In this model the information flows from the sender to the receiver and back from receiver to the sender again in the other direction (Figure 7.8). Two-way communication is reciprocal, the communicant (receiver) becomes the communicator (sender) and the communicator (sender) in turn becomes a communicant (receiver). Most ordinary conversations are along the lines of this model (Figure 7.9). Two-way communication is usually more appropriate for problem-solving situations.
As a health worker, or just in normal life, you often have cause to have a conversation with people. Think about one recent conversation and look Table 7.2 below to see whether you agree with the advantages and disadvantages of this type of communication.
There are no right or wrong answers to this question, but this has been a chance to begin to assess the qualities of two-way communication that will be useful in your work.
Table 7.2 Advantages and disadvantages of two-way communication.
● More audience participation
● Learning is more democratic
● Open to feedback
● May influence behaviour change
● Slower, takes more time
Box 7.4 summarises some key terms for two-way communication.
Box 7.4 Key terms for two-way communication
Sender: the originator of each message — this could be an individual, group or organisation.
Message: the idea being communicated.
Channel: the means by which a message travels from sender to receiver.
Receiver: the person for whom the communication is intended.
Effect: the change in the receiver's knowledge, attitude or practice.
Feedback: telling what they have done well or how to improve. Two-way feedback means that members of the community can tell you what you communicated well and what didn't work so well.
Body Mass Index (BMI) is a measure of a person's weight, taking their height into account. Very low or very high BMI is a health risk.
Using the example of body mass index (BMI), note down possible examples for each component of two-way communication listed in the key terms above.
- The sender may be an individual or groups or organisations who are keen to help people to think about their BMI.
- The message might be something like 'check your body mass index'.
- The channel could be verbal, for example during peer education. Printed materials or audiovisual channels could be used for other messages about BMI to wider audiences.
- The receiver may be an individual, family or the whole community.
- The effect will be the change in the receiver's attitude, knowledge and practice.
- Feedback should be positive when the desired change in knowledge, attitude and practice (KAP) occurs — but will be negative when the desired change in knowledge, attitude and practice doesn't occur.