Social Marketing: A Strategic Approach for Health Promotion (Online)
50:220:317 Section 90
3 Credits
Online course. Meets at Sakai LMS (

Instructor: Dr. ChiaChing Chen
Office Hours: TBD, 11:30am-1:30pm (EDT)

Course Description:

Social marketing is an approach used to develop activities aimed at changing or maintaining people’s behavior for the benefit of individuals and society as a whole. It can be a powerful mechanism for behavior change and can promote or inhibit health behaviors. This course is designed to introduce the theoretical underpinnings in the field of communication and reviews how social marketing strategies are used to influence health behavior. The focus is on print and electronic media and touches on individual communication. Topics include: how communication theory informs health behavior change interventions; steps involved in planning communication campaigns about health; and skills useful in the execution of communications, such as pre-testing, designing health materials, and writing press releases.

Rutgers University Sakai Learning Management Site (LMS)

This is an internet?based, asynchronous course conducted via computer. All course instructional materials and assignments will be available online through Rutgers University Sakai Distance Learning Management ( Please submit questions or comments to the instructor through the Sakai LMS so that class related information may be easily communicated to the entire class. Specifically, if you have any questions at all about this course, its schedule, an activity, please click the add a new discussion topic button and post your question in the Question (Course-related) forum. I will endeavor to respond to all questions promptly. THERE ARE NO STUPID QUESTIONS!! Chances are, if you have a question, another student also has it, and will benefit from the posted response. Please note that if you are in need of technical support or assistance, you should speak to the Sakai Help Desk (Email:; Phone: (848) 445-8721). For other tech support, call the Camden Help Desk at (856) 225-6274.

Course Objectives:

  1. Define health communication, the role of health communication in the marketing mix, in the public health, and in the twenty-first century.
  2. Identify the key theoretical influences in health communication and models for strategic behavior and social change communication.
  3. Identify the theoretical influences and planning frameworks, describe the current issues and topics in health care, and discusses the implications for health communication.
  4. Identify approaches in defining health and illness, demonstrate an understanding of health in different contexts, and describes cultural, gender, ethnic, religious, and geographical influences on conceptions of health and illness
  5. Identify the dynamic of interpersonal behavior, social, and cognitive processes of interpersonal communications and recognize practical aspects of the power of personal selling and counseling, and technology-mediated communications.
  6. Define public relations theory and practice; identify the power of mass media in health care decisions and the key elements of public relations programs.
  7. Describe approach to community mobilization as a social process, explore its implications for community mobilization programs of social marketing, and discusses its impact on health-related knowledge and practices.
  8. Define medical professional communications; describes theoretical assumptions that influences communication area; and identify key elements and commonly used activities and tools of professional communications programs.
  9. Define constituency relations and its key contexts; identify the practice of constituency relations relevant to the field of health communication; and discusses the key steps, and dos and don’ts of this health communication areas.
  10. Describe steps to health communication planning, implementation, and evaluation; recognize the importance of health communication planning process.
  11. Develop a comprehensive situation analysis and audience profile using step-by-step guide on how to research and analyze all key factors contributing to a health problem, as well as to select and prioritize the information that is instrumental to the development of health communication objectives and strategies.
  12. Define communication objectives and strategies; demonstrate skills to complete health communication planning.
  13. Identify key attributes of strategic tactical plans and the key steps in developing tactical plans.
  14. Demonstrate an understanding of implementing, monitoring, and evaluating a health communication program.

Criteria for Evaluation

Students will receive grades and feedback for every assignment he/she completes. This will include a breakdown of the points he/she earned for the assignments, participation posts, short midterm paper, and final project. The grading breakdown is as follows:


Learning objective number(s) addressed, where applicable

Percent of total grade


A.  Assignments



B.  Participation posts



C.  Midterm Evaluation: Short Paper



D.  Final evaluation




Instructional Materials

  1. Textbook(s): Renata Schiavo. (2014). Health Communication: From Theory to Practice (2nd Edition). CA: Jossey-Bass. ISBN: 978-1-118-12219-8 (Paperback) and (e-Book). 
  2. Other materials provided by the instructor: Readings and handouts will be provided one Sakai LMS site for students.
  3. Tools(s) and equipment: This is an internet?based, asynchronous course conducted via Sakai LMS. All instructional materials will be delivered in a fully online. All students are required to take Students Orientation Tutorial before starting the course.

