The overall objective of the Southern Center for Communication, Health, and Poverty is to reduce health disparities by discovering how the poor and near poor living in the South who are disproportionately African American respond to health risks and what interventions will increase their health protection behaviors. Eliminating health disparities is one of the most pressing health issues facing the U.S. Socioeconomic status is a key underlying factor. In almost every risk factor or disease those from lower social classes suffer disproportionately. When communication and marketing efforts to improve health are undertaken they often have the unfortunate effect of increasing these disparities rather than reducing them. This Center will conduct three major research studies with low income populations in the South about the following health risks-smoking, violence, and genetic predispositions. These studies also explore different facets of communication including message processing, message contents, and audience participation in designing and constructing messages. In addition, a pilot study will focus on multiple risks and the consistent or inconsistent ways low income individuals respond to them, including the sources they use and trust and the depth with which they process messages about them. The Center will support these studies and build a foundation for continued research by establishing four core components (research methods and statistics; public health workforce development; communication, marketing, and dissemination; and administrative). Collaborating organizations include three universities, University of Georgia in the lead with Morehouse School of Medicine, and the University of Alabama; ORC Macro, a private sector firm with extensive experience in health communication and marketing; and the Georgia Division of Public Health. Twenty-four researchers and practitioners from diverse disciplinary and personal backgrounds from these institutions will collaborate to address these critical issues. A Lay/Community Advisory Board and a National Research Advisory Board will provide valuable external input into the Center's activities. Communication and marketing, if conducted in a relevant and appropriate manner, offer great potential for improving the health of the poor and the near poor. ? ? ?
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