteer sectors and professionals of health communication are distinctively trained to conduct communication research, develop successful and repeatable campaigns for health promotion and advocacy, and to evaluate how effective these strategies have been for future campaigns.
Clear communication is essential to successful public health practice at every level of the ecological model: intrapersonal, interpersonal, group, organizational, and societal. In each instance of health communication, there must be careful deliberation concerning the appropriate channel for messages to best reach the target audience, ranging from face-to-face interactions to television, Internet, and other forms of mass media.The recent explosion of new Internet communication technologies, particularly through the development of health websites (such as MedlinePlus, Healthfinder, and WebMD), online support groups (such as the Association for Cancer Online Resources), web portals, tailored information systems, telehealth programs, electronic health records, social networking, and mobile devices (cell phones, PDAs, etc.) means that the potential media are ever changing.
The social and cultural contexts in which health communication occurs are also widely diverse and can include (but are not limited to) homes, schools, doctor’s offices, and workplaces, and messages must consider the variant levels of health literacy and education of their audience, as well as demographics, values, socioeconomic issues, and many other factors that may influence effective communication.
Critical Health Communication refers to scholarship that interrogates "how meanings and enactments of health are tied to issues of power through the systematic construction and maintenance of inequalities."It examines links with culture, resources, and other social structures. It is distinct from mainstream Health Communication in its emphasis on qualitative and interpretive methods, and its attention to the ideological processes that underpin shared understandings of health. Unlike much mainstream Health Communication, most Critical Health Communication holds that simply circulating better quality, or more visible message about health is not enough to meaningfully influence health outcomes or correct health care disparities. The first comprehensive review of Critical Health Communication was published in 2008, and since then the volume of Health Communication research taking a critical approach has steadily increased.
Tailoring a health message is one strategy for persuasive health communication.For messages of health communication to reach selected audiences accurately and quickly, health communication professionals must assemble a collection of superior and audience appropriate information that target population segments. Understanding the audience for the information is critical to effective delivery.
Communication is an enigma that is detrimental to the healthcare world and to the resulting health of a patient. Communication is an activity that involves oral speech, voice, tone, nonverbal body language, listening and more. It is a process for a mutual understanding to come at hand during interpersonal connections. A patient’s communication with their healthcare team and vice versa, affects the outcome of their health. Strong, clear, and positive relationships with physicians can chronically improve and increase the condition of a certain patient. Through two approaches, the biomedical model and the biopsychosocial model; this can be successfully achieved. Evidence has shown that communication and its traditions have altered throughout the years. With the use of many new discoveries and the changes within our technology market, communication has severely improved and become instantaneous.
Communicators need to continually synthesize knowledge from a range of other scholarly disciplines including marketing, psychology, and behavioural sciences.Once this information has been collected, professionals can choose from a variety of methods and strategies of communication that they believe would best convey their message. These methods include campaigns, entertainment advocacy, media advocacy, new technologies, and interpersonal communication.
Health Communication campaigns are arguably the most utilized and effective method for spreading public health messages, especially in endorsing disease prevention (e.g. cancer, HIV/AIDS) and in general health promotion and wellness (e.g. family planning, reproductive health).The Institute of Medicine argues that health communication campaigns tend to organize their message for a diverse audience in one of three ways:
Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and scholars of health communication emphasize the importance of strategic planning throughout a campaign. This includes a variety of steps to ensure a well-developed message is being communicated:
In 1721, health communication was used to mitigate the smallpox epidemic in Boston. Cotton Mather, a political leader, used pamphlets and speeches to promote inoculation of smallpox.Alcohol abuse has been a problem within society for about as long as alcohol has been around. In the 19th century, the Women’s Christian Temperance Union led a movement against alcohol abuse. They utilized mass communication to communicate the desired message. News papers and magazines allowed for the promotion of the anti-alcohol movement.
Three-community study and the five-city project were experimental campaigns to inform middle-aged men about the causes of cardiovascular disease. Health messages were communicated via television, radio, newspaper, cookbooks, booklets, and bus cards. The three "communities" comprised three experimental communication strategies: a media-only campaign, a media campaign supplemented with face-to-face communication, and a no-intervention control group. The experimented revealed that after one year, the most informed at-risk men were those in the second experimental group: they men consumed the media campaign and were attended by a health care provider.
