Communicating Public Health: Message Design Strategies to Promote Awareness and Action to Address the Social Determinants of Health

Course Objective

  • Explain the importance of considering social determinants of health when creating health-related messages
  • List techniques for developing targeted messages that increase awareness and promote action to address the social determinants of health
  • Describe research findings that demonstrate how personal ideology impacts how individuals receive, process, and interpret messages
  • Identify barriers to creating effective messages and media campaigns

Date: October 24,2014

Reviewed June 30, 2020

Jeff Niederdeppe, PhD
Associate Professor, Department of Communication
Cornell University

Dr. Niederdeppe discusses discuss public health advocates can use message framing, narratives and visual imagery to shape public opinion and debate on the social conditions that shape the health and well-being of populations. Neiderdeppe focuses on public health campaigns that have worked to increase awareness and promote action to address social determinants of health. He discusses how public health messages aim to target policymakers and the public (both those in support and those in opposition) in order to achieve the goal of a health campaign aimed to reduce health disparities. It is argued that simply raising awareness about a health issues is not enough to address disparities; messages also need to also make connections to broader concepts and values within society in order to be effective.

Participants will learn about the following three lessons about public health communication:

  1. Education and awareness may not be enough to address social determinants of health;
  2. It is important to connect messages to broader values;
  3. and Opposing messengers are a challenge.
Region 2 Public Health Training Center