An evaluation of health communication materials for individuals with disabilities developed by three state disability and health programs
BACKGROUND: Health communication increasingly has been recognized as an important part of public health practice that can help raise awareness of potential health risks, influence attitudes and beliefs, and motivate individuals to change unhealthy behaviors. Yet, few health communication messages exist that target people with disabilities. An evaluation was conducted to assess the relevance and usefulness of health communication materials developed by or disseminated in, or both, three state disability and health programs. METHODS: Health care providers and people with a variety of physical and sensory disabilities participated in the evaluation. Qualitative and quantitative data were collected in each of the three states using key informant interviews, focus groups, and a Web-based provider survey. RESULTS: State program staff reported that health communication strategies and messages should be developed to improve access and remove barriers to health care, provide access to facilities, empower consumers, and educate health care providers about the needs of people with disabilities. Several of these needs are consistent with the needs identified by consumers in the focus groups. Consumers indicated that improvements to the overall content and design of the state-developed health communication materials are needed, yet health care and human service providers who participated in the Web-based survey were generally satisfied with the materials. Nearly all providers reported being aware of the materials; however, consumers were not familiar with the state-developed materials reviewed by the focus groups. CONCLUSIONS: Improvements in the content and dissemination of health promotion materials designed by states are indicated. Implications for public health practice, including recommendations for improving future health communication materials, are addressed in this article.