Grading System

A = 89.5-100

B+ = 84.5-89.49

B = 79.5-84.49

C+ = 74.5-79.49

C = 69.5-74.49

D = 59.5-69.49

F = 0-59.49

Course Navigation and Expectation

  • Navigating this Course: You can navigate the course by (1) Course Syllabus: Print out the course calendar and check off each assignment as you complete it, or (2) Topic outline: On the course home page in the wide column, start at the top and proceed to the bottom in order. Each topic’s resources and activities are clearly labeled. All you need to do is to follow the course navigation method, and complete required readings and assignments. The Lesson is the chapter summary which will guide your study.
  • Expectations and How to Get Help: Over the next fifteen (15) consecutive weeks, I expect you to spend one average 30 minutes to 1 hour per day on this course, and those participants who have enjoyed the most success in our courses have shared that scheduling a specific time each day was key to their success. The other key was communication. If you run into workplace or family issues that cause you to fall behind OR you find that you’re just plan LOST in this course, please message me (strongly recommend), or contact me via email ( so I can assist you by clarifying anything you find confusing, adapting activities for your needs, or modifying scheduling. Upon request, with advance arrangements, I will even call you by phone to walk you through challenging activities. You will be required to login each session (at your convenience because this is an asynchronous online course) to complete activities, but if you will be offline for one week or more, please e-mail me in advance. Otherwise, I will come looking for you. As much as possible, we will try to stick with a consistent schedule during the week:
    • September 5th (Tuesday), 2017: Fall 17′ semester begins and you should start by reviewing contents posted in Topic 1
    • Tuesday: each topic begins on a Tuesday morning
    • Tuesday-Sunday: read and study online materials
    • Monday by 10:00 pm (EDT): post your individual assignment for discussion contribution 
    • Wednesday by 10:00 pm (EDT): post at least TWO participation posts to other class members as follow-up post in online discussion

Criteria for Evaluation

  • Assignments (20%) and Class Participation (20%)
    • Weekly Assignment: All assignments are available under Sakai LMS course site. As the discussions will rely heavily on the assigned readings, students may want to complete or view some of them before joining the discussion. Please don’t wait until the due date/time to join in. Your assignment and class participation will be assessed by: (1) Were entries submitted frequently and in a timely manner? (2) Did responses incorporate the lectures and readings? Students are required to post your assignment directly to the discussion forum by the specified due date (see Section X: Course Schedule). (Note: It is recommended to save a copy of your assignment in a WORD file before posting it to the discussion forum. For assignment submission, you need to copy/paste the text directly to the discussion forum.) (Note: I do not accept your assignment submission by email.)
    • Participation posts: Each student will be expected to respond to the instructor’s or class members’ questions and contribute to the discussion board at least 2 participation posts per assignment. Your responses or comments must be posted by the specified due date (see Section X: Course Schedule). Students who are frequent contributors (in terms of helpful suggestions, answers, etc.) to the discussion forum can earn up to 5 extra credit points (out of 100) toward their final grade.
  • Midterm Paper (30%)
    The midterm evaluation is based on the material covered in this course (Topics 1~7). Topics that may be covered include: concepts and role of health communication, theories and models in health communication, factors that influence on conceptions of health and illness, interposal communications, public relations and public advocacy, and community mobilization. The short paper requires you to select and read one article from those published in any of the following peer-reviewed journals: American Journal of Health Promotion, American Journal of Public Health, Health Education and Behavior (formerly Health Education Quarterly), Health Education Research, Journal of Health Education, Journal of School Health, Journal of Health Communication: International Perspectives, Health Communication, Journal of Communication in Healthcare.

    Write a critical analysis or review of the article you selected with no longer than three double-spaced pages in length.  The purpose of this assignment is to facilitate you in becoming familiar with the work in the field of health communication and the journals in which the work is routinely published. The assignment also should help you to improve your critical analysis and writing skills. Each review should include:

(1) The complete bibliographic information for the article selected.

(2) A summary of the purpose.

(3) Describe the design and methods used, including the theory underlying the intervention, principal findings, and conclusions; and

(4) Discussion of what you believe are the principal conceptual points made and what you have learned from reading the article. You should comment on what you believe to be the implications of the study for health communication.

