Webinar Recommendation – The Power of Framing: Bridging Political Divides to Strengthen Public Health

December 14, 2022 by Chaya Merrill, DrPH

COVID brought with it so much turmoil, but one of the small niceties was the explosion of great webinars and that has not subsided. In fact, there are so many webinars nowadays that I find myself struggling to make time to fit them into my day. I’ve increasingly started relying on recommendations from colleagues on what to tune into. In that vein, I have one that I’ll share today:

The Power of Framing: Bridging Political Divides to Strengthen Public Health

I listened to this webinar in October 2022. I intended to keep it on in the background while I finished tending to my emails. But, I found myself captivated with the content. The webinar was sponsored by the Public Health Communications Collaborative (PHCC). This great organization lives by the philosophy that messages that are simple, clear, and accurate can save lives.

In the Framing webinar, the amazing speakers focused on how the science of “framing” can help us to be heard and understood. They challenged us to see that when we change how we frame the story, we can change the world. By “framing,” the speakers mean the choices we make in what we say and how we say it – in terms of what we emphasize, the words we use, and – importantly – what we leave unsaid.  All of this impacts how people interpret our message and, ultimately, how they respond to it.

The webinar features the following speakers who were all fabulous:

  • Nat Kendall-Taylor, PhD, CEO, FrameWorks Institute
  • Umair A. Shah, MD, MPH, Secretary of Health, Washington
  • Mandy Cohen, MD, EVP and CEO, Aledade Care Solutions and former Secretary of Health and Human Services, North Carolina
  • Monica Valdes Lupi, JD, MPH, Managing Director, Health, The Kresge Foundation (Moderator)

One of the most intriguing parts of the webinar was Dr. Kenall-Taylor’s discussion of how we frame the concept of equity – and, how many of us may be framing it in a way that hurts our end goal.  He talks about how the words “health equity” have become quite heavily loaded and politically polarizing. When people hear the term, they immediately retreat to their camps. I’m not certain that he (or others) have figured out exactly how to make the conversation less divisive, but I found his comments thought-provoking – so much so that I ended up spending my afternoon on Dr. Kendall-Taylor’s organization’s website, FrameWorks Institute. FrameWorks is a think tank that helps organizations communicate about social issues in ways that build public will to support progressive change. I’m sure I’ll be spending many more hours perusing their website – they have posted a ton of great content.

The PHCC has a number of webinars on their website – take a look, but don’t expect that you’ll be able to multi-task! At least for the Framing Webinar, you will be consumed with the content. In fact, not only did I listen to it once, I’ve gone back and listened again.

About the author

Chaya Merrill, DrPH

Director of Child Health Data Labwithin the Child Health Advocacy Institute at Children's National Hospital