A 'light bulb moment' in understanding public health: Evaluation of the 'This is Public Health' photo essay and reflective task by undergraduate students||



A lack of understanding of the importance of public health within the community is a significant impediment to improvement in population health. The international campaign “This is Public Health” (TIPH) uses the concept of ‘tagging’ as a strategy to increase community awareness. Utilising this campaign in undergraduate education has huge potential. Despite substantial reach, high quality empirical evaluations are lacking. This presentation describes student perceptions of a TIPH photo essay and reflective task aiming to explore the pedagogical and learning outcomes related to students' knowledge of public health. A qualitative study design using a descriptive single-case study methodology was employed. Participants were students taking part in a semester-long introductory public health subject at the University of Newcastle. Students photographed five examples of public health in their community, each ‘tagged’ with the TIPH sticker, then completed a 500-word reflection task. Analysis was performed using a general inductive approach to qualitative thematic analysis. Analysis of student reflections (n=139) revealed two strong overarching themes: students’ new and deeper understanding of public health (6 clusters), and pedagogy of the task (4 clusters). The task also had an impact on a personal level; students alluded to a new recognition of the importance of preventive health measures and an improved analytical awareness of health determinants and the role of public health in Australia. The TIPH photo essay and reflective task was successful in providing undergraduate students with an experiential activity resulting in increased knowledge and understanding of public health strategies.


Erica James

University of Newcastle, NSW Australia

Dr. Erica James is Associate Professor in Public Health in the School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Newcastle, NSW Australia. Dr. James is a behavioural epidemiologist and an expert in the development and evaluation of behaviour change interventions for public health settings aiming to prevent and control cancer.
Her research has focused on reducing risk behaviours and has ranged from social marketing research for primary prevention of cancer, health services research to improve system-wide delivery of prevention and screening messages, to behaviour change interventions for cancer survivors. Over the past two decades she has conducted rigorous research to improve the effectiveness of behavioural interventions.