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Society for Health Communication Elects New President and Executive Leadership Team

Appointments include Executive Leadership, 3 Steering Committee Members
and Executive Director, reflecting continued organizational growth and essential role of health communicators.

 

February 8, 2024The Society for Health Communication, a member-driven organization working to advance the science of health communication, elected its 2024 Executive Leadership Team, three new Steering Committee members for the 2024-2025 term, and appointed a new Executive Director. Ashani Johnson-Turbes, PhD, Vice President, NORC at the University of Chicago has been elected as 2024 President, Stacy Robison, MPH, CHES, President and Co-Founder, CommunicateHealth as Vice President, and Stephanie Miles, PhD, Deputy Director, Communication Research, Fors Marsh as Secretary and Member-at-Large.

Johnson-Turbes previously served as Vice President and now chairs the Society’s Steering Committee. She partners with Robison to achieve the Society’s mission and vision, diversity, equity and inclusion, and overall growth goals. Miles will focus on organizational member engagement and retention and manage the Society’s Advisory Board.

Following an open nomination and review process, the Society appointed three new Steering Committee members for the 2024-2025 term:

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Society for Health Communication and Journal of Health Communication Partner to Advance the Field

 

Partnership seeks to foster development and sharing of learnings, evidence, and research

The Journal of Health Communication becomes an official publication of the Society 

Austin, TX and New York, NY (January 24, 2024) – The Society for Health Communication, a member-driven organization working to advance the science of health communication has forged a new partnership with the Journal of Health Communication, the highest-rated academic journal in the field. This partnership will help increase the field’s access to critical health communication research, science, and practice learnings; create new publication opportunities; and advance public health. 

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Major setback for health communication: National Institutes of Health (NIH) Advancing Health Communication Science and Practice research program paused

 

September 14, 2023The COVID-19 pandemic illuminated the lifesaving role of health communication, especially in times of crisis. Rampant mis- and dis- information and a divisive political climate threaten to undermine this role, compounding the challenges of the pandemic and further impacting public health. Despite the dangers mis- and dis- information present to public health and cross-sector efforts underway to try and mitigate their impact, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) decided to pause a $154 million research program that included the development, testing, and sharing of new approaches for effective and equitable health communication. 

According to a recent KFF survey, Americans frequently encounter health misinformation — including false claims about COVID-19 and vaccines, reproductive health, or firearms — and most people struggle to identify false information. The uptake of artificial intelligence (AI) including large language models like ChatGPT have potential to blur the line between fact and fiction even more. The pandemic further highlighted systemic inequities contributing to health disparities. In fact, medically underserved communities including people of color, those who live in rural areas, and individuals who recently immigrated to the United States, are most susceptible to the harms of mis- and dis- information. 

“The Society for Health Communication strongly advocates for robust investment and study of health communication, which is critical to ensuring we can effectively understand and address current, emerging and future communication obstacles to public health,” said Michael Grela, President, Society for Health Communication and EVP, Head of Reputation, Public Health & Social Impact, Evoke Kyne. “We must take a collaborative approach to rebuild our nation’s trust in science and public health, providing all people with clear, timely, and actionable guidance to make informed health decisions, and ultimately help advance health equity.” 

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WebMD and Medscape's Division of Public Health Team Helping Agencies Educate, Communicate, and Evaluate

By: Steve Murphy, Director Public Health

When you ask a public health professional if they know of WebMD, they undoubtedly have and will often share a story about how they always look up information on the site about their or their family's condition. Many also know about WebMD’s healthcare professional-focused sister site, Medscape, though unless they are a licensed healthcare professional, they may not be fully aware of its free educational content and reach.

