Handbook of Health Communication

By Teresa L. Thompson; Alicia M. Dorsey et al. | Go to book overview

I
Introduction
Katherine Miller [part 1]
Texas A&M University
Teresa Thompson [part 2]
University of Dayton
Alicia Dorsey [part 3]
Texas A&M University
Katherine Miller [part 4]
Texas A&M University

Handbooks serve distinct purposes within an academic discipline. In a sense, they provide both the history and the geography for a field of study, and the publication of a handbook suggests both that the discipline in question has a history worth recounting and can be seen as being “on the map. ” This is clearly the case for the discipline of health communication. Our research has moved from relatively atheoretical considerations of a variety of health-related issues to sophisticated considerations that marry the discipline to important theoretical traditions in social sciences and the humanities. In short, health communication clearly has a history worth recounting. Similarly, the discipline of health communication has moved from a relatively undifferentiated and random landscape to one of complex peaks and valleys, rivers and lakes, shifting boundaries and borders. Thus, the cartography of health communication is also worthy of consideration.

Both maps and historical documents require context, however, and the first section of this handbook provides that context. Specifically, the three chapters presented in this section lay out boundaries of the field, provide context into how the discipline of health communication has developed, lay out competing understandings of the theoretical underpinnings of our understandings, and argue for directions into future scholarship in health communication. In essence, these chapters set up the context for succeeding chapters on specific research on health communication—research considering

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