257015 Visual and Participatory Research Methods in the Development of Mass Communication Health Messages for Underserved Populations

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Salva N. Balbale, MS , Department of Kinesiology and Community Health, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, IL
Andiara Schwingel, Assistant Prof , Department of Kinesiology and Community Health, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL
Wojtek Chodzko-Zajko, PhD , Department of Kinesiology and Community Health, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL
Marian Huhman, PhD , Communication, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL
Mass communication health campaign messages play critical roles in public health, yet studies show mixed effectiveness in reaching and impacting underserved populations. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the benefits of using visual and participatory research techniques towards health message development. Demographic information and levels of physical activity were first obtained in a sample of older Hispanic women (n=23; aged 71.9 ± 7.6 years) living in the city of Chicago. Perceptions of physical activity were then assessed using a visual research method known as photo-elicitation as well as supplementary methods. Health messages promoting physical activity were developed with a subsample of the target population using a participatory approach. Findings suggest that this method may be a valuable tool in the development of mass communication health messages, extracting rich and meaningful data from target audiences while fostering a sense of partnership between researchers and community members. Tailoring and improving the message design process around the needs of underserved populations—many of which are faced with a lack of health care resources, literacy, and social support—is essential in the effort to eliminate the burden of health disparities. This study takes a step towards building a more robust evidence-base for public health communication initiatives with the use of innovative interdisciplinary research techniques and may present new ways to strengthen the formative research process to better impact underserved populations.

Learning Areas:
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Communication and informatics
Diversity and culture
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
1. Assess the benefits of using visual methods and participatory research in health message design targeting underserved populations. 2. Enhance our understanding of choices related to being physically active and maintaining overall wellness. 3. Evaluate the complexities and sociocultural contexts that influence physical activity and health-related decisions. 4. Construct new messages promoting physically activity based on collected data.

Keywords: Health Communications, Underserved Populations

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I was the lead graduate Research Assistant working on the entirety of this research study, which, to our knowledge, is the first of its kind in applying the use of innovative participatory and visual techniques towards physical activity promotion among older Hispanic women.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

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.