The purpose of this project, starting september 2018, is to gain more insights into the health-related information behavior of young and senior elderly. To do so, forty semi-structured interviews were conducted within the group of 50-80-year-olds. The interviews contain information on the sources that people use to search for and to scan health information but also on which sources they avoid. Next to that, the concept of trust and understanding of acquired health information was raised during the interviews.
This dissertation’s principal message is that the production of health news should not be interpreted as a linear translation of specific, often very technical, scientific information from the world of biomedicine to a wide audience. In this interpretation, journalists assume the role of “translators” who convert the language of science into understandable “lay terms”. Nevertheless, journalists are often criticized by biomedical professionals for being bad translators. Apparently, there seems to be some kind of mismatch between journalism and science.
This research line aims to chart the organizations that are active in the broad field of health issues in Flanders. The emphasis is on the political-economic and institutional relations between a well-designed set of stakeholders.
Secondly, it explores the discourses on health problems as articulated by these various interest groups. Applying a political economy analysis, a stakeholder mapping technique, and a series of elite interviews, the objective is to analyze shifts in public relation and communication practices of the stakeholders with regard to health-related discourses and the underlying political economic structures.
The second line of research focuses on the (production) lifecycle of news stories on health issues as they travel back and forth among the stakeholders.
In particular, taking a case-oriented, multi-sited linguistic ethnographic approach, it sets out to investigate the complex discursive practices and professional routines that determine the dissemination and uptake of specific pieces of health information.
The objective is to see if the news story lifecycles constitute a linear industry-driven process, or if there are more complex recursive patterns of critical recontextualization at work.