  • Final Critique Paper (30%)

Select an existing health intervention or campaign (see below for idea) that has been evaluated and the result published in a peer-reviewed journal. Get a copy of the article and contact the person or organization(s) that developed the campaign and ask them to send you any materials that they may have available including examples of the products, posters, press kits, etc. Analyze the campaign and critique the campaign based on the information that you have learned in class and from the readings. The paper should be no more than 20 pages, double-spaced with one inch margins and using 12-point font size. Include any of the materials (e.g., scan, photocopy) that you critiqued.  The critique paper must be submitted to Topic 14 on Sakai LMS. The paper is due by XXX, 2018, 9:00pm (EDT). The following questions should be answered in your analysis.

  • What are the targeted behavior changes?
  • Who is the target population for the campaign?
  • What are the goals and objectives of the campaign?
  • What is the theoretical basis of the campaign?
  • Why was a social marketing approach selected for this intervention?
  • How was formative research conducted?
  • How was process evaluation done and what were the results?
  • How were the materials and messages pretested or evaluated?
  • How was outcome evaluation conducted?
  • How are the 4 ps applied in the development and implementation of the campaign?
    • What are the products of the campaign?
    • How is the campaign promoted?
    • What are the channels of distribution?
    • How is the issue of price considered?

Use references from class readings or peer-review journals to justify your critique.

The critique should also include a discussion of the following elements:

  • In your opinion is this a well-developed campaign? Why or why not?
  • Are the materials, in so far as their design and messages, appropriate for the target audience?
  • If you were to redo this campaign what, if anything, would you change and how would you change it?

Late Submission

  • Assignment: Late assignments and participation posts (at least 2 posts) submitted past the specified due date will receive an automatic zero on the assignment.
  • Participation posts: Late participation posts (i.e., at least 2 times per assignment) made past the specified date will result in a 20% penalty on the assignment only if he/she has already completed the assignment by the assignment due date or made up assignment by the participation post due date. If he/she made two participation posts but failed to complete or make up the assignment by the due date of participation posts, he/she will still receive an automatic zero on the assignment.
  • Midterm short paper: Late paper submitted past the due date/time will receive 5 points deduction (total points=110) (even 1 minute late). For each subsequent day it is late your grade will be reduced by 5 points. Plan ahead!!
  • Final critique paper: Late paper submitted past the due date/time will receive 5 points deduction (total points=110) (even 1 minute late). For each subsequent day it is late your grade will be reduced by 5 points.


Grade calculation

Your final course grades will be calculated based on the following three components:

  • Assignments and class participation:there are a total of 12 assignments which add up to a total of 100 points, which accounts for 40% of the total course score.
  • Midterm paper: the midterm paper has a total of 100 points which accounts for 30% of the total course score.
  • Final critique paper:the critique paper has a total of 110 points. Students will earn up to 5 extra points when submitting any materials you have obtained from the organization that developed the campaign such as examples of the products, posters, press kits, etc. The final grades on the critique paper will be converted to 100 point scale, which accounts for 30% of the total course score.

Student responsibilities:

  1. Syllabus: Each student in this course is responsible to read and become familiar with all the requirements (e.g., readings, deadlines, etc.) of this course as outlined in this syllabus. In addition, should for any unforeseen reason, changes must be made to the syllabus and students are notified by the course instructor(s) that changes have been made to the syllabus, it will be each students’ responsibility to review the content of the revised syllabus and recognize that the newly posted and revised syllabus has become the active and current syllabus.  Failure to read the current syllabus associated with this course at anytime does not relieve any student from meeting all deadlines and completing all assignments associated with this course.  Computer or Internet service failure does not relieve students of their responsibility to be familiar with the requirements of this course. It is also each student’s responsibility to seek clarification from the course instructor(s) on any instruction(s) described in this syllabus which he/she finds confusing.  Failure to understand or read the syllabus does not relieve any student of the requirement to adhere to all instructions outlined in this syllabus.
  2. Withdrawal from course:  Each student is responsible for notifying the instructor(s) in writing or by Rutgers email within 24 hours of withdrawing from this course.  Failure to do so may result in a “F” grade for this course.  Notwithstanding compliance with the above statement, a student may obtain a “WF” grade based on the School’s withdrawal policy.