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Speaking of Health: Assessing Health Communication Strategies for Diverse Populations
sex practices to prevent HIV/AIDS; reduce illegal drug use; promote use of seatbelts, car seats, and bike helmets; reduce the practice of driving while alcohol impaired; encourage mammography and other disease-screening behavior; and promote healthy dietary choices for the prevention of cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and other chronic diseases. Specifically, Congress authorized nearly $1 billion for the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign between 1998 and 2002. California alone spent more than $634 million in its campaign against tobacco use between 1989 and 1999 (San Francisco Examiner, 1999), with 15 to 20 percent of those expenditures going to a continuing mass media campaign (Pierce, Emery, and Gilpin, 2002). Box 3-1 presents the outline of one campaign, the National Cancer Institute’s Once A Year for A Life Time program to encourage mammograms. It incorporates many elements typical of long-lived campaigns.
Various texts provide overviews of the public communication campaign experience (Rice and Atkin, 1989, 2001; Salmon, 1989; Guttman, 2000; Hornik, 2002). We will not try to present or even summarize that literature, except to indicate that there is substantial evidence that some campaigns have affected important health behaviors, although not in every instance. For the purposes of this chapter, the essential point to understand about such projects is that they involve carrying out a series of operational tasks, and each of those tasks is an opportunity to pay more or less attention to the issue of diversity.
The major tasks to be undertaken by a campaign include (1) choosing target audience(s) and particular behavioral objectives; (2) choosing a message strategy and executions; (3) choosing the mix of dissemination channels and settings; and (4) undertaking formative, monitoring, and evaluation research to support the program. Decisions about each of these tasks will vary with the evolution of the campaign and its audience. A campaign is not defined by a specific and static mix of messages, audiences, and channels. Rather, it is defined as a program that makes decisions about these operational details, decisions that will vary over time.