Elective Courses

HCOM400 Directed Study (0.5 or 1 credit) Students may opt to take a 0.5 credit or 1 credit internship as an elective offering. A 0.5 credit internship is roughly the equivalent of 100 hours of work, while a 1 credit internship is roughly 200 hours of work. Internships can span two semesters with the permission of the program director. Internships may be paid or unpaid.

HCOM506 Online Consumer Health (0.5 credit) The course teaches the skills to design health websites, and redesign existing ones, to provide sites that are appealing, usable, and effective at achieving their goals. You will learn how to meet the needs of your target user population through developing personas and scenarios, how to learn from and differentiate your site from competitors' sites through competitive analysis, and how to conduct formative and heuristic evaluations to improve site effectiveness. The course covers the different types of content, including how to create expert-generated content, how to solicit and manage user-generated content, how to select imagery, and how to select a site name, tagline, and logo. For the course project, you will design a new health website or redesign an existing one using the skills you learn in class.

HCOM509 Seminar in Health Literacy (0.5 credit) Low health literacy is a barrier to effective health communication and contributes to health disparities. National assessments of adult literacy have raised serious concerns about the ability of nearly half the adult population in the U.S. to access and use health information and services. Better understanding of the relationship between health and literacy is essential to the development of effective health communication strategies and outreach. This skills oriented course explores the link between literacy and health and how poor health literacy impacts access to health information and quality health care services. Students practice writing and speaking in plain language; consider the relationship between health literacy, language, and culture; and explore how to apply health literacy research to practice.

HCOM510 Patient-Provider Interaction (1 credit) This course provides an overview of patient-provider interactions, surveying the field from initial conceptual communication models to the current development of participatory decision-making, examining the significant public health and policy implications. Various providers and their inter-relationships are included, and recent health care financing and regulatory influences explored. Differences in provider and patient goals are analyzed; methods for analyzing patient-provider interactions, and measuring patient satisfaction and quality are reviewed. Health disparities, and the effects of age, gender, ethnicity, race, and class on interaction are examined; policy challenges are debated. Different types of encounters are explored - health promotion and risk communication, issues around dying and death, acute pain and trauma, and chronic pain and other disabilities. The public health significance and adverse effects of patient-provider interactions (decreased patient adherence, poor health outcomes, medical errors, and increased malpractice) are detailed and policy alternatives framed. Types of communication excellence are highlighted, and progressive improvements in interaction quality and effectiveness are examined.

HCOM512 Digital Strategies for Health Communication (1 credit) This one-week course covers how to develop and implement a digital strategy to drive a health organization’s online presence. Learn from Tufts faculty and distinguished guest speakers how to: develop a coherent and justifiable digital strategy for health communication; select, use, manage, and evaluate the effectiveness of web, social media, and mobile technologies; employ research-based methodologies such as persona development and formative evaluation; and use best practices from leading health organizations including Consumer Reports, Massachusetts Medical Society, and CDC. Each year the course includes a case study for the week and hands-on teamwork during the course is used to revise the digital strategy for that organization. For more information, please go to the website.

HCOM514 Social Media and Health (1 credit) Social media is revolutionizing health communication. Hospitals, public health organizations, government agencies, pharmaceuticals, and countless start-ups are on social media - Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, and other platforms - to reach new populations and engage healthcare consumers in new ways. Best practices have emerged for how healthcare organizations use social media technologies for health communication. The goal of this course is to provide the knowledge and skills to select and use social media appropriately for a healthcare or public health organization based on best practices. The course will use case studies and bring in guest speakers from a variety of organizations to demonstrate how effective social media use is dependent on goals, resources, policies, and metrics.

