Health communication is concerned with ‘the powerful roles performed by human and mediated communication in health care delivery and health promotion’ (Kreps et al. 1998). It is an extremely broad research area, examining many different levels and channels of communication in a wide range of social contexts. Following Thompson, Dorsey, Millet and Parrott (2003) one can didactically speak about three main spheres of influence in the case of communication and health: societal, expert discourse and lay discourse. At the same time, the levels for health communication analysis include intrapersonal, interpersonal, group, organizational, and societal communication. In addition, health communication inquiry invol-ves examination of a broad range of communication channels, inclu-ding face-to-face and mediated communication between providers and receivers, among members of health care teams, and among patients (e.g., via support groups). As pointed out in a number of studies (Freimuth, Stein, Kean, 1989; Johnson, Meischke, 1993; Nelkin, 1995), health-related messages are effective devices of ‘social learning’, the people being able to learn what it means to be healthy with the help of media (Freimuth, Stein, Kean, 1989; Johnson, Meischke, 1993; Nelkin, 1995). Moreover, health public policies can be modified sometimes by the transmission of messages relating to health (Cho, 2006). Incorrect or unrealistic information from medical reports may mislead the people working in public health policy and may contribute to the admission of unfair laws and regulations (Hotz, 2002; Wells, Marshall, Crawley, Dickersin, 2001), the latter being regarded by many scientists as true threats to public health (Voss, 2002). Health-related news from the media functioned largely as a factor that can influence the actions of doctors, patients, lawyers, and politicians and they have become the main target in the discussions between researchers in the medical field, the information related to health and in the field of communication. Under such circumstances the task of publishing a special issue on communication and health for the International Review of Social Research was extremely challenging to us. Given the diversity of approaches used in the field of communication and health, we include micro- and macrolevel oriented approaches of health and communication, based on multiple methodologies.
- Communication of Health
- Pubblic health