Category: Interpersonal Communication

Fear vs Hope: Appeals & Climate Change Communication

Communicating the health consequences of climate change can be challenging, especially when the audience is full of climate-deniers. In the field of climate change communication, there is often much debate over the usage of fear appeals vs. hope appeals. In the past, many campaigns have leaned towards using fear as a persuasive tactic. However, now, the tides seem to be shifting away from this. Yale University has researched climate communication on many fronts and finds that fear may actually lead to further pushback and disbelief of global warming.

At the same time, messages which lack realism on the severity of climate change are not found to resonate either. These messages often fail to generate interest or understanding in the importance of the issue, and often fail to inspire audiences to believe and/or take action on the issue.

Instead, the right communication tactic requires a perfect “cocktail” of emotion.  Behavioral scientists believe that these messages cannot be over-simplified into “fear” or “hope” appeals. Instead, each message should be thoughtfully tailored to the desired audience. And through this, Yale University offers a couple of important points to keep in mind through message development:

  • Connect with audience
  • Provide information at beginning
  • Address the concept of “urgency”
  • Be persuasive
  • Use credible messengers
  • Use opportunities well
  • Connect with viewer’s values and beliefs
  • Create a sense of “uniting and conquering.”

 

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jan/04/climate-fear-or-hope-change-debate

https://www.yaleclimateconnections.org/2012/01/helping-the-cause-or-making-enemies/

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41558-017-0021-9?WT.feed_name=subjects_scientific-community-and-society

 

 

 

green plants spilling out of a mortar and pestle

Free, all-natural, non-pharmaceutical intervention named the “blockbuster drug of the century”

The “Blockbuster Drug of the Century,” is all natural, has no negative side effects and is not the least bit new.  However, it’s getting more and more attention.  It’s nothing as sexy as a cure for cancer.
This drug isn’t a drug at all- it’s patient engagement.  Studies have shown that patients who are engaged in their care have better outcomes and incur less healthcare costs.

Unfortunately, we’re still having difficulties engaging patients.  Part of the issue could be that most practicing clinicians don’t receive formal training to communicate effectively. Additionally, patients with limited health literacy are less likely to speak up and engage in their care.

In patient engagement, we’ve found a tool that costs nothing and saves lives, and most of its implementation centers around communication.  While it may feel like it takes longer to slow down and communicate effectively, it can help keep patients out of the hospital and save you time in the form of less follow-up calls and visits.  While overall, increased patient engagement will likely come over time with a culture shift from patients and clinicians, we can start by employing a few communication techniques to start:

  1. Use simple language
  2. Use the teach-back method to check for understanding
  3. Focus in the most important information

These three things can go a long way to blockbuster results.

 

 

 

https://www.healthaffairs.org/doi/full/10.1377/hlthaff.2013.0037

https://health.gov/communication/HLActionPlan/pdf/Health_Literacy_Action_Plan.pdf

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cGtTZ_vxjyA

Social Media is Encouraging Your Kids to Eat Junk Food

Social Media Influencers (SMIs): individuals who have broad audiences on social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube.

A new study published in Pediatrics has revealed that the impact of SMIs on children’s eating habits varies based on the type of food. Children who see SMIs endorse junk food, either openly or through brand placement, are more likely to eat more calories and more junk food. However, when these influencers endorse healthy foods, children show no difference in their eating habits.

Researchers think that this might be because junk foods are more likely to be eye-catching, and our bodies are already primed to crave sugars and fats.

Parents are often concerned about their children’s viewing habits. Platforms’ ability to control the content of videos is limited—just look at the recent outcry over children’s videos having suicide instructions in them—and the way that influencers market various brands is less regulated than other forms of marketing. For parents with children who are at risk of becoming overweight or obese, these videos present a threat that is hard to counter.

So what solutions are there? Is this a threat that we can counter? How? Leave us a comment with your solutions!

 

For more information, check out:

https://www.cnn.com/2019/03/04/health/social-media-influencers-junk-food-study/index.html

https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2019/02/28/peds.2018-2554

Online and IRL: Let’s Talk About Health Advocacy

Our smart phones deliver more than just answers to our Google questions. Mobile phones make communicating with each other easier than ever. About 95% of people in the United States own a cell phone of some kind; 77% own a smart phone. Nationally, the Pew Research Center estimates that seven out of ten people use at least one social media platform to connect with one another, read news, or for entertainment.

Combined with the availability of mobile phones, social media is the perfect avenue for advocacy on today’s public health problems.

By enabling its users to share experiences or expertise about issues, social media helps inform broad audiences about topics like mental health or diet and exercise. Influencers–people who have amassed large audiences on social media–inspire audiences to take action with just one photo or video. They donate to causes or make phones calls to elected officials about pertinent issues. Other times, the influence of messages shared through social media is more subtle. Among other things, they can help us feel more comfortable talking about difficult topics in our everyday conversations with colleagues or friends.

