Nonetheless, health communication bridges communication and health, an element crucial in addressing and improving personal and public health. It improves interpersonal and group interactions, between health care professional- patient and health care professional- health care professional. However, it must be stressed that in order for an effective health care communication to occur, there must be collaboration among all parties involved.
For example, when a health care provider first sees a patient, the provider uses his/her own stock knowledge, obtained from education, training, experience and even protocols, before settling on what specific data should be culled from the patient and how the procedure would be conducted. Data may be collected through medical exams and conversations with the patient and the family. Once data is collected, the health care provider analyzes this and creates new information: the diagnosis and prognosis. Ultimately, a treatment plan follows.
This brand new information is then disseminated to the patient, the patient’s family, and members of the health care loop: the insurance company, pharmacist, and caregivers, among others. Information dissemination may take place through conversations (with the patient and family) and written communication (such as through consent forms, prescriptions and educational materials). This, is may be said that the bulk of medical care relies on health communication between the patient and the health care provider; effective health care communication between the health care provider, patient and the family.
For communication to be effective, the message must be properly relayed from the source to the recipient with feedback being given along the away. When comprehension and feedback are absent, the communication would fail, and health communication could endanger the patient. An effective health communication has the following attributes: accuracy, availability, balance, consistency, evidence-based, reach, reliability, repetition, timeliness and understandability (Health Promotion and Health Initiative, n. d. ).
Accuracy means that the message/ content must be suitable, official and error-free . Availability, on the other hand, simply means that the content must be accessible to the intended audience . Balance is also crucial for health communication to be effective; benefits and risks must be presented to the audience . In the same vein, the information/ content/ message to be given must be reliable, consistent, coherent and in harmony with content from other sources. In addition, the information must be evidence-based, meaning the information derived underwent scientific method.
It should also be able to reach to as many people in the intended audience. The content’s reliability is also factored in; this means that the information must be current. Another attribute of a successful effective communication is repetition, the content must be repeated to emphasize its impact and be accessed even by new members of the target community or population. Likewise, the content provided must be appropriate and relevant to the need of the population at that specific time. Lastly, an effective health communication should be understandable.
This means that the content provided must suit the language level of the target community. The format must be in sync in with the target. An effective health communication employs various theories to be able to communicate with the intended audience. Given the complexity of health issues, cultural and population difference, no single theory stands out in the field of health communication. What health care providers do is combine theories. Such theories are essential for the lay out the process in creating a successful health communication.
Theories help in addressing why an issue occurs, why the issue should be prioritize, what the intended audience needs to know about the issue, what the health provider needs to know about the issue, how the issue could be resolved, what strategies should used and not be used, how the solution/message could be relayed to the intended audience and what the impact could be. In order words, theories and models guide in crafting an effective health communication. Nowadays, with the changing environment and technology, the channels of communication towards health have increased.
Health communication is best expressed when using multiple communication channels. Health care professionals now use sophisticated techniques in communication such as via the Internet. Furthermore, this advanced technology has helped expound the issues on health communication, allowing more people to be reached through Internet strategies. However, health care professionals must be aware of the consequences of using the Internet in information dissemination for it may lead to a jumbled health information situation.
Thus, the main challenge is still to design an effective health communication program that has identified not only the context, but the content as well; doing so would facilitate in the creation of an integrated health communication program. References Feng, Hairong. (2006). Integration of theory and practice in health communication. Retrieved March 26, 2009, from China Media Research Website: http://www. chinamediaresearch. net/vol/2no3/060301_Hairong_Feng_done. pdf Health Promotion and Health Initiative (n. d. ).
Keys to effective health promotion. Retrieved March 26, 2009, from Health Promotion and Health Initiative Web site: http://chppm-www. apgea. army. mil/dhpw/Population/Documents/15keyProgramStrategies. pdf National Cancer Institute. (2002). Making health communication programs: a planner’s guide. Retrieved March 29, 2009, from National Cancer Institute Website: http:///www. cancer. gov/pinkbook Tamparo, Carol and Wilberta Lindh. (1992). Therapeutic communications for allied health professions. USA: Delmar Publishers.