- LAST REVIEWED: 15 June 2015
- LAST MODIFIED: 29 September 2015
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756797-0042
- LAST REVIEWED: 15 June 2015
- LAST MODIFIED: 29 September 2015
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756797-0042
Communication and marketing are broad, interdisciplinary fields that draw from disciplines such as psychology, economics, sociology, business, public policy, and media studies. Health communication and marketing focus on the application of these disciplines to changing health-promoting and disease-preventing behaviors. This article cites leading works that have shaped theory, practice, and research in health communication and marketing. Schiavo 2007 (see Introductory Works) broadly defines health communication as the study and use of communication strategies to inform and influence decisions that enhance health. Kotler and Andreasen 2003 (see Textbooks and Reference Resources) suggests that social marketing differs from other areas of marketing only with respect to the marketer’s objectives and those of the organization. Social marketing seeks to benefit the target audience and society rather than the marketer. Communication channels for health information changed dramatically in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. The old paradigm of a one-way channel to disseminate information has given way to a multimode transactional model of communication. Social marketers are now faced with challenges, such as increases in the number and types of health issues competing for the public’s attention, significant limitations on people’s time, and an increase in the number and types of communication channels, including mobile phones and the Internet. Communication research has shown that using a multimodal approach is the most effective way to reach health audiences. Communication and marketing rely heavily on lessons drawn from the commercial sector. Commercial firms have greater resources, longer time horizons for brand and other promotional campaigns, and more than a century of success in building the consumer economy. Health communicators and social marketers have adapted techniques such as branding of behaviors and competitor analysis (where competitors may be unhealthful behaviors or unhealthful commercial products or services) from the commercial sector. Combined with the power of digital media to build awareness of messages, these commercial strategies are the future of health communication and marketing. Using these techniques, health communication and marketing can target not only individual behavior but also public policy. Social marketing in tobacco control, for example, has been used to promote policy change and new legislation, leading to changes in social norms and the acceptability of smoking. Public health organizations use branding strategies to promote social mobilization and to influence public debate and opinion. Whether to focus on individual behavior or larger policy issues involves a strategic decision by the communicator or marketer, on the basis of available resources and competition for public attention.
There are several very good introductory works on health communication and social marketing. These include such well-known works as Making Health Communication Programs Work: A Planner’s Guide (National Cancer Institute 2001), better known as the “Pink Book.” Other texts explore behavior-change theory with a focus on communication as an intervention strategy for changing behavior. There are also good introductory texts on social marketing, some of which are described here; others that are intended primarily for instruction or professional use are listed under Textbooks and Reference Resources. Briefly, National Cancer Institute 2001 and National Cancer Institute 2005 represent compendiums of best practice in developing programs and in theories and the use of theory in program development and evaluation. The 2001 text is now widely regarded as a bible of sorts for practitioners and is used in many educational settings. Schiavo 2007 provides a hands-on, step-by-step approach to health communication without a direct focus on marketing. Armstrong and Kotler 2007 covers the entire management enterprise and uses extensive global case studies to describe four major themes, including digital technology and branding. Bernhardt 2006 outlines the field of health marketing, Kreps 2008 describes challenges in cancer communication, and Evans 2006 offers a primer on social marketing in health and health care. These works distill central strategies, research, and emerging trends in the field.
Armstrong, Gary, and Philip Kotler. 2007. Marketing: An introduction. 12th ed. New York: Prentice Hall.
Focuses on four major marketing themes: building and managing profitable customer relationships, building and managing strong brands to create brand equity, harnessing new marketing technologies in the digital age, and marketing in a socially responsible way around the globe. Intended for business and marketing students, the book has extensive coverage of social marketing, corporate social-responsibility marketing, and related social applications of marketing.
Bernhardt, Jay M. 2006. Improving health through health marketing. Preventing Chronic Disease 3.3: 1–3.
Defines health marketing and distinguishes it from health communication. Argues for the importance of using marketing principles to maximize the effectiveness of public health. Outlines strategies and a vision for development of the field.
Evans, W. Douglas. 2006. How social marketing works in health care. British Medical Journal 322.7551: 1207–1210.
A primer on social marketing and its evolution from commercial marketing practice. Focuses on the use of social marketing in health-care settings. Offers recommendations for how health-care providers can reinforce campaigns.
Kreps, Gary L. 2008. Strategic use of communication to market cancer prevention and control to vulnerable populations. Health Marketing Quarterly 25.1–2: 204–216.
Describes challenges in cancer communication to vulnerable populations facing health inequalities. Explores strategies to overcome challenges and outlines an agenda for the future.
National Cancer Institute. 2001. Making health communication programs work: A planner’s guide. Rev. ed. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute.
Step-by-step guide to conceptualizing, designing, testing, implementing, and evaluating health communication programs, written in plain language. Offers guidelines rather than rules for designing communications. Recognizes that programs are situation specific. Provides a “menu” approach for picking strategies. Addresses the role of health communication in program planning, frameworks, and theories of change and the roles of market research and program evaluation.
National Cancer Institute. 2005. Theory at a glance: A guide for health promotion practice. 2d ed. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute.
Describes health behavior theory and its applicability to specific topic areas, including health communication. Makes health behavior theory accessible and provides tools to solve problems and assess the effectiveness of health communication and other health promotion programs. Helps users understand how individuals, groups, and organizations behave and change in order to design effective programs. Illustrates the utility of theory as a tool, especially where detailed programmatic evidence is lacking.
