Public Health

PHRASES: Public Health Reaching Across Sectors

July 1, 2018  • Health, Medicine & Society Program

Achieving health goals requires engagement by public health professionals with partners in other sectors like education, housing, business, & health systems. When leaders in these sectors align with public health professionals, action to improve our health is attainable. However, achieving this alignment has proven challenging. Few public health professionals have received training to develop the skill of framing the public health message in ways that resonate with other sectors. Effective, successful partnerships begin with asking partners what they need, rather than starting the conversation with what public health needs.

To help public health leaders effectively communicate the value of public health to potential partners and decision makers in other sectors, the de Beaumont Foundation and the Aspen Institute’s Health, Medicine and Society Program have launched PHRASES (Public Health Reaching Across Sectors).

PHRASES is working with the FrameWorks Institute to analyze the set of assumptions and cognitive holes that public health professionals face when attempting to engage with people across sectors about their field. This foundational research will detail what communications work often misses: the way in which people interpret messages and develop opinions, attitudes, and understandings about public health.

The FrameWorks analysis will reveal how the contribution of public health expertise can be advanced or derailed by perception and coverage, and inform a gap analysis. Those insights, in turn, will inform and guide the development of communication tools and strategies at the heart of PHRASES.

The PHRASES digital toolkit, launching in 2019, will provide public health professionals with the “go-to” resources they need to forge effective cross-sector collaboration, including:

  • Communication tools and strategies that help frame the public health message in ways that resonate with other sectors.
  • Answers to tough questions that prepare public health experts to overcome obstacles as they move forward.
  • Stories from the field that profile ongoing work and illustrate what is possible with collaboration.
  • A resource library of rigorous literature that documents the power of cross-sector partnerships.
  • Model documents such as memoranda of understanding, model structures for shared decision-making, etc. that provide adaptable, nuts-and-bolts guidance.

Karen DeSalvo, MD, MPH, MSc, Former Acting Assistant Secretary for Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Former Health Commissioner of the City of New Orleans, and Soledad O’Brien, CEO of Starfish Media Group and Host of Matter of Fact with Soledad O’Brien, will co-chair PHRASES’ Advisory Committee. Members of the Advisory Committee include:

  • John Auerbach, MB: President and CEO, Trust for America’s Health (TFAH); Former Associate Director for Policy, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); Former Commissioner of Public Health, Commonwealth of Massachusetts
  • Raymond J. Baxter, PhD: Former Senior Vice President for Community Benefit, Research, and Health Policy, Kaiser Permanente; Board Member, CDC Foundation; Trustee, Blue Shield of California Foundation
  • Richard Berke: Executive Editor, STAT; Former Executive Editor, Politico; Former Reporter and Editor, New York Times
  • Gary M. Cohen, MBA: Executive Vice President and President, Global Health, BD; Board Member, CDC Foundation
  • John J. Dreyzehner, MD, MPH, FACOEM: Commissioner, Tennessee Department of Health
  • Sandro Galea, MD, DrPH: Dean and Robert A. Knox Professor, School of Public Health, Boston University
  • Jackie Judd: Journalist and Communications Consultant
  • Joe Reardon, JD: President and CEO, Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce
  • Lawrence Wallack, DrPH, MPH, MSc: Emeritus Professor of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley; Distinguished Fellow, Moore Institute for Nutrition and Wellness, Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine; Former Dean, College of Urban and Public Affairs, Portland State University

Visit to learn more about the project and to subscribe to updates on PHRASES research and tools.