The Field of Health Communication
Health communication is the study of how health information is generated and disseminated and how that information affects individuals, community groups, institutions and public policy. The field includes the study of secular communication, as well as the strategic communication of evidence-based health information to professional and non-professional audiences.
As the demand for formal training in communication increases, the T.H. Chan School of Public Health has responded by establishing the Health Communication Concentration (HCC). This new concentration recognizes the need for formal and systematized training of students in health communication and provides a systematic, rigorous and conceptually grounded training for public health leaders, practitioners, and researchers.
Why study Health Communication?
Every day we receive communications at home, work, or school. They come through various channels – from friends, family, co-workers, the Internet and the mass media–and carry a variety of messages. We pay selective attention to the communications we receive, and we seek information that is relevant to our needs. In such a crowded environment, health communications face serious competition.
Public health professionals need to be able to identify the contexts, channels, messages and reasons that will motivate individuals to heed and use health information – whether designing health communication programs for vulnerable populations, framing a health policy issue for legislators, or educating patients on medications.