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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Health communication in primary health care -A case study of ICT development for health promotion

Amina Jama Mahmud1*, Ewy Olander1, Sara Eriksén2 and Bo JA Haglund3

Author Affiliations

1 School of Health Sciences, Blekinge Institute of Technology, Karlskrona, Sweden

2 School of Computing, Blekinge Institute of Technology, Karlskrona, Sweden

3 Department of Public Health Sciences, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden

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BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making 2013, 13:17  doi:10.1186/1472-6947-13-17

Published: 30 January 2013

Abstract

Background

Developing Information and Communication Technology (ICT) supported health communication in PHC could contribute to increased health literacy and empowerment, which are foundations for enabling people to increase control over their health, as a way to reduce increasing lifestyle related ill health. However, to increase the likelihood of success of implementing ICT supported health communication, it is essential to conduct a detailed analysis of the setting and context prior to the intervention. The aim of this study was to gain a better understanding of health communication for health promotion in PHC with emphasis on the implications for a planned ICT supported interactive health channel.

Methods

A qualitative case study, with a multi-methods approach was applied. Field notes, document study and focus groups were used for data collection. Data was then analyzed using qualitative content analysis.

Results

Health communication is an integral part of health promotion practice in PHC in this case study. However, there was a lack of consensus among health professionals on what a health promotion approach was, causing discrepancy in approaches and practices of health communication. Two themes emerged from the data analysis: Communicating health and environment for health communication. The themes represented individual and organizational factors that affected health communication practice in PHC and thus need to be taken into consideration in the development of the planned health channel.

Conclusions

Health communication practiced in PHC is individual based, preventive and reactive in nature, as opposed to population based, promotive and proactive in line with a health promotion approach. The most significant challenge in developing an ICT supported health communication channel for health promotion identified in this study, is profiling a health promotion approach in PHC. Addressing health promotion values and principles in the design of ICT supported health communication channel could facilitate health communication for promoting health, i.e. ‘health promoting communication’.

Keywords:
Health communication; Health promotion; Case study; Health promoting; Communication; EHealth; Information communication technology; Primary health care