Publication Abstract

Authors: Dearing JW

Title: Improving the state of health programming by using diffusion theory.

Journal: J Health Commun 9 Suppl 1:21-36

Date: 2004

Abstract: Year by year, the gaps between what is known about behavior change and what is actually practiced in social programs grow larger, especially for community-based programs intended to help minority populations, the poor, and those living in inner-city and rural areas. Internationally, such gaps between the state of knowledge and the state of practice lead to disparities in health, education, and development among societal groups, demographic sub-populations, communities, and countries. Data about disparities are used as evidence of inequality. Here, I discuss uses of certain diffusion of innovation theory-based concepts to systematically redress problems of inequality and disparity by reducing the differences between evidence and practice in social programs that are implemented by intermediaries (practitioners) and communicated by them to needy populations. The emphasis here is on the integrated application of knowledge about innovation attributes, opinion leadership, and clustering from diffusion theory to achieve the objective of more extensive and more rapid diffusion of especially effective programs. A set of implementation steps are offered for researchers, funders of international health programs, and the intermediaries who implement health programs.