Using the entertainment industry as a platform for advocating health information and education is a communication strategy that has become increasingly popular. The most utilized strategy is for health communication professionals to create partnerships with storyline creators so that public health information can be incorporated into within the plot of a television show. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has formed a strong partnership with Hollywood, Health, and Society, at the University of Southern California Norman Lear Center to continue to produce new storylines on television and in film studios that will help to promote public health information.Some of the resources provided with this partnership include comprehensive "tip sheets" to provide writers with easy to access and trustworthy information on health issues, and meetings and panels to discuss new information and resources. Some of the most notable examples of this method of communication in recent years have been with the films Contagion and I Am Legend in understanding the spread of disease, NBC's series Parenthood in Asperger's Syndrome, and with the CW's series 90210 and spreading cancer awareness. More recently, film festivals and competitions focused specifically on health films have been organised by the American Public Health Association, the International Health Film Festival, the Global Health Film Initiative of the Royal Society of Medicine and the Public Health Film Society .
Writers and storyline developers have an increased motivation to continue to incorporate public health information into their scripts with the creation of the Sentinel for Health Awards in 2000, which honors storylines that effectively promote health topics and audience awareness of public health issues.Surveys conducted by Porter Novelli in 2001 reported many interesting statistics on the effectiveness of this strategy, such as that over half of regular prime time and daytime drama viewers have reported that they have learned something about health promotion or disease prevention from a TV show. Amongst this data, minority groups are significantly represented with well over half of African American and Hispanic viewers stating that they had either taken some form of preventative action after hearing about a health issue on TV, or that a TV storyline helped them to provide vital health information to a friend or family member.
Media advocacy use strategic mass media tools combined with widespread organization in order to advocate for healthy public policies or lifestyles.This can include the use of text messaging and email to spread messages from person to person, and using social networking venues to promote health information to a wide-ranging audience. As technologies expand, the platforms for health communication through media advocacy will undoubtedly expand as well.
Health communication relies on strong interpersonal communications in order to influence health decisions and behaviours. The most important of these relationships are the connection and interaction between an individual and their health care provider (e.g., physician, therapist, pharmacist) and an individual's social support system (family, friends, community). These connections can positively influence the individual's decision to make healthy choices.Patients are more prone to listen when they feel invested emotionally into the situation. If they feel as if they understand what is being said, they are more prone to make objective decisions based on the information heard.
Health communication has become essential in promoting the general public health in myriad situations. One of health communication's most important applications has been throughout major Environmental events (e.g. hurricanes, flooding, tornados) and addressing the affected audience's questions and needs quickly and efficiently, keeping the protection of public health and the forefront of their message.Health communication professionals are constantly working to improve this type of risk communication in order to be prepared in the case of an emergency.
Another increasingly important application of health communication has been in reaching students in the college community. The National College Health Assessment has measured that 92.5% of college students reported being in "good, very good, or excellent health", however college students seem to battle serious problems with stress, depression, substance abuse, and a general lack of nutrition in comparison to other age groups and audiences.Professionals in health communication are actively striving for new ways to reach this at-risk audience in order to raise standards of public health in the college setting and to promote a healthier life style amongst students.
There are many challenges in communicating information about health to individuals. Some of the most essential issues have to do with the gap between individual health literacy and healthcare workers and institutions, as well as flaws in communicating health information through mass media.
One problem that health communication seeks to address is the gap that has formed between health literacy and the use of health communication. [ citation needed ] that even this group have difficulty understanding written health materials, understanding health care and policies, and generally do not comprehend medical jargon. Such shortcomings of health communication may lead to increased hospitalizations, the inability to respond to and manage a disease or medical condition, and a generally declining health status.[ citation needed ]While the goal is that health communication will effectively lead to health literacy, issues such as the use of unexplained medical jargon, ill-formed messages, and often a general educational gap have created a disparity. Specifically, studies have been done amongst elderly populations in America to illustrate a common audience who is left at a disadvantage due to this issue. The older adults comprise an age group that generally suffers from the most chronic health conditions in comparison to other age groups, however studies have shown
In some populations, health-related websites (e.g., WebMD) and online support groups (e.g., Association for Cancer Online Resources) have increased access to health information.
