The Chronically Uninformed: Closingthe Knowledge Gap in Health
Health communicators often are confronted with the challenge of reaching target groups of low-income and poorly educated individuals because these low socioeconomic (SES) groups are frequently at higher risk for many health problems. Yet when these same campaigns are evaluated, these groups usually emerge as less exposed, less knowledgeable, and less likely to change their behaviors. In fact, there is some evidence that health communication campaigns actually increase the knowledge gaps between the "haves" and "have nots." This chapter identifies the critical issues that must be faced to communicate effectively with these "chronically uninformed." The first section of the chapter describes the health status of these low SES groups. In the second section, the knowledge gap hypothesis is reviewed as a possible explanation for the lack of information in these groups. The final section of the chapter suggests potential ways to reduce the knowledge gap.