A Sampling of Conferences, Working Luncheons, and Reports and Studies Sponsored and Developed by the Center for Health Communication
“Mass Communication and Social Agenda-Setting”
October 20-21, 1993
Report: Violence, Public Health, and the Media
In collaboration with The Annenberg Washington Program, the Center convened a group of scholars, journalists, advocates, and public officials to consider how mass communication:
- Shapes society’s ability to deal with problems;
- Gets issues on the public and governmental agendas;
- Reinforces or alters social norms and attitudes; and
- Brings about individual behavioral change.
For two days, the participants reviewed scholarly findings, reflected on their own professional experiences concerning AIDS; smoking; and drinking and driving; and considered how the power of mass communication could be marshaled to respond effectively to the problem of violence. The report on the conference, Violence, Public Health, and the Media, is based on those deliberations. The conference was funded by The Annenberg Washington Program, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
“Science, Technology, and the News Media”
September 29-October 1, 1995
Report: Report on the Conference on “Science, Technology, and the News Media”
With the support of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Center held a national invitational conference to explore some of the factors that determine whether, when, and to what extent science coverage influences policy, behavior, and the conduct of science; to elucidate some of the processes that create these influences; and to identify correctable problems for which steps could be taken. The conference used three case studies to frame the basis for discussion: Breast Cancer Research Fraud; Dioxin and “Revisionist” Reporters; and the Hubble Space Telescope Crisis.
“Baby Boomers and Retirement: Impact on Civic Engagement”
October 8-10, 2003
Report: Reinventing Aging: Baby Boomers and Civic Engagement
As part of the Harvard-MetLife Foundation Initiative on Retirement and Civic Engagement, the Center reviewed and distilled relevant research, commissioned background papers, and convened a national invitational conference that brought together leading experts to identify strategies, opportunities, and barriers that must be addressed to expand the contributions of boomers to civic life as they reach retirement. The goal of the initiative was two-fold: to strengthen civic life in America by mobilizing the time and talents of many of the 76-million baby boomers as they reach retirement; and to re-define the meaning and purpose of the retirement years. From a public health perspective, strengthening the involvement of retirees in community life also promises direct benefits to the individuals involved; studies have found a clear correlation between social-connectedness in retirement and prolonged maintenance of good health. The findings and recommendations were published in a Report, Reinventing Aging: Baby Boomers and Civic Engagement. Among the questions the Report addressed were:
- Can a national effort succeed in motivating large numbers of boomers to contribute their time, skills, and experience to address community problems?
- If boomers respond in large numbers, will civic organizations of various kinds be prepared to receive them?
- What roles can the news media, the advertising industry, and Hollywood play in helping society redefine the meaning and purpose of the older years to include civic engagement as a key component?
The conference and report were funded by MetLife Foundation.
Convened for Journalists, Government Officials, and Key Constituents to Attract and Sustain Interest in, and Strengthen Understanding of Public Health Issues
Harvard Alcohol Project
Launched in 1985, the project convened broadcast and print journalists in Massachusetts to consider what could be done to keep the issue of drunk driving on the public agenda and to examine options for dealing with it. Sessions included the participation of legislators and policymakers, judges, and agency officials, including Massachusetts Senate President William Bulger. The luncheon series, which were held from 1985 to 1987, had substantial impact on the Massachusetts scene. Having gained the regular participation of major Boston media outlets, the series kept the drunk driving issue high on the public agenda. News coverage of the luncheons was complemented by a series of broadcast and print editorials and commentaries. Senate President Bulger commented that the luncheon series had the effect of engaging him in consideration of the proposed Massachusetts Safe Roads Act much earlier in the legislative process than would usually be the case. The series let to the development of the Designated Driver Campaign.
