Handbook of Health Communication

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

VI
Lessons and Challenges from the Field
Alicia M. Dorsey
Texas A&M University System Health Science Center

As Teresa L. Thompson wrote in the introduction to this volume, our purpose in compiling the chapters for this handbook was to provide a summary of some of “what we know to date about communication processes as they relate to health and health care. ” However, the editors recognized that a handbook such as this one—purporting to survey the important emergent issues in health communication—should not only include a summary of the theoretical and empirical advances, but must also acknowledge the implications of these emergent issues for health communication practitioners. In 1992, two authors in the present volume (Clifford W. Scherer and Napoleon K. Juanillo) contributed a chapter to the fifteenth volume of the Communication Yearbook entitled “Bridging Theory and Praxis: Reexamining Public Health Communication. ” In this chapter the authors examined the implications of different theoretical approaches to health communication for communication planning and strategy. That same year, interestingly, Burdine and McLeroy (1992) wrote an article entitled “Practitioners' Use of Theory: Examples from a Workgroup. ” Here the authors argue for the importance of actively engaging practitioners in a dialog between academicians and practitioners in order to reach a mutual understanding of the relationship between theory and practice in health promotion. A decade later, as the editors were outlining the contents of the first Handbook of Health Communication, we were committed to continue facilitating and encouraging such a dialog in order to understand more completely the intricate relationship between communication practices and health.

To that end, three chapters in the final section of the present volume are designed to continue this dialog. Over the years a number of prominent health communication scholars have left academic positions to pursue private-sector positions conducting largescale health communication research for federal agencies. Still others have remained in academe but have dedicated themselves to engaging actively in collaborative research with practitioners outside of the academic setting. Both voices and experiences are represented in this final section.

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