The aim of communication involves the study and use of communication strategies to inform and influence individual and community decisions that enhance health. The importance of communication in health care is increasingly recognized as a necessary element of efforts to improve personal and public health. Health communication can contribute to all aspects of disease prevention and health promotion and is relevant in a number of contexts, including: ? Individuals’ exposure to, search for, and use of health information ? Individuals’ adherence to clinical recommendations and regimens ? Health professional-patient relations?
The construction of public health messages and campaigns ?The dissemination of individual and population health risk information, that is, risks communication. ?Images of health in the mass media and the culture at large ? The education of consumers about how to gain access to the public health and health care systems ? The development of tele-health applications Effective health communication can help elevate consciousness of health risks and solutions provide the enthusiasm and skills needed to lessen these risks, help them find support from other people in similar situations, and affect or reinforce attitudes.
Health communication can also increase demand for appropriate health services and decrease demand for inappropriate health services. It can make available information to assist in making complex choices, such as selecting health plans, care providers, and treatments. For the community, health communication can be used to influence the public agenda, advocate for policies and programs, promote positive changes in the socioeconomic and physical environments, improve the delivery of public health and health care services, and encourage social norms that benefit health and quality of life.
The work of health communication has contributed to health promotion and disease prevention in several areas. One is the improvement of interpersonal and group interactions in clinical situations (for example, provider-patient, provider-provider, and among members of a health care team) through the training of health professionals and patients in effective communication. Two-way relationships are enhanced when all parties are capable of good communication.
One more area is the allowance of health messages throughout public education campaigns that seek to change the community ambience to promote healthy behaviors, build consciousness, alter attitudes, and motivate individuals to take up recommended behaviors. Campaigns have traditionally relied on mass communication (such as public service announcements on billboards, radio, and television) and educational messages in printed materials (pamphlets, flyers, etc) to deliver health messages. Other campaigns have integrated mass media with community-based programs.
Many campaigns have used social marketing techniques. Good provider-patient communication contributes to quality care and improved health status. Patient’s assessment of their providers’ communication is important for individuals with a usual source of care as well as for those without, who may have less frequent contact with the medical care system. Studies indicate the patients find communicating with their health care providers difficult and report that providers do not give them enough information, even though they highly value the information and want to know more.
Clear, candid, accurate, culturally and linguistically competent provider-patient communication is essential for the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and management of health concerns. Competent communication underpins prevention and screening efforts at the clinical level, when providers have the opportunity to engage in one-on-one counseling and supply information that is culturally and linguistically appropriate and delivered at the person’s health literacy level.
Diagnoses and treatments require doctors to negotiate a common understanding with patients about what is to be done. The quality of provider-patient communication can affect numerous outcomes, including patient adherence to recommendations and health status. Appropriate information and communication with a provider not only can relieve patients’ anxieties but also help patients understand their choices, allow them to participate in informed decision-making, and better manage their own health concerns.