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Rural Health Information Hub

Audiences and Communication Strategies

Rural community health programs may share information with a range of audiences. A critical first step in dissemination planning is identifying intended audiences and considering the most effective way to communicate relevant information based on their needs and interests. Developing a communication plan can help guide appropriate and effective communication approaches.

Rural community health programs can use various channels to disseminate communication products that summarize program findings. As rural community health programs begin implementing communications strategies, they should consider designating a contact person to answer questions and connect employees to additional resources, when needed.


When communicating program findings to policymakers, rural program staff should ensure messages are succinct and clear. Data and statistics should also be presented in a way that is easy to understand, which could involve using charts, figures, and other infographics. Examples include one-page summaries, memos, policy briefs, or policy analyses. American University and the American Association for the Advancement of Science developed Recommended Practices for Science Communication with Policymakers, which provides additional guidance and context.

Healthcare Providers

Rural community health programs often need to communicate with various healthcare providers and organizations. Healthcare audiences to consider include:

  • Healthcare providers and staff
  • Community health workers
  • Caregiver groups
  • Public health departments
  • Rural health associations
  • Hospital associations

Communication channels for healthcare providers could include emails, staff meetings, or other internal communications. Broader communication, such as information networks and email newsletters, can also connect providers across different organizations.

Community Groups

Dissemination products for communities should be understandable for people from different backgrounds and levels of literacy. Rural communities should also work with intended audiences to understand translation needs. The Federal Plain Language Guidelines provide suggestions for writing messages that are clear and easy to understand.

Using a health equity lens will ensure the information is accessible, understandable, and practical for all community members. The Rural Health Equity Toolkit discusses considerations for involving program participants in disseminating program findings.

Communicating with the community can happen in a variety of ways. Rural community health staff may engage directly with community members through personal contact at community events, such as public meetings, local events, or community celebrations. Public and civic group meetings also provide a forum to discuss relevant issues and present focused messages. For more information on communications with the public, see Health Communication Strategies in the Rural Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Toolkit.

For dissemination considerations for specific types of programs, see:

Resources to Learn More

Health Equity Guiding Principles for Inclusive Communication
Provides information and resources on equitable strategies and principles for communication of public health programs, policies, and practices to multiple audiences.
Organization: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Community-Centered Dissemination Toolkit
Offers five steps to help researchers integrate dissemination strategies supporting community-engagement principals that are meaningful and relevant when delivering researching findings to communities.
Organization(s): University of Minnesota, Program in Health Disparities Research