How Health Communication Promotes Sustainable Behavior Change?
Health communication is defined as the dissemination of information to improve the health and well-being of the population. Here, effective communication is vital. It can lead to improved decision-making and sustainable behavior change in people. Imagine how hard it would be for people to understand highly complex health-related information because of different cultural, social, and educational backgrounds. Through health communication, healthcare experts deliver simple and relevant messages to people. Thus, making it easier to comprehend.
Health communication has the power to change the ideas, beliefs, and perceptions of the public regarding health issues. Once people are more aware, they are entitled to better decision-making. Health practitioners use various verbal and nonverbal communication strategies to educate people. Verbal communication refers to the exchange of information via speech. In verbal communication, the words used by the health practitioner while exchanging information are crucial. Perhaps, the right choice of words has favorable psychological impacts on a patient's behavior. Comparably, non-verbal communication refers to the doctor's facial expressions, demeanor, and tone, which can affect the patients' attitude. Therefore, whether verbal or nonverbal, effective communication can influence the treatment procedures.
Various communication channels serve as potent tools to educate people regarding their health. Few examples include billboards, newspapers, television, pamphlets, public service announcements, and radio commercials. Besides this, social media has played a pivotal role in spreading health messages amongst people. It has facilitated people with greater exposure to information than ever before.
However, a lot of other factors contribute to influencing behavior change amongst people. The professional background of health practitioners is cardinal in effective health communication. Besides, well-trained health professionals can better communicate the information.
Given the rise in health education, several healthcare students now opt for advanced education. These students even use search engines to find answers to the questions such as how to get a doctorate in nursing to discover more about the profession and required skills.
Here, we will dive deeper into the details of how health communication reinforces sustainable behavior change.
1. Wider access to information
The general public has greater access to information due to the widespread use of social and digital media. Interestingly, the internet has become a popular source of information for patients. Today, the majority of people use it for health-related information. According to Statista, in the year 2019, approximately 59% of Americans made their decisions regarding prescriptions based on online health-related information. Moreover, people use the internet to find details about specific diseases, health conditions, and medications.
Such health-related queries depict that people are becoming more vigilant about their health. This greater awareness allows them to adopt sustainable behavior and take necessary actions required for their well-being. Therefore, the power of media in providing information and influencing behavior is undeniable.
2. Removes barriers of communication
There are numerous barriers to effective communication between a healthcare provider and a patient. For example, a patient might be suffering from stress during an appointment, which restricts communication. Moreover, differences in language, education, and culture between a doctor and a patient can hamper the quality of treatment. Therefore an effective health communication is required. It can help to remove the possible barriers between a patient and a doctor.
Further, it takes into account patients' values, preferences, and educational and cultural backgrounds. Therefore doctors adopt an approach that allows their patients to feel at ease by communicating in the best possible way. Resultantly, it can lead to a good patient-physician relationship. Such a relationship encourages patients to discuss their issues freely and can lead to a positive behavior change.
3. Facilitates better decision making
Effective health communication ensures improved decision-making amongst people. Well-informed patients are more likely to make better decisions regarding their health. It further increases patient's satisfaction with the doctor. Through health communication, patients can evaluate the pros and cons, risks, and costs of each of the available options. Resultantly, they can make the best decision for themselves. Overall, the active participation of patients regarding their health-related decisions gives them more autonomy. It offers them a quality healthcare experience.
4. Demands quick action
An effective health communication calls for prompt action. It allows patients to be proactive and take the necessary steps required for better health. For example, during COVID 19, the general public is advised to use masks, hand sanitizers, and get proper vaccination to curb the spread of the disease. Preventative measures are required to fight the pandemic. It is what effective health communication does. It allows people to take preventative measures and necessary actions for good health.
5. Helps debunk misconceptions
Effective health communication ensures that the audience receives only reliable information. It is particularly more significant during outbreaks like coronavirus. Because during such times of crisis, it is easier for false information and myths to spread in the masses. Common myths such as eating Chinese food and animals like cats and dogs spread coronavirus create stress amongst people.
Good health communication helps in debunking such myths. Healthcare authorities communicate credible and trustworthy information to remove misconceptions. Furthermore, effective health communication is not crucial only in times of emergencies. But healthcare workers need to provide credible information at all times.
6. Promotes well being
Effective health communication improves the well-being of people. For example, through advocacy campaigns like ‘Smoking is injurious to health,' people are becoming more aware. It helps them to avoid using cigarettes and prevent the likelihood of lung cancer. Good health communication provides people enough information to adopt a healthy lifestyle. It focuses on the health and fitness of individuals. Consequently, this improves the quality of life. It ensures the improved physical, social, and psychological wellness of the people.
Effective health communication can transform the lives of people. By allowing access to credible information, it reinforces sustainable behavior change. Reliable information facilitates people to make better health decisions. Moreover, it helps to debunk common myths associated with diseases. Good health communication can foster a healthy patient-practitioner relationship. This relationship fosters mutual trust and understanding, with no potential barriers involved. Through this, a patient can receive high-quality treatment and derive utmost satisfaction.
Effective communication also promises prompt action. For example, digital and social media can help educate people regarding specific health issues, demanding urgent calls for action. It can ensure the improved well-being of a nation. It also encourages people to adopt lifelong sustainable behavior regarding their health. Such people prioritize their health and can improve the quality of their lives.