mapping, capacity development, health communication activities, prevention and control of communicable diseases, Europe
Health communication is part of the public health response to the significant continuing threat of communicable diseases in Europe. However, the nature and extent of health communication activities in the context of Europe aimed at the prevention and control of communicable diseases is currently unknown. This severely restricts capacity development as neither strengths nor gaps in knowledge and practice are evident and therefore cannot be addressed. This article reports on the initial phase of aresearch project aimed at supporting the optimal use and development of health communicationactivities in the European Union and the European Economic Area. The study used a mixed-methods design—an e-survey and telephone interviews—with participants from 30 countries to identify activities, followed by an opportunistic group interview with 15 key stakeholders to identify perceived needs of public health bodies in relation to identified gaps. Results indicate that health communication activities are not clearly delineated in national public health structures and policies, there is an emphasis on crisis communication, and limited evaluation of activities and education and training opportunities for health communication are required. The facilitation of partnership working with a forum for knowledge exchange between Member States would enhance efficacious health communication.