People get in to public health because they want to help others. They want to share their wealth of knowledge in a way that makes a difference.
So then why don’t people hear public health messages?
Jim Garrow offers a fun, yet thoughtful read about why public health is boring.
One reason, messages go unnoticed is that public health has relied heavily on data and presenting rational arguments in an effort to persuade people to change behavior. Facts are important, I’m not denying that. But what really speaks to people?
Matthews and colleagues offer up the notion of speaking to deeper, moral values that connect us. Some practical, if not obvious, suggestions include:
- Avoiding that intrinsic tendency of self-righteousness
- Find common ground or at least empathy
- Foster personal relationships, particularly with those who have different values than you
- Tell stories that incorporate 6 moral foundational values (Care, Liberty, Fairness, Loyalty, Authority, and Sanctity)
- Understand your target community
People are more than numbers, and life is constantly going on around them. A wise teacher once told me we need to see people, know people, and care about people. We need to communicate, and then try again in different ways, over and over.
Dr. Anoop Kumar has a provocative post claiming “…this historic time is when your (public health) voice is most needed…You are being called to a higher purpose – to say what you know, to speak up for the good of our communities and our country…”
How will your voice be heard?
Garrow, Jim. Public Health is Boring. May 13, 2015. https://medium.com/rebel-public-health/public-health-is-boring-d7c9b9792787
Kumar, Anoop. A Clarion Call to Publich Health Mavens. May 19, 2014. https://medium.com/healthcare-and-public-health/a-clarion-call-to-public-health-mavens-c9775456ea7
Matthews G, Burris S, Ledford SL, Baker E. Advocacy for leaders: crafting richer stories for public health. J Public Health Manag Pract. 2016;22(3):311-315.