Understanding Culture to Promote Health Communication

Why is an understanding of health beliefs, culture, and cultural values relevant in the
context of health communication? Describe ways in which health communication
messages can potentially be at odds with cultural or spiritual values or health beliefs.
Provide an example of a health communication message that illustrates culturally
competent communication. How did this message address cultural values or health
beliefs for the intended audience?

Understanding Culture to Promote Health Communication
Health communication requires that the messaging contained thereof is customized to
meet the target population’s traditions, religion,and intellectual and emotional set of beliefs
that are upheld by the demographic. In addition, it also affects the messaging and the channel
of dissemination to ensure effectiveness and sensitivity health practices regarded and
practiced by the community (Brooks, Manias, & Bloomer, 2019) . As such, messaging in
health communication is tailored to address the cultural context of the target group to ensure
effectiveness and enhance its efficacy. Cultural competencies are therefore required in the
structuring of health communication to reflect the group’s norms, belief system, life
experiences, and spiritual values.
The source of health communication is important as it aids in ensuring its
trustworthiness. From a cultural perspective, the source of the message to the targeted
audience affects its credibility and trustworthiness regardless of expertise (Brooks, Manias, &
Bloomer, 2019) . In some cases, the expert source might not have the desired impact as they
are not culturally regarded in a communicate compared to a different nonexpert source. The
format and context of the message are also affected by socio-cultural factors and should be

reflective of the belief system in the targeted demographics. Health communication may be at
odds with the set of beliefs it the proposed intervention or behavior change will alter the way
of life for the individuals (Hordem, 2016) . Thus, there is the need to ensure the message
proposes an acceptable alternative and is spearheaded by trained community workers from
the given demographic to enhance its acceptability and assimilation through strategic
engagement with culture.
An example North Carolina Native American Cervical Cancer Prevention Project
recruited and trained local women to enhance the assimilation of prevention strategies and
screening for cervical cancer among the native American women. The message was warmly
received and perceived to be important as it was delivered through a source that they could
associate with (Moss, McCathy, Gilkey, & Brewer, 2014) . Ultimately, it led to an increase in
awareness and sensitization of the target audience and led to an increase in the number of
women screened through pap smears. Consequently, a reduction in the number of cervical
cancers cases among native American women was achieved.



Brooks, L. A., Manias, E., & Bloomer, M. J. (2019). Culturally sensitive communication in
healthcare: A concept analysis. Collegian, 26(3), 383-391.
Hordem, J. (2016). Religion and culture. Medicine, 44(10), 589-592.
Moss, J. L., McCathy, S. H., Gilkey, M. B., & Brewer, N. T. (2014). Application of the
Carolina Framework for Cervical Cancer Prevention. Gynecologic Oncology,
132(suppl_1 (0 1)), S33-S40.

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