Health Communication

Course Number
5100 (Social and Behavioural Health Science)
Course Instructor(s)
Larry Hershfield

Course Overview

JXP5807H is an interdisciplinary graduate course that examines a variety of approaches and actions that inform health communication initiatives, including behavioural, sociological, political- economy, and cultural studies lenses.

The course will be structured around the objectives, platforms, messages, audiences, and components of communication approaches such as:

  • media framing
  • media advocacy
  • health and media literacy
  • social marketing of health
  • patient provider communication
  • communication for social change
  • risk & emergency communication
  • communicating social determinants
  • entertainment education or edutainment
  • Web 2.0 and social media engagement.
  • Learning Goals and Objectives

By the conclusion of this course, students will:

  • acquire a broad understanding of health communication theory, methods and professional practice;
  • develop practical experience in developing health communication materials and campaigns;
  • be able to identify and critically assess media frames for public health issues;
  • appreciate media discourse and the role of story-telling on public knowledge, attitudes, behaviours and power relations relevant to individual and community health issues; and
  • develop scholarly review techniques, media analysis skills, scholarly writing and presentation skills,


The course is organized into three sections over the semester:

  • The first section is devoted to exploring a wide range of health communication theories, methods   and related  tools required  for assessing health communication initiatives;
  • The second section is comprised of a series of lectures and case studies devoted to a variety of  health communication types, and
  • The third section of the course is devoted to student presentations of their analyses of health communication campaigns.

Generally, each week may consist of:

  • Interactive lecture and practical exercises
  • Student presentation of a reading or tool, and analyses of health communication campaigns
  • Guest lecture from a professional in the field;
  • Discussion and application of assigned readings;
  • Identification of useful health communication tools and resources; and
  • Discussion of assignments.

methods of assessment

  • 15%: Course Participation
  • 15%: Health Media Reflections and Reframing Blog or Podcast
  • 15%: Health Communication Tool Demonstration and Critique OR Facilitate Class Discussion on selected course reading
  • 55%: Major Health Campaign Project (Individual or group project):
    • 25%: Critical review essay of major public health campaign
    • 15%: Scholarly presentation of essay (20 min. plus 10 min Q&A)
    • 15%: Campaign production: prototype of campaign to redress limitations

General Requirements