7311MED Social Determinants Of Health

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7311MED Social Determinants Of Health

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7311MED Social Determinants Of Health

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Course Code: 7311MED
University: Griffith University

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Country: Australia

Discuss the strengths and weaknesses in using behaviour change to improve public health. Choose a social marketing or a health education campaign to support your perspective. Examples: HIV/AIDS; tobacco; binge drinking; domestic violence; healthy eating and exercise; road safety.

Health plays a key role in the life of the individuals. The determinants of health include sociocultural, environmental, socioeconomic and individual factors. Health is considered as a social construct which means that the society needs to work together for bringing better health for the individuals. Public health aims at improving and protecting the health of communities and people (Baum, 2016). This is done by way of promoting healthy lifestyles, identifying, preventing and reacting to infectious diseases and researching injury and disease prevention. This essay focuses on the strengths and weaknesses in using behavior change to improve public health. This essay further supports the perspective with the help of social marketing campaign.
When the individuals are healthy, their quality of life enhances and they live a longer life as compared to unhealthy individuals. The life span of the unhealthy individuals is reduced as they suffer from a number of diseases during their life time. Behavior change can be defined as the efforts for changing the personal habits of the people for the prevention of diseases.  In the context of public health, behavior change is also regarded as social and behavior change communication (SBCC) (Brownson, Baker, Deshpande & Gillespie, 2017). The efforts are also focused on preventing the diseases in order to save the healthcare costs. This plays an important role in low and middle income countries where cost has resulted in increased scrutiny in health interventions. There are a number of behavior change strategies such as behavioral contract, motivational interviewing, rewards, knowledge, graded tasks, self- adjustment, self- reporting, social support, etc. (Glanz & Ammerman, 2015).
However, behavior change in public health has its own strengths and weaknesses. The behavior change approach to public health has a number of strengths. The strategies adopted in this approach are capable of encouraging the individuals for adopting healthy behaviors which, in turn, results in improving their health. Furthermore, the behavior approach views health as a property belonging to public. In other words, if the health of an individual deteriorates, the loss is suffered by that individual only (Patel, Asch & Volpp, 2015). Therefore, every individual should take care of their health as it is their own property. This approach can encourage the individuals for making real improvements in their health by adopting suitable change in their lifestyle. The approach further makes people realize that their responsibility for taking the needed action and looking after their own selves. this acts as the strength of behavioral change approach to public health as it does not force public to adopt the changes rather creates a realization in their mind regarding their own deteriorating health so that they can take respective action for supporting it (Gostin & Wiley, 2016).
Strength of behavior change approach also includes that it is capable of changing the attitude of individuals followed by a change in their behavior. Furthermore, the approach can also be directly aimed at particular audiences. It offers information to the individuals so that they become capable of making informed decisions and choices independently.
However, the behavioral change approach to public health is also backed by a number of weaknesses. The most important weakness of the approach is that it is completely dependent on the willingness and readiness of a person for taking respecting action for supporting their health. If a person is not ready to take any action, the approach will be of no use and will not be able to achieve its objectives. The complex relationship between environmental and social factors and individual behavior also results in a number of difficulties. The social and environmental factors keep on affecting the behavior of the individual even when they want to bring changes in their behavior. Social factors include the influence of peers,   media, culture, etc. which plays a great role in determining the health of an individual. On the other hand, environmental factors include geographical location, access to health services, etc. Furthermore, the living conditions of a person play a great role in their behavior towards health and make this factor beyond individual control. Promotions and campaigns are often resisted by the people as may feel preached or dictated. The weakness of this approach also includes the resistance show by the people in reading the promotional material and throwing it away due to lack of interest. Individuals associated with health promotion do not watch television due to which the approach cannot be effectively applied in their context. Moreover, promotions of behavior change are also limited due to limited access of concerned people to the internet due to which the website and email promotions also become ineffective. The websites displaying health related information are rarely used due to which it becomes difficult to disseminate health related information (Kwasnicka, Dombrowski, White & Sniehotta, 2016).
