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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 10 The Positive Deviance Approach to Designing and Implementing Health Communication Interventions (Arvind Singhal, University of Texas at El Paso)


Arvind Singhal The University of Texas at El Paso

“We dance round in a ring and suppose, But the Secret sits in the middle and knows.” —Robert Frost (1942)

During the summer of 2012, in collaboration with a dozen field researchers2, I was privileged to be engaged in a novel type of formative research in the urban slums of New Delhi, India’s capital city. Our purpose was to provide inputs to the design of a mass media health campaign to promote small family size, emphasizing delay of first child and spacing between children, focusing attention on women’s and newborn child health, countering the preference for male children, and encouraging adoption of a wide range of contraceptive methods. As opposed to asking the customary deficit-based questions that guide formative research, i.e., what are the KAP (knowledge-attitude-practice-gaps) gaps related to small family size?, what are the unmet needs of the community?, our fieldwork instead was guided by asset-based questions: what is working in the community with respect to small family size and with those who face the highest odds?, were there individuals, ← 174 | 175 → couples, and health workers who had found better solutions to problems than their peers without access to any extra resources?

Our formative research fieldwork yielded rich insights. For instance,

•We met a mother of two young girls, who effectively countered her mother-in-law’s persistent desire for a male family heir by politely saying: “We had asked Mother Goddess to bless us...

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