Explain how one key trend in health communication may impact your role as a public health leader.

Expert Answers
caledon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One key trend in health communication is the ever-growing use of mobile platforms. Both practitioners and patients are increasingly accessing and relying upon media devices to acquire and share information, and this will alter the health communication landscape for public health workers in several ways;

  • Democratization: With more people able to access more information, individuals will have a greater amount of choices and more methods of making those choices. They will come to expect that health care leaders will not only know more, but will be able to help them both to find information and to use various interfaces efficiently. This may range from knowing the ACA website inside and out, to being able to download an app onto someone's cell phone. On the negative side, increased access to information may create an "I know better" attitude, where convincing but contradictory information may give the public reason to be suspicious of, or reject, the public health leader's efforts. For example, some proponents of "Health at Every Size" state that weight is irrelevant to health, and that doctors prescribing weight loss are merely perpetuating cultural stereotypes.
  • Public Reputations: Patients are now able to post online reviews of their health care experiences. This may be beneficial from the perspective of a market-driven economy, but detrimental, especially in high-need or low-supply regions or fields of care. Say, for example, that a poorly-reviewed doctor is the only one available within 50 miles. Patients and practitioners will expect a public health leader to provide helpful advice without ruining someone's business.
  • Patient Independence: As the functionality of mobile devices grow, patients will increasingly be able to acquire data about themselves without visiting a doctor. This will prove enormously useful in conducting empirical studies. On the other hand, patients cannot be necessarily trusted to provide true or accurate information, and there may also be a barrier of motivation, time and self-esteem preventing some patients from using these options. Patients may also draw incorrect conclusions and, as described earlier, develop a false sense of confidence regarding their self-sufficiency. Public health leaders will need to closely monitor trends in this field and provide pre-emptive guidance and tutoring, keeping in mind that withholding information may encourage distrust of health officials