BioTechnical Communications, Inc. (BTC) will develop and produce an animated serial drama Webisode based on the Entertainment-Education model of health education. The series will be marketed to healthcare websites and general interest African American-targeted websites. Using innovative new media approaches to reach a large African American demographic, the goal of this project is to improve health information seeking, along with increasing overall health awareness and knowledge in this targeted population. By combining media that is simultaneously entertaining, educational and culturally tailored to African Americans, we offer an innovative health education tool to reach a high health disparities population. The Webisode project is the next logical step based on our successful serial soap opera radio product, Keeping Up with the Walkers (KUWW), which educates people about health and disease that disproportionately affects African Americans. KUWW was recently licensed to SupeRadio for distribution in 50 black radio stations nationwide demonstrating BTC's track record bringing health communication products to market. In this Fast-Track application, Phase I will take 6 months to develop a ten-minute animated prototype based on a single health topic, obesity, and assess feasibility and appeal of this approach with an African American audience using focus group qualitative research. In Phase II, we will produce a 120-minute animated series covering six health topics that have high levels of disproportionate impact on the Black community. This newly animated Walkers series, which will be webcast on the Internet, will reach a more diverse audience including the younger at risk African American demographic, who have quickly adopted Internet-based communication. Using a web panel of African Americans we will conduct an outcome study of the efficacy of the Webisodes on participants'health seeking behavior, health knowledge, and perceived risk. The impact of the KUWW Webisodes on real world Internet users'health information seeking behavior will be tested to determine if our product can be used to drive viewers to seek more health information on the web. Our long-term goal for commercialization is to position the KUWW Webisode series at African American oriented websites to encourage viewers to seek more extensive health information and to adopt the positive health behaviors modeled by the KUWW characters. Currently, BTC hosts the website Journey To Wellness (www.journeytowellness.com);the additional reach of our partner organizations which have high impact websites, will serve to expand our potential audience and create future commercial partners for BTC's appealing and culturally tailored health communications products.
The mission of BTC is to have a measurable impact on the health of the African American community using a culturally relevant and easily accessible health education message to improve public health literacy and decrease health disparities. An effective and culturally appealing animated Webisodes series aimed at an African American niche of Internet users will teach viewers about health risk reduction using the proven technique of entertainment-education.