Messaging Research: Effective Public Health Communication Strategies for a Divisive Political Climate
Between March and May 2023, the Big Cities Health Coalition (BCHC) polled key audiences in its member jurisdictions (35 big cities).* The goal was to better understand how individuals who are skeptical of public health interventions could be moved to better support the important role governmental public health departments and leaders play in their communities. This post outlines the top strategies BCHC research supports.
Between March and May 2023, the Big Cities Health Coalition polled key audiences in its member jurisdictions (35 big cities). The goal was to better understand how individuals who are skeptical of public health interventions could be moved to better support the important role governmental public health departments and leaders play in their communities.
Continue reading for our top-level findings and messaging recommendations. Download the messaging guide to save these recommendations in a convenient one-pager. Download the full slide deck to review more detailed findings from our research.
In collaboration with Hart Research, we conducted two focus groups with 8 white centrists and 8 Black residents in Philadelphia; then QualBoards with 20 white center-right and 19 Black and Hispanic residents; and finally, an online survey of 1,006 similar “policy influencers” in 35 BCHC jurisdictions with an oversample of Black and Hispanic residents.
The project was primarily supported by the CDC Foundation.
Map showing BCHC’s 35 member cities, whose residents were the focus of this study
Our messaging research supports the following communication strategies.
GRAPH 1. Respondents consider public health important – but rank other city needs as having a higher priority.
GRAPH 2. Respondents support city government giving residents opportunities to be healthy.
GRAPH 3. Discussions of racial inequity gain more traction when framed as a human-made problem we can fix.
Percent of respondents who said messaging about racial health inequities being human-made and thus fixable was a major reason for their city to focus on the health of Black and Hispanic residents.
The audiences we polled found these to be the most convincing messages about why city leaders should invest in public health:
Fiscal responsibility & prevention
Quality of life
“Everyone wants their city to be a healthy, thriving city. We don’t want to have to choose between clean air, good education, affordable housing, and access to quality food and we shouldn’t have to choose. We need all these things in order to have the best possible quality of life for our families and our neighbors, and everyone in the city needs and deserves them. The city must make investments to ensure we have them.”
This post originally appeared on the Big Cities Health Coalition website and is republished here with permission.