December 17, 2007

New in Health Communication

Saw a few interesting tidbits on health communication recently & thought they might be interesting:

Anti-drinking Campaign Ads May Be 'Catastrophically Misconceived': ScienceDaily reports on a British study that shows "Some anti-drinking advertising campaigns may be 'catastrophically misconceived' because they play on the entertaining 'drinking stories' that young people use to mark their social identity, say researchers who have just completed a three year study of the subject."

Instead of turning young adults off of drinking by portraying "...drunken incidents, such as being thrown out of a nightclub, being carried home or passing out in a doorway ... young people [see them] as being a typical story of a 'fun' night out, rather than as a cautionary tale."
(thanks to Bora for the link)


Roma Harris & Nadine Wathen interviewed 40 women living in a "highly agricultural rural county in southwestern Ontario" about how they locate health information and published the results in the October 2007 issue of Reference & User Services Quarterly.

Excerpts from the article abstract:

" ... Most of the women in the study undertake considerable health-related information gate-keeping for themselves and on behalf of family members and others in their personal networks. They seek and assess information from a wide variety of sources, some of which they locate via the Internet, and they balance what they learn against their experiences with the formal health system. The women's accounts focused repeatedly on the quality of their relationship with those to whom they turn for assistance, although the actual roles of helpers, whether physicians, friends, librarians, or staff in health food stores, often appeared to be incidental. Instead, helpers' perceived effectiveness seemed to depend largely on how well they express care when information is exchanged. Several women also reported that they had diagnosed and even treated themselves, sometimes on the basis of information gathered from the Internet. ..."

The library was occasionally cited as a resource, but mostly for the Internet access; however there were some serious concerns about the rural library:
  1. Some women felt that the library wouldn't have current health books
  2. Some women felt that the library wasn't worth going to because the books would have to be returned
  3. Some women would not ask a library staffer for help due to concerns about confidentiality, since they live in such a small community. Presumably they don't want the librarian knowing their business.
So. Two very different and mildly disturbing reports about communicating health information. (See also my October post Seniors & Medical Information, summarizing a JASIS&T article on the topic)

For More Information
  • Anti-drinking Campaign Ads May Be 'Catastrophically Misconceived'. ScienceDaily (Dec. 14, 2007).
  • Harris, Roma and Nadine Wathen. "If My Mother Was Alive I'd Probably Have Called Her." Reference & User Services Quarterly, Fall2007, Vol. 47 Issue 1, p67-79. May be available from RUSQ web site; definitely available from EBSCO's "Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts" or @ your library.

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