Both sites were established more than 25 years ago and have been committed to informing and educating clinicians and the public about current healthcare topics, preventions, treatments, and innovations. With a foundation rooted in clinical excellence and strengthened with a network of leading physicians and subject matter experts, WebMD/Medscape has become a trustworthy destination for clinicians and patients alike. WebMD leads all Internet health sites with more than 65 million patient and consumer visitors per month and Medscape membership continues to grow year over year, reaching over 1 million physicians and 2 million healthcare practitioners in the United States. Our faculty includes top names in practice and academia from renowned institutions such as Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Boston Medical Center, and Mount Sinai.

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Applying Human-Centered Design Principles and Developmental Evaluation to Engage Populations Underrepresented in Medical Research and Health Care Providers with All of Us

RTI

Medical research participants need to reflect the diversity of communities across the United States to drive health care innovation that benefits everyone. However, medical research has historically underrepresented members of populations from diverse backgrounds or those with complex diseases. Consequently, we know less about the overall health, effective treatments, and disease prevention for these populations often left out of medical research, and as a result health care often uses a one-size-fits-all approach. 

To fill this gap, the National Institutes of Health’s All of Us Research Program is working to enroll one million or more participants in a longitudinal research program and is prioritizing enrollment of members of communities historically underrepresented in medical research. All of Us is working to develop a robust dataset that researchers can use to accelerate health research and medical breakthroughs, enabling individualized prevention, treatment, and care for all of us.

Engaging Populations Underrepresented in Medical Research and Health Care Providers

Many populations underrepresented in medical research have been stigmatized, mistreated, and ignored by the scientific community. Appropriately engaging members of these communities is critical to ensure that individuals make informed decisions about enrolling and remaining in All of Us. One strategy All of Us is using is to collaborate with trusted intermediaries, like health care providers and community-based organizations.

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Society for Health Communication Elects 2023 Executive Leadership Team

committee

January 19, 2023The Society for Health Communication, a member-driven organization working to advance the science of health communication, has re-elected Michael Grela, EVP, Head of Reputation and Social Impact, Evoke Kyne as its 2023 President and Ashani Johnson-Turbes, PhD, Vice President and Director, Center on Equity Research, NORC at the University of Chicago as its 2023 Vice President, and elected Stacy Robison, MPH, MCHES, President and Co-Founder, CommunicateHealth as its new Member-at-Large. 

The trio will partner with the Society’s Steering Committee, Advisory Board and Executive Director Diane Brodalski to advance the mission and goals of the Society through networking opportunities, information and best practice sharing, educational trainings, webinars and events. Grela is responsible for overseeing its Steering Committee and partnering with Johnson-Turbes to set and achieve its long-term strategic, diversity, equity and inclusion, and overall growth goals. Robison will focus on organizational member engagement and retention, and management of its Advisory Board.

“Outstanding vision and leadership! I’m thrilled that Michael and Ashani will continue for another year in their roles and pleased to welcome Stacy as our new Member-at-Large,” said Jay M. Bernhardt, PhD, MPH, Founder, Society for Health Communication, and Professor and Dean, The University of Texas at Austin, Moody College of Communication. “With these leaders at the helm, I’m confident that the Society will expand its critical role as the leading voice for health communication, as it continues to deliver meaningful impact within the field and beyond.”

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I Am Because We Are: Empathy and Altruism in Health Communication

rachel

When I was an undergraduate studying abroad in South Africa, I learned about the Zulu word ubuntu, which roughly translates to “I am because we are.” It’s a simple but profound idea: we each become who we are because we’re inextricably interconnected to others around us. Ubuntu became a refrain I used to guide my choices toward the greater good: pursuing a career in public health, getting involved in political activism, volunteering for vaccine clinical trials, and most recently, donating a kidney to a stranger. 

Donating an organ to a someone you don’t know is also called “nondirected” or “altruistic” donation. Lots of people have asked what motivated me to donate a kidney — incorrectly assuming I must have a loved one in need. The real reason I donated is simple: thousands of people on the transplant waitlist die every year waiting for a kidney, yet most of us have two perfectly good ones. This was a way for me to set empathy and altruism into action.

