Rhetorical Lessons in Health Advocacy: Advancing Persuasive Problems and Partial Solutions in Pro-Caregiving Advocacy Policy Statements

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Rachel Diana Davidson


Public health advocates often encounter the arduous rhetorical situation of championing issues assumed to be personal. One such rhetorical situation can be observed in pro-caregiving advocacy rhetoric; organizations promoting public policy attention for unpaid family caregivers. This essay argues that pro-caregiving advocates invite public action by persuasively advancing personal and public problems that impact caregivers, care-receivers, taxpayers, and businesses; however, in their policy statements, advocates undo the likelihood of public action by creating a partial solution that emphasizes the preferred location of home care and de-emphasizes the ways in which the financial and health-related caregiver problems get solved. The essay concludes with rhetorical lessons that highlight the practical applicability of argumentation methodology for scholars and practitioners of public health advocacy. In doing so, this essay offers practical tools to evaluate and reposition the efforts of health advocates moving an issue from personal to public.

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Rachel Diana Davidson, Hanover College

Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication at Hanover College