Cases in Public Health Communication & Marketing

Announcing: Cases in Public Health Communication & Marketing, an open access, peer-reviewed journal containing case studies that dissect contemporary work in the fields of public health communication and social marketing. Each case identifies the lessons learned from a recent public health program – whether successful or not – for the purpose of improving the practice of public health communication and marketing. All peer-reviewed case studies in the journal were developed through a collaborative process that required graduate students and their faculty advisers to partner with the practitioners who implemented the public health program.

From CPHCM mission statement:
This journal is intended to advance practice-oriented learning in the fields of public health communication and social marketing. As the first journal in these fields to focus exclusively on case studies, we publish peer-reviewed, commissioned and sponsored cases that have the potential to teach and improve the practice of public health. Each case we publish describes a public health program – or some aspect of a public health program – that is based at least in part on communication or marketing methods. We believe there is much to be learned by critically analyzing real-world experience. Unlike at NASA, at this journal failure is an option. We encourage analysis of both successful and failed programs. By providing a platform to critically assess real-world case studies, this journal hopes to raise the bar on the practice of public health communication and marketing.

Coalition for Health Communication

The Coalition for Health Communication is up to a lot of good things for Healthcomm researchers and practitioners. You may already know about the Healthcomm Key, a searchable database containing comprehensive summaries from published peer-reviewed studies related to health communication that currently contains over 700 summaries. There’s NIH librarian Marcia Zorn’s monthly compilations of Health Communication Web Resources in pdf and word files. (I’ve forwarded these around through email but she since she now donates these excellent lists to the wider audience of the CHC, I’m happy to just point in the direction of this site.) Topics include: Adged/Elderly/Life course/Alzheimer’s; Cancer; Bioethics/Ethics/Stem Cell Debate; Risk Perception/Risk Debate; HIV/AIDS; Palliative Care; Health Literacy; Prescriptions Drugs; Genetics/Genomes; Games/Gaming; E-Health; and many more. Then there is The Health Communication Bibliography Project, initiated in 2005 as a way to compile and broaden access to health communication scholarship. Initially, the intention was to demonstrate that health communication had matured as a discipline to the point that communication scholarship was being recognized and valued more and more widely in the health professions. To this end, the Top 60 ISI non-communication health-related journals from 2000 to present for peer-reviewed articles that dealt with some aspect of communication was searched. Nearly 700 articles were found and have been collected in an EndNote database. This CHC site is a must bookmark for Healthcomm researchers who want to keep an eye on the open web as well as University subscription databases for healthcomm topics.

Attitudes About Smoking in Movies

The Social Climate of Tobacco Smoking of The Social Science Research Center at the University of Mississippi describes itself “as a methodology to objectively measure the fundamental position of tobacco control in society and thereby provide a data collection system to monitor program impacts. The survey includes items to measure progress toward intermediate objectives such as policy changes, changes in social norms, reductions in exposure of individuals to environmental tobacco smoke, and rejection of pro-tobacco influences.” It has just published a research paper titled: Attitudes About Smoking in the Movies by Robert Mcmillen and Susanne Tanski.

Executive Summary of Attitudes About Smoking in the Movies:

More than a decade of research has established that U.S. movies are a major recruiter of new teen smokers in the United States: about 390,000 each year, of whom 120,000 will ultimately die from tobacco-related diseases unless current trends are altered. This national survey of adults demonstrates substantial and growing public and parental support for voluntary policy changes by Hollywood to reduce this toll, including an R-rating for almost all future tobacco scenes.

In 2006:

  • 80 percent of U.S. adults agree that smoking in movies influences teens to smoke.
  • 70 percent of adults call for R-ratings in movies that show smoking, unless the film clearly demonstrates the dangers of smoking or it is necessary to represent smoking of a real historical figure.
  • Public support for the R-rating increased by more than 10% from previous years.
  • Two-thirds of adults agree that movies should be required to show an anti-smoking
    advertisement before any film that includes smoking.
  • Support for policies encouraged by Smoke Free Movies has increased over the past three
    years, especially among smokers.
  • Support for these policies among parents is not significantly different from adults in general.
  • The “margin of error” for all adults surveyed is ±2.3%.The Motion Picture Association of America has recently announced revisions to its four-decade-old ratings system. However, these changes do not include tobacco imagery as a factor in R-ratings despite calls from leading U.S. and international health authorities to do so.


Pew Online Health Report 2006

Just out, The Pew Internet & American Life Project’s latest report: Online Health Search 2006. Written by the Project’s Associate Director, Susannah Fox, the Report is based on a telephone survey of 2,928 adults, aged 18 and older, conducted August 1-31, 2006.