Social marketing and health promotion campaigns have been undertaken for the purpose of reducing domestic violence. The basic motive behind the campaigns is to influence the attitudes of the community towards the violence against women. Social marketing is playing a major role in reinforcing victim blaming and is being embraced by all kinds of organizations that show their interest in social change (Michau, Horn, Bank, Dutt & Zimmerman, 2015). It is believed that the behavior of the individual can be changed by way of encouraging personal responsibility. Health and social change programs are often referred to as social marketing due to their consumer orientation to the development of their media materials (Goldberg, Fishbein & Middlestadt, 2018).
A number of methods are used for message dissemination such as television, print media, public events and radio in order to promote the message that domestic violence is a serious problem. The medium was utilized for approaching at- risk males and perpetrators between the age group of 15 and 40 years (Smith, 2018). A comprehensive evaluation program was incorporated by the campaign which included formative research, monitoring and measurement of results. The monitoring of the campaign was ensured with the help of surveys. Freedom from Fear Campaign against domestic violence which acted as an innovative approach for the reduction of crime (Hornik, 2018).
Social marketing is also being used for road safety. This is done for exposing large proportions of population to messages with the use of existing media such as radio, television and newspapers. Such exposure is capable of frequently competing with certain factors such as powerful social norms, persuasive product marketing and behaviors that drive habit or addiction. Health- risk behaviors of people is significantly impacted with the help of these campaigns related to road safety, tobacco, HIV/ AIDS, healthy eating and exercise, etc. it has been observed that positive changes resulted from such campaigns in the behavior of concerned individuals along with the prevention of negative changes in their health related behavior (Friedman, Kachur, Noar & McFarlane, 2016).
Act Against AIDS was a social marketing effort for combating complacency regarding AIDS and HIV among the public in United Nations. The campaign aimed at reducing the risk of infection among those who were considered to be at high risk. The campaign materials of Act Against AIDS included brochures, banner ads, palm cards, videos and posters. With the help of this campaign the adults were encouraged to get themselves tested for HIV and knowing their status. It also became successful to a great extent in making HIV testing a part of everyone’s health routine which enable keeping them and their communities healthy (Kapstein & Busby, 2016).  
Therefore, it can be concluded that a major role is played by health in the life of an individual. Public health aims at improving and protecting the health of communities and people. The essay focused on the strengths and weaknesses in using behavior change to improve public health. Behavior change can be defined as the efforts for changing the personal habits of the people for the prevention of diseases. The behavior change approach to public health has a number of strengths such as it encourages people for adopting healthy behavior, aims at target audiences and allows them to make an informed decision. On the other hand, behavior approach to public health also suffer from some weaknesses such as its dependency on the willingness of a person, major role played by social and environmental factors on the behavior of an individual, etc.  Social marketing and health promotion campaigns are undertaken for the purpose of reducing domestic violence, tobacco usage, etc. Act Against AIDS was a social marketing effort for combating complacency regarding AIDS and HIV and aimed at reducing the risk of infection.
Baum, F. (2016). The new public health. Oxford University Press.
Brownson, R. C., Baker, E. A., Deshpande, A. D., & Gillespie, K. N. (2017). Evidence-based public health. Oxford university press.
Friedman, A. L., Kachur, R. E., Noar, S. M., & McFarlane, M. (2016). Health communication and social marketing campaigns for sexually transmitted disease prevention and control: What is the evidence of their effectiveness?. Sexually transmitted diseases, 43(2S), S83-S101.
Glanz, K., & Ammerman, A. (2015). Introduction to community and group models of health behavior change. Health behavior and health education: theory, research, and practice, 271-276.
Goldberg, M. E., Fishbein, M., & Middlestadt, S. E. (2018). Social marketing: Theoretical and practical perspectives. Psychology Press.
Gostin, L. O., & Wiley, L. F. (2016). Public health law: power, duty, restraint. Univ of California Press.
Hornik, R. (2018). Public health education and communication as policy instruments for bringing about changes in behavior. In Social marketing (pp. 45-58). Psychology Press.
Kapstein, E. B., & Busby, J. W. (2016). Social movements and market transformations: Lessons from HIV/AIDS and climate change. International Studies Quarterly, 60(2), 317-329.
Kwasnicka, D., Dombrowski, S. U., White, M., & Sniehotta, F. (2016). Theoretical explanations for maintenance of behaviour change: a systematic review of behaviour theories. Health Psychology Review, 10(3), 277-296.
Michau, L., Horn, J., Bank, A., Dutt, M., & Zimmerman, C. (2015). Prevention of violence against women and girls: lessons from practice. The Lancet, 385(9978), 1672-1684.
Patel, M. S., Asch, D. A., & Volpp, K. G. (2015). Wearable devices as facilitators, not drivers, of health behavior change. Jama, 313(5), 459-460.
Smith, W. A. (2018). Social marketing: Beyond the nostalgia. In Social Marketing (pp. 21-28). Psychology Press.

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