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Nov 13, 2012 Article
Towards delivering e-health education using Public Internet Terminals (PIT) systems in rural communities in South Africa

by Alfred Coleman

This paper investigated the potential of the Public Internet Terminal (PIT) system to promote basic health education for two rural communities in the North West Province of South Africa. A case study approach was used. Participants were selected from a population group of teachers, nurses, business people and  students in the two communities. Observation, group interviews and questionnaire were used to gather evidence from the participants regarding their  operational difficulties, social/economic difficulties and perceived usefulness of using the PIT system for basic health education. The findings revealed that a high number of participants could not operate the PIT system to search for relevant health information. Participants cited reasons of information overload and slow response of the PIT system. Further findings revealed that many participants lack awareness of the PIT services in these post offices. Participants  indicated that the PIT system lacks local content specific information such as healthcare information on vaccination, personal hygiene, nutrition and pharmacies around their vicinities. The results from this study led to the recommendations which emphasized the incorporation of basic e-health education portal into the existing services on the PIT system and proposed a new user interface for the PIT.

Volume 11 • Issue 04 • 2012

Jun 21, 2012 Article
A step-by-step approach for science communication practitioners: a design perspective

by Maarten van der Sanden and Frans J. Meijman

Science communication processes are complex and uncertain. Designing and managing these processes using a step-by-step approach, allows those with science communication responsibility to manoeuvre between moral or normative issues, practical experiences, empirical data and theoretical foundations. The tool described in this study is an evidence-based questionnaire, tested in practice for feasibility. The key element of this decision aid is a challenge to the science communication practitioners to reflect on their attitudes, knowledge, reasoning and decision-making in a step-by-step manner to question the aim, function and impact of each issue and attendant communication process or strategy. This approach eventually leads to more professional science communication processes by systematic design. The Design-Based Research (DBR) derived from science education and applied in this study, may form a new methodology for further exploration of the gap between theory and practice in science communication and. Practitioners, scholars, and researchers all participate actively in DBR.

Volume 11 • Issue 02 • 2012

Mar 02, 2010 Article
The public production and sharing of medical information. An Australian perspective

by Henry C.H. Ko

There is a wealth of medical information now available to the public through various sources that are not necessarily controlled by medical or healthcare professionals. In Australia there has been a strong movement in the health consumer arena of consumer-led sharing and production of medical information and in healthcare decision-making. This has led to empowerment of the public as well as increased knowledge-sharing. There are some successful initiatives and strategies on consumer- and public-led sharing of medical information, including the formation of specialised consumer groups, independent medical information organisations, consumer peer tutoring, and email lists and consumer networking events. With well-organised public initiatives and networks, there tends to be fairly balanced information being shared. However, there needs to be caution about the use of publicly available scientific information to further the agenda of special-interest groups and lobbying groups to advance often biased and unproven opinions or for scaremongering. With the adoption of more accountability of medical research, and the increased public scrutiny of private and public research, the validity and quality of medical information reaching the public is achieving higher standards.

Volume 9 • Issue 01 • 2010 • Special Issue

Dec 21, 2005 Editorial
Pandemic: how to avoid panic?

by Pietro Greco

The tsunami that took place on 26th December 2004 in the Indian Ocean and hurricane Katrina, that last August struck the Mexican Gulf, are two recent natural events that turned into catastrophes for mankind, causing several thousands victims. One of the reasons behind this can be traced back to the fact that useful information in the hands of scientists and experts did not reach the right people within the right time. A crushing defeat for risk communication was witnessed in these two recent events. All the more paradoxical since we live in what we like to name “the era of communication and information”.

Volume 4 • Issue 04 • 2005