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Health Advocacy

A Communication Approach


Marifran Mattson and Chervin Lam

There is growing emphasis in Health Communication on the study of communication processes that aim to change systems, policies, beliefs, attitudes, and/or behaviors for the betterment of the health of individuals and communities. Engagement on behalf of individual and community health is the basis of health advocacy - the attempted effort to change health policies so that better health outcomes may result.
This book explores the processes and strategies involved in creating a health advocacy campaign to guide current and aspiring health advocates to successfully advocate for policy change.
The Health Communication Advocacy Model is provided as a framework for exploring these issues. The model emphasizes the message design process, particularly in the tailoring of messages to address the needs of target audiences. However, consideration of important health advocacy concepts also is provided, including how to organize an advocacy team, approaches to formative research, research-based strategies for crafting effective health advocacy messages, and recommendations for what to do when an advocacy campaign is ending. This framework is designed for users to execute an advocacy effort for any health issue – from obesity, to cancer and smoking - in an efficient and effective manner.
Ultimately, readers will learn how to lead a successful advocacy campaign and accomplish their desired advocacy goals.
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Chapter 1. Introduction

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It was October 4th, a beautiful fall day. The leaves were ablaze in yellow and orange and the sun warmed my cheeks as I admired the scenery. “It’s a perfect day!” I thought, as I rode my motorcycle with a few friends. It was a picture-perfect day. I was smiling and relatively relaxed; it was blissful. And then it happened. A truck appeared before me. My mind recognized danger, and a flurry of warning signals hit my senses. I had to dodge, but I knew it was too late—the truck was already too close to me. All I could do was scream.

I knew something bad had happened. I lay motionless on the road and looked up at the perfect blue sky, but its beauty eluded me. There was a deafening silence, an eerie gloom that engulfed me. My friends soon surrounded me, and their expressions confirmed that something serious had occurred. I thought to myself, “Well, I’ll let them take care of things here. Maybe I’ll just close my eyes and go to sleep.” But the idea that I might never wake up suddenly seized me. I was afraid. That pretty fall day turned hostilely cold.

It felt like eons before help arrived. A nurse appeared over my right shoulder, and she said “good that y’all used a tourniquet…but it isn’t going to be strong enough.” I knew what a tourniquet is. A tool to prevent blood loss. I suppose someone fitted that...

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