Living kidney donation is a life-saving act of altruism. You can donate a kidney to someone you know, or to a stranger in need. Kidney transplants from living donors generally have better outcomes for the recipient, and donors can go on to live normal healthy lives with 1 kidney. 

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Recently Launched CDC COVID-19 Resources now Available for Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Wes Quattrone, MA; Stephen Brown, MS; Molly Lynch, MPH; and Jenna Frkovich, MPH, RTI International

Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) have faced new and unique challenges since the onset of COVID-19. People with IDD have experienced higher rates of hospitalization and mortality from COVID, as well as reduced access to community services, higher rates of comorbidities, and increased barriers for obtaining proper healthcare. These risks were exacerbated by communication impediments that can make understanding and acting upon public health guidance more challenging.

As a result, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently funded the creation of a COVID-19 toolkit that provided resources with clear explanations of protective behaviors, such as how to get a COVID-19 vaccine; how and when to wear a mask and social distance, how to get a COVID-19 test, and how to practice good hand hygiene. Developed by RTI International and their partner, CommunicateHealth, the toolkit consists of plain language public health communication materials in both English and Spanish, such as videos, posters, social stories, and interactive activities.

To develop the toolkit, the CDC hosted multiple discussions with adults with IDD and their caregivers, including both English- and Spanish-speakers, to test the materials and provide feedback at several points along the resource development process.

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Key to CDC’s future: significant investment and effective health communication

September 6, 2022 – The Society for Health Communicationa non-profit organization of more than 4,000 professionals working to advance the science and practice of health communication, applauds the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s recent reorganization announcement by its Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky. The Society for Health Communcation urges the leaders of the CDC and the Department of Health and Human Services to fully embrace the science of health communication and to significantly increase its health communication infrastructure investments. The CDC should recognize health communication as more than a service. Health Communication is a multidisciplinary field of study and practice, grounded in science and evidence, and commited to promoting health equity

In addition to working to simplify public guidance and increaseits workforce diversity, the Society for Health Communication believes CDC’s independence from politics and reinvestment in public health systems at the national, state, territorial, and local levels is crucial to reestablishing CDC as our nation’s premier public health agency.   

Accurate, reliable, timely, and actionable information from trusted scientists and decision makers are the building blocks of public health and are critical to guiding and protectingAmericans during health emergencies, said Michael Grela, President, Society for Health Communication. The CDC reorganization is an important opportunity to reestablish health communication as a multi-disciplinary field to help address mis- and dis-information, the lack of trust and confidence in evidence-based, public health science, and the significanthealthcare disparities that prevent all Americans from achieving their best possible health.

About the Society for Health Communication
The Society for Health Communication is a member-drivenorganization bringing together health communication professionals and scholars to create meaningful connections, share knowledge and exchange best practices across disciplines, promote health equity, and advance the science of health communication. The Society is a movement. Join by visiting www.hcsociety.org and following us on Twitter @HealthCommSoc and LinkedIn @Society-for-Health-Communication.

Coming Back from COVID: Can We Rebuild Trust in Health Communication? By Shelly Spoeth, Member at Large, Society for Health Communication; Principal Associate, Abt Associates

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of planning and moderating a panel entitled “Coming Back from COVID: How Do We Rebuild Trust in Health Communication?” at the Society for Health Communication annual Summit. In its sixth year, the Summit is an exciting time to see old friends (this year, back in person!), make new ones, and hear from great leaders in the field of communication.

The goal – candidly and honestly hear from leaders in the field about what we have and have not done right as health communicators these past few years and help outline what we need to do now. When planning this I knew this topic would not be without its challenges, and I knew we needed the right people to talk about this. They needed to represent a variety of industries – government, academia, corporate – and be experts in the field, which led me to:

Jay Bernhardt, PhD, Professor and Dean, Moody College of Communication, The University of Texas at Austin; Founder, Society for Health Communication
Darcy Sawatzki, MA, EVP, Head of Public Health, Evoke Kyne
Matthew McCurdy, MPH, Co-Founder, BLKHLTH

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My opening remarks for the 2022 Annual Summit for Health Communication

Edited excerpt from my opening remarks at the 6th Annual National Summit for Health Communication on June 14, 2022.

