Harvard Chan’s Center for Health Communication was founded by Jay A. Winsten in 1985. It was the first such health communication program at an academic institution.
Under Winsten’s more than three decades of leadership the center
- Created the first mid-career fellowship program for journalists who cover public health and medicine
- Offered courses and seminars on health communication
- Convened researchers and practitioners to examine how strategic communication can influence public policy, social norms, and individual behavior
- Tested strategies to harness the power of mass communication to advance the public’s health, leveraging broadcast TV, advertising placements, and other tactics to promote healthy behavior
- Published recommendations for the design and conduct of local and national media campaigns to advance the public’s health
In 2007, Dean Barry Bloom and the Center for Health Communication joined forces to tackle Hollywood’s depiction of tobacco smoking and its adverse influence on initiation of smoking by young people. Building on the work of other advocates, the Harvard Tobacco Project proved successful in persuading the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), which represented all Hollywood studios, to change its movie rating policy to consider, for the first time, a film’s depiction of tobacco smoking.