Module 8: Conclusion

Health communication is an important field of study in the area of global health. By developing effective health communication strategies, and thereby equipping communities with the necessary knowledge and skills, communities can better cope with the debilitating effects of disease and illness. The barriers to effective health communication, such as low health literacy, limited Internet access, lack of health communication research activity in poor communities and proliferation of dubious online material, must be addressed. There must be training centers for health communication professionals, collaboration between governments and nonprofits, as well as development of health communication materials for public health promotion. At the community level, creative strategies, such as the issuance of the vaccination diploma, to transmit health information and encourage specific health behaviors could be used. Health communication programs must be customized to meet the specific needs of each target audience with regards to education level and language.         

Moreover, the role of culture cannot be underestimated. Health professionals cannot dismiss the beliefs and views of a certain culture regarding health. Instead, they must strive to understand how these beliefs can shape certain health behaviors, and with this knowledge, develop powerful interventions.

Having effective interpersonal communication skills is vital for health providers. They must be able to cultivate sound relationships between themselves and their patients, as well overcome any social distance that may be present.    

By now, it is clear that the media plays a pivotal role in health communication, serving as the conduit of health information from the government and specialized health bodies to the public. With their extensive reach, the media can persuade target audiences to adopt new behaviors necessary to deal with a health crisis. The Internet now disseminates information on an unprecedented scale, but following the rapid proliferation of the Internet, false and unreliable information has also become more common than ever before, posing health risks to uninformed users. Public health officials must communicate risk to the public in a responsible and transparent manner, and at the same time identify and dispel misleading notions held by the public.