Community Based Strategies for Public Health Communications

Johns Hopkins Center for Health Equity, Baltimore, Maryland, 2019

The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Equity conducts research studies that explore approaches to addressing health disparities, trains medical providers in addressing health disparities, and collaborates with global and local communities who are affected by health disparities.


PURPOSE

At a Community Advisory Board (CAB) meeting for the Center in early 2019, community members indicated that they wanted better tools for sharing information about the Center’s research studies with non academic audiences. Members of the CAB knew that the Center’s research could be potentially life saving for some community members, yet most community members had never heard of the Center. In an effort to respond to this request, the faculty of the Center hired a graphic designer to create an infographic about a recent research study. When the Center shared the infographic with several members of the CAB, however, the members didn’t like it, but they struggled to give specific feedback on how to improve it.


PROCESS

The Center asked me to use the principles of human centered design to facilitate an activity at the next CAB meeting so they could better understand what kinds of tools would help community members share research study results. I created a series of role playing activities so that community members could feel comfortable not only providing feedback on the infographic but also questioning whether an infographic was the right communication medium to be using for their context. I purposefully chose a rough draft version of the infographic to use as a prop in the role playing activity so that CAB members would feel more comfortable with giving critical and specific feedback.


OUTCOME

The role playing activity at the CAB meeting quickly revealed that CAB members felt that an infographic was not the best medium for relaying research study results within their community. The Center for Health Equity was able to save significant time and money investing in a communications strategy that would not have worked. Instead, the Center plans to prototype alternate options in the future.

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