Harvard Domestic Violence Project
Launched in 1991, the project aimed to deepen public understanding of family violence and ways to prevent it; raise family violence issues to higher visibility and higher priority on the public agenda; and contribute to the development and implementation of effective public policies. The initiative included a series of working luncheons from 1991 to 1993, co-sponsored by then Massachusetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger and conducted in cooperation with the Massachusetts Coalition of Battered Women Service Groups. Each of the nine sessions brought together 60 to 80 legislators, victims’ advocates, judges, police chiefs, and state commissioners, as well as representatives of the media. The luncheon series had a direct impact on statewide policy; one session helped prompt Governor Weld to relax the conditions under which battered women who have killed their abusers may seek clemency. The Report on Domestic Violence: A Commitment to Action, was the culmination of the nine sessions and included policy recommendations that arose out of those meetings. Many of these recommendations were subsequently adopted by the Governor’s Domestic Violence Commission.
The Massachusetts Working Luncheons on Youth Violence Prevention
From 1995 to 1997, these meetings, which were co-sponsored by the Center for Health Communication and [then] Massachusetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger, brought together senior officials from government, academic experts, leaders from the business and philanthropic communities, representatives of community and religious groups, and members of the news media. The series aimed to deepen understanding of violence and ways to prevent it, and to contribute to the development and implementation of effective public policies. In 1997, a final report of the series, No Time to Lose: A Comprehensive Action Plan to Prevent Youth Violence, included recommendations for youth violence prevention strategies that could be implemented in Massachusetts, as well as edited transcripts of all the sessions.
Reports and Studies
The Use of Mass Media in Substance Abuse Prevention, William DeJong, Ph.D., Jay A. Winsten, Ph.D., Health Affairs, 9(2):30-46, 1990.
Recommendations for using mass media for substance abuse prevention, based on the results of a two-year study of mass media campaigns and the impact of the Harvard Alcohol Project.
A Guide to Community-Based Designated Driver Programs, National Commission Against Drunk Driving and the Harvard Alcohol Project, December 9, 1991.
Offers communities and non-profit organizations information on implementing designated driver programs, including recommendations on coalition building, publicity, evaluation, and funding. It also profiles five model designated driver programs in the United States.
Strategies for Using Mass Media to Deter Tobacco and Alcohol Use Among Children and Adolescents, Jay A. Winsten, Ph.D. and Susan Moses, S.M., Center for Health Communication, Harvard School of Public Health, March 1992.
Presents proposals for using mass media to discourage alcohol and tobacco use among young people based on the results of a nine-month study that included interviews with tobacco and alcohol control policy advocates and executives in the advertising, broadcast, and entertainment industries. Also includes a case study of California’s anti-smoking campaign, which pioneered in the use of paid advertising.
The Designated Driver Movement in the United States: Promoting a New Social Norm, Jay A. Winsten, Ph.D., Center for Health Communication, Harvard School of Public Health, Presented at the 36th International Congress on Alcohol and Drug Dependence, Glasgow, August 21, 1992.
Documents the introduction and rapid acceptance of the designated driver concept in the United States, as a result of the Harvard Alcohol Project’s Designated Driver Campaign.
Report on Domestic Violence: A Commitment to Action, Scott Harshbarger, Jay A. Winsten, Ph.D., Jane Tewksbury, Terri Grodner Mendoza, New England Law Review 28(2):313-382, New England School of Law, Boston, Massachusetts, 1993.
The culmination of a two-year series of working luncheons on domestic violence cosponsored by the Massachusetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger and the Center for Health Communication. Participants included researchers, victims advocates, policy makers, and journalists. The report includes summaries of the sessions and offers recommendations on ways to protect victims and prevent domestic violence in Massachusetts.
Promoting Designated Drivers: The Harvard Alcohol Project, Jay A. Winsten, Ph.D., American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Medicine in the Twenty-first Century: Challenges in Personal and Public Health Promotion is a supplement to American Journal of Preventive Medicine 10(3):11-14, 1994.
Explains how the designated driver concept serves as a vehicle for changing social norms, describes the national Designated Driver Campaign and the involvement of the public and private sectors, and presents public opinion findings documenting the wide popularity and growing usage of the designated driver concept.
A Guide for Teens: Does your friend have an alcohol or other drug problem? What can you do to help? Betsy O’Connor, Center for Health Communication, Harvard School of Public Health, 1994.
