Anecdotes and Inspiration in Health Communication
By Mike Mackert
One of the things I enjoy most about health communication is the way that individual experiences can serve as inspiration or illustrate the importance of health communication in improving people's health and wellness.
As an example, I became interested in the role of men in prenatal health when my family was expecting our first child. There wasn't anything really targeted to expectant fathers and our specific information needs. That led to a stream of intervention development and research:
Now we're working with the state of Texas on developing an app version that could be used as a platform for the state to communicate with expectant dads.
Last week we welcomed identical twin girls into our family. They are monochorionic-diamniotic (“MoDi”) twins, which means they shared a placenta but not an amniotic sack. It was a little technical, but a specialist explained that meant: “They're in the same house, they have their own rooms, but they share their plumbing.” I loved that use of a metaphor to make it easier to understand. I don’t know if the specialist received any kind of training or just came to that approach naturally, but it was extremely well done.
We've all heard that the plural of anecdote isn't data. But anecdotes can certainly be wonderful inspiration for health communication interventions and research, as well as confirmation of the value of clear and effective health communication in the future of health and healthcare delivery.