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Expanding the Reach of Health Campaigns: Can Community Organizations Serve as Viable Channels of Health Information?
Unformatted Document Text:  Expanding the Reach 4 Researchers in public health have also begun to adopt the social capital concept in order to understand how social networks and community norms influence individuals’ health and well- being (Campbell & Jovchelovitch, 2000; Cattell, 2001; Hyyppae & Maeki, 2001; Keating, 2000; Malone, 2001; Morrow, 2001; Vimpani, 2000). Steptoe and Feldman (2001) found, for example, that residents’ reports of neighborhood problems were negatively associated with social capital in the community. Similarly, Lindstroem, Hanson, and Oestergren (2001) reported that the effects of socioeconomic status on individuals’ leisure-time physical activity (a finding that is well established in the literature) were rendered inconsequential when social participation was taken into account. Because social networks appear to influence the well being of individuals, it is likely that incorporating the concept of social capital into campaign design will enhance campaign effectiveness. What then are the specific features of community organizations that make them suitable vehicles for the dissemination of campaign influences? We can broadly categorize these features according to whether they fulfill an instrumental or an affinity function. Instrumental Function By instrumental function, we refer to specific features of the community organization that serve as tools or vehicles for campaign implementation. They provide the infrastructure and the resources required by the campaign, and hence their role is utilitarian. One obvious feature that facilitates campaign implementation is the organization’s geographical location, which can provide access not only to the campaign’s target audience, but also to local resources in the community. Community organizations also exist electronically in such forms as publicly accessible bulletin boards and chat rooms. This “electronic proximity” fulfills the same function in that the organization with this capability can provide a central access point to its members and

Authors: Stephens, Keri., Rimal, Rajiv. and Flora, June.
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Expanding the Reach 4
Researchers in public health have also begun to adopt the social capital concept in order
to understand how social networks and community norms influence individuals’ health and well-
being (Campbell & Jovchelovitch, 2000; Cattell, 2001; Hyyppae & Maeki, 2001; Keating, 2000;
Malone, 2001; Morrow, 2001; Vimpani, 2000). Steptoe and Feldman (2001) found, for example,
that residents’ reports of neighborhood problems were negatively associated with social capital
in the community. Similarly, Lindstroem, Hanson, and Oestergren (2001) reported that the
effects of socioeconomic status on individuals’ leisure-time physical activity (a finding that is
well established in the literature) were rendered inconsequential when social participation was
taken into account. Because social networks appear to influence the well being of individuals, it
is likely that incorporating the concept of social capital into campaign design will enhance
campaign effectiveness. What then are the specific features of community organizations that
make them suitable vehicles for the dissemination of campaign influences? We can broadly
categorize these features according to whether they fulfill an instrumental or an affinity function.
Instrumental Function
By instrumental function, we refer to specific features of the community organization that
serve as tools or vehicles for campaign implementation. They provide the infrastructure and the
resources required by the campaign, and hence their role is utilitarian. One obvious feature that
facilitates campaign implementation is the organization’s geographical location, which can
provide access not only to the campaign’s target audience, but also to local resources in the
community. Community organizations also exist electronically in such forms as publicly
accessible bulletin boards and chat rooms. This “electronic proximity” fulfills the same function
in that the organization with this capability can provide a central access point to its members and


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