Designed to assist teens in helping a friend who has a problem with substance abuse. Includes a resource and referral guide and a state-by-state listing of substance abuse hotlines. More than a million copies of the pamphlet have been distributed nationwide by the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information, primarily in response to individual requests.
Corporate-Sponsored Media Campaigns: New Opportunities for Public Health, Susan Moses, S.M., Center for Health Communication, Harvard School of Public Health, October 1994.
Describes new opportunities that have arisen to apply mass communication strategies to address public health issues; the results of a study of corporate-sponsored public affairs campaigns implemented by local television stations; and recommendations and criteria for designing such campaigns to maximize their public health benefit.
Strategic Advertising Plans to Deter Drunk Driving: Final Report, John Graham, Ph.D., Jay A. Winsten, Ph.D., Nancy Isaac, Sc.D., and Bruce Kennedy, Ed.D., National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation, Washington, D.C., DOT HS 808 611, December 1996.
Examined sub-populations at highest risk for drinking and driving and persons who may be able to intervene in their drinking and driving behavior. Also explored media strategies that would be most effective in motivating potential interveners.
The Role of the Mass Media in Parenting Education, A. Rae Simpson, Ph.D., Center for Health Communication, Harvard School of Public Health, July 1997.
Concept paper on parenting and the media that analyzes the strengths and weaknesses of media attention to parenting issues and offers recommendations for tapping the power of the media more effectively on behalf of parents and those who work with and for parents and families.
No Time to Lose: A Comprehensive Action Plan to Prevent Youth Violence, Scott Harshbarger,” Jay A. Winsten, Ph.D., Carolyn Keshian, Terri Grodner Mendoza, November 1997.
The culmination of a two-year series of working luncheons on youth violence cosponsored by the Massachusetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger and the Center for Health Communication. Participants included researchers, community advocates, policy makers, and journalists. The report includes summaries of the sessions and offers recommendations on ways to prevent youth violence in Massachusetts.
The Media and The Message: Lessons Learned from Past Media Campaigns, William DeJong, Ph.D. and Jay A. Winsten, Ph.D., The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, Washington, D.C., February 1998.
Examines the tenets of a well-designed and properly executed public service media campaign, the theory and understanding that should underpin any efforts, and the lessons offered by past campaigns.
The Use of Designated Drivers by U.S. College Students: A National Study, William DeJong, Ph.D. and Jay A. Winsten, Ph.D., Journal of American College Health 47(4):151-156, January 1999.
Describes the results of a national survey in which college students in the U.S. were asked whether they had served as or had ridden with a designated driver in the past 30 days, and how much alcohol they had consumed the last time they used this prevention strategy. The findings suggest that among college students, using designated drivers is now a well-established strategy for avoiding impaired driving.
Raising Teens: A Synthesis of Research and a Foundation for Action, A. Rae Simpson, Ph.D., Center for Health Communication, Harvard School of Public Health, 2001.
Pulls together current research on the parenting of adolescents and offers key messages for the media, policy makers, practitioners, and parents. This report was also translated into Spanish.
Eat Well, Stay Active, Have Fun: A Guide for Mentors, Susan Moses, S.M. and Rena Greifinger, S.M., Center for Health Communication, Harvard School of Public Health, 2011. Translated into Spanish in 2012 (Coma Bien, Mantengase Active, Diviertase: Guia para Mentores).
Provides mentors with information and guidance on how to make healthy eating and physical activity natural parts of the mentor-mentee relationship. The guide includes information on nutrition and physical activity, tips on how to promote healthier habits throughout the course of a mentoring relationship, examples of activities that mentors and mentees can do together, and a list of resources for additional information.
Jay Winsten and the Designated Driver Campaign, Case Study, Howard Koh and Pamela Yatsko, Harvard Advanced Leadership Initiative, President and Fellows of Harvard College, March 6, 2017.
Harvard Business School teaching case on the Center for Health Communication’s Designated Driver Campaign examining the opportunities and challenges of using the mass media to change social norms around the drunk-driving issue.