Advancing Equity in Clinical Preventive
Services: The Role of Health Communication
Kenzie A. Cameron1,2,3,4
1 Division of General Internal Medicine and Geriatrics, Department of Medicine, Feinberg School of Medicine,
Northwestern University, Chicago, IL 60611, USA
2 Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University, Chicago, IL 60611, USA
3 Institute for Public Health and Medicine, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago,
IL 60611, USA
4 Center for Advancing Equity in Clinical Preventive Services, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern
University, Chicago, IL 60611, USA
In 2002, the Institute of Medicine released its landmark report ‘‘Unequal Treatment:
Confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care.’’ This report led to increased efforts in identifying, assessing, and documenting racial and ethnic disparities in health care, as well as developing, testing, and implementing interventions in an attempt to reduce health disparities throughout the United States. This article reviews the rise of health disparities research in the United States and reports on selected studies and interventions developed by researchers at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. These interventions have used communication and behavioral science theories and frameworks in their development and dissemination, particularly in the realm of clinical preventive medicine. doi:10.1111/jcom.12005
The past few decades have seen an increase in awareness of health disparities within the
United States, as well as concentrated efforts in identifying, addressing, and reducing these disparities with the goal of achieving health equity. Health communication scholars have a crucial role to play within these efforts.
As evidenced by two publications in Patient Education and Counseling, which provide brief overviews of selected persuasion (Cameron, 2009) and interpersonal
(Bylund, Peterson, & Cameron, 2012) theories, models, and frameworks, there is heightened interest among interdisciplinary researchers and medical practitioners regarding these foundations routinely used by health communication scholars. The methodological and theoretical training health communication scholars receive, in addition to their expertise in message development, dissemination, and effects, are
Corresponding author: Kenzie A. Cameron; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Journal of Communication 63 (2013) 31–50 © 2013 International Communication Association
Advancing Equity With Health Communication
K. A. Cameron
of great collaborative beneﬁt to researchers in other disciplines seeking to address health disparities.
This article provides a brief overview of the rise of health disparities research in the United States, with a particular focus on racial and ethnic disparities.
Following this overview, I provide a description of four selected studies, highlighting how the researchers used foundations of communication in the development and dissemination of their interventions.
Although this article focuses predominantly on racial and ethnic disparities in health and health care in the United States, it is important to recognize that many different populations are affected by disparities, including residents of rural areas, women, children, individuals of differing sexual orientations or gender identity, the elderly, persons with disabilities, individuals of various religious beliefs, residents of diverse geographical areas, and persons with lower levels of socioeconomic status, among others. Indeed, many of the characteristics that have been linked historically to discrimination are now known to inﬂuence one’s health status (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [HHS], 2011). Furthermore, health disparities are a signiﬁcant global concern. The Black Report, published in the United