Brown Bag reveals adventures in health communications

Douglas Storey discussed the health communications field. (Delisa O’Brien / Staff Photographer)

By Cameron Dering
Correspondent

Douglas Storey, associate director for the Center of Communication Studies at Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health, paid the College a visit last Thursday, Nov. 11, to share a presentation about his adventures abroad in the field of health communications with students as part of the Brown Bag Series.

This past week’s presentation “Adventures in Health Communication: Global Programs, Local Impact” by Storey was sponsored by the Health Communications Club and was intended to expose communication studies majors to various jobs and research projects that exist in the health communications field.

In his PowerPoint presentation, Storey discussed two major research projects in the countries of Nepal and South Africa that he participated in, as well as the goals, research and applications of health communications.

In Nepal, Storey worked on a team attempting to bring awareness of modern contraception to women and to satisfy the need for family planning in Nepal, a country with one of the highest fertility rates but without the resources to accommodate all the children who are born.

With the Radio Communication Project they formed in Nepal, Storey’s team worked to influence Nepal’s opinion of family planning using the radio.

Research found that more women in fact used modern forms of contraception and more spouses took part in family planning because of the information they received either directly or indirectly from the radio show.

In South Africa, Storey worked on a new advertising project meant to emphasize the danger of HIV and promote safe sex practices for younger generations. Their “Scrutinize” advertisement campaign used animated characters, geared toward a young audience.

Storey’s team used a National Sample Survey to analyze the effectiveness of this “Scrutinize” campaign, and found that South Africa had 700,000 new condom users as a result of the advertisements.

Based on his experience, he advised the audience to “reach as many people as possible if you want to have a population impact.”

Co-presidents of the Health Communications club, seniors Jacqueline Webb and Angela Pineiro and junior Kathleen Ward, all communication studies majors, thought the presentation was a big success.

“We just wanted to give students who were interested in public health communications an idea of what jobs they could pursue with a degree in health communications,” Webb said.

Ward added that the other goal of the presentation was to “show the impact health communications can really have in communities around the world.”

The meaning of the presentation got through to senior communication studies major Jillian Shaw, who said, “It was very interesting and informative and made me realize how important health communications is in the international community.”

Yifeng Hu, assistant professor of communication studies and co-chair of the Health Communications Club, said she thought it was “important for students and faculty to learn what communication scholars do … because their work can make a social impact.”