Monday, August 1, 2011

[EQ] Communicating the Social Determinants of Health

Communicating the Social Determinants of Health

Scoping Paper

This report was prepared for the Canadian Reference Group on social determinants of health (CRG), supported by the Strategic Initiatives and Innovations Directorate, Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Prevention Branch, Public Health Agency of Canada.
The views expressed within are not necessarily the views of the Public Health Agency of Canada, March 2011


Available online PDF [35p.] at:

“……..Barriers to media coverage of the SDH must be overcome, including a lack of knowledge of the concepts, a perceived difficulty in telling stories that capture the social determinants in tangible, measurable terms, and the perception that the social determinants are not new and therefore not newsworthy. Media have also expressed concern over stigmatizing the poor, unemployed, and less educated in society through reporting on SDH research.

Constraints on advocacy activity among public health practitioners may also hinder support among this important audience. Some have suggested that public consultation in health issues amounts to little more than tokenism, as policy-makers are under heavy pressure to achieve specific national policy targets, and may feel that community involvement slows the process down and results in a loss of control….”

Next Steps

Effective communications strategies are required to gain traction towards implementing a SDH approach. These strategies may include:

- Coordinated intersectoral action and community involvement. Communication for Social Change (CFSC) has been identified as a successful process that combines community dialogue and collective action for social change to improve the health and welfare of the community

- Advocacy, including media advocacy - working with and training journalists to ‘‘frame’’ news stories to build public support and influence decision-makers and policy-makers

- Effectively-framed messages, in politically-neutral language that make sense to people, as well as provocative statements that highlight the costs of doing nothing

- Stories about successful programs and initiatives (possibly building on the examples provided in Section 6.3 – Promising Approaches).

- Images and graphics that translate research into compelling narratives.

- Use of video and social media to reach the public directly.



Executive Summary

1.0 Introduction and Background

2.0 Key Audiences

2.1 Policy-makers and Politicians

2.2 Public health practitioners

2.3 Media

2.4 Community Groups/Activists

2.5 General Public

2.6 Additional Audiences of Interest

3.0 Current Positioning of SDH in Canada

3.1 Media Coverage

3.2 Public Understanding and Assimiliation of SDH Message

4.0 Strategies and Approaches to Communicating the SDH Message

4.1 Coordinated, Intersectoral Action

4.2 Advocacy

4.3 Communicating for Social Change

5.0 Challenges and Barriers to Increasing Awareness of SDH

5.1 Framing the Message

5.2 Barriers to Media Coverage

5.3 Individual, Political and Corporate Views

5.4 Constraints on Advocacy Activity

6.0 Potential opportunities

6.1 Social Media and Public Education

6.2 Complexity Theory

6.3 Promising Approaches

7.0 Communication and educational tools for key audiences

8.0 Next Steps

Appendix A

Appendix B



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