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Ecological Perspectives

  • By: Jennifer E. Ohs
  • In: Encyclopedia of Health Communication
  • Edited by: Teresa L. Thompson
  • Subject:Public Health Education & Health Promotion, Health Psychology, Health Communication

An ecological perspective advances understanding of a phenomenon by examining it within its natural ecology or environment, thereby drawing attention to multiple, interacting influences on the phenomenon. An ecological perspective on health communication, then, situates health and health behavior as influenced by various social contexts that are embedded and intertwined. By examining system-level influences within a socio-cultural framework, such as social norms and governmental regulations as well as other nonbehavioral influences such as available resources or information, learners and researchers can gain a comprehensive understanding of a health issue or behavior.

For example, understanding the communicative influences on weight loss behaviors from an ecological perspective would consider the distinct, yet interrelated impacts of communication contexts such as the media, medical visits, and interpersonal relationships. Media ...

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