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Dr. India Rose: Using Health Communication to Lower Teen Pregnancy Rates in South Carolina

Dr. India Rose helps saves lives, but maybe not in the way that you may think. She uses her skills in health communication to combat the teen pregnancy issue in the state of South Carolina.

Rose, a Project Manager at the South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy (SC Campaign), received the Certificate of Graduate Study in Health Communication in 2010 and her doctorate in Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior in 2012, both from the University of South Carolina. She works closely with SC Campaign staff and experts in the field to establish a baseline of statewide measures to identify the gaps in teen pregnancy prevention services, strengths and opportunities for future impact. A great deal of Rose’s work involves health communication, specifically when developing SC Campaign publications.

“I use strategies learned in my certificate program to ensure the publication content is written with the target audience in mind,” she said.

With research interests in adolescent sexual health and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) health, Rose decided that pursuing the certificate in health communication would be beneficial for her career.

“I believe having a Certificate of Graduate Study in Health Communication increases my marketability and increases the diversity of skills and knowledge that I possess,” she said.

India Rose 2While in the certificate program, one of the highlights for Rose was when she was published in Health Education Journal for her systematic literature review on health information seeking practices of sexual minority youth (LGBT youth).

“This was the first time I submitted a manuscript as first author and it was such an amazing feeling to have the findings from my health communication practicum accepted for publication,” she said.

Rose said that the health communications certificate program also taught her the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration, especially as it relates to public health research, and gave her the opportunity to work with graduate students in different departments.

For example, in one course she collaborated with students in the School of Journalism and Mass Communications and Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior to study H1N1 media messages’ effects on college students’ knowledge, attitudes and behaviors. The findings of this research project were published in Disaster Prevention and Management.

“I never thought in a million years that a course assignment would result in a publication in a peer-reviewed journal, but thanks to the certificate program…it did!” said India.

Rose completed the Certificate of Graduate Study in Health Communication in December 2010, and since June 2012, she has used the skills she acquired from the program to help drive down the teen pregnancy rate in the state of South Carolina. According to the South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy’s (SC Campaign) website, in the state of South Carolina, 17 teens (age 15-19) give birth every day and 6,024 15-19 year olds gave birth 2011. South Carolina also ranks 11th highest in the nation for teen births.

She combines her expertise of the public health field along with her knowledge of health communication to reach and influence policy makers, organizations, community members and teens across the state.

“Health communication is important because it has the ability to change behaviors and policies and alter the way that health problems are perceived,” she said.