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Speaking of Health: Assessing Health Communication Strategies for Diverse Populations
34 percent; and (5) laggards—the last 16 percent of the individuals in a system to adopt an innovation.
Generally speaking, the early adopter category, more than any other, has the greatest degree of opinion leadership in most systems, and potential adopters often look to early adopters for advice and information about the innovation. Several health communication interventions identified opinion leaders in a given community (e.g., among medical practitioners or members of the public), and then introduced innovations through these opinion leaders, in order to speed up the rate of diffusion of a health innovation (Kelly et al., 1992; Kelly, 1994).
IMPLICATIONS OF THEORY FOR HEALTH COMMUNICATION WITH DIVERSE POPULATIONS
It should be clear that theories of communication and behavior change, and theories of media effects, all recognize the importance of considering diversity in developing effective health communication interventions to produce behavior change. More specifically, behavior change theories recognize that the relative importance of the theoretical determinants of any given behavior may vary across populations. For example, a given health behavior change may be attitudinally driven in one population, normatively driven in another, and primarily under the influence of personal agency in a third population. Moreover, even if the same determinant is of primary importance for two diverse populations, the substantive content of the beliefs underlying that determinant may differ. For example, although attitude may be the most important determinant of a given health behavior in both Asian-American and African-American communities, members of one community may hold very different beliefs from members of the other community about the consequences of performing that health behavior.
Similarly, theories of communication and behavior change recognize that sources and channels that are perceived as credible by one population (i.e., for one audience) may be distrusted or not