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Health Communication, Unintended Effects of

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

Health communication campaigns and initiatives are designed with intended effects or outcomes in mind. In addition to the planned effects of a campaign, however, health communication may also produce unintended effects that detract from or outweigh the intended effects. Unintended effects can include creating confusion or misunderstanding, inflated perceptions of risk, desensitization, reactance, a sense of blame resulting in guilt or shame, reinforcement of existing beliefs, creating stigma through negative or stereotypical social norms, and increasing power imbalances. Unintended effects can be desirable or undesirable, short term or long term, and individual or societal. In addition, unintended effects can impact both the intended and unintended audiences and health content of health communication initiatives.

Eleven Types of Unintended Effects

Fewer scholars have studied the unintended effects of health ...

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