While “likes” and reposts serve as one way to advocate, it is crucial that we have conversations about public health in real life.

Get involved in local advocacy efforts in the Triangle (Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill) by connecting with the North Carolina National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NC NAACP) and Minority Health Caucus who host their signature advocacy events in February. The NC NAACP follows a long tradition of social justice advocacy via the Historic Thousands on Jones Street (HK on J) on February 9th and the Minority Health Caucus will lead it’s 40th Annual Minority Health Conference on February 22nd. Both events are great ways to learn about local issues and take action both in person and by raising visibility of issues using social media.

 

By Maribel Sierra

 

Statistics from:

Pew Research Center. (2018, February 5). Demographics of Mobile Device Ownership and Adoption in the United States. Retrieved January 31, 2019, from http://www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheet/mobile/

Pew Research Center. (2018, February 5). Demographics of Social Media Users and Adoption in the United States. Retrieved January 31, 2019, from http://www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheet/social-media/

 

Using Oral History in Public Health

Public health prides itself on being interdisciplinary – but there’s always more to learn. I recently discovered a field of study whose department at UNC was looking to collaborate with public health students. This discipline is called oral history, and the Southern Oral History Program at UNC is a pioneer in its field.

Oral history works to preserve narratives by interviewing, recording, and archiving life stories. The narrator is often from a part of society whose voices have been silenced, and wants to contribute his or her life story to historical archives. For this reason, unlike with traditional qualitative interviews in public health, the narrator’s identifying information is often attached to his or her story. When oral historians use life stories in their research, the narrators play an important role in ensuring that their stories are portrayed accurately. They also receive a copy of their interview, preserved in a written format, for themselves and future generations.

Oral history would be especially useful in conducting public health needs assessments, seeking community expertise for solving a local health problem, finding more robust quotes for supporting policy movements, or discovering the experiences of living through a particular outbreak or natural disaster. Public health research already uses qualitative interviewing techniques, but could greatly benefit from more collaboration with oral historians. We traditionally go into interviews with pre-established questions about specific health topics. We may get some background of the participant’s life, but hearing this as a narrative rather than a response could help us build a deeper understanding of the person sitting across from us.

Sources:

http://www.oralhistory.org/

www.sohp.org

What you need to know about SESTA and the recent seizure of Backpage

Late last week, classified ad website Backpage.com went offline after being seized and disabled due to an “enforcement action by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division”. Backpage.com is known for personal ads, and was considered by many to be the dominant online platform for sex workers to advertise their services.

Various websites have been shutting down their personal ads section in response to the Stop Enabling Sex Trafficking Act (SESTA), which has taken aim at online platforms as a playing a perceived role in sex trafficking and prostitution. While many advocates have been fighting SESTA for a large part of the year, awareness seems to be low of the laws implications among the general population.

Advocates against SESTA argue that the act will do more harm than good in regards to the safety of sex workers. Online platforms for sex work have been viewed as safer than street based sex work, allowing for screening of potential clients. Others have argued that SESTA would limit online free speech, arguing that it would require platforms to put strong restrictions on users’ speech, extending beyond the space of personal ads. If you’re interested in seeing what you can do stop SESTA, check out https://stopsesta.org for more information on how to contact your elected officials.

 

Sources – Buzzfeed News: Backpage Has Been Taken Down By The US Government And Sex Workers Aren’t Happy – https://www.buzzfeed.com/blakemontgomery/backpage-service-disruption?utm_term=.mceyodXp#.bkjAQmNK

Lunchables, Diving Board, Fake News

Misinformation is easy to spread. I’d bet money we have all witnessed this phenomenon on social media. Let’s look back for a second to before these digital platforms arrived—the days of primary school gossip. You have visions of four square (not the app) and Lunchables, enviable amounts of free time and the all-classmates invited birthday parties? We told each other some weird tales. Our imaginations were churning, I don’t blame us. Now imagine giving the kid who claimed to be able to do ten mid-air flips off the diving board a microphone. And then another kid, or maybe even teacher, turns on the overhead PA system and broadcasts what the kid with the microphone is saying to the whole school. The information this prolific diver is claiming doesn’t change but it sure spreads faster, further, and seems a lot more official when amplified by technology (is audio equipment technology, for this metaphor I say, “yes”). Enter social media and ubiquitously referred to “fake news.”

And it’s like a pyramid scheme—no one thinks they’re the one getting duped. How can that be the case? What can we, both as health communicators and as information consumers, do about it? Here are some key concepts to whet your whistle: third-person effect, Spinoza, relationship currency. Those are some interest-piquing words right there.

