Jamaica turns to reggae to stop Zika

When you’re Jamaica’s Ministry of Health and you want to get the message out about the Zika virus what do you do? You turn to reggae music. In ‘We Nuh Want Zik V’, one of the most catchy Zika PSAs available, obstetrician and gynecologist Michael Abrahams, energetically encourages people on how to keep dangerous mosquitoes away from their home.


The video has been viewed almost 9,000 times on YouTube. Check it out and share you thoughts.


Can Oprah help you exercise?


Did you make a New Year’s resolution to be healthy? You’re not alone.

One of the most talked about mages of the past few weeks is not from a health campaign but from a weight loss company. Weight Watchers launched a new campaign with Oprah Winfrey a few weeks ago, and since then the deeply personal and emotional tone of the ad got many people talking.

Did Oprah’s personal message and resolution make you think about your own life? Did it prompt you to take action on your diet and exercise? Celebrity influence on public health is not new. Studies have shown major  behavior changes after the public hears about a celebrity or public figure’s health issues.

I am curious to see what effect, if any, Oprah’s new ad has on people both in the United States and beyond. This is especially timely because the Caribbean region right now is plagued by high rates of diabetes and other non-communicable diseases.


The FDA’s attempt to reach Hip Hop youth through Fresh Empire campaign

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) estimates that more than 4
million African American, Hispanic and Asian American youth are open to smoking or are already experimenting with cigarettes. To prevent and reduce tobacco use among youth, the FDA started the anti-tobacco campaign called Fresh Empire at the end of 2015 targeted at this so-called hip hop ucm465544generation. You can learn more about the Fresh Empire campaign here and here.
I first saw the an advertisement for the
campaign on BET and had to look it up because it looked so different from other campaigns
that I had seen from the FDA, mainly The Real Cost campaign. The FDA has made a significant commitment to anti-tobacco measures, starting with their Real Cost campaign. There is a story about the campaign of Ad Week here.

These kinds of campaigns are really interesting to me for a variety of reasons. They make me think about the most effective messages and channels to reach sometimes disenfranchised, minority youth in the United States. They also brought to mind something I had been wondering for a very long time: Do these ads air in the Caribbean region? Are young people in the region exposed to these ads? And if so, do they have any effect on Caribbean youth?

I’d love to see some communication- or public health-oriented research on how these types of campaigns are affecting perceptions about smoking among racial/ethnic minority youth, and if those effects extend beyond the US borders. In any event, it’s a cool-looking campaign that I wanted to share.

A Letter to the Editor for Advocacy

Working on a project promoting eHealth: the use of Information and Communication for Technology (ICT) for health, I realized (as I searched online newspapers) how little information there was. I decided,  therefore, to put some information out there. The opportunity came for me when local journalists uncovered a lack of security for medical records in Jamaica’s two main public hospitals in Kingston. Here, I thought, I could make a case for electronic medical records, an area in eHealth.

I decided on a letter to the editor because:

1. It would be fast.

Because a letter to the editor is a simple opinion piece, I wouldn’t have to worry about carefully validated research or including the opinions of experts (interviews). All I would have to do it write my own opinion (in half an hour) and send it to the editor.

2. It was more likely to be published. This because the letter to the editor is specifically designed for participation from the public. Also the timeliness of the issue (the fact that it was responding to a recent lead story) would help.

The letter ended up highlighted as Letter of the Day and I received 10 comments on the online story (which is great for starting a conversation on the matter). For being chosen for letter of the day I also received a prize of a book voucher, which I donated to a school.

Cool infographic: Everett Roger’s Diffusion of Innovations

One of the advice I got before entering my Ph.D. program was to make sure I focus on theory. Those of us in communication love theory. While I’m still trying to figure out which theories will form part of my long-term research agenda, I’m very much drawn to Everett Roger’s work on diffusion of innovations/information. This is a very important theory in communication in general but particularly so in understanding health communication exposure and effects. So, I was quite excited to see the folks over at thornely & hill create an inforgraphic about diffusions of innovations.

So, what is diffusion of innovations about? See more after the jump.