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What is Health
“Bad habits are easier to abandon today than tomorrow.”
-Yiddish proverb
Overview of Class
• Definition of Health
• Difference between disease and illness*
• What is communication?
• Assumptions of communication
• Definition of Health Communication
• Examine aspects of various definitions*
• What can health communication NOT do*
• Health Information Presentation
• About assignment
What is Health?
• Find a partner
• Describe what health is to this partner
• While your partner is talking, take notes
What is Health?
• Aspects of Health
Social well-being
• Process of Health
• Absence of disease or pain?
• Continuous process?
Health Definitions
• “Health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”
• World Health Organization, 2006
• Criticism: Does health = happiness? Is this definition too broad?
• Discussion Question: What is the difference between health and
Health Definitions
• “Ideally, health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social
well-being. However, health is more commonly experienced as the
absence of physical, mental, social disease, or illness and should
be considered a basic, universal human right.”
• Book definition, p. 16
• Discussion Question: Is health a basic, human right? Why or why
A key concept in health communication is the
difference between disease and illness.
Sharf & Vanderford (2003)
Disease refers to the physical
manifestations of a condition.
Sharf & Vanderford (2003)
Illness encompasses the physical, emotional, social,
communicative, and psychological experience.
Sharf & Vanderford (2003)
What is Communication?
• DQ: What are some aspects of communication that might be in a
Assumptions of Communication
• Meanings are in people, not in words
• Communication is a process
• Communication is a transactional process
• Communication is the relationship
• Most communication is nonverbal
• Effective communication skills are learned
Health Communication Definitions
• What is your definition of health communication?
• “Health communication is the multifaceted study and use of
effective, ethical approaches to share information and motivate
audiences at the individual, organization, and community levels
about health issues and decisions that enhance health”
• Book definition, p. 25
Aspects of Health Communication
• To inform and influence (individual and community decisions)
• Motivating individuals
• Change behaviors
• Increase knowledge and understanding of health-related issues
• Empower people
• Exchange, interchange of information, two-way dialogue
Schiavo (2007)
What Health Com CANNOT do
• Replace lack of infrastructure, capability, or money
• Compensate for lack of adequate treatment, diagnosis, or
preventative options
• Be equally effective in relaying all messages or addressing all
• Health Communication ≠ Health Behavior
• Teach you everything you need to know about health and being
Schiavo (2007)
Health Com as nexus is the belief that health
communication serves as a crucial linking pin
between various areas of health.
Health Information Presentation
• Due:
• Topic by Jan 20th
• Presentations on Jan 27th & Jan 29th
• 6-8 minute presentation
• Pick a health issue
• Describe the health issue, it’s physical, mental/emotional, and social
• Common experiences of those with this illness
• Role of communication in the illness experience
• Information posted on Canvas
Take Away Points
• Definition of: Health, Illness, Disease
• What are the communication assumptions we are making for this
• What are the aspects of health communication definitions?
• What can health communication not do? Be able to recognize an
example of when health communication cannot solve a problem.