Director: Jay A. Winsten, Ph.D., Frank Stanton Center Director and Associate Dean for Health Communication
A key challenge facing health professionals is to mobilize the power of mass communication to empower individuals to adopt healthy behaviors, to direct policy makers’ attention to important health issues, and to frame those issues for public debate and resolution. To address this challenge, the Center for Health Communication has helped pioneer the field of mass communication and public health by researching and analyzing the contributions of mass communication to behavior change and policy, by preparing future health leaders to utilize communication strategies, and by strengthening communication between journalists and health professionals.
Preventing Distracted Driving
The Center has pioneered the development of health communication campaigns, starting 25 years ago when it launched the U.S. Designated Driver Campaign in collaboration with Hollywood studios and TV networks. The Center now is developing a U.S. campaign to prevent injuries and fatalities resulting from distracted driving.
The Center’s best-known initiative, the Harvard Alcohol Project, demonstrated how a new social concept — the designated driver — could be rapidly introduced through mass communication, promoting a new social norm that the driver does not drink. The project represents the first large-scale effort to incorporate health messages within the dialogue of Hollywood scripts.
World Health News is an online news digest that serves as a resource on critical public health issues around the world for an international audience of policy makers, journalists, and public health researchers, practitioners, and advocates.
National Mentoring Month, launched in January 2002, is an annual month-long campaign which includes a combination of national media, local media, and extensive community outreach.
“Squash It!” Campaign to Prevent Youth Violence, seeks to reinforce and validate decisions by young people to disengage from potentially violent confrontations, promote positive alternatives to violence, and empower young people by providing a platform to express their views on violence prevention.
Lunchtime Talk on Media & Health:
How to Be a Global Citizen in the Internet Age
A leading digital visionary and activist, Ethan Zuckerman is director of the MIT Center for Civic Media; a principal research scientist at the MIT Media Lab; and a senior researcher at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University.
(Click image for Berkman Center video)
Television Executive Producer and Writer, Neal Baer, M.D. (HMS ’96) — promoting health through story-telling.
Eat Well Stay Active Have Fun: A Guide for Mentors
Provides information and guidance on how to make healthy eating and physical activity natural parts of the mentor-mentee relationship.
Now available in Spanish.
Other Center projects involve exploring policy options to curb domestic violence; researching the use of cause-related marketing strategies for health promotion; using mass media strategies to improve early childhood immunization and to curb teen pregnancy; and examining the relationship between science, technology, and the media.
The New Media, Social Networking, and Public Health lunchtime seminar series featured guest speakers from the commercial media and nonprofit sectors.
The Harvard Parenting Project consolidated and disseminated research findings about parenting issues on behalf of the media, policy makers, practitioners, advocates, educators, community leaders, and parents. The Project has produced two reports, Raising Teens (2001) and The Role of the Mass Media in Parenting Education (1997).
The Harvard School of Public Health–MetLife Foundation Initiative on Retirement and Civic Engagement aims to change public attitudes toward aging and motivate baby boomers and retirees to engage in community service. Reinventing Aging: Baby Boomers and Civic Engagement, spotlights key issues that must be addressed to involve large numbers of boomers in strengthening community life.