Literature Review of Effective Health Campaigns
The chosen health communication campaign is childhood obesity that will focus on creating awareness about childhood obesity, its risk factors and prevention. When designing the health communication campaign, health educators should consider effective health communications strategies that address literacy. Health literacy is defined as the ability to read, write and speak a language in the context of health and healthcare (Pleasant, Cabe, Martin & Rikard, 2014). High health literacy is the high degree of individuals to obtain, process and understand basic information related to health, while low literacy means that individuals cannot easily process and understand basic health information. The childhood obesity campaign should address low health literacy to ensure that the message effectively reaches the target audience as planned.
According to research, different ways could be used to address low health literacy including:
- Making the information in the campaign easy to use
To address low health literacy, it is important to design the information in a way that is easy by using plain language, reducing the number of messages being communicated and putting more emphasis on the action being suggested in the campaign. A plain language is one that avoids jargon, vocabularies and long sentences that might confuse the target audience (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2016). For instance, while designing the childhood obesity campaign, it is important to avoid complex medical terms and use familiar language that everyone could understand. The information could also be made easy to use by keeping the message simple, precise and clear. For instance, since the health communication campaign is about childhood obesity, it will be important to only define what childhood obesity is, list down risk factors using simple and plain language, and give specific actions and recommendations that information users should consider in order to prevent childhood obesity.
The recommendation should also consist of clearly stated actions that the target audience should take in order to avoid the health care problems. For example, one of the recommendations should be to encourage children to walk to school instead of using the bus or a car to go to school. All the recommendations and suggested actions should focus on behavior and not the medical principles behind the suggested behavior change. The instructions should also be supplemented with pictures and other visual to make the information easy to understand. For example, the childhood obesity campaign material should include pictures of healthy foods to eat including pictures of fruits and vegetables.
- Ensure cultural competency
Another way of address low health literacy is ensuring cultural competency in the health communication campaign by interpreting the message in languages that people understand. According to Pleasant, Cabe, Martin and Rikard (2014), there is a very close relationship between language literacy and health literacy as a person should be able to read, write and understand a language in order to understand health information written in that language. Therefore, it will be important to interpret the health communication campaign message to allow the target population, especially those with limited proficiency in English to understand the health information.
A medically trained interpreter could be used to communicate the message in the health campaign. The interpreter will help to communicate the information to people who do not speak the English language as their primary language. The interpreter can communicate the information in their language and use words and examples that the target population can associate with. A medically trained interpreter could also help answer questions and the concerns of the people who do not speak English as their native language and this will help improve their understanding.
Strategies and tools
Different strategies and tools can be used for the health communication campaign to ensure that the message is effectively delivered. These include verbal and written strategies that could help influence populations to make healthier choices. For the childhood obesity health campaign, the following strategies and tools might be used:
- Advertising – this involves placing messages in the media or where the public can access to increase awareness of a message (CDC, 2018). In the childhood obesity health campaign, the messages about the risk factors and prevention for childhood obesity can be advertised in public spaces such as shopping malls, grocery stores or schools. The messages can be printed on posters and banners in colorful and readable fonts as well as pictures. To help minimize the costs of advertising, the posters will be placed in public spaces instead of using local media, which are usually expensive.
- Media advocacy – this involve influencing the media to select topics and talks about issues that touch on health. For the childhood obesity health campaign, media advocacy can be done by contacting the media and having them have a debate about childhood obesity with a panel consisting of health care providers, health educators and local leaders. The health educators could talk about risk factors of childhood obesity and recommend different lifestyle changes that could help prevent the health care problem.
- Social media – another strategy would be to use the social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat and other networks to share the health campaign messages. This could be done by creating pages on social media and sharing messages on childhood obesity. The messages could be communicated in ways that promote online conversations about the public health issue. For instance, followers on social media can be asked to suggest ways in which children can engage in physical activity and suggest competitive sports and tournaments that children could participate in. This could encourage the whole community to support the campaign.
- Interventions – another effective strategy would be the use of interventions to encourage the behavior change needed to prevent childhood obesity (CDC, 2018). For instance, health educators could hold seminars and workshops where they will be educating the community leaders and other people in the community about childhood obesity and how to prevent it. Further, there could be nutritionists who recommend the right diet and nutrition including the foods to avoid, in order to prevent and manage childhood obesity.
- Public relations – this tool involves reaching out to news outlets and opinion leaders to have them talk about the campaign and the importance of making the needed lifestyle changes. For instance, the health educator could systematically and continually contact media reporters and other influencers about the childhood obesity campaign to have them talk about the campaign on national media, in news and other public spaces. The idea is to have the message reach as many people as possible.
All of the abovementioned tools and strategies are either verbal or written and could be effective in delivering the message of the campaign to the target audience.