Measuring perceptions of health education mediums: a validation study
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Clinical depression, although often unrecognized and underdiagnosed, is a grave public health concern because it is has the power to devastate millions of lives, yet remains cloaked in secrecy and shrouded in shame. Despite advances in the prevention and treatment of this disease, many of those who need help, hope and healing do not have the knowledge, or are unaware of the information, resources, and medical advances available to assist them in the recovery process. There is a demonstrated need for research comparing the effectiveness, understanding, and usefulness of health communication methods as they relate to depressed individuals. A valid and reliable instrument for comparing depressed individuals' responses to the same health message delivered through different mediums is not available. The purpose of this study was to create a health education message for individuals who had been identified as experiencing depressive symptoms, one that could be delivered through three different mediums, to adapt and validate an instrument measuring perceptions of the health message, and to develop and propose a process for message dissemination and survey implementation in a behavioral health setting. A simple health education message, which could be delivered through three mediums (written, pre-recorded telephone message, and website), was developed in conjunction with staff members of a behavioral health company. The message was designed for depressed clients, and to encourage their follow-up and compliance with recommended care plans. Test-retest reliability and content validity of the survey instrument were established. A two-phase protocol for message delivery and telephone survey implementation was developed by the researcher for use in a typical behavioral health company that receives and assesses calls from members who present with symptoms of depression. Health educators have a unique challenge ahead in terms of addressing the needs of those who suffer from depression, and discovering new methods in which to reach this population. Future research should focus on finding and validating instruments, which measure the effectiveness of health messages for depressed individuals; on creating meaningful health messages for depressed individuals; and working to provide more powerful health communication campaigns relating to depression.