BOX 7-1

Cooperative Extension

The Cooperative Extension is another nationwide educational network that delivers information to people in their homes, workplaces, and communities. Each US state and territory has a state office at its land-grant university and a network of local or regional offices. Extension links the resources and expertise of nearly 3150 county extension offices, 107 land-grant colleges and universities, and the federal government. County offices are staffed by one or more experts who provide useful, practical, and research-based information through printed and media-based materials, Web-based information sites, the telephone, community programs, and not-for-credit classes. This system is an excellent resource for disseminating health information and correcting misinformation.

The Need for Pretest and Post Hoc Evaluation

One of the challenges in supporting informed consumer choice is how governmental agencies communicate health benefits and risks to both the general population and to target populations. Previous attempts at communicating benefits and risks may have resulted in misinterpretation or misuse, including a reduction or total elimination of seafood consumption, by the intended audiences (Willows, 2005). Federal agencies should develop new and consumer-friendly tools to disseminate current and emerging information to the public. Developing effective tools requires formative evaluation, as well as an iterative approach to design.

Some individual communities have made substantial progress in understanding the effects of different modes of health communication and modifying the message to achieve the desired community and/or individual response. One such example is the Inuit community in Alaska, where communication of health risks from fish consumption previously resulted in changing patterns of food consumption from traditional foods to highly processed and often unhealthy alternative foods. Through the use of tailored messages and the involvement of the community throughout the entire process, a more effective message is now being provided to local communities.

Implementation: Embedding Consumer Advice Within a Larger Consumer Information Program

Consumers face challenging choices about seafood. Both the seafood



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