149962 Strengthening the Diffusion of Quality School Health Programs by Incorporating Strategic Communications Planning

Wednesday, November 7, 2007: 1:00 PM

Beth Stevenson, MPH , Division of Adolescent and School Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA
Diane Edith Allensworth, PhD , National Center for Health Marketing, CDC, Division of Public and Private Partners, Atlanta, GA
Christi Kay, MA , Executive Director, HealthMPowers, Buford, GA
In 1999, Health MPowers, an Atlanta-based non-profit organization, developed a plan to increase the choice of healthy behaviors among students. The approach for reaching this outcome included implementation of a complex, systemic public health innovation -- the coordinated school health approach. Any innovation in schools requires a deliberate process to diffuse the innovation: internal partners to champion the innovation, resources, staff development, school leadership, and communications to create awareness and supportive action among the stakeholders school administrators, school staff, and students' families. To facilitate diffusion of this innovation and develop support among key stakeholders, Health MPowers developed a multifaceted communication plan, based on public health communications theory. Communication theory addresses how messages are created, transmitted, received and assimilated to a range of audiences. The intentional communication plan developed by Health MPowers utilized an ecological approach and tailored messages for target audiences at individual, group and community levels. The multilevel strategies were interwoven with the delivery of all aspects of the programmatic intervention to successfully diffuse this public health innovation within the educational system. Beginning in the 2002-03 school year with less than ten schools, the initiative will reach more than 80 schools in the next year with the potential of adding an additional 50 schools in 2008-09. Discussion of the initiative's strategies as well as the communication process and documents will illuminate how an outside agency can help build the basis for administrator and stakeholder support for health that will ultimately improve behavioral choice among elementary and middle school students.

Learning Objectives:
1. Articulate the role of intentional communications planning in successful diffusion of a school health program. 2. Identify relevant policymakers and stakeholders, researched messages, and delivery channels for local diffusion of a school health program. 3. Discuss how a multi-level communications strategy can be integrated successfully throughout program development and implementation.

Keywords: School-Based Programs, School Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Any relevant financial relationships? No
Any institutionally-contracted trials related to this submission?

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.