Health Communication in the Prevention of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Drug Use
AbstractResearch on substance abuse prevention programs indicates that effectiveness is greater when multiple intervention approaches that address the specific vocabulary, perceptions, and values of the target population are employed. The field of health communication provides unique perspectives on media that can be applied to increase the salience and effectiveness of substance abuse prevention programs. Well-designed and well-delivered health communications have the capacity for reaching remote audiences, changing health attitudes and behavior, shaping social norms, changing the way health issues are portrayed by the popular media, and influencing decisions about legislation and policies. Health communication approaches are generally employed within the broad context of health promotion programs, along with education, community development, empowerment, and social change approaches. This article describes the role of health communication in substance abuse prevention, reviews major conceptualizations of health communication, and introduces the unique features of the four articles included in this special section of Health Education & Behavior .