Schiavo presents Health Communication lecture

Renata Schiavo, Ph.D., M.A., presented her lecture “Health Communication 101: Dos and Don’ts of Effective Programming” Thursday night in the Library Auditorium.

The event was hosted by the Public Health Communication club.

“Communication is relationship building,” Schiavo said. “We need to be tailoring our communication to different audiences to engage them.”

According to Schiavo, improving health communication can help to “provoke public discussion to drive disease, treatment, or prevention” as well as “advocate for equal access to existing health products and services.”

One of the most important aspects of Health Communication is planning, according to Schiavo. Planning helps set priorities, budget funds, delegate responsibility and set a timeline.

“The planning process helps us understand what we want people to do,” she said.

Some of the problems Health Communication faces are low health literacy due to limited access to information and the threat of bioterrorism.

Schiavo felt the Anthrax Crisis highlighted the need for a more coordinated system of Health Communication.

As noted in her presentation, the common belief now is best summed up in the words of Surgeon General David Satcher: “Communication has emerged as one of the most important public health sciences of the 21st century.”

Schiavo is the founder and principal of Strategic Communication Resources SM and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Public Health in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University.

She has been providing training on different health communication and strategic planning topics to a variety of organizations including staff members of the US Office of Minority Health, the World Bank, and the NYC Department of Health, among others; she works with Solving Kids’ Cancer and has just completed a Multicultural Health Communication project with UNICEF and wrote the book “Health Communication: From Theory to Practice.”