Mass Communication and Public Health

Antonis Gardikiotis

RIC 305 Mass Communication and Public Health


About This Course

Course Description

The course provides an overview to health communication research. Its primary goal is to discuss how communication can change health risk behaviors. It has a theoretical and a practical focus. Theoretically, it employs a psychological perspective by focusing on the psychological processes underlying the formation and change of health-related attitudes and behaviors. Theories are conceived as the essential tools we use to implement successful communication campaigns. Practically, the course employs an empirical approach to evaluation of health communication: students will design an empirical study, collect and analyze data, and write up a paper on a health communication issue, which, unavoidably this year, will be the COVID-19 pandemic.

Course Objectives

  • Understand the concepts and theories of health communication.
  • Understand the processes through which media affect health behaviors
  • Understand the design of health campaigns
  • Understand the obstacles that health campaigns face

 Learning Outcomes

  1. Define core concepts and theories of health communication.
  2. Identify different kinds of health communication effects.
  3. Explain the processes underlying health communication effects.
  4. Analyze and synthesize relevant research
  5. Write about health communication campaigns.

Class/Learning activities

Lectures, group work, in-class presentations, independent study, written assignments.


Type of work Description Hours
Lectures Thirteen 3-hours lectures 39
Independent study Study of class materials and readings 40-50
Readings presentation Presenting and leading a discussion on three relative topics 45-60
In-class presentation Conference type presentation of final paper 10-20
Final paper Design of a health communication campaign (3.000-3.500 words) 110-120
Total workload 244-289


Type of assessment Learning outcome Impact on final grade Date of assessment
Participation in group discussion 1-2 10% On a regular basis
Reading presentation 1-3 30% (3X10%) On a regular basis
Presentation 1-4 10% 12th week
Written assignment (final paper) 3-5 50% 13th week

Required Reading

  • Hornik, R. (Ed.). (2002). Public health communication: Evidence for behavior change. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
  • Rice, R. E., & Atkin, C. K. (Eds.). (2013). Public communication campaigns (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
  • National Cancer Institute. (2001). Making health communication programs work. Available online at:

Suggested Reading

  • Crano, W. D., & Burgoon, M. (Eds.) (2002). Mass media and drug prevention: Classic and contemporary theories and research. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
  • Glanz, K., Rimer, B. K., & Viswanath, K. (Eds.). (2004). Health behavior and health education: Theory, research, and practice (4th ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  • McKenzie, J. F., Neiger, B. L., & Smeltzer, J. L. (2005). Planning, implementing & evaluating health promotion programs (4th Ed.). San Francisco, CA: Pearson.
  • Thompson, T. L., Parrott, R., & Nussbaum, J.F. (Eds.) (2011). The Routledge handbook of health communication. Mahwah, NJ: Routledge.
  • Witte, K., Meyer, G., & Martell, D. P. (2001). Effective health risk messages: A step-by-step guide. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.