Mass communication is used to promote beneficial changes in behavior among members of populations.A major criticism of the use of mass media as a method of health communication is the unfortunate ability for false and misinformed messages to spread quickly through the mass media, before they have the chance to be disputed by professionals. This issue may generate unwarranted panic amongst those who receive the messages and be an issue as technology continues to advance. An example of this may be observed in the ongoing distrust of vaccinations due to the publication of numerous messages that wrongly link the childhood measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccination with the development and onset of Autism. The speed with which this message spread due to new social networking technologies caused many parents to distrust vaccinations and therefore forgo having their children receive the vaccine. Although this panic has been ferociously labeled as fictitious, many still harbor a lingering suspicion towards vaccinations and refuse them, which has caused an immediate public health concern.
The following are some of the key events in the development of health communication as a formal discipline since the 1970s.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is the leading national public health institute of the United States. The CDC is a United States federal agency under the Department of Health and Human Services and is headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia.
Community health is a major field of study within the medical and clinical sciences which focuses on the maintenance, protection, and improvement of the health status of population groups and communities. It is a distinct field of study that may be taught within a separate school of [public health] or [environmental health]. The WHO defines community health as:
environmental, social, and economic resources to sustain emotional and physical well being among people in ways that advance their aspirations and satisfy their needs in their unique environment.
Health psychology is the study of psychological and behavioral processes in health, illness, and healthcare. It is concerned with understanding how psychological, behavioral, and cultural factors contribute to physical health and illness. Psychological factors can affect health directly. For example, chronically occurring environmental stressors affecting the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis, cumulatively, can harm health. Behavioral factors can also affect a person's health. For example, certain behaviors can, over time, harm or enhance health. Health psychologists take a biopsychosocial approach. In other words, health psychologists understand health to be the product not only of biological processes but also of psychological, behavioral, and social processes.
Behavior change, in the context of public health, refers to efforts to change people's personal habits to prevent disease. Behavior change in public health is also known as social and behavior change communication (SBCC). More and more, efforts focus on prevention of disease to save healthcare care costs. This is particularly important in low and middle income countries, where health interventions have come under increased scrutiny because of the cost.
Social marketing is the use of marketing theory, most commonly used with small businesses. It has the primary goal of achieving "social good". Traditional commercial marketing aims are primarily financial, though they can have positive social affects as well. In the context of public health, social marketing would promote general health, raise awareness and induce changes in behaviour. To see social marketing as only the use of standard commercial marketing practices to achieve non-commercial goals is an oversimplified view.
Patient advocacy is an area of specialization in health care concerned with advocacy for patients, survivors, and caregivers. The patient advocate may be an individual or an organization, often, though not always, concerned with one specific group of disorders. The terms patient advocate and patient advocacy can refer both to individual advocates providing services that organizations also provide, and to organizations whose functions extend to individual patients. Some patient advocates work for the institutions that are directly responsible for the patient's care.
The American Sexual Health Association (ASHA) is an American non-profit organization established in 1914, that cites a mission to improve the health of individuals, families, and communities, with an emphasis on sexual health, as well as a focus on preventing sexually transmitted infections and their harmful consequences. ASHA uses tools such as education, communication, advocacy and policy analysis activities with the intent to heighten public, patient, provider, policymaker and media awareness of STI prevention, screening, diagnosis and treatment strategies.
Gary L. Kreps is a communication scholar. He is a university distinguished professor of communication at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, United States, where he directs the Center for Health and Risk Communication. He served as chair of the Department of Communication from 2004 to 2013, and held the Eileen and Steve Mandell Endowed Chair in Health Communication from 2004 to 2010. He served on the governing board of the Center for Social Science Research, and has served as a long-time faculty affiliate of the National Center for Biodefense and Infectious Diseases, the Center for Health Care Ethics and Policy, the Center for International Medical Policies and Practices, the Center for Health Information Technology, the Center for Health Intervention Research, the Center for the Advancement of Wellbeing, and the Center for Climate Change Communication at Mason.
