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Speaking of Health: Assessing Health Communication Strategies for Diverse Populations
The field of public health communication relies on contributions of many disciplines. Skilled communicators and intervention developers are central to successful communication programs, but they depend on expertise from many other fields. Public health communication requires theories about behavior and behavior change; deep understanding of audiences, their cultural experience, and their social and structural circumstances; and understanding of the health infrastructure around the health concern and its medical nature. Increasingly, public health communication requires technical expertise with new technologies and medical knowledge about health problems. Some programs also need the expertise of marketers, and others need informatics expertise. If advances are to be made in communication for diverse populations, the field of public health communication should be strengthened. This requires not only investment in research and training, but the active participation and collaboration of people from many disciplines. Interdisciplinary teams to design and implement communication strategies in diverse populations should be encouraged by funding agencies.
National campaigns to address major health priorities require the mustering of substantial resources and, often, coordinated efforts of multiple agencies, if national audiences are to be reached and effects are to be sustained over time. They cannot be undertaken successfully without such commitment. A national strategy and infrastructure for prioritizing and implementing such large-scale campaigns are needed.