The success of efforts aimed at disease prevention and health promotion depends to a large extent on developments outside the actual health sector. For this reason, Ilona Kickbusch (WHO) counts the communication and leisure industries among the most important actors in keeping prevention policy up-to-date. No public health professional would deny the importance of media coverage, for example on AIDS, in motivating the public to lead a healthier lifestyle. Yet the necessity of involving the media, when one takes seriously the public’s active participation in changing unhealthy living conditions, is easily overlooked – at least in Germany.

In the United States, on the other hand, the media’s role in involving and motivating the public has become an established part of public health research. American studies on ”health communication” are designed to apply concepts from media effects research (i.e. agenda setting, knowledge gap or cultivation analysis) to health sciences.

The presentation concludes with the proposal to expand the traditional areas of health promotion in Germany - such as community, school or work - by integrating the mass media. This proposal ties in with the tradition of the social hygiene films from the 1920s as well as the present-day tendency toward a synthesis of individual interaction with mass communication in the Internet.

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Public health & public opinion:On the relevance of communication research for health promotion

Dietmar Jazbinsek   Freie Universitaet Berlin

The success of efforts aimed at disease prevention and health promotion depends to a large extent on developments outside the actual health sector. For this reason, Ilona Kickbusch (WHO) counts the communication and leisure industries among the most important actors in keeping prevention policy up-to-date. No public health professional would deny the importance of media coverage, for example on AIDS, in motivating the public to lead a healthier lifestyle. Yet the necessity of involving the media, when one takes seriously the public’s active participation in changing unhealthy living conditions, is easily overlooked – at least in Germany.

In the United States, on the other hand, the media’s role in involving and motivating the public has become an established part of public health research. American studies on ”health communication” are designed to apply concepts from media effects research (i.e. agenda setting, knowledge gap or cultivation analysis) to health sciences.

The presentation concludes with the proposal to expand the traditional areas of health promotion in Germany - such as community, school or work - by integrating the mass media. This proposal ties in with the tradition of the social hygiene films from the 1920s as well as the present-day tendency toward a synthesis of individual interaction with mass communication in the Internet.

A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.

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