How should the concept of diffusion of innovations theory be applied to effectively carry out health communication?

Concept of diffusion of innovations theory

Diffusion theory was originated by Everett Rogers. Rogers defined diffusion as the process by which an innovation is communicated through certain channels over time among members of a social system. Four key elements arise from this definition: innovation, communication channels, time, and the social system. Innovation is an idea, practice, or object that is perceived as new by an individual or other unit of adoption. Communication channels can be diffused through a social system via two distinct communication channels.

The first channel is media. Media is a formal channel, and television, radio, Internet, and print media all serve as effective agents to convey information to people regarding a given innovation. The second channel is an interpersonal channel, which is generally a more informal channel. People’s reaction can serve as a viable mechanism for transmitting information about innovations that may lead to their ultimate adoption.

As diffusion is a process, it takes time. Innovations diffuse through populations at variable rates as a consequence of several factors. This process was described as comprising five discrete stages: knowledge, persuasion, decision, implementation, and confirmation.

The fourth and final element of diffusion theory is the social system. Every social system is characterized by norms that define the social structure within the community and established patterns of communication. The social system sets the boundaries for diffusion and the communication structures spread information about the innovation.

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