Rethinking the appropriateness of health education messages : problems, principles and guidelines
The original publication is available at http://www.hsag.co.za/
This article is based on research to design a model for appropriate health education messages in a multi-cultural developing community. The Ph.D study was completed at the University of Stellenbosch in 1998. Nowadays the media are playing an increasingly powerful role at all levels of health education in developing and developed countries alike. The inappropriateness of media messages, though, is a major contributing factor in the fluctuating effectiveness of health education programs. There are a number of variables such as cultural relevancy and familiarity of medical terminology used that determine the appropriateness of health education messages. Messages that are culturally inappropriate could lose its credibility and could even result in polarising the health beliefs of different communities. It could also reinforce risk behaviour, thereby making it most difficult to accomplish disease prevention and health promotion objectives. This article presents a theoretical perspective in this regard. It leads to the HAMSOC model that indicates key principles for improving the appropriateness of health education messages in a multi-cultural developing community. Practical guidelines and examples are given regarding the modification of appropriate messages within this particular context.