Health communication is the art and technique of informing, influencing and motivating individuals or larger audiences about important health issues based on scientific and ethical considerations. It includes the study and use of communication strategies to inform and influence individual and community decisions that enhance health. Health communication is recognised as a necessary part of efforts to improve personal and public health (Figure 7.1). In other words, health communication encompasses the study and use of communication strategies to inform and influence individual and community knowledge, attitudes and practices (KAP) with regard to health and healthcare. The benefits of effective health communication are summarised in Box 7.1.
Box 7.1 Elements of health communication
- initiates action
- makes needs known
- exchanges knowledge, attitudes and practices
- helps people understand issues and may change their health beliefs
- establishes and maintains relationships with health providers.