The report includes some of these key findings as reported in the site’s press release: Eighty percent of American internet users, or some 113 million adults, have searched for information on at least one of seventeen health topics. Most internet users start at a general search engine when researching health and medical advice online. Just 15% of health seekers say they “always” check the source and date of the health information they find online, while another 10% say they do so “most of the time.” Fully three-quarters of health seekers say they check the source and date “only sometimes,” “hardly ever,” or “never,” which translates to about 85 million Americans gathering health advice online without consistently examining the quality indicators of the information they find. Most health seekers are pleased about what they find online, but some are frustrated or confused.

This 22-page report can be read in full at the site. A pdf of the questionnaire is also available. Other reports on blogging, Web 2.0 technology, home broadband adoption, among others are also available.

2005 National Health Interview Survey adds cancer topics

The public use file for the 2005 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) is now available. on the open web. The NHIS, which has been conducted annually since 1957, collects data on the U.S. population’s health status, health care utilization, health habits and beliefs. It includes detailed demographic and socioeconomic characteristics for all survey participants. The basic components of the survey have remained consistent over time but new topics are added as needed. This year’s survey added a special cancer section with six major sections: diet and nutrition, physical activity, tobacco, cancer screening, genetic testing and family history. Child mental health, child mental health services, and child influenza immunization were also added to the 2005 survey. The Survey is embedded in the National Center for Health Statistics site which is a part of the larger CDC.

Health Literacy issue of Studies in Communication Sciences

The latest issue of Studies in Communication Sciences (Studi di scienze della communicazione) is devoted to Health Literacy. Published at the Universita della Sviszzera italiana (but entirely in English), this semi-annual is usually around 250 pages and often centers around a theme.

Volume 5, Number 2 is titled: Enhancing Health Literacy Through Communication. Following an introductory piece by guest editors Peter Schulz and Kent Nakamoto is a full literature review on the subject. Article titles include: Breaking Through the Barriers of Low Functional Health Literacy: Implications for Health Communication; Active Acquisition or Passive Reception: Health Information Literacy Among Fifty Finns in Differing Health Situations; ‘Ask Your Doctor’ Argumentation in Advertising of Prescription Medicines; Deceptive Health Promotion: Barriers to Health Literacy; Developing Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Health Education Materials; Healthology, Health Literacy, and the Pharmaceutically Empowered Consumer; Health Literacy, Sex Education and Contraception: the Singapore Experience; Evaluating a Health Literacy Kit for Physicians;…Effects of Taru, a Reproductive Health Soap Opera in India; Improving Health Literacy of Rural Health Care Consumers; …How a California Community Reshaped its Well-being; Health Literacy–More Than Reading a Prescription Label.

This issue is in the ASC Library and not available online.

Searching Risk Communication in PubMed

Since the National Institute of Health’s Risk Communication database (see 5/26 post) is not current, where do you go for the latest research? You can search risk in all the sociology and communication databases (Communication Abstracts, CIOS, Sociological Abstracts, IBSS, ISI, Francis, and PsycINFO) both generally and by specific risk topics (toxic shock, motorcycle helmets, avian flu, airplane security, etc.). But how do you keep track of risk communication in the sea of medical literature? I was talking to Marcia Zorn, healthcomm expert extraordinaire/NIH librarian, and she has developed a strategy for doing just that, searching PubMed for risk communication. What’s more, she’s developed a nifty url to feed right to the PubMed search box. The search is complicated (a paragraph-long sentence) but you don’t have to type (much less build) it if you use this freeze-dried one that she’s constructed. Here it is for you to try: For anyone doing large lit reviews on risk, or who just wants to keep up with the latest risk communication literature in the largest medical database out there, this is a good search to run periodically.

Risk Communication database

Actually, it’s more a searchable bibliography than a database, and its lifespan is limited, 1990-2003, but it’s uniqueness makes it a valuable resource. Adapted from the site:

Scope of the Bibliography
This bibliography provides an introduction to risk communication literature. It does not pretend to be a complete collection of all relevant articles, and many valuable sources have undoubtedly been missed. Nevertheless, its listings should provide a good starting point for searching the field. It includes reports of experiments, theoretical discussions, case histories, how-to manuals, dissertations, and reviews. The bibliography is not limited to cancer risks because much of use to cancer risk communication can be gleaned from lessons learned in other domains. To set realistic boundaries, we focused this bibliography on publications that relate to the specific task of explaining the nature and magnitude of hazards to the public. This focus unavoidably neglects important social, legal, political, ethical, and institutional issues in risk communication. (A non-annotated list of references covering the broad field of risk communication may be found at the National Library of Medicine:
The bibliography does, however, include many articles that deal with risk perception, even ones lacking any mention of communication, because learning how people think about risk should help us discover how well they understand our risk messages and help us find ways to increase their risk understanding.

Number of Risk Communication/Perception Articles Published from 1990-2003

Year Number of Articles
1990-1997 249
1998 47
1999 74
2000 52
2001 65
2002 69
June, 2003 23

(Click on header above to access site.)