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Nats Open the Season with a Pair of Wins and a New Tobacco Use Policy that is Going Under the Radar

tobacco / health research / communication research / in the news / featured
Ah, April. DC sports fans’ hopes are high—it’s early enough the Caps haven’t gotten knocked out of the playoffs unexpectedly soon, the Wizards are in the playoffs, and the Nats are back. Not much has changed. Harper and Murphy look to be back in a groove (and Zim?!); the bullpen looks shaky. And smokeless tobacco seems to be permitted in the park. Wait, didn’t D.C. prohibit the use of smokeless tobacco at Nationals Park and other sports venues? Major League Baseball When baseball season opened earlier this week, the big news for proponents of disassociating baseball and smokeless tobacco was that state and local laws saw nearly half of Major League ballparks completely tobacco-free, including... more
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Naked and Afraid: From Reality TV to Tobacco Products Packaging?

featured / tobacco / current events / in the news / communication research
Today, on World No Tobacco Day, the World Health Organization (WHO) is calling for plain packaging of tobacco products. Each year on May 31, WHO and partners highlight the health risks associated with tobacco use and advocate for specific efforts to reduce use across the globe. The focus of conversation today is plain packaging, which WHO argues “is an important demand reduction measure that reduces the attractiveness of tobacco products, restricts use of tobacco packaging as a form of tobacco advertising and promotion, limits misleading packaging and labelling, and increases the effectiveness of health warnings.” WHO World No Tobacco Day | May 31 So what’s the skinny for chatter around the water... more
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Entertainment Education for Creatively Changing Health Behaviors

featured / communication research / public health / advertising / communication
After seeing the Academy Award-winning movie The Big Short, I completely agree with the praise the film received at the Oscars for distilling complicated economic concepts into terms that regular folks like you and I can understand. The Big Short is just one example of how entertainment media can be successful in educating people—not despite the fact it's entertaining but rather because it's entertaining. Entertainment education is a communication strategy in which theories of communication, education, psychology, and drama are used to create an education and behavior change message for addressing social issues. That message is then woven into an appealing and persuasive media format to reach a specific media audience. Entertainment education has been used in countries around the world to successfully increase understanding... more
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Deadpool not the only antihero in town - Communication's role in the Zika virus narrative

featured / communication research / public health / advertising
"Surprise, this is a different kind of superhero story." Deadpool. There's just something about an R-rated, violent, off-color, superhero movie that screams: risk communication and public health. No, it's just me? Everyone has a favorite antihero though. Same story (even if self-mocking), different kind of character. Communication too can find itself unexpectedly taking center stage in public health crisis response narratives often dominated by medicine and natural sciences. For example, communication was a theme of last year's WHO leadership statement on the Ebola response. We have learned the importance of communication - of communicating risks early, of communicating more clearly what is needed, and of involving communities and their leaders in the messaging…We will communicate better. We commit to provide... more
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From "Netflix & Chill Night" to StonerSloth - The Road to (Messaging) Hell is Paved with Good Intentions

featured / communication research / public health / advertising
Sometimes bad things happen to good people. And sometimes bad things happen to good causes. One day you're celebrating a new campaign and the next you're pulling an ad after a segment on the Daily Show calls attention to the inherent (or sometimes unanticipated) risk associated with the messaging strategy. Daily Show Don't Jerk Take last week for example. Suddenly everyone seemed to be as enthusiastic about alcohol messaging as we are. A recently released infographic intended to raise awareness of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders had struck a chord - but, unfortunately as it turned out, not in a good way. Reactions like shaming, shady, scare tactics, condescending, and offensive certainly would have... more
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Spreading the Word… Not the Zika Virus- Tips from Health and Risk Communicators

featured / communication research / public health / risk communication
If you've seen the news lately (or Twitter for that matter) you've probably heard about what the World Health Organization (WHO) is calling a public health emergency - a mosquito-borne illness called the Zika virus. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Zika virus was first discovered in 1947 and until recently, outbreaks have mostly occurred in Africa, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands. However, a recent "explosion" of infections in parts of Latin America - as well as a reported linkage between the virus and a severe birth defect known as microcephaly - has caught the attention of the world. On Monday, the Director-General of the WHO urged the... more
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On Socks and Social Marketing - Honoring World AIDS Day

communication / communication research / featured / public health
More than 30 years since the first reported cases of AIDS, what does progress look like? From its origins in fear and death, HIV has become a preventable, treatable, and hope-filled chronic illness. Though there has been significant progress both scientifically and socially, there is clearly much progress to be made – HIV is a leading cause of death by infectious disease, and fear, misperceptions, and stigma are still a very real challenge. Take, for example, the media stir last month when Charlie Sheen revealed on the Today Show that he is HIV-positive. Sheen shared that he decided to make his health status public because recent partners allegedly threatened to disclose his diagnosis, blackmailing him for millions of dollars. His situation – and... more
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Shock to the (Stable) System - Applying Dynamics to Smokeless Tobacco Use

communication research / public health / tobacco / conferences / featured
This past weekend at the Western Communication Association Convention in Spokane, WA, a colleague of mine, Josh Nelson, presented a paper titled, Toward the Scientific Study of Dynamic Communication Processes. Along with Josh, Professor John Sherry, and Esther Paik, I was fortunate enough to be one of the paper's co-authors, and I have been thinking quite a bit about what this paper can offer applied researchers and practitioners. Although the paper is primarily theoretical, its ideas offer some food for thought when approaching public health issues. As with any applied endeavor, before translating the paper's ideas into practice, some explanation is needed. What are dynamics? Dynamics refer broadly to phenomena that display time-changing patterns—in other words, dynamic processes are those that... more
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National Communication Association Turns 100 - Notes on Message Design

communication research / conferences / featured
The National Communication Association (NCA), one of the primary associations in the field of communication, held its 100th annual conference on November 20th-23rd in Chicago—the site of the very first annual convention. Each year, thousands of researchers, teachers, and practitioners come together to discuss theoretical and applied research problems that communication scholars currently face. Among a sea of interesting research presentations, the conference offered some key takeaways regarding how we present messages about health and risk: National Communication Association 100 Years Numerical presentation of risk—the type of presentation matters. In our day-to-day activities, we often come across messages that tell us about the likelihood of some negative outcome happening to us, and the same type... more
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At APHA, We Are Reminded Why We Do Public Health

featured / communication research / public health / conferences
Wednesday marked the close of the American Public Health Association's (APHA's) Annual Meeting and Exposition, and what a fantastic several days it was. In excess of 12,000 attendees, nearly 500 exhibitors, more than 1,000 sessions (30+ sessions in the health communication section alone), and one take-home message to sum it up: Never lose sight of why we do what we do. APHA 2014 Why public health? Answers to this question were at every turn this week, before even arriving at the conference. Reagan airport was covered in reminders that "health is everything," as though CVS knew we were coming. I loved the phrase when CVS unveiled its new branding, and it rings true every time I see... more
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