Health Communication, In the News, Recommendations

To Talk About Health, We Need To Look Outside Our Field

To find innovative ways to communicate complex health topics, we need to look outside of public health. Communication is a human experience—one that takes on many forms—and we can learn to better communicators by looking beyond the communication strategies that are typical to our field.

For example, the Alamance County Children’s Museum has been running a “listen to your heart” exhibit. Visitors’ heartbeats are registered by sensors and then transformed into a drum beat that they can hear. While interacting with this exhibit, one visitor noticed that his heartbeat was significantly different from those of the people around him. He visited a doctor to figure out why and was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation.

In another case, researchers in South Africa disseminated their results using theater. By using theater to share results, researchers made abstract ideas seem more concrete. They were able to encourage audience engagement with their data and to validate their findings effectively. Beyond this, it is effective in populations with low health-literacy or where there may be language barriers between the participants and the research publications.

Using innovative mediums like theater and art to communicate about health gives us the opportunity to reach wider populations and to be more effective in what we teach.

For some more examples of innovative health communication, check out:

https://www.thetimesnews.com/news/20190218/saved-by-childrens-museum-heart-exhibit-unveils-medical-condition

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/1363459306058985

https://healthcommcapacity.org/reaching-youth-with-innovative-health-communication-campaigns/

https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/ohio/articles/2019-02-18/art-event-on-black-barbershops-blends-hair-history-health

https://www.itv.com/news/london/2018-09-14/giant-head-sculpture-to-raise-awareness-of-mental-health-issues/

https://mmheadlines.org/2018/03/gupta-family-hackathon-spurs-health-communication-innovation/