Welcome everyone to our 6th Annual National Summit for Health Communication, live and in-person for the first time since 2019, here in steamy Austin, Texas! Also, it's Pride month, so Happy Pride everyone!

My name is Michael Grela and I am the Head of Reputation and Social Impact for Evoke Kyne, a global, health communications agency, and I’m also the President of the Society for Health Communication, working alongside Ashani, Diane, Shelly, Jay, and many others.

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Society for Health Communication Elects New President and Expands Leadership

Appointments reflect continued organizational growth and essential role of health communicators

February 7, 2022The Society for Health Communication, a member-driven organization working to advance the science of health communication, has elected Michael Grela, EVP, Head of Reputation and Social Impact, Evoke KYNE, as its 2022 President, and re-elected Shelly Spöeth, Principal Associate, Abt Associates, as its 2022 Member-at-Large. Grela is responsible for overseeing its newly-expanded Steering Committee and partnering with Executive Director Diane Brodalski and leadership to set and achieve its member engagement, diversity, equity and inclusion, and overall growth goals. Spöeth will focus on organizational member engagement and retention, and management of its Advisory Board.

leaders

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Society for Health Communication Elects Ashani Johnson-Turbes as 2022 Vice President

Society for Health Communication Elects Ashani Johnson-Turbes as 2022 Vice President

ashani

March 29, 2022The Society for Health Communication, a member-driven organization working to advance the science of health communication, has elected Ashani Johnson-Turbes, PhD, Senior Fellow, NORC at the University of Chicago, as its 2022 Vice President. Since joining the Society’s Steering Committee in 2020, Johnson-Turbes has actively supported the planning and execution of its 2020 and 2021 Annual Summits, the equitable expansion and diversification of its Steering Committee, all with a passion for health equity, health communication and research-based health interventions. 

She will work closely with recently-elected 2022 President Michael Grela and Member-at-Large Shelly Spöeth, Executive Director Diane Brodalski, and expanded Steering Committee to help achieve the Society’s member engagement and retention, diversity, equity and inclusion, and overall growth goals. 

“Over the past two years Ashani has made significant contributions to the Society, already serving as a trusted partner and leader of our work,” said Michael Grela, President, Society of Health Communication and EVP, Head of Reputation & Social Impact, Evoke KYNE. “I’m absolutely thrilled to welcome Ashani to our Executive Leadership Team as we come together to advance health equity and positively contribute to the field of health communication.”

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Explaining mRNA Vaccines

Originally published by: CommunicateHealth
Originally published on: January 21, 2021

A doodle wearing a messenger bag and a hat labeled “mRNA” holds up a COVID-19 playbook and says, “Delivery!”

 

Now that folks are starting to get COVID-19 vaccines, many people are eagerly awaiting their turn in line. But because the first 2 COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the United States are a new type — called mRNA vaccines — lots of people also have questions about how they work.

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Three Lessons from HPV to consider for COVID-19 Vaccine Introduction

Originally published by: JSI
Original author: Kate Bagshaw and Nicole Davis
Originally published on: January 29, 2020

HPV Vaccination in Kenya during COVID

 

Worldwide, countries are developing and implementing strategies to introduce COVID-19vaccines. JSI’s experience with life-course vaccination, notably supporting the preparation and introduction of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine in eight countries, can be adapted to provide technical assistance for COVID-19 vaccine introduction. Three key lessons have emerged. 



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Medical Writing Courses That Can Help You Advance in Your Career

Originally published by: American Medical Writers Association
Originally published on: July 15, 2019

 

Until recently, most writers in the field of medical communication entered the field without formal training. Some started out with scientific or medical degrees and previously worked as scientists, physicians, or pharmacists before transitioning into medical writing. Others began as journalists and built a career by writing about health and medicine. 

