University-Community Partnership to Enhance Public Health Communication

How to Cite

Newman, J. J., Bustamante, N., & St. Amant, K. (2019). University-Community Partnership to Enhance Public Health Communication. Online Journal of Public Health Informatics, 11(1).



The Context of Communicating Care
Communicating health information across diverse populations is critical to improving public health and sustaining health-related practices within a community. In this context, successful collaborations can provide models for effectively sharing essential information in other communities. This panel examines a case where two entities partnered to create visual and written materials for conveying health information to different underserved populations in a rural and economically disadvantaged region (Lincoln Parish, located in north central Louisiana).


A Case of Effective Community-Based Collaborations
For this case, the Visual Integration of Science through Art (VISTA) at Louisiana Tech University (Tech) partnered with the non-profit Lincoln Health Foundation to produce image-intensive communication materials for certain local populations. The specific audience was undereducated, indigent, non-native English speaking communities in the Parish – a population that often cannot readily rely on text-based resources for information.
For the project, students enrolled in Advanced Digital Painting, Studio Art Internships, or Usability and User Experience Design classes at Tech collaborated with representatives from the Lincoln Health Foundation to
Conduct research on the communication expectations and preferences of the target audience
Identify the best methods for sharing information on sensitive health issues with the members of this community
Develop image-based brochures, website content, and illustrations to convey health information to these populations
These final products students produced included illustrations depicting the health complications associated with diabetes and informational brochures on preventative practices associated with sexually transmitted diseases. In creating this content for the Lincoln Health Foundation, the participants created a model for how community health organizations, educators, and students can collaborate to develop informational products for specific local communities. This proposed panel presentation examines the dynamics of forming such partnerships and collaborating to address the needs of the community population.


The Dynamics of the Case
In this initial pilot, there are two separate but complementary projects where the community partner identified an area of need and Tech students, under supervision of faculty, created either visual images or website and brochure content to improve communication.
Specifically, students identified and tested material for dissemination in the community by:
Identifying prospective solutions/materials that can address this issue
Researching the intended audience to determine the solution(s) that would work best
Creating materials for addressing this need (and based on research of audience expectations)
Testing these materials with members of the related audience
Presenting suggested materials/solutions to community partners
Discussing mechanisms the community partner could use to disseminate this information to the intended audience
The objective of the model was to provide students with hands-on, real-life experiences in
Project planning
Project management
User research
Product development
Product planning
Illustration as a form of communication
Understanding audience
Crossing language and cultural barriers
The community partner, in turn, received a needed resource developed specifically to meet the needs of a given population within that community.

How the Moderator Intends to Engage Audience Discussions

The Focus of the Proposed Panel
The proposed panel will be comprised of members of each of the groups involved in this project. The members of the panel will discuss how the partnership has worked by explaining project planning and related interactions involved in
The projects that students have participated in
The usability of the products created
The impact of these products on the community
The planning of future projects that will continue to impact communities beyond Lincoln Parish
In so doing, panel members will overview the ways in which the participating individuals and agencies approached the processes of identifying problems and solutions and fostering and maintaining collaborative relationships during the course of a project in which the dynamics regularly changed.
Panel Participants
The panel who will lead a discussion on this type of University-Community health partnership includes:
Faculty Representative of Studio Art
Faculty Representative of Biological Sciences
Faculty Representative of Technical Communication/Usability Testing
Representative of community partner organization
Student participant in the project
Each participant will comment on how the related organization approached this overall project, interacted with other collaborators, and engaged in collaborative decision making and problem solving throughout the overall process.
Benefits for Attendees
Through examining this case of collaboration in this way, the overall presentation will discuss strategies attendees can use to
Establish the heath-communication needs to certain local communities
Devise solutions for creating effective materials to meet this need
Assess the efficacy of such materials with divers communities
Identify and collaborate with local partners to address such needs effectively
In this way, the presentation will provide attendees with strategies they can apply to address the communication dynamics and community needs of their own local context(s).
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