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Health Communication

Strategies for Developing Global Health Programs


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 8 Drama as a Rhetorical Health Communication Strategy (Anat Gesser-Edelsburg, University of Haifa)


Anat Gesser-Edelsburg University of Haifa

Sociologists and social psychologists often use drama as a metaphor to demonstrate how communication-persuasion systems resemble acting. In a reverse metaphor, the art of drama can be seen as a controlled persuasion system that directs spectators’ reactions. In this paradigm, theater, film and television writers function as rhetorical engineers (Shoham, 1989; Unger, 1991), whose job is to use each respective medium to convey health, cultural or political messages. Drama represents reality through the tools of the artistic medium at its disposal. The viewer, whose awareness is simultaneously inside and outside the fictional world, can be influenced by the conceptual perspective presented to him and draw conclusions about his own life. By creating a fictional boundary that protects the viewer, drama has the power to elucidate sensitive social issues in a unique and engaging way that reduces audience resistance, stimulates and destabilizes accepted social perceptions. Theater is a powerful dramatic medium because it can reach many people while maintaining intimacy and immediacy between the audience and the actor.

This chapter will present the rhetorical features that comprise the dramatic mechanism, and illustrate them through case studies of Israeli plays that raise diverse sensitive health subjects in Israel’s multicultural society, such as violence against women, obesity, novice teen drivers, and illegal drug use. At the outset, this chapter will present the characteristics of drama construction from the fields of drama and rhetorical persuasion. Then, it will zoom in on a model that I...

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