Improving Healthcare through Communication: Health Communication (COM510)

Chatham University’Health Communication program offers students a full range of educational opportunities to fit their career goals. One of the core courses from that program, COM510 Health Communication, is also a required course for the MBA’s Healthcare Management Concentration, introducing students to essential concepts and theories of health communication. Students study how individuals understand health issues and how communication processes help shape and influence our acceptance of health-related messages and topics., including health literacy, media coverage of health issues, and health risk communications. Natalie Dick teaches this online course, stating, “Health communication includes research, theory, and practice. It is a broad subject that covers topics such as interpersonal communication, mass media, public relations, community mobilization, and public advocacy.”

Natalie Dick Health Communication Instructor

Natalie earned her B.A. in Advertising and Public Relations from Penn State University, an MHA from the University of Pittsburgh, and is currently working towards a Ph.D. in Health Care Ethics from Duquesne University. In addition to her Ph.D. studies, Natalie is an employee at UPMC, as a Project Manager and leads quality-related programs for the Department of Surgery, focusing on improving readmission rates, length of stay, and patient safety indicators. Prior to employment at UPMC, she worked as a Marketing Associate for a health care consulting company based in Washington, D.C.  “Health communication leaders should consider social determinants of health and health disparities when developing interventions or campaigns. Health communication has the power to both alleviate and exacerbate inequalities in health outcomes,” argues Natalie

This course introduces health communication theory, approaches, and action areas, providing a foundation for planning, implementing, and evaluating health communication interventions. Throughout the course, students apply concepts to real communication challenges in health care delivery systems, health advocacy, nonprofit health service organizations, and public health. The course is focused on ways that group and individual characteristics can affect health communication needs, and how effective communication interventions can promote health equity. Natalie says, “Leaders in health care should always consider how their efforts may affect vulnerable individuals and groups.”

The required material is Health Communication: From Theory to Practice by Renata Shiavo (2014) 2ndEdition. The text provides a comprehensive introduction to theory, intervention design, current issues, and


Textbook For Health        Communications

special topics in health communication. The text represents a hands-on guide to program development, implementation, and evaluation, and emphasizes the importance of a people-centered and participatory approach to health communication interventions, which takes into account key social determinants of health as well as the interconnection of various health and social fields.  It maintains a strong focus on the importance of behavioral, social, and organizational results as key outcomes of health communication interventions.


Payal Pandey, MBA-Healthcare Management ’18


MBA-Healthcare Concentration student Payal Pandey states, “[In this course, I] hope to learn about factors that influence health communication as an individual, community, and healthcare providers and how we can improve the healthcare system through health communication.”


VoiceThread on Critical Reflection


In this online course, the professor posts a question related to the following week’s materials in VoiceThread. Each student must submit a video of their answer to the question.  Each critical reflection video post is 5-10 minutes in length, and students have to post at least one response to another classmate’s post, ensuring discussion and engagement similar to a classroom experience.  Online courses like this one illustrate how Chatham University utilizes modern technology to provide quality education to all students, offering flexible course options to fit all schedules.

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