serial radio program for health promotion

Period of Performance: 09/30/2008 - 09/29/2010


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Biotechnical Communications, Inc.
Atlanta, GA 30328
Principal Investigator


ABSTRACT African Americans suffer a disproportionate health burden from chronic diseases and conditions such as obesity, cancer, hypertension and stroke, diabetes, asthma and cardiovascular disease. Additionally, African Americans experience significantly more premature morbidity and mortality compared to white Americans. Traditional means of reaching African Americans with health messages has had limited success largely due to limitations in using culturally appropriate messages and media. Public health needs demand the development of health communication strategies with increased appeal as well as demonstrated efficacy to reach the African American community. BioTechnical Communications, Inc. (BTC), the applicant organization, is proposing to use two communications technologies - Black radio and the Internet, to raise awareness and improve knowledge and attitudes about chronic diseases and their risk factors experienced by this target population. The commercial success of Black radio comes from an ability to address the unique cultural niche central to African American life. Humor, appeal to family unity, struggles of urban life, and celebration of cultural heritage are some of the many characteristics popular on contemporary Black radio. The emerging technology of web casting, made possible by the Internet, will, in addition, allow us to test another potentially highly effective medium for health information delivery to Black Americans. Our long-term goal is to have a measurable impact on the health literacy of the African American community using a culturally relevant and effective medium to improve public health and decrease health disparities. Based on the successful completion of a Phase I project testing the feasibility of a radio formatted Entertainment-Education strategy to promote education about cancer, BTC will now proceed with the Phase II proposal to launch a professionally produced 40-episode health education serial radio drama with a companion web-based component. Our health education focus has broadened to address the particular health burdens experienced by African Americans in the U.S. - obesity, breast cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and hypertension/stroke. This project will use a medium that transcends social class and can be used effectively especially given the heterogeneity of the Black radio audience. 7. Project Narrative For NIH and other PHS agencies applications, this attachment will reflect the second component of the Project Summary. The second component of the Project Summary/Abstract (i.e., Description) is Relevance. Using no more than two or three sentences, describe the relevance of this research to public health. In this section, be succinct and use plain language that can be understood by a general, lay audience. African-Americans have a disproportionately high prevalence of chronic diseases contributing to an overall increased rate of morbidity and reduced life expectancy as compared to other US populationsi,ii,iii. The proposed serial health-based radio program builds on prior research that suggests that African- American consumers very much want health information that speaks specifically to their needs and want media to do more to disseminate the informationiv. The health-based radio program will provide an innovative and effective format to improve health literacy, using a medium (radio) that is accessible and familiar to the target population. i American Cancer Society, Cancer Facts & Figures for African-Americans, 2005-2006. ii American Diabetes Association, African-American and Diabetes Facts, 2006. iii DHHS, Office of Minority Health, Black or African-American Populations Fact Sheet, 2006. iv Critical Coverage: A National Survey on Blacks, Media and Health," 1998, The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and National Association of Black Journalists.