Fostering Public Participation, Not Just Reception

It is a common misconception that the responsibility for the wellbeing of our community lies entirely on public health professionals. As part of the common public, we often demand improvements in healthcare policies, resources and information in the mindset of a recipient. It is this one-way, “receiving” mentality that often hinders maximum efficiency of public health campaigns. Often, the public health campaigns will need the general public to contribute toward the projects, examples of which include blood drives, demanding blood donors, and disease prevention, calling for the public’s change in practice. Not only that, there can be many regional and racial limitations imposed through certain ways of delivering the need for participation. Such limitations arise from the context in which the information is presented as well as the accessibility of the medium. In other words, it is crucial to implement the need for active participation and a culture that creates a “dialogue” in needs of public health throughout all the different subsets of the population in order to achieve maximum campaign efficiency.

By targeting the managers of public health campaigns, we strive to shift the atmosphere of public health from a one-way delivery of information for a small subset of the population toward a widespread dialogue between the people and the public health officials. We will ultimately address the fact that calling forth action from a larger population in a nondiscriminatory manner will maximize public health campaign efficacy.

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Current range of KUHF radio transmittance (https://www.houstonpublicmedia.org/news887/ways-to-listen/)

To do so, our project will evaluate the efficacy of Passing in Review’s instigation of public participation for MD Anderson’s newly opened Blood Bank. Aired on KPRC radio in Houston, 1946, Passing in Review can be taken as an example of an attempt to increase public participation in public health issues. In particular, we will be analyzing the broadcast on two levels: we will firstly dissect how the need for blood donors was presented and secondly investigate the accessibility of the broadcast by different racial, socioeconomic and gender groups. For example, Passing in Review presented blood donation as painless and easily do-able through interviews with experienced donors. It also specifically called for women participants, specifying the similarities and differences in male and female donors. Doing so expands the target audience of the campaign from just males to both males and females. However, the intrinsic nature of 1940’s radiobroadcast spoken in English limits the audience to Houston’s wealthy, English-speaking population that owned radios, and did not have work late on Friday nights. This is a possible critique for Passing in Review’s campaigning efficiency. As such, analyzing the positive and negative aspects of the broadcast in expanding the population for blood donors will ultimately help us to pinpoint out what needs to be improved in regards to widening the range of participants.

Our project, keeping in mind that our audience is public health campaign managers, will take the form of a formal presentation, proposing what needs to be improved in the delivery of campaigns. We will also have websites and pamphlets ready to give out to these officials to further enhance accessibility to our guidelines on how to increase public participation. To effectively do so, we will research how accessible the Passing in Review broadcast was towards the different ethnic and socioeconomic groups and its resulting change in blood donation participants. This information can possibly be found through other archival records on increase in blood donors. We will pay special attention to what groups of individuals decided to donate their blood (we predict the majority to be of upper-class, Caucasian males). We will also research the campaigning methods utilized by current blood drives to point out what aspect of it, specifically, can be ineffective in reaching a broader audience, and how it can be improved. Such information can be found through public health campaigns found in various forms themselves including websites, pamphlets and radio broadcasts.

Passing in Review: Seeking Full Participation

For many people, public health seems to be an esoteric topic that falls under the responsibility of government officials and scientists. However, public health issues today, such as Ebola and Zika prevention, and campaigns against obesity, drug overdose and antibiotic misuse, require the full participation of entire populations and not just a small segment of them. From Passing in Review’s public announcement on blood bank donations in April 1946 to Joe Biden’s powerful address on the Cancer Moonshot at Rice just a month ago, all effective public health campaigns are tied together under the common theme of unity in participation. My question is: how does a public health entity craft a campaign that is able to incorporate as many people as possible into participating in important and urgent public health issues?

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Public health issues affect us all, no matter what our background or status is in our community. Image from: http://www.phrei.org/core_epidemiology.html

I believe the best way to answer this question is by producing a teaching module geared towards public health leaders of various campaigns that have not been able to reach a large portion of the population. From my group’s analysis of our archive from 1946, we decided that the strengths of the public announcement included a hospitable description of the environment, a didactic and supportive tone, and inclusivity with regards towards women donors. Also, the public announcement included an authority figure in Dr. E. W. Bertner, the acting director of M.D. Anderson Hospital and the first president of the Texas Medical Center, giving an informative talk on the history of the Texas Medical Center and on the importance of cancer clinics. (archive.org) However, one weakness may be that the first part of the recording is overly formal and seems staged, and should be more candid. Our group will have to do research on the effectiveness of the radio broadcast by assessing blood bank engagement after the announcement from various demographic criteria such as race, sexual orientation, age, and socioeconomic status.

Surely, most people have been affected, or at least heard of cancer, but what about roundworm, river blindness, or elephantiasis? These are three of the seven Neglected Tropical Diseases that one in six people in that world are diagnosed with, and require public attention and participation. (END7) My proposal is to create a website on general guidelines for designing public health campaigns, and an exemplary video created by our group on the 7 Neglected Tropical Diseases that incorporates all of the guidelines.

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It is important for public health authorities and officials to be able to empower an entire population to participate in their initiatives. Image from: https://www.coursera.org/learn/epidemiology

 

An effective public health campaign should keep everyone updated and informed on pressing aspects of the issue, provide simple yet powerful ways for ordinary citizens to get involved, and should not discriminate or favor one particular segment of the population. This project has the potential to help public health officials in incorporating entire populations in various public health movements, which would be critical in alleviating future international health issues and crises.

Works Cited:

“Why NTDs? Help End 7 Diseases and Lessen Suffering for over ½ a Billion Kids in the Developing World” End7. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Oct. 2016.

“Passing in Review, M. D. Anderson Hospital Blood Bank, 1946 : Texas Medical Center Library : Free Download & Streaming : Internet Archive.” Internet Archive. Archive.org, n.d. Web. 17 Oct. 2016.

“Core Strengths – Epidemiology.” Pacific Health Research and Education Institute. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Oct. 2016.

Yeatts, Karin, Dr., and Lorraine Alexander, Dr. “Epidemiology: The Basic Science of Public Health.” Coursera. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Oct. 2016.