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Speaking of Health: Assessing Health Communication Strategies for Diverse Populations
context of media coverage of related events (e.g., Rock Hudson’s death from AIDS). Prohealth messages transmitted by programs may receive a better hearing in the context of such coverage. Also, programs may be able to encourage journalists to write about events to reinforce prohealth messages. In general, the presence of social environmental changes, such as policy initiatives supporting healthy behaviors, can provide fertile ground for communication campaigns.
The committee addressed the urgent need for research about diversity and communication program effects in Overall Recommendation 1. The judicious use of existing subgroups was the focus of Overall Recommendation 2. Both of those are specifically relevant to communication campaigns. In addition, each of the following recommendations addresses the additional findings presented here.
Communication Campaign Recommendation 1: Underresourced campaigns are unlikely to be effective and may deflect researchers from employing the most appropriate strategies. Campaigns are appropriately an attractive strategy to a health agency anxious to influence population behavior change. However, if the minimum conditions for successful public communication programs are not met—and often they are not, particularly with regard to resources needed to obtain high levels of exposure to messages—then the campaign is not an appropriate strategy. This concern is magnified in the context of a campaign that intends to address multiple diverse segments, when resource demands are even higher. Agencies should not initiate communication campaigns unless they are able to satisfy these conditions.
Communication Campaign Recommendation 2: The committee recommends that practitioners employ evidence-based multicomponent programs that integrate communication with access to services, where feasible, and especially where the appropriateness