HCOM515 Mobile Health Design (1 credit) This online course examines the impact and potential of mobile devices for health. Using design methodologies, students will conceptualize and design health apps and devices that incorporate evidence-based guidelines and capitalize on the mobility, portability, and input and output capabilities of smartphones and tablets. We will consider the user experience: how healthcare consumers locate health apps and decide to download and try them; how they use health apps and devices and why they sustain or abandon use; and studies of health benefits, focusing on how they educate, connect, track, and remind. We will also examine global use of mobile devices. The course is a mixture of lecture and discussion, with guest lecturers bringing their expertise and perspectives, and work in teams to design health apps using the techniques covered in class. A final paper will be required as well. Course lecture and discussions will use WebEx and Google+ Hangouts. 

HCOM 0516 Medical Journalism: Mass Media and Public Health Marketing (1 credit) This one-week course will introduce students to key principles in health and medical journalism with the aim of both fostering a better understanding of the processes that underlie the decisions made by news entities and helping participants develop strategies to utilize the broad reach of the news media to communicate important health and public health messages. Topics covered include how to develop a toolbox of journalistic storytelling skills; identify and refine compelling angles within larger public health issues; recognize what is likely to generate news coverage and develop strategies to take advantage news; and understand how news organizations use social media to both gather and report health information, and use this knowledge to craft social media campaigns aimed at influencing the news cycle. 

HCOM517 Health Literacy Leadership Institute (1 credit) This one-week Institute is an advanced professional development opportunity for professionals and students looking to apply health literacy principles to transform public health and healthcare delivery in the United States and across the globe. Working professionals and students interested in pursuing careers in health literacy are encouraged to attend. Students learn from faculty and guest instructors highly regarded for their pioneering work in medical education, adult literacy, and program evaluation. Peer learning and the sharing of research and best practice are central to the Institute’s educational approach. Throughout the week, students work on a health literacy project of their choice resulting in a final product that is directly applicable, informed by research, and reflective of best practice.  

HCOM536 Health Culture and Communication (0.5 credit) This course examines the role, function and conceptualization of illness behavior, sick-role behavior, preventive health behavior, and the definition of health using "culture" at the core of the organizing framework. The intent is to prepare students who are effective, critical and analytic in their approach to conceiving, conceptualizing, developing and delivering health promotion/disease prevention communication interventions whether domestically or internationally.

HCOM 0545 Institute for Social Marketing (1 credit) Efforts to influence individual behavior and society permeate health communication. Social marketing offers one holistic approach towards this goal. This course is designed to provide students with an understanding of the principles and practices of social marketing. Students will be provided with an understanding of the key concepts and principles that serve as a basis for social marketing such as how to segment, reach, and influence target populations. As part of this course, we will design social marketing strategies to gain an understanding of the benefits of using commercial marketing principles to create initiatives that impact social and individual behavior change. 

HCOM546 Risk Communication in Public Health Practice (0.5 credit) This course begins with an overview of the theory and research basis underlying public health risk communication practice. Three distinct categories of risk communication will be explored in detail: advocacy, care communication, and risk communication during crisis public health events. Case studies of current public health events will be used to explore each of these three areas.  Among the topics that will receive special attention are: 1) ethical standards in risk communication practice; 2) guidelines for communication of quantitative data; 3) the impact of health literacy, language, and culture on message development and understanding; 4) principles of harm reduction; and 5) the use of social media in risk communication. Throughout the course the emphasis will be on providing practical tools including guidelines and templates that public health and health communication people in the field can use in order to achieve accurate and effective communication.

HCOM547 Adult Learning Theory for Public Health Practice (0.5 credit) So much of what we do in our work to improve quality of life and health outcomes involves teaching and training. Whether it’s educating a hospital executive, training community members, or teaching nutrition abroad, knowing when and how people learn best and what motivates them is critical to success.  Whether you are engaged in one-on-one instruction or working with groups, adult learning theory can provide the nuts and bolts to support the development of approaches that both raise awareness and promote action.  This course will prepare you to be an excellent educator, and provide you with a foundation for the development of effective behavior change programs through a review of adult learning theory, hands-on application of teaching strategies and techniques, and the development of measurable objectives to evaluate effectiveness.

