Harvard Mentoring Project
Center for Health Communication
Harvard School of Public Health

677 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
617.432.1038 p
617.731.8184 f
About the Center 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 futurse health leaders to utilize communication strategies, and by strengthening communication between journalists and health professionals.

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. A second major effort, the "Squash It!" Campaign to Prevent Youth Violence, sought 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. The Harvard Mentoring Project uses mass communication strategies to recruit mentors for at-risk adolescents. The Center's latest initiative, National Mentoring Month, was launched in January 2002. This annual month-long campaign includes a combination of national media, local media, and extensive community outreach.

In September 1999, the Center launched World Health News, a weekly 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. The Harvard Parenting Project has 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 Tobacco Project is working behind the scenes with Hollywood studio executives, producers, directors, and actors to reduce and denormalize the depiction of smoking in feature films and television programs popular with teens.

Other Center projects have explored options to curb domestic violence; researched the use of cause-related marketing strategies for health promotion; used mass media strategies to improve early childhood immunization and to curb teen pregnancy; and examined the relationship between science, technology, and the media.


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