Environmental Health Promotion

Environmental health is one of my favorite topics in public health. I often think about ways in which people behave, and live our lives, and how it all affects the world around us. The Story of Stuff Project (click any green bolded words to go to the link)was a great resource! They “explore some of the key features of our relationship with Stuff—including how we can make things better.” Especially looking at how we over-consume and produce a lot of waste. The project has a lot of great information and ideas to share.

The main Story of Stuff Movie was eye opening, it is a great “big picture” video. After viewing it I was interested in learning more about what their site had to offer. I read several articles and watched several videos. The video below, Story of Bottled Water, caught my eye because I always carry a reusable water bottle, because it is cheap and easy. However, I have never spent much time considering the life cycle and environmental impact of disposable water bottles in comparison. Again, the video did a great job of making me think. I started to look around and noticed that disposable water bottles are everywhere. Carrying a reusable bottle is an quick and easy change that anyone could, and should, do.

Next, I would like to share a resource similar to Story of Stuff Project. It is The Center for a New American Dream. Click the picture to go to their website.

Their mission:

The Center for a New American Dream helps Americans to reduce and shift their consumption to improve quality of life, protect the environment, and promote social justice.

They work to raise awareness of our consumer habits and how they affect individuals, communities, and the environment, and to  “conserve natural resources, counter the commercialization of our culture, support community engagement, and promote positive changes in the way goods are produced and consumed”. There is more information about their different programs below.

Their programs include:

  • Redefining the Dream – seeks to re-imagine the American dream with a focus on more of what really matters: creating a meaningful life, contributing to community and society, valuing nature, and spending time with loved ones.
  • Beyond Consumerism – strives to create a vision of life beyond overconsumption, disposable lifestyles, and perpetual marketing, and to provide the tools to help families, citizens, educators, and activists rein in consumerism in their own lives and in broader society.
  • Collaborative Communities – strives to inspire, connect, support, and equip community members to create local initiatives that build community capacity and social ties, increase ecological sustainability, and foster greater livability and economic vitality.

Check out their blog, where you can access a large range of tips to help you be more environmentally friendly…

…and links to some of my favorite articles I read on their blog and website (click the pictures to go to the articles):

Simplify the Holidays

Reader Submissions: How I Simplify the Holidays

Embrace the Risk: Shop With Recycled Containers

Easy Steps to Waste-Free School Lunches


Health Behavior Theory Presentation

Having the opportunity create a presentation, narrate it, and post it on youtube has been very rewarding. The purpose was to educate health professionals. I elected to focus on theory basics on the health belief model because it is one of the theories that I came to understand very well throughout the course of Theory of Health Behavior, and it is one of my favorite theories studied.


Sociocultural Theories: Social Marketing & Health Campaigns

I recently reviewed and learned about a few sociocultural theories: Social Cognitive Theory, Diffusion of Innovations, & Social Networking Theory, as well as Social Marketing. Social marketing immediately caught my attention. I thought I knew what social marketing was – marketing dealing with social and/or online networks. I was way off! It can involve those factors, but it is much more. Social Marketing in health involves using commercial marketing strategies to “sell” a behavior to a target group. The behavior is the product.  Below is some extra information about the basics of social marketing.

Social Marketing DOES Social Marketing IS NOT
Use commercial marketing strategies Just advertising or communication, or media campaign
Involve influencing voluntary behavior change Able to reach everyone
Promote an end goal of improved personal welfare& improved welfare of society A fast process
  A theory

Social marketing emphasizes knowing your audience well. You must spend time narrowing down a target audience that is mostly homogeneous. A group that is too large and diverse will not work because the same message will not resonate with all members. Once your target audience is narrowed, you must research their habits. When will they change? What motivates them? How do they make decisions?

It is also important to note that social marketing aims to change behavior. Not educate and promote awareness.

Social marketing operates around the following elements:

  • Audience Orientation
  • Audience Segmentation
  • Influencing Behavior
  • Competition
  • Exchange
  • Marketing Mix (4Ps: Price, Place, Promotion, Product)

Addressing all of these factors together is what makes social marketing different from other public health planning approaches.

I wanted to highlight social marketing because it is a little different than the other theories and strategies I have learned about so far this semester (although it is not a theory itself).