Give a read to “Why we lie to ourselves and others about misinformation” by Dr. Southwell (who is the social marketing course instructor to two of this here blog’s bloggers, and who also just led an insightful guest lecture which Casey will tell you all about later in the week). If/when inspiration strikes, submit your ideas for the Rita Allen Foundation’s Misinformation Solutions Forum.

App Grindr under scrutiny over privacy concerns

In an article published yesterday by BuzzFeed News, it was released that Gay Dating App Grindr has been sharing its users’ HIV status with two outside companies, a move which many consider dangerous to the queer community that the app claims to serve.

The sites, Apptimize and Localytics, work with Grindr to optimize the app and user experience. While it has been noted that these companies do not share information with third parties, there are still concerns with the sharing of sensitive information of a historically vulnerable population. This could raise flags for users sharing their HIV status on the app, which could negatively impact public health interventions that work to reduce HIV transmission and stigma.

Grindr recently announced that they would remind users to get tested for HIV every three to six months, offering a cue to action for users to be more aware of their HIV status. Knowing ones status is a crucial component for reducing the number of new HIV infections, such as by offering the opportunity to those who are living with HIV to be connected to care and achieve viral suppression.

 

Sources:

BuzzFeed News: Grindr Is Sharing The HIV Status Of Its Users With Other Companies –https://www.buzzfeed.com/azeenghorayshi/grindr-hiv-status-privacy?bfsplash&utm_term=.eu9v16ZaQ#.akvOQgNJj

How many teens are sexting?

When we go on the internet and listen to stories, we often hear comments about sexting among teens.  With all of this talk, it may sound like this is something that all teens are doing.  However, according to a study published this week by JAMA Pediatrics, only about 14.8% of teens have sent these messages, and approximately 27.4% of teens have received a sext [1].  This means that roughly 17 out of 20 teens have never sent sexually explicit images, videos, or messages.

Though this rate is lower than we may have expected, sexting is becoming more commonplace, and that is cause for concern. Many teens, view sexting as private and therefore safe.  However, approximately 12%, are forwarding sexts without consent of the sender [1]. Additionally, many teens don’t realize that even though some messaging apps that allow video and image sharing appear private, they may not be [2].

Often times, sexting is a normal by-product of teens trying to establish their identities and wanting to explore their sexuality [2].  However, many teens just are not aware of the dangers that can come with sexting.  Along with these concerns, teens just need to be reminded that it’s not OK for them to be pressured to share more of their bodies than they’re comfortable, and that consent is theirs to give.

[1]  Madigan, S., Ly, A., & Rash, C. L. (2018, February 26). Prevalence of Multiple Forms of Sexting Behavior Among Youth. Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2017.5314

[2]  Gabriel, E. (2018, February 26). 1 in 4 young people has been sexted, study finds. Retrieved from CNN: https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/26/health/youth-sexting-prevalence-study/index.html

In 2018, is “Time Up” for the Grammy Awards?

Last Sunday marked the 60th Annual Grammy Awards presented by the Recording Academy. After the show ended, a number of pieces were shared across the web regarding the breakdown of winners. While Award Shows such as this year’s Golden Globes offering a timely critique of the violation of power, with bold statements of (TimesUp), the Grammys seemed to stumble to acknowledge the inherent misogyny in the Music Industry.

Lorde, who was nominated for Album of the Year for (Melodrama), did not perform because she was not offered a space to perform a song from her album. All of the other nominees in the category were men, and were offered a space to perform (Important to note: Jay-Z reportedly declined an offer to perform).

At a mid-point of the evening, the President of the Recording Academy addressed viewers, and gave a speech where women were encouraged to [come forward and share their truth]. But these words did not seem to correlate with the evening’s award winners. Of the categories awarded on the live broadcast on CBS, only one went to a female artist, with Alessia Cara taking home the trophy for Best New Artist. Even this win has had its fair share of criticism, with break-out star SZA having lost to Cara, and failing to take home a single award, after being the female artist with the most nominations at five.

At the very least, this year’s Grammy Awards felt dated. Some may argue that those who are voting members of The Recording Academy are out of touch with modern music, instead basing artistic value in forms of music that are more “respectable” and “tolerable” to white male audiences. If you have yet to read about this controversy in the Music Industry, I have included some further reading below.

 

Sources:

The New York Times- Grammy 2018 Winners: Full List – https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/28/arts/music/grammy-winners.html

Spin Magazine – Grammys Producer on Lorde-Less Show: “There’s No Way We Can Really Deal With Everybody – https://www.spin.com/2018/01/grammys-lorde-snub-theres-no-way-we-can-deal-with-everybody/

Vox – 3 Reasons Why The 2018 Grammys Fell So Flat – https://www.vox.com/culture/2018/1/29/16943952/2018-grammys-recap-awards-winners-losers-boring