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Back to School: Interdisciplinary Health Communication 101

Two women are seated outside, engaged in conversation.Upstream is your premiere source for discussion, news and information in interdisciplinary health communication.  As we launch into another academic year, we are both building on our past and leaning into the new.  Hence, this is a unique opportunity to reflect briefly on our work as researchers, practitioners, students, and enthusiasts.

What is Health Communication?  What is not health communication? And who are key players in our field?

An umbrella definition of health communication is offered by the Health Communication Working Group (HCWG) of the American Public Health Association.  On its website, the HCWG describes its role as “the leading advocate for, and authority on, the use of communication and marketing approaches to improve the public’s health”.

Further, Healthy People 2010, explains that “health communication encompasses the study and use of communication strategies to inform and influence individual and community decisions that enhance health.”  With such broad definitions, where do the guardrails exist?

Consider this:  Close to Home is a multi-page promotion in the August 2010 edition of GQ magazine. Featuring David Arquette, it focuses on hunger in America, in partnership with The Gentleman’s Fund, Snickers™ and Feeding America.  A targeted informational campaign with a cue to action, the GQ message is that hunger exists in our country, among people from all backgrounds, likely in your backyard.  Further, GQ readers can and must help via the partners above.

Readers, what are your thoughts?  What is health communication to you?  Which emerging partners or channels excite you?