An example of a social marketing campaign is Above The Influence. Click the name to go to their site. One of their major campaign materials are commercials/videos. I posted one below. They also have an interactive website and other materials.

I also want to highlight a large HIV/AIDS health communication campaign I recently learned about: Act Against AIDS. Act Against AIDS consists of several smaller campaigns that are more targeted and focus on different groups in the general population as well as providers. Click on the pictures to go to the respective websites.

Campaigns for general population:

  • Let’s Stop HIV Together
  • Testing Makes Us Stronger
  • Take Charge. Take the Test.
  • Greater Than AIDS

Campaigns for providers:

  • HIV Screening. Standard Care.
  • One test. Two Lives.
  • Prevention IS Care

Resource: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2011). Social marketing for nutrition and physical activity web course. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/socialmarketing/training/basics/index.htm

Health Behavior Change Plan: Health Belief Model & Yoga

When working on my mini health behavior change plan for my Theory of Health Behavior class I worked with a plan for each individual level theory that we studied: Health Belief Model, Theory of Planned Behavior, and Transtheoretical Model. The behavior change I was, an am, working towards is to practice yoga 5 days per week for 30 minutes each time. With the end goal being to reduce stress and increase flexibility.

Yoga is a very beneficial form of exercise, incorporating strength, balance, stretching, and even stress reduction and spirituality. I am personally interested in all of these qualities but am focusing on posture and stress reduction. There are many studies reviewing the stress relieving and posture improving qualities that yoga can have on one practicing. Here are a few examples that I like:

Habitual Body Posture and Mountain Position of People Practising Yoga

Mindfulness and Levels of Stress- A Comparison of Beginner and Advanced Hatha Yoga Practitioners

Yoga can benefit most individuals, especially in a time where many people spend several hours of their days at a computer, everything moves at a fast pace, and a lot is demanded from your limited time. This applies to students like myself and professionals in the field of public health.

Yoga is something that most people can practice, no matter their fitness level or previous experience. I looked over the 3 behavior change plans that I developed in class and chose the one that I think is the best and want to follow to facilitate this change in my life. I have posted the Health Belief Model version of my behavior change plan here for anyone who is interested in incorporating yoga into their life, or knows someone who could benefit from this plan. (Click the chart to get a larger view.)

Literature Review & Transtheoretical Model

After just completing a literature review on the Transtheoretical Model (TTM), I would like to share some important points about this model and some of it uses in the field of public health.

  • The TTM is a theory of change originally developed in the 1970s by Prochaska & DiClemente
  • Has a psychology background
  • Originally used to describe addictive behaviors in a clinical context
  • Very adaptable – is used in many different settings and scenarios today
  • Currently the most popular theory
  • Focuses on the individual’s current level of readiness to change
  • Level of readiness is used to develop an intervention fitted to that individual
  • Goal is to move to next level – NOT to change behavior
  • Individualized interventions work better than generalized interventions.
  • TTM Constructs:

1. Stages of Change

2. Process of Change

3.  Decisional Balance

4. Self Efficacy

The Stages of Change are  the TTM’s most well know construct. The model is even frequently referred to as Stages of Change. These stages outline a spectrum on which an individual may lie, and where there intervention should then be planned from.

Construct 1: Stages of change

a. Precontemplation

Individual is unaware of the problem

b. Contemplation

Individual is considering change within the next 6 months

c. Preparation

Individual is planning to change in the next month

d. Action

Individual is in the process of changing; already taking steps

e. Maintenance

Individual is keeping up with and continuing the change that was made

Below is a diagram of the stages of change construct. [Click on it to go to the source]. I like this diagram because it also includes relapse. This is a very important concepts in stages of change because at any time an individual may regress to a previous stage. For example someone may be in action and then fall of the wagon and go back to contemplation. Relapse can happen at any time in the model but is more common in the action and maintenance phases.

Below is a diagram that shows the incorporation of the other constructs. [Click on diagram to go to the source]. Most diagrams only had the stages of change, so this one was more difficult to locate but does a good job displaying how all of the constructs work together. The stages of change are listed across the top; maintenance is not included in this diagram. I think the diagram does a good job of visually describing the other constructs as they relate to the stages of change. It shows at each stage where an individual will likely be in their process of change, decisional balance, and self efficacy. It is nice to simply see how all 4 constructs combine. There is further description below the picture.