PH215 Public Health and Health Care: Politics, Policies, and Programs (1 credit) An overview of the theory, organization, policies, politics, and practices that have shaped public health and health care services in the United States. Students learn about the forces that influence the substance and process of public health and health care delivery. They also are challenged to think about ways in which various stakeholders, including health professionals (clinical and administrative), commercial interests, governmental officials, and the public have come to interact in the evolution of public health and health care delivery systems. The issues of access, cost, quality and health disparities are used to frame aspects of theory, policy, and practice as well as to help evidence some of the opportunities and challenges in the integration of public health and health care services. Finally, students are exposed to some quantitative and qualitative tools and methods used by practitioners in public health planning and in fostering community involvement.

PH216 Health Care Organization: Budgeting and Management (1 credit) This course focuses on cost accounting and budgeting in health services, nonprofit financial statement preparation, and the formulation of strategic business plans within the context of economic health policy.  Students learn managerial theory and practice pertaining to organizational behavior, information systems, personnel, resource allocation, consensus building and prioritization of goals, conflict resolution, and negotiation strategies.

PH217 Negotiation and Conflict Resolution (0.5 credit) This course is designed to provide students with the theory and core skills required for successful negotiation and other forms of conflict resolution. Students will learn about strategies for negotiation and be required to practice their skills in simulation exercises. The goal of the course is to provide a systematic framework for mastering the fundamentals of negotiation strategy for effective conflict resolution, including: (1) understanding the role of various relationships in determining negotiation strategy; (2) recognizing when negotiation is not being undertaken in good faith; (3) learning effective strategies for reaching agreements upon favorable terms; and (4) identifying strengths and weaknesses in each student’s personal negotiating style.

PH227 Snort, Swallow, Smoke; Drugs and Behavior (1 credit) Problems related to substance use, misuse, and dependence are pervasive in our society on many levels. This course takes an ecological approach to understanding substance use and substance-related and problems. Students will be introduced to myriad aspects of substance use behavior, spanning epidemiology, neurobiology, addiction, prevention, treatment, and harm reduction. The course will culminate in the development of a substance-related intervention for a “client” organization.

PH260 Maternal & Child Health Policy in the US (.5 credit) This course will explore the components of maternal and child health in the context of historical, legislative and social policies and background. Perinatal, early childhood, child and adolescent health will be presented from an ecological and life course perspective. Topics such as injury and violence, nutrition, immunization, children with special health care needs and health disparities that cross-cut the developmental stages will be focused on in more depth. The aim of this course is to provide an introduction to maternal and child health programs, policies and issues and how a public health approach can enable states and communities to plan and implement comprehensive integrated systems that reduce the risks and enhance the protective factors leading to positive outcomes for children, adolescent and families. How current factors and changes in family structure, social systems and economic stability may impact and shape current and future maternal and child policies and services will be discussed.

PH542 Race, Culture, and Ethnicity (1 credit) This course examines the ideological, institutional, social, and professional dimensions of culture (including class, gender and sexual orientation as facets of group and personal identity), race and ethnicity, and their effects on health status, research, planning and service delivery. The course will also explore the role of history, power, and the economy as they relate to societal inequality among diverse cultural groups, and their influence on the current policies, institutional arrangements, service delivery models, and professional practices in health services. Cultural competency will be discussed, and more appropriate methods of practice will be analyzed.

PH709 Advocacy for Public Health (.5 Credit) This advanced course provides an understanding of ways to engage in the formulation of policy and decisions related to public health and health care and in carving a strategy to enhance communication for a variety of issues. It will address public health advocacy  for policy at both the national and state level and with legislative representatives, agency heads and within professional organizations. Students will be exposed to a variety of tools used for advocacy, the development and implementation of an advocacy strategy, and the challenges of advocacy within the current political climate. Students must commit to participating in a two day trip to Washington, DC during early October. The trip will include visits with members of Congress to advocate for a public health topic of current interest and sit on hearing. Enrollment for this advanced course is by permission of the instructor.