It is widely accepted that our country's public health is characterized by widespread health disparities along class, ethnic, and racial lines. These disparities manifest themselves in a variety of risk factors, including tobacco use. There is also an emerging consensus that solutions to address these disparities should tackle determinants at multiple levels, including both individual behaviors and more upstream factors such as social policy and social institutions. This application proposes a unique and an innovative exploratory approach to address one such upstream factor -the public agenda about disparities -by mobilizing community groups to target media coverage and public opinion. The project's specific aims are: 1) To examine the public agenda about health disparities including tobacco disparities in one community, Lawrence, Massachusetts.
This aim i ncludes examining the amount of attention local media pay to disparities and how they frame stories about them, and examining public opinion about health and tobacco disparities including the priority assigned to health disparities and how the public frames causes of and solutions to health disparities. 2) To use findings from our Public Agenda Assessment (Aim 1) to design a model intervention to influence the public agenda on health and tobacco-related disparities, including the development of: (a) a media training program for community-based organizations through a series of workshops and (b) a toolkit for journalists. 3) To implement the intervention developed to achieve Aim 2 in Lawrence, MA. This intervention will be used to train community-based organizations (CBOs) that work with the underserved and with ethnic and minority groups, on how to work with local media to advance their agenda around health disparities (including those associated with socioeconomic status and race/ethnicity based) with special focus on tobacco-related disparities. The intervention will be implemented in Lawrence, MA.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Specialized Center (P50)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZCA1)
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Harvard University
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