about health and treatment
We saw in the previous chapter that communication and information provision play a key role in determining whether or not people engage in recommended health behaviours, such as adherence to prescribed medication. According to Kreps (2003), communication is a central human process that enables individual and collective adaptation to health risks at many different levels. Thus, 'effective risk communication enables consumers and providers of health care to gather relevant health information that educates them about significant threats to health and helps them identify strategies for avoiding and responding to these threats' (p. 161). Communication can take several different forms, including face-to-face verbal conversations, nonverbal communications, printed messages and those that employ computers and other more advanced techniques. In the next chapter we will look in more detail at the provision of written information, such as patient information leaflets, and in Chapter 7 at the use of graphical and computer-based communication aids. This chapter begins by outlining some general issues involved in communicating health information. It then looks at different models of doctor–patient communication and considers what information patients want to know about their health and potential treatments, and how the provision of such information affects their understanding and behaviour. It focuses particularly on medicine taking, a health behaviour that applies to the vast majority of the population at some stage in their lives. Finally, it looks at health promotion and the difficulties involved in communicating information to the wider population in order to improve public health.
As Edwards and Hugman (1997) noted, effectively communicating even the simplest and most welcome of messages to a dispersed and disparate