Why is Communication So Essential to Public Health?
By Staff Writer

Public health and communication go hand in hand, especially when it comes to sharing information on a global level. Large organizations like WHO and the CDC who communicate with large populations on a regular basis need reliable methods of communication to maintain the highest level of accuracy possible. By using a variety of communication methods, these groups can distribute information concerning potential outbreaks as well as information concerning preventive health care.

Public Health Communication Strategies

There are two primary public health communication strategies at work. The first is notifying large groups within the population of a potential health threat or providing advice and information on preventing various types of illness and promoting good health and well-being through education. These strategies on both a local and a global scale and are designed to spread awareness and provide everyone who receives the information valuable insight as to what they can do to maintain their health, even when there is a potential risk. The CDC’s Gateway to Health Communication is a perfect example of what public health agencies can do.

An important thing to remember when working with large, diverse groups, is that not everyone speaks the same language. It is an essential part of any public health communications strategy to have interpreters or translators on hand that can make sure a variety of different languages are covered and that every person is reached and has the ability to understand the message your group is trying to relay. International and global public health depends on good communication.

Public Health Risk Communication

Public health risk communication can take several forms. While the media (television, printed newspaper/magazines, bulletins), social media via internet, podcasts, etc., are excellent ways to reach large groups of people at a time, it takes a concerted effort between healthcare professionals and communication specialists to send out the information in a format that is easy to use and allows for the highest possible level of accuracy. Sending out public health risk communications is of the utmost importance and require prompt attention and repeated checking of facts and protocols.

Public Health Communication Jobs

There are several communications jobs that fall under the category of public health. Hospital spokesman, videographer, sound technicians, writers, photographers, media consultants, and many others who have a background in public health and media are all essential to making sure communications between healthcare professionals and the public are ongoing, timely, and factual. Understanding how the latest advancements in technology are able to assist with mass communication is just the beginning. Degree programs designed to integrate the two are becoming increasingly more popular.

Broadcasting and sharing the information is only half of the equation. In order for information to be communicated with the public, research must be performed and facts must be checked. Articles, emails, social media posts, and other means of delivery must be compiled and formatted. Both public health and communications specialists must work hand in hand to ensure messages to the public are secure and accurate in every way possible. They must also be able to send messages over multiple outlets to reach as many people as possible.

Why is Communication So Important to Public Health?

Outbreaks of disease or chemical hazards can cause widespread health problems and even death. Being able to effectively communicate with the public at large, allows public health officials to minimize damage and prevent widespread illness and disease. Constant communication by health officials who are able to provide accurate and verifiable information keeps the public notified and allows them time to take the appropriate action.

There are many online degree programs that are capable of providing you with everything to build a career in public health communications. From learning how to research to find the right information, fact-checking for accuracy, creating a document or script, and eventually releasing it through a media outlet or a larger organization like WHO or the CDC, having the right health communications degree will make all the difference.

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