July 5, 2022

For Peterson, An Influential Textbook’s New Edition May Be Its Best

PUBLIC HEALTH CONFUSION: The School of Community & Global Health's Darleen Peterson hopes that the new edition of the book she co-edited will help public health professional respond to confusion and disinformation. (Photo credit: Kyle Austin/Unsplash https://unsplash.com/photos/Xf5XE3fptiU)

A lyric from an old pop song posits that “everything old is new again.”

For Darleen Peterson, professor of practice in CGU’s School of Community & Global Health and associate dean for academic affairs, that phrase applies to a new edition of a book she co-edited.

Health Program Planning, Implementation,and Evaluation: Creating Behavioral, Environmental and Policy Change may be in its fifth edition, but given the scope of the revisions, Peterson said it might make more sense to consider the latest iteration as the equivalent of a brand-new first edition.

“We wrote this edition in response to questions that my fellow co-editors and chapter authors were hearing from instructors and practitioners,” she said. That feedback reflected their experiences in their communities with “planning, implementing, or evaluating programs that deal with public health issues or problems.”

Taking a fresh look at the pandemic and other public health challenges.

The new edition, in other words, contains the latest developments from the field, including the impact of our current, and unprecedented, COVID-19 global health crisis.

The book’s publisher, Johns Hopkins University Press, hails it as “a time-tested, landmark approach to health promotion and communication projects and everything that goes into making them successful.”

Peterson said the new edition addresses ongoing national and international events, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, drug abuse, mental health problems, vaccination campaigns, and endemic health problems in developing countries (such as guinea-worm and tobacco control, alcohol abuse).

When it comes to health planning and implementation, multiple voices and viewpoints make a big difference. For Peterson, the new edition derives its effectiveness from the inclusion of the cumulative experiences of its co-editors and chapter authors via a model called PRECEDE/PROCEED.

That model, which was first developed by two co-editors in the 1970s, has been pervasively used around the world. The book catalogues the 1,600-plus studies and programs derived from the PRECEDE/PROCEED planning framework.

SCGH’s Darleen Peterson

Responding to the Pandemic

Regarding the book’s applicability to the pandemic, Peterson said the pandemic has caused large segments of the populations in many countries to question their assumptions about how unfamiliar diseases spread in their communities, families, and institutions (e.g., schools, workplaces, social events, restaurants, entertainment venues, etc.).

“These populations have had to face disease control measures that weren’t yet well understood,” she explained.

As a result, many in the public health field have wrestled—and are continuing to wrestle—with public misunderstandings and confusion.

That’s why Peterson said the timing of the new edition couldn’t be more apt—or more needed now.

Public health efforts, she said, “have been further muddled by the crossfire of misinformation and disinformation, making public health communications a central aspect of the pandemic control efforts, the communication of guidelines from CDC, state health departments, and local agencies, and the enforcement of restrictions on, or requirements of, public and private behaviors.”

Public health efforts, Peterson said, have been “muddled by the crossfire of misinformation and disinformation…”

In addition, the controversies over COVID-19 mandates and masking underscore how completely intertwined public health is with social and political forces.

“Our public health interventions should take this reality into account,” she said, “and PRECEDE/PROCEED is an excellent framework and process to use whenever faced with a new health challenge like COVID or climate change.”

A Helpful Student Resource

Students will find useful and new information in the new edition, Peterson said, including current applications of the model within the context of today’s socio-political environments and 21st century public health problems.

Various chapters directly address the new realities of public health, including the issues of social justice, health equity, and anti-racism efforts in the training of students; an increased emphasis on the role of environmental factors and policy interventions; and new material from the implementation and evaluation sciences and innovations in communication technology.

Peterson hopes the new edition will serve has an important resource “for the new generation of public health students and practitioners.”