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Health Communication

Strategies for Developing Global Health Programs

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Edited By Do Kyun Kim, Arvind Singhal and Gary L. Kreps

Promotion of healthy behaviors and prevention of disease are inextricably linked to cultural understandings of health and well-being. Health communication scholarship and practice can substantially and strategically contribute to people living safer, healthier, and happier lives. This book represents a concrete step in that direction by establishing a strategic framework for guiding global and local health practices.
Taking a multi-disciplinary approach, the volume includes state-of-the-art theories that can be applied to health communication interventions and practical guidelines about how to design, implement, and evaluate effective health communication interventions.
Few books have synthesized such a broad range of theories and strategies of health communication that are applicable globally, and also provided clear advice about how to apply such strategies. This volume combines academic research and field experience, guided by past and future research agendas and on-the-ground implementation opportunities.
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Chapter 7 Narrative-based Health Communication Interventions: Using Survivor Stories to Increase Breast Cancer Knowledge and Promote Mammography (Tess Thompson & Matthew W. Kreuter, Washington University in St. Louis)

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Tess Thompson & Matthew W. Kreuter, Washington University in St. Louis

In recent years, narratives have emerged as a powerful means of communicating health information. We define a narrative as “any cohesive and coherent story with an identifiable beginning, middle, and end that provides information about scene, characters, and conflict; raises unanswered questions or unresolved conflict; and provides resolution” (Hinyard & Kreuter, 2007, p. 778). Stories are, for most people, a natural and comfortable way of communicating in daily life, and they hold promise as an engaging way of communicating health information.

The term “narrative” can be used to encompass a wide variety of story-based communications. Schank and Berman (2002) identify five kinds of stories: firsthand experiential stories, official stories, invented stories, secondhand stories, and culturally common stories. Health behavior change communication most commonly employs firsthand experiential stories, invented stories, or some combination of the two. Invented stories are entirely fictional, although they often strive to depict realistic scenarios; firsthand experiential stories are the stories of real people (though they may be edited); and composite stories are made up of multiple authentic stories, often solicited through focus groups or other formative research, that are then fictionalized when combined into a single narrative.

The medium of a narrative may play a role in the audience’s reaction (Green & Brock, 2002). Research into health narratives has examined a variety of types of stories in a variety of media, including authentic online written narratives (e.g., Betsch, Ulsh...

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