Virtual Health Square: a new Health Promotion Setting?

Document type: Conference Presentations
Peer reviewed: Yes
Full text:
Author(s): Amina Jama Mahmud, Ewy Olander, Bo Haglund, Rune Gustavsson
Title: Virtual Health Square: a new Health Promotion Setting?
Translated title: Virtuellt hälsotorg: en ny hälsofrämjande arena?
Conference name: 8th IUHPE European Conference on Health Promotion and Education. Turin, 9-13 September 2008.
Year: 2008
City: Turin
Organization: Blekinge Institute of Technology
Department: School of Health Science (Sektionen för hälsa)
School of Health Science S-371 79 Karlskrona
+46 455 38 50 00
http://www.bth.se/hal/
Authors e-mail: amina.jama.mahmud@bth.se
Language: English
Abstract: Health Square is a new health promotion setting in Sweden. Health Squares are meeting places for health; offering activities such as information on health management, advice on lifestyle related health issues and advice on when and where to seek medical help in case of illness. Health Squares also provide access to Internet based health information from trustworthy sites through a “customer computer”. The concept was initiated in collaboration between Primary Health Care and the Pharmacy Association of Sweden in order to provide community members a supportive environment for health. Health communication is an integral part of Health Square activities.

Technologies for health communication need to be adapted to the needs and local contexts of the consumers. Health Square integrates both the local context and uses interactive technology to support the visitors in their effort to make informed healthy lifestyle choices but there is a need to involve the community in order to make technology accessible, reliable and sustainable.

The aim

The aim of this paper is to present a planned intersectorial research project on the development of a multi-lingual- Health Square Channel (HS channel) using Participatory Action Research (PAR) methods.

Background

The information and communication landscape is rapidly changing, especially in developed countries such as Sweden. Information and communication technology (ICT) are widely used in the health sector. This has resulted in a great burden being placed on the individual to seek information on self-care and healthy lifestyle choices. This is not an easy task for the majority of the population despite the offensive health information in the public spheres. Information alone does not lead to better lifestyle choices. The consumer (of the information) must be health literate. Health literacy as a concept encompasses more than transmitting information and developing skills, it entails improving people’s access to health information and capacity to use it effectively. Accessibility also entails providing health information in other languages besides that of the majority.

Health promotion and ICT have a long-standing and productive relationship. New technologies are revolutionizing health promotion by providing easily accessible and timely information to consumers in the comfort of their homes. Digital Interactive Television (DiTV) is a new platform for Health Communication. Little is known on the potential of DiTV as a tool for health promotion communication in communities. There is a need to explore the potential and application of modern technology in health promotion using health promotion principals.

There is a call for the use of Participatory Action Research (PAR) in Health Promotion and information systems research. The underpinning essence of PAR is the concept of equity and social justice. Equity in health is also the central concept in the Swedish national health policy, whose overarching aim is to create social conditions to ensure good health on equal terms for the entire population, and it’s first goal is to ensure participation and influence of the citizens.

Methods

Health Square (HS) channel will be based on a Health Square in a small town in the South of Sweden. The HS channel will be developed in collaboration between different professional categories and laymen. This work will be done in a workshop physically based at the HS. The project will be implemented between 2008-2011.

Symbolic interaction and PAR form the theoretical base for the proposed research project which will stretch over the period Multiple research methods will be used for data collection due to the complexity of the planned project. A modified adaptation of a model named; Spiral Technology Action Research (STAR) will be used in the different stages of the research project. STAR model is a developmental process model that combines health promotion, principles social theories, Participatory action research approach and Freire’s (1970) “critical pedagogy. The research studies will be carried in four phases: 1) Exploration of HS as a setting for Health Promotion. 2) Case study; needs assessment of the provider and user of the HS channel in an environment of open dialogue. 3) “Workshop” and collaborative process of developing the HS channel. 4) Testing the accessibility and usability of the developed HS channel to a selected population in stratified local residential areas.


Corresponding author: Amina Jama
Tel: 0046455385427
E-mail: amina.jama.mahmud@bth.se
Subject: Public Health\General
Keywords: Health communication, participatory action research, Primary Health Care.
Edit