Case study 4 | health communications | Texas Woman’s University

Meet Maristela, the Brazilian mother of 5 children*

  • Busy mother of 5 children living in rural Brazil (Northeast)
  • Illiterate with minimal access to health information

o Main points of contact include children’s school, local healthcare center, local market

  • Responsible for key health-related decisions within the household
  • Recently concerned about Kalazar, a parasite disease carried by sand-flies/ intermediate vectors (e.g. domestic animals)

o Two of her children’s playmates recently died of kalazar (also know as visceral leishmaniasis)

o Diagnosis was missed on first visit to healthcare center; low recognition of key symptoms among health care providers; parents do not know enough about the disease to suggest that physicians/healthcare providers consider it as a potential diagnosis

o Second visit to healthcare center was just too late

o Closest healthcare center is several miles from Maristela’s rural village; transportation problems may delay care

  • Feeling powerless and scared for her own children; yet, most people in the village have a fatalistic attitude toward health and illness
  • Confused about how Kalazar is contracted, how to suspect it, how to recognize early symptoms, what to do if she does suspect it
  • In her village, most communication/news take place via word-of-mouth, radio, and meetings at local religious meetings, markets, etc. A few people have access to television. Schools and health centers have access to the Internet.

Note: Kalazar presents vague symptoms such as fever, weight loss, fatigue, loss of appetite, and an enlarged spleen and liver (CDC, 2006) — also known as “potbelly”. The disease is endemic in the Northeastern region of Brazil and is primarily found in rural areas. The disease has a high mortality rate among children less than five years of age. Treatment is available and effective if administered not too late after the disease’s onset.

Based on the above information and on the definition/examples provided in your book (Schiavo, R. Health Communication: From Theory to Practice. Second Edition. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, an imprint of Wiley, 2013) 1) Develop the following elements of a potential health communication program intended to engage Maristela and her peers (Brazilian parents of young children who live in rural areas):

  • Overall program goal
  • One behavioral objective in support of the overall program’s goal
  • Two communication objectives in support of the behavioral objective
  • One communication strategy that you think would help achieve your behavioral and communication objectives
  • Two core messages for Maristela and her peers (please make sure your messages address the most prominent issues that emerged from the above profile and execute your communication objectives and strategies)
  • Key progress and outcome indicators (at least one progress and one outcome indicator) to take into account as part of your evaluation plan

Your paper should be 1- 2 pages, double-spaced, and follow APA 7th edition formatting. You will include the primary NCHEC Area of Responsibility and Competencies you are addressing in this assignment as a separate paragraph. Discuss the areas you are practicing for this assignment and the specific competency(ies) you are utilizing. Discuss the importance of these competencies as it relates to the profession of public health. Make sure all program elements are connected (and supportive of each other) and take into account the information (situation- and audience-specific facts) shared in this handout 2) Use one or two sentences to describe how you will make sure that your messages and activities (a) are culturally competent and (b) adequately address the needs of low health literacy groups such as Maristela and her peers (indicate specific activities or methods). What kind of media channels will you consider to reach Maristela and her peers?

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