Minor in Health Communication

Health communication is one of the fastest growing fields in the communication discipline. Health communication addresses how communication intersects with all aspects of health (social, mental, and physical). By understanding how communication affects health — as well as how health is affected by communication — we can improve health care practice and policy, change health behavior and reduce disease incidence, and, ultimately, improve health outcomes and decrease human suffering. Students will be exposed to a range of health issues and also gain knowledge in how multiple processes of communication are critical to improving the health of society. Thus, the course work will allow students to be exposed to a variety of communication frameworks including intrapersonal processes of communication (attitudes and beliefs), interpersonal or relational aspects (family, friends, providers), social influence (literacy, stigma, ethnic disparities), organizational issues (health care teams, power, voice), risk communication (genetics, family history, public health crises), as well as mass communication and technological influences (social media, e-health, campaigns).


Students will have the opportunity to learn from health communication experts working with the USAID, NCI, Mayo Clinic, WHO, Department of Health and Human Services, Women’s Health Organization, CDC, FDA, and INOVA. The minor will help students build skills in health communication fields and have the opportunity to get involved in research with Mason’s Center for Health & Risk Communication. Students can take courses according to their health interests and learn from health communication experts in various areas like the following:

  • Generating campaigns to reduce risky behaviors like smoking or promote healthy behavior like cancer screening
  • Enhancing technology and e-health (like using avatars, web sites, or social media) to manage  or enhance care
  • Helping providers to communicate better in the organization and on interdisciplinary health care teams
  • Attending to cultural disparities in health care
  • Training the CDC how to address public health concerns
  • Designing interventions to help genetic counselors talk with families about disease risk and genetic testing
  • Using narrative medicine in medical education or to help families prepare for challenging diagnoses like cancer
  • Developing tools for adult children to use to talk to aging parents about caregiving and future care needs