Lawrence W. Green is an American specialist in public health education. He is best known by health education researchers as the originator of the PRECEDE model and co-developer of the PRECEDE-PROCEED model, which has been used throughout the world to guide health program intervention design, implementation, and evaluation and has led topublished studies, applications and commentaries on the model in the professional and scientific literature.
The George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis is one of the world's leading schools for the training of social science researchers. The Brown School offers a Master of Social Work (MSW), a Master of Public Health (MPH), a Master of Social Policy, a PhD in Social Work, and a PhD in Public Health Sciences. The social work program is top-ranked by US News. As one of the academic units of Washington University in St. Louis, the Brown School was founded in 1925 as the department of social work. The school was endowed in 1945 by Bettie Bofinger Brown and named for her husband, George Warren Brown, a St. Louis philanthropist and co-founder of the Brown Shoe Company. The school was the first in the country to have a building for the purpose of social work education, and it is also a founding member of the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health. The school is housed within Brown, Goldfarb, and Hillman Halls.
Health marketing is a new, customer-centered, approach to public health promotion that applies traditional marketing principles and theories alongside science-based strategies to protect and promote the health of diverse populations.It involves creating, communicating, and delivering messages for the public on prevention, health promotion and health protection. Health marketing is one of the ways advancements in medicine and in health-protecting services, such as insurance, are made widely known. A good example is the current drive in Kenya to promote circumcision among communities that do not customarily circumcise. Medical researchers have recently documented that circumcision is 65% effective in preventing HIV infection among men.
Noreen M. Clark was the Myron E. Wegman Distinguished University Professor, Director of the Center for Managing Chronic Disease, Professor of Health Behavior & Health Education, and Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Michigan. From 1995-2005 she served as Dean of Public Health and Marshall H. Becker Professor of Public Health at the University of Michigan. She was interested in systems, policies and programs that promote health, prevent illness, and enable individuals to manage disease.
Social and behavior change communication (SBCC), often also only "BCC" or "Communication for Development (C4D)" is an interactive process of any intervention with individuals, communities and/or societies to develop communication strategies to promote positive behaviors which are appropriate to their settings and there by solve world's most pressing health problems. This in turn provides a supportive environment which will enable people to initiate, sustain and maintain positive and desirable behavior outcomes.
Audience segmentation is a process of dividing people into homogeneous subgroups based upon defined criterion such as product usage, demographics, psychographics, communication behaviors and media use. Audience segmentation is used in commercial marketing so advertisers can design and tailor products and services that satisfy the targeted groups. In social marketing, audiences are segmented into subgroups and assumed to have similar interests, needs and behavioral patterns and this assumption allows social marketers to design relevant health or social messages that influence the people to adopt recommended behaviors. Audience segmentation is widely accepted as a fundamental strategy in communication campaigns to influence health and social change. Audience segmentation makes campaign efforts more effective when messages are tailored to the distinct subgroups and more efficient when the target audience is selected based on their susceptibility and receptivity.
Targeting is a commonly used technique in the areas of international health and public health which focuses on the development of specialized health intervention approaches for a specific group of people. These groups of people may be identified by geography, race/ethnicity, age, and health issues, among others.
An ambulatist is a licensed health care provider who specializes in the prevention, management, and care coordination of ambulatory patients with chronic diseases by using lifestyle medicine and drug therapy.
The Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs (CCP) was founded over 30 years ago by Phyllis Tilson Piotrow as a part the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health's department of Health, Behavior, and Society and is located in Baltimore, Maryland, United States.
The rhetoric of health and medicine is an academic discipline concerning language and symbols in health and medicine. Rhetoric most commonly refers to the persuasive element in human interactions and is often best studied in the specific situations in which it occurs. As a subfield of rhetoric, medical rhetoric specifically analyzes and evaluates the structure, delivery, and intention of communications messages in medicine- and health-related contexts. Primary topics of focus includes patient-physician communication, health literacy, language that constructs disease knowledge, and pharmaceutical advertising. The general research areas are described below. Medical rhetoric is a more focused subfield of the rhetoric of science.
Dolores Albarracin is a psychologist, author and professor of psychology and business based in Illinois. She is Professor of Psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. She is known for her work in the fields of behavior, communication and persuasion. Her contributions have had implications for the scientific understanding of basic social psychological processes and communication policy, especially in the area of health.
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