Communication is the way of expressing oneself and exchanging ideas amongst a group of people. There are different ways of communication including oral, written, graphic or performance arts and newer ways are always coming up. Health communication, too has been following similar methods and is popularly used to spread the word of health and disease.
Health communication revolves around many issues and is targeted at specific population based on the purpose. However, preventive health communication has its own benefits and secures a special place in healthcare communication field, to prevent diseases and promote health.
Importance of Preventive Health Communication
Public health is an important area in the healthcare sector. Many diseases occur as a result improper personal and public hygiene. Communicable diseases and infections that spread through contaminated air, water and food have been on the rise when people are unaware about it. Preventive health options are now available for many illnesses and the same need to be communicated to the people.
Preventive health communication with the help of effective health campaigns and public involvement, has helped to create health awareness. This can not only help to prevent diseases but also help in making people more concerned about their health issues. Timely identification of health problems and seeking medical treatment can aid in preventing further deterioration of health in many cases.
Benefits of Preventive Health Communication
Some of the areas in which preventive health communication plays an important role and offers benefits include,
Prevention of infections
Many infections can be prevented by communicating about the possible causes of infections, the ways of spread, high risk categories and preventive measures for the same. With appropriate communication, people will be more responsible about personal and community hygiene and seek preventive treatment when available.
Control of epidemics
Spreading the news about an outbreak of epidemic and the ways to prevent them can help in increasing public awareness about it. Once people are educated about it, control measures will be more effective in persevering health and saving lives.
Education about immunization
Many infections and illnesses can be prevented with the help of vaccinations. With preventive health communication, if people are made aware of the need for immunization, the recommended vaccines and the immunization schedule for different age groups, the chances of better health are higher.
Improved maternal and child health
Many people, especially in the rural areas may not have sufficient exposure to ante-natal care, maternal nutrition and health, healthy delivery and child care. With proper communication and association with health workers, there can be an improvement in maternal and child health with reduced risk of diseases and mortality rate.
Better food safety and hygiene
While increasing number of people are getting involved in the preparing and consuming food, the diseases spreading due to contaminated food are equally rising. If people are educated about food hygiene in collection, preparation, storage and consumption of food, through effective preventive health information there will be better food safety and hygiene.
Awareness of lifestyle disorders
Lifestyle disorders are on the rise and most of them can be prevented or managed by taking the right steps. Preventive health communication can educate people about the importance and ways of healthy lifestyle with proper diet, fitness, stress management and avoiding smoking and drinking. This can motivate people to maintain their health, involve in regular exercises and work towards preventing major illnesses. It also makes people health conscious and promote regular medical checks to identify illnesses at early stages and begin treatment appropriately.
Prevention of complications and disability
Many disorders are of a progressive nature, which can further deteriorate and can even cause permanent disability. If people are well informed and aware about preventive health, problems can recognized at early stages and further complication can be prevented. Some conditions need long term care; preventive health communication can help in educating patients and their care takers about managing their condition, identifying red flags and preventive action in case of medical emergency.
Improved health and safety
Preventive health communication helps to create awareness about health and safety in various situations like travelling, driving, swimming, adventure sports, etc. When people are better educated in these areas, the risk of accidents and injuries can be reduced. Awareness about importance of medical emergency details, like information on blood group, allergies and existing medical problems can help to provide timely medical care, when required.
Implementing Preventive health Communication
Preventive health communication is essential for improving overall healthcare status of the society. Healthcare professionals should assess the level of understanding and requirement of the audience while preparing preventive health communication material. Along with printed and audio-visual content personal counselling may also be required.
Healthcare teams can plan preventive health communication programs that can be easily understood by their audience and implemented in a positive way. Regular follow -ups and reinforcement for sustaining preventive medical information may be required and should be considered appropriately.