Construct 2: Process of Change

  1. Conciousness raising: learning facts that support the new behavior
  2. Dramatic relief: experiencing negative emotions with the old behavior
  3. Environmental reevaluation: learning how the behavior is an important part of one’s environment
  4. Self-reevaluation: realizing that the behavior is an important part of one’s identity
  5. Self liberation: committing to change
  6. Counter conditioning: substituting new behaviors in place of the old behaviors
  7. Reinforcement management: rewarding for positive behaivor changes, decreasing rewards for negative ones.
  8. Stimulus control: removing reminders of the unhealthy behavior, adding reminders to engage in new behavior
  9. Helping relationships: social support for behavior change
  10. Social liberation: realizing social norms are changing to support change in behavior.

Construct 3: Decisional Balance

Involves looking at the benefits and barriers/pros and cons related to the change and weighing them to see if the change is worth it.

Construct 4: Self Efficacy

Refers to the confidence an individual has in their ability to perform a new behavior.

The literature shows that this model can be very effective when implemented correctly. If interventions are tailored according to the stage that each individual is on, results often show that these individuals are more successful that those who did not have stage-tailored interventions. Below are the studies I looked at for my literature review that show success with the TTM. Clicking on the names will open the PDF of the article.

1. Computer-Mediated Intervention Tailored on Transtheoretical Model Stages and Processes of Change Increases Fruit and Vegetable Consumption Among Urban African-American Adolescents

2. Transtheoretical Model-based multiple behavior intervention for weight management: Effectiveness on a population basis

3. Impact of a Stage-Tailored, Web-Based Intervention on Folie Acid-Containing Multi vitamin Use by College Women

Continue reading

Health Disparities

The topic of health disparities is exhaustive. Every inequality in any aspect related to health is part of health disparities. This includes examples like: higher prevalence of diseases in certain ethnic groups, limited access to healthcare by those of a lower socioeconomic status, malaria existing in developing countries, but being almost non-existent in developed countries, whether a person has access to healthy food based on the neighborhood they live in. The examples are endless. Awareness is a huge part of reducing and eliminating disparities. After all, you can’t do much about something that the general population doesn’t know exists or doesn’t find an issue with.

I think that infographics are a great way to catch a person’s eye and inform them at the same time. They are a fun (or profound) way of drawing attention and awareness to important topics. Below are two examples of infographics that are related to health disparities/health topics.

If you click on the pictures it will take you to the original link where you can zoom in to view it in greater detail.

From: Center for American Progress website. Article: Cuts to Community Health Centers Harm Communities of Color the Most.

From: Institute of Medicine of the National Academies

I would also like to share a resource that I found when doing some research on health disparity initiatives for my Theory of Health Behavior class. It is an initiative and research program called Global HealthShare (GHS) initiative and is through the Center of Excellence for Nutritional Genomics at the University of California at Davis. They are focusing on eliminating disparities between developing and developed countries and try to make all improvements as sustainable, affordable, and environmentally friendly as possible. I suggest taking a look at their website and the current programs they are working on, they are really great.

Click the picture below to visit their site:

Social and Behavioral Core

After learning a little more about the social and behavioral aspects in public health, which is my MPH concentration, there are a few resources I would like to share.

First is I want to share two videos on health educators. It is common for people to envision health educators in the role of health class teachers in schools. However, this is only one of many settings a health educator can work as a professional.

I think these videos do a great job of displaying what health educators do, and who they are.

Another important aspect of public health, as a student, and as someone who will soon be entering the field as a professional, is the job outlook. I am interested in whether this field is growing and if it is expected to have available jobs in the coming years. After reviewing some articles in class, I went on a search of my own and found this great resource:

Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Handbook: Health Educators

This website gives a detailed look at health educators including: median pay, education needed for an entry-level job, and then gives more details on what health educators do, where they work, how to become one and so on. This screen print gives a quick peek at what information is available to you on this page. There are also pages for hundreds of other jobs in all sectors. I think this is a great place to learn some basic knowledge on any job that you might be considering.