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ARS Home » Plains Area » Grand Forks, North Dakota » Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center » Healthy Body Weight Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #227642

Title: Promoting Community Health Resources: Preferred Communication Strategies

item Colby, Sarah
item JOHNSON, AMY - University Of North Dakota
item EICKHOFF, AMANDA - University Of North Dakota
item JOHNSON, LUANN - University Of North Dakota

Submitted to: Journal of Health Promotion Practice
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/18/2009
Publication Date: 4/3/2009
Citation: Colby, S.E., Johnson, A., Eickhoff, A., Johnson, L. 2009. Promoting Community Health Resources: Preferred Communication Strategies. Journal of Health Promotion Practice. doi:10.1177/1524839909333055.

Interpretive Summary: Community coalitions, often consisting of health promotion practitioners, researchers and community members, frequently seek to promote health for priority populations. These health promotion efforts commonly involve providing health information to the community. However, if the needs of priority populations are not assessed prior to intervention development, coalition efforts may not be effective. Needs assessments do not usually include evaluation of communication strategy preferences. The goal of the Coalition for a Healthy Greater Grand Forks (the Coalition) was to increase awareness and utilization of existing community health resources. The Coalition planned to use a web site as a primary platform of communication. Prior to website development, a random-dialed representative phone survey was conducted assessing current health resource community awareness, utilization and communication preferences. The survey revealed that community members preferred to receive information on health resources from the internet (28.3%), newspaper (26.4%), or mail (22.3%). Different priority populations had varying health communication strategy preferences (e.g., young adults prefer internet, obese adults prefer mail). Based on the findings of this needs assessment the Coalition planned to develop interventions which incorporated both internet and newspaper based communication strategies. Ideally, if health resources are intended for all adult audiences, a campaign that would include communication through newspaper, mailing (targeting older adults and when possible obese adults), and websites (targeting younger and middle-age adults) would be the most effective approach.

Technical Abstract: Background: Community health promotion efforts involve communicating resource information to priority populations. Which communication strategies are most effective is largely unknown for specific populations. Objective: A random-dialed telephone survey was conducted to assess health resource community awareness, utilization and communication preferences in adults in the Greater Grand Forks Community. Design: In a representative sample (n = 437), researchers used frequency analysis to determine demographic information (gender, age, body mass index (BMI), ethnicity); disease condition; and how and where subjects looked for resource information. Chi square analysis was used to determine the relationship between preferred source of health information and age, BMI, disease state, and gender. Results: Participants preferred to receive health information from the internet (28.3%), newspaper (26.4%), or mail (22.3%), respectively. A significant interaction was found between age and where participants looked for health-related information (Chi-squared(18) =38.83, p= .003). Younger adults (18-34 yrs) were more likely to look for health resource information from employers, fitness centers or the Internet than were older adults. Older adults (55+ yrs) and middle adults (35-54) were more likely to look for health resource information from medical providers and newspapers. The desire to receive information by mail increased with increasing age. Conversely, the desire to receive information via the Internet decreased with increasing age (Chi-squared(8) 40.08, p<.0001). Conclusions: Campaigns promoting health resources through websites (targeting younger and middle-age adults), newspapers, and mailings (targeting older adults and obese adults), in this order, are most effective for priority populations.