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Communicating Health: Priorities
and Strategies for Progress

Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion logo

Background on the Health Communication Focus Area in Healthy People 2010

Healthy People 2010 is about improving the health of each individual, the health of communities, and the health of the Nation. It is based on a systematic approach to health improvement. Healthy People 2010 has two overarching goals: increase the quality and years of healthy life, and eliminate health disparities. These goals have been elaborated in 467 objectives in 28 focus areas. Collectively, they provide a thorough picture of the Nation's health at the beginning of the decade, set forth national goals and targets to be achieved by 2010, and provide a framework to monitor progress over time.

Healthy People is a collaborative effort managed by the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Healthy People 2010 represents the third time HHS has developed 10-year health objectives for the Nation. The Healthy People initiative began in 1979 with Healthy People: The Surgeon General's Report on Health Promotion and Disease Prevention and was followed in 1980 with Promoting Health/Preventing Disease: Objectives for the Nation, and in 1990 by Healthy People 2000.

Each focus area in Healthy People 2010 has a designated lead agency. ODPHP is the lead agency for the Health Communication Focus Area. The main responsibilities of the lead agency are to coordinate activities related to the measurement and implementation of the objectives in its focus area and generally to promote awareness of and action on the issues represented by the objectives. As the focus area lead agency, ODPHP typically convenes meetings, coordinates activities, and encourages collaboration among organizations and individuals working on issues and projects related to the health communication objectives. ODPHP convenes the Health Communication Focus Area Work Group as needed to provide assistance with focus area activities. ODPHP also coordinates and prepares progress reviews for the Health Communicaton Focus Area throughout the decade, including the mid-course review scheduled for 2005. A Health Communication Focus Area progress review was held June 24, 2003. ODPHP works with other HHS agencies and offices, State and local government agencies, universities, nonprofit organizations, healthcare providers, public health professionals, professional and trade associations, individual researchers, health education professionals, and any other individuals or organizations committed to making progress on the health communication objectives.

The objectives were not intended to be the responsibility of the government alone, nor indeed can they be achieved solely through Federal efforts. Because of the nature of the issues raised by the objectives, many stakeholders share responsibility for taking action to achieve progress. The Federal Government and HHS in particular may have indirect or little influence on some of the factors underlying the objectives. Partnerships and collaboration across many sectors will be key to the achievement of the objectives by the end of the decade.

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Background on the Health Communication Focus Area in Healthy People 2010
Introduction to the Health Communication Action Plans
Objective 11-1. Internet Access in the Home
Objective 11-2. Improvement of Health Literacy
Objective 11-3. Research and Evaluation of Health Communication Programs
Objective 11-4. Disclosure of Information To Assess the Quality of Health Web Sites
Objective 11-5. Centers for Excellence in Health Communication
Objective 11-6. Healthcare Providers' Communication Skills
Appendix. Examples of Stakeholders Involved in Technology Diffusion and Internet Access Initiatives