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Speaking of Health: Assessing Health Communication Strategies for Diverse Populations
audience for enhanced levels of exposure to messages by purchasing time on stations with wide African-American listenership; a campaign may have shaped a message strategy for girls, meant to appeal to the particular beliefs that underpin their decisions about smoking; a campaign may have used actors well known to older audiences in advertisements to stimulate mammogram demand by those audiences. Often these special efforts are justified on the grounds that particular audiences are at greater risk, based on the sort of epidemiological evidence reviewed in other chapters in this volume, or more simply because different segments of the population are assumed to be responsive to different communication approaches. Nonetheless, addressing diversity is not accomplished in just one way. Although nearly all programs claim such efforts, the particular approaches they have used vary, and the level of resources applied to such special efforts varies as well. An important task for this chapter is describing the range of approaches that typically have been employed. This will be especially useful for new programs considering how to address the needs of diverse audiences. But descriptions of how programs have tried to “solve” the issue of diversity are not sufficient.
Descriptions provide little grounds for choosing among approaches or for deciding to undertake a special effort altogether. The extra resources required for special efforts to adjust programs to serve diverse audiences can be substantial, including additional research, increased production of materials, and additional purchases of media time, among other incremental costs. The justification for more resources is strongest if it relies on evidence that a particular approach to address diversity works better than programs with no diversity-based targeting approach or better than programs with alternative diversity approaches. This chapter summarizes such evidence where it exists. However, there is relatively little evidence about differential effects of campaigns on diverse audiences overall, and the evidence is even more scarce about the relative utility of the range of diversity approaches that have been used. One of the main recommendations of this volume will be to