Essential components of a graduate social marketing curriculum for health educators: A delphi study
Whitright, Audrey M.
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This study identifies essential components of a social marketing curriculum for health promotion/health education professionals in a graduate public health program to enable them to develop the knowledge and skills necessary to design, implement, and evaluate a successful social marketing campaign. Four research questions were addressed: (1) Why should social marketing courses be offered in graduate health/public health programs of study? (2) What are the benefits to health educators or other health care practitioners of offering social marketing courses in graduate health/public health programs of study? (3) What knowledge and skills are required for designing, implementing, and evaluating a social marketing campaign? and (4) What are the essential components of a social marketing course in a health/public health curriculum that will prepare health educators/professionals to perform social marketing campaigns? The investigator has concluded, based on the study results and existing literature, that social marketing courses should be offered in graduate public health programs because health promotion/health education professionals should be expected to know social marketing, since it provides a systematic approach to problem analysis and program development. In addition, social marketing is a good fit with other health behavior theories and teaches audience segmentation allowing the health educator to more precisely design a program or intervention to reach specific populations. Furthermore, social marketing provides useful skills, tools, and techniques for influencing behavior change and teaches effective communication skills beneficial to program planning and implementation. And finally, the results of this study present 33 knowledge and skill elements deemed important for health promotion/health education professionals and 27 essential components of a social marketing curriculum in a graduate public health or health education program. Additional conclusions, which are injunction with those previously noted by other social marketers and health educators alike, include the following: (1) there exists a lack of adequate programs of study for non-profit or social marketing, (2) social marketing should be taught either in collaboration with an affiliated business school or as an interdisciplinary approach, (3) there should be development of a core curriculum in social marketing for health educators and other health care professionals.