Health Communication

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

Course Description

This interdisciplinary course will examine a variety of approaches and actions that inform health communication initiatives, including behavioural, sociological and critical cultural studies approaches.   The course will be structured around the objectives, channels, messages,  vision of the audience, and components of approaches such as:

  • Social marketing of health;
  • Critical  and cultural studies approaches to health communication;
  • Media advocacy;
  • Web 2.0, ehealth, on-line  health communication;
  • Risk communication;
  • Entertainment education; and
  • Communication for social change.

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;
  • Review of student blogosphere regarding assigned communication piece;
  • 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.

Course Objectives

After participation in lectures, professional networking, group discussions, critique of  literature, and health campaign analysis,  students will:

i.          Acquire a broad understanding of health communication theory,   methods, and professional practice

ii.         Be able to critically assess any health communication initiative with respect to:

  1. underlying health communication and media studies  theory,
  2. best practices, approaches, values and ethics of  promotion, and
  3. questions of scientific accuracy and discourse;

iii.        Develop the skills to identify and plan health communication actions and campaigns.

General Requirements