Krug Hall 19
Section Information for Spring 2017
Health communication is one of the fastest growing areas of the communication discipline in recent years in terms of student interest and research. Communication is central to many aspects of our personal health, our relationships with health care providers, and in the area of public health promotion. Our ability to understand how health issues are framed in the news media can help us to protect ourselves against a variety of health risks, including epidemics and life style choices that may lead to health problems. Our everyday relationships with others are important resources of social support that affect our quality of life and our physical and psychological health. The popular entertainment media that we watch influences can influence our diet and activity levels. In addition, popular entertainment media often glorifies negative lifestyle choices, such as drug, alcohol, and smoking behaviors. Advertising influences our nutrition choices. Communication skills are important in terms of productive satisfying provider-patient interactions as well as being able to navigate complex health care organizations. Culture has a strong influence on perceptions of health and health behaviors, and environmental influences on health are often just as important or more important than individual health behaviors. For example, some cultures attribute disease to viruses, lifestyle behaviors, etc., while other cultures see whether or not you end up with a disease as due to spiritual forces or bad luck. Studies have found that lower income individuals often live in parts of cities that are "food deserts" in terms people being able to access nutritional food, and yet these individuals are often stigmatized and blamed for being lazy, not having enough sense to eat the right foods, etc. Finally, effective health campaigns require important audience analysis skills, knowledge of persuasion theories, message design and dissemination, and research methods to evaluate the impact of campaigns.
These are just a handful of the important issues related to health and communication that we explore in this class. Students will learn how to become more savvy consumers of health news and information, entertainment and health, culture and health, health organizations, provider-patient interaction, and health campaign design and assessment. This class and other classes in the health communication minor help prepare students for a variety of careers as well as more informed consumers of health information.