MG’s Jennifer Messenger Heilbronner and Karen Saverino had the pleasure of presenting a webinar for the National Physical Activity Society today (March 16) that focused on our three-dimensional approach to addressing health disparities. Here’s a description of the presentation:
As public health practitioners and communicators, we work to motivate behavior change while simultaneously shifting systems, policies, and social expectations to make those new behaviors possible—and ultimately to make them the norm. This intersection of individual and environmental change is where lasting impact is most likely to occur, but also where we can inadvertently trip ourselves up. Challenges arise when we fail to make a values-based connection with the audiences we seek to engage (especially those experiencing disparities), and when we inadvertently reinforce individual responsibility, which can make policy and system change much more difficult. Metropolitan Group, a national social change communication firm, has developed an approach that focuses on three dimensions—place, heart and head—which are needed to effectively address health disparities in programmatic and communication interventions. Factors of place often determine the opportunities and limitations imposed on our audiences’ health, while heart and head inform how our audiences are likely to respond to these opportunities and limitations, and their receptivity to public health programs and messaging. We’ll share more about each factor, how to assess and use them, and how we’re currently applying them in our work with Every Body Walk! which aims to increase both walking and walkable environments to increase physical activity as both an individual behavior and a community norm.