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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 12. Conclusion

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This final chapter concludes the book by recapping the Health Communication Advocacy Model. Although at this stage you already should be familiar with the model, this chapter can help reinforce key concepts learned. This chapter also provides health issue examples that you may consider when advocating for health issues in the future.

We defined health advocacy as the attempted effort to change health policies so that better health outcomes may result. The Health Communication Advocacy Model was then introduced as a tool that can be used to navigate through an advocacy process. Although there are other books that consider the topic of advocacy (e.g., Daly, 2011), this book is unique in that it focuses on the communication aspects of advocacy and centralizes communication as the key determinant for advocacy success. The Health Communication Advocacy Model is consistent with systems theory and is comprised of the Assemble Team Phase, the Formative Research and Message Development Phase, Implementation and Evaluation Phase, and Correction Loop.

Systems theory helps describe and explain how systems operate. The theory suggests that a system should be open in order to survive (Miller, 2012). The Health Communication Advocacy Model adopts characteristics of an open system; its components are permeable and include interdependent subsystems and supersystems. This permeability allows the model to take into account environmental factors or situational changes and to adapt accordingly. For example, if the advocacy team runs out of financial resources, the model allows the team to revise its strategy and...

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