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BS in Health Studies Curriculum Insight: Understanding Health Communication

Study alongside students in Walden University’s BS in Health Studies program with this required reading taken from the online course Strategies for Health Communication.

As defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Health communication is the study and use of communication strategies to inform and influence decisions and actions to improve health.”1 The goal of health communication is to effect social change by modifying people’s attitudes and/or altering or removing certain behaviors. Social marketing shares this same goal and is a topic of focus in Walden University’s BS in Health Studies program. Study alongside students in Walden’s bachelor’s in health studies program as they learn about the marketing principles that are used to promote a healthier society. This required reading is taken from the online course Strategies for Health Communication and Wellness.2

BS in Health Studies Curriculum Insight: Understanding Health Communication

Social Marketing

Take a look at these sentences. What do the bold words have in common?

  • Fasten your seatbelt.
  • Eat more fruit.
  • Pull over to use your cell phone. 
  • Don’t litter.
  • Get a mammogram.
  • Talk to your doctor.  

These words describe problems to be addressed by changing behavior. Research may help to describe what your audience is currently doing or thinking, which can help shape realistic goals for behavior change. Social marketing is about identifying the specific target audience segment(s), describing the benefits you will offer, and creating interventions that will influence or support the desired behavior change.

“Social marketing is the use of marketing principles to influence human behavior in order to improve health or benefit society.”

Social marketing planning requires us to understand and incorporate the “Four P’s of Marketing” into our program planning. Social marketing is critical because it looks at the “Four P’s” and the provision of health services from the viewpoint of the consumer. The “Four P’s of Marketing” are:

  1. PRODUCT represents the desired behavior you are asking your audience to do, and the associated benefits, tangible objects, and/or services that support behavior change.
  2. PRICE is the cost (financial, emotional, psychological, or time-related) of overcoming the barriers the audience faces in making the desired behavior change.
  3. PLACE is where the audience will perform the desired behavior, where they will access the program products and services, or where they are thinking about your issue.
  4. PROMOTION stands for communication messages, materials, channels, and activities that will effectively reach your audience.

Sometimes there is a fifth “P”—Policy. POLICY are the laws and regulations that influence the desired behavior, such as requiring sidewalks to make communities more walkable, or prohibiting smoking in shared public spaces.

Prepare to Promote and Improve Community Health and Health Services When You Earn Your Degree at Walden University

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of healthcare occupations is projected to grow 14% from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations, adding about 1.9 million new jobs.3 If you’re passionate about improving quality of life for individuals, families, and communities, consider earning your bachelor’s in health studies. In Walden’s online BS in Health Studies program, you can gain the knowledge and skills you need to advocate for the behavior changes you want to see, and help others shape a healthier future. And online education at Walden, an accredited university, means you can earn your degree from wherever you have internet access—no need to rearrange your schedule or commute to campus. Take your classes at whatever time of day works best for you as you prepare to make a difference in community health and health services and advance your career.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering a BS in Health Studies degree program online. Expand your career options and earn your degree using a convenient, flexible learning platform that fits your busy life.


Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,