Schiavo, Renata. 2007. Health communication: From theory to practice. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Introductory text that provides an overview of health communication both from theoretical and practice perspectives. Focuses on the multidisciplinary nature of health communication and contributions of a wide range of behavioral and social sciences. Explores modes of communication ranging from interpersonal to mass. Concludes with step-by-step guidance on setting communication objectives, planning and design, and implementation strategies.
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.
How to Subscribe
Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.
- Access to Health Care
- Action Research
- Active Aging
- Active Living
- Adolescent Risk-Taking Behavior in the United States
- Advocacy, Public Health
- Agricultural Safety and Public Health
- Air Quality: Health Effects
- Air Quality: Indoor Health Effects
- Alcohol Availability and Violence
- Alternative Research Designs
- Ambient Air Quality Standards and Guidelines
- American Perspectives on Chronic Disease and Control
- Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR)
- Asthma in Children
- Attachment as a Health Determinant
- Behavior Change Theory in Health Education and Promotion
- Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance
- Bicycling and Cycling Safety
- Birth and Death Registration
- Birth Cohort Studies
- Board of Health
- Built Environment and Health, The
- Business and Corporate Practices
- Cancer Communication Strategies in North America
- Cancer Prevention
- Cancer Screening
- Capacity Building
- Capacity Building for NCDs in LMICs
- Capacity-Building for Applied Public Health in LMIC: A US ...
- Cardiovascular Health and Disease
- Child Maltreatment
- Children, Air Pollution and
- Children, Injury Risk-Taking Behaviors in
- Children, Obesity in
- Citizen Advisory Boards
- Climate Change and Human Health
- Climate Change: Institutional Response
- Clinical Preventive Medicine
- Community Air Pollution
- Community Development
- Community Gardens
- Community Health Assessment
- Community Partnerships and Coalitions
- Community-Based Participatory Research
- Complexity and Systems Theory
- Definition of Health
- Dental Public Health
- Design and Health
- Dietary Guidelines
- Ecological Approaches
- Enabling Factors
- Environmental Laws
- Environmental Protection Agency
- Ethics of Public Health
- Evidence-Based Public Health Practice
- Family Planning Services and Birth Control
- Food Safety
- Food Security and Food Banks
- Food Systems
- Frail Elderly
- Functional Literacy
- Genomics, Public Health
- Geographic Information Systems
- Geography and Health
- Global Health
- Global Health Diplomacy
- Global Health Promotion
- Guide to Community Preventive Services, The
- Health Administration
- Health Communication
- Health Disparities
- Health Education
- Health Impact Assessment
- Health in All Policies
- Health in All Policies in European Countries
- Health Literacy
- Health Literacy and Non-Communicable Diseases
- Health Measurement Scales
- Health Planning
- Health Promoting Hospitals
- Health Promotion
- Health Promotion Workforce Capacity
- Healthy People Initiative
- Hepatitis C
- High Risk Prevention Strategies
- Human Rights, Health and
- Immigrant Populations
- Immunization and Pneumococcal Infection
- Indigenous Peoples, Public Health and
- Indigenous Populations of North America, Australasia, and ...
- Indoor Air Quality Guidelines
- Internet Applications in Promoting Health Behavior
- Intersectoral Strategies in Low - Middle Income Countries ...
- Justice, Social
- Knowledge Translation and Exchange
- Knowledge Utilization and Exchange
- Law of Public Health in the United States
- Media Advocacy
- Mental Health
- Mental Health Promotion
- Migrant Health
- Motor Vehicle Injury Prevention
- Multi-Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis
- National Association of Local Boards of Health
- National Public Health Institutions
- Needs Assessment
- Obesity Prevention
- Occupational Cancers
- Occupational Safety and Health
- Oral Health Equity for Minority Populations in the United ...
- Ottawa Charter
- Parenting and Work
- Parenting Skills and Capacity
- Participatory Action Research
- Patient Decision Making
- Pesticide Exposure and Pesticide Health Effects
- Physical Activity and Exercise
- Physical Activity Promotion
- Polio Eradication in Pakistan
- Population Aging
- Population Determinants of Unhealthy Foods and Beverages
- Population Health Objectives and Targets
- Precautionary Principle
- Prenatal Health
- Program Evaluation in American Health Education
- Program Planning and Evaluation
- Public Health, History of
- Public Health Surveillance
- Public-Private Partnerships in Public Health Research and ...
- Public-Private Partnerships to Prevent and Manage Obesity ...
- Quantitative Microbial Risk Assessment
- Radiological and Nuclear Emergencies
- Randomized Controlled Trials
- Real World Evaluation Strategies
- Reducing Obesity-Related Health Disparities in Hispanic an...
- Rural Health in the United States
- Safety, Patient
- Sex Education in HIV/AIDS Prevention
- Skin Cancer Prevention
- Smoking Cessation
- Social Determinants of Health
- Social Epidemiology
- Social Marketing
- Statistics in Public Health
- Systems in the United States, Public Health
- Systems Theory in Public Health
- Traditional, Complementary, Alternative, and Integrative M...
- Translation of Science to Practice and Policy
- Traumatic Stress and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Tuberculosis among Adults and the Determinants of Health
- Unintentional Injury Prevention
- Urban Health
- Vaccine Hesitancy
- Violence Prevention
- Water Quality
- Water Quality and Water-Related Disease
- Weight Management in US Occupational Settings
- Worksite Health Promotion