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  • Understand how health communications research and campaigns impact the wellness of individuals and communities globally
  • Describe the role of news media, social media, trusted community members, participatory communication, and “edutainment” in health promotion and education
  • Define common barriers to health communications research and delivery, particularly in developing countries and with underserved minority populations worldwide
  • Explain the principles of social marketing to deliver health information and services and to change behaviors
  • Show how mobile phones and other information communication technologies can accelerate access to knowledge, spur innovation, and improve health

One significant driver of improvements in public health globally over the past 40 years has been the increased understanding and employment of health communication research, campaigns, and technologies, as well as social marketing strategies.

Health communications research provides a picture of the knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors of individuals and communities. Health communications and social marketing campaigns use multiple channels to raise awareness and provide culturally appropriate messages about disease, environmental conditions, nutrition, safety, literacy, and a host of other issues. The communicators must understand individual and community needs and wants, as well as the social and political pressures and competitive forces. They will then be able to inform the people of the community in a manner they trust. This process should help the community be more open to receiving the communication and can lead to motivating them to change behavior and, ultimately, to improving their health and productivity.

Interventions to advance global health have centered typically on clinical and research endeavors, but that has been changing over the past three decades. An important missing piece of the prevention-treatment puzzle was the strategic use of health communication and marketing tools that can empower communities with the knowledge, motivation, and incentive to improve their environment and wellness, and in return, their social and economic potential and sustainability.

Many examples of health communications and social marketing success in changing behaviors and improving health now exist. Effective global health practitioners, particularly those working in developing countries, understand the importance of using communications and marketing at all stages of behavior change. To impact entrenched beliefs and practices, as well as open up access to new knowledge, health communications and marketing must continue to be an essential piece of community-driven global health strategies.

This chapter explores:

  • Health communications research and program development
  • Applying a social marketing process to improve and sustain healthier behaviors
  • Partnering with media to promote and inform
  • Tapping into the latest communication technologies to empower individuals and communities with new health knowledge and increased ways to stay connected, share their stories, and sustain lasting positive behavior changes

Eliminating or diminishing the burden brought on by the overwhelming diseases of our day calls for aggressive clinical prevention, treatment, and research, but also connecting meaningfully with individuals and communities to promote healthy behavior change. Human behavior plays a significant role in the ...

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