Now, you can start a career in medical communication by taking medical writing courses that culminate in a degree specific to this field. You can also advance in the medical writing field by going back to school and earning an undergraduate or graduate degree.

Which degree programs include medical writing courses?

Most degree programs in medical writing culminate in one of the following degrees.


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Be Color Brave – How to Uphold Your Organization to These Standards

Originally published by: Van Eperen
Originally published on: December 20, 2020

Be Color Brave

We are beyond our time to move the needle on increasing Black and brown representation in the workplace, specifically in the C-suite and corporate boards. And that’s one reason we recently attended the webinar Racial Equity in Business: How To Get Results By Being Color Brave, hosted by the Baltimore Business Journal, where business leaders led a transparent and transformative conversation on what it means to be color brave and how to uphold your business and the workplace to these standards.
Here are key takeaways from the discussion on how to create and maintain color brave organizations, how to increase and retain Black and brown representation in the workplace including in senior-level positions, and the benefits of diversity within work environments.
  1. What does it mean to be color brave?

    Being color brave means you make a space for candid conversations about race that can help us better understand each other’s perspectives and life experiences. Color brave doesn’t mean you gloss over race issues and avoid these conversations, instead you welcome these conversations and approach them with unbiased opinions, an authentic mindset, curiosity, and interest to learn about your differences.

  2. Change your “narrative” and “thought process.”
    To be color brave, you must first change your “narrative” and “thought process.” You can’t be an organization that’s part of the movement with same mindset and perception as before. Business leaders must assess what they do know and what they don’t know. Look deeper and address situations that will make a difference. Build healthy habits that create a two-way conversation between leadership and employees. Discuss the future of your organization, show your commitment to your employees, a diverse workplace, and the BLM movement.



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Explaining Vaccine Trial Phases

Originally published by: CommunicateHealth
Originally published on: December 3, 2020

Alt: Two scientist doodles wearing masks stand in front of a sign that says, “Vaccine trials.” One of the doodles also wears goggles and holds up a pair of test tubes.

 

If you’re like us, dear readers, you’ve been eagerly following updates on COVID-19 vaccine trials. But of course, any benefit from a vaccine depends on people actually getting it. And the latest Gallup poll has the percentage of Americans who say they would do so at just under 60. So we’ve got some work to do on this front!

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5 tips for Working with Micro-influencers to Boost your Public Health Campaigns

Originally published by: JSI
Original author: Jessica Holli & Clancey Bateman
Originally published on: October 6, 2020

Man with pride flag

 

In 2020, we are flooded with messages fighting for our attention, time, and money. Public health campaigns have to compete with the up to 5,000 advertisements and messages that individuals receive every day. How can we, as health communicators, cut through the noise to reach our audiences with important information about health topics?

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Promoting Digital Equity and Opportunity in the Time of COVID-19

Originally published by: American Institutes for Research
Original author: Trent Sharp
Originally published on: September 10, 2020

Children at school wearing masks

As part of my technical assistance work at AIR, I spent this summer meeting with a team of 10 principals in Austin, Texas. This group has worked to leverage their collective impact initiative, called NACER, as they responded to the coronavirus pandemic and the moral imperatives that have surfaced through the Black Lives Matter movement. Being a principal is complex work under normal circumstances. These days, the magnitude of the job is hard to wrap your head around.

Our weekly virtual meetings have been wide-ranging. Beyond core academics and student services, we regularly grappled with issues surrounding food distribution, utility assistance, health screenings, contact tracing, housing vulnerability, transportation, coronavirus-induced student migration and teacher shortages, and shepherding anti-racist professional development—just to name a few. The principals’ stories offer a glimpse into how multiple systems overlap inequitably across communities. After each meeting, I was reminded of the decades of educational research showing how student learning is nested within and shaped by place-specific “geographies of educational opportunity” that advantage some and disadvantage others.

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