Communication and Health
Communication in the area of health is consistently a central concern for policy makers, economists, and academics. Switzerland, along with other countries in Europe and North America, has confronted crises ranging from public debates around avian flu, obesity, and human genetic research to concerns about appropriate communication in different health settings. The media plays a key role in each of these debates and the importance of the provider-patient interaction is an ever-growing concern in the provision of quality health care. Increasingly, the key question in relation to communication and health is how to maximize health outcomes through optimal communication. Thus, researchers who examine the impact of communication on health and health care delivery are privileged to focus upon processes of fundamental human import. In order to address the growing need for experts in the field of communication and health, we propose the creation of a doctoral school, Pro*Doc Communication & Health, that is focused on communication and health research. Four Swiss research groups will be involved in the program: University Lugano, Institute of Communication & Health of the Faculty of Communication sciences and the Center for Organizational Research of the Faculty of Economics, University Neuchatel–Institut de Psychologie du Travail et des Organisations, and University Zurich–Institute of Mass Communication and Media Research. The doctoral school will also be associated with the Center for Marketing and Consumer Health, Virginia Tech, USA. Together, these groups seek to integrate communication, psychological, social marketing and organizational research to better understand communication and health issues and to maximize health outcomes. The proposed Communication & Health doctoral school will ensure that young researchers have the opportunity to focus on and advance this rapidly developing and multi-disciplinary field, contributing to an understanding of how health outcomes can be maximized through optimal communication in the context of both mediated and mass communication as well as direct interpersonal communication. Factors affecting communication effectiveness operating at both the macro (social, cultural and organizational) level as well as the micro (individual and dyadic) level will form critical foci.