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Moving from information transfer to information exchange in health and health care


  • Lee, Renée Gravois
  • Garvin, Theresa


Communication in most health and health care settings assumes that information provision is both necessary and sufficient to improve individual behavior and, subsequently, health. This paper examines and challenges commonly accepted practices of information transmission in health settings, demonstrating how such practices are insufficient because they are rooted in a one-way model of information transfer. Three case studies show how this model is pervasive in different health and health care milieus: patient/provider encounters, health promotion programs, and national health policymaking. Drawing on critical theoretical perspectives, the work shows the limits of current information transfer approaches by critiquing the dominant assumptions that underpin current practice. At the same time, it provides empirical examples of the usefulness of critical approaches to identify relations of power in health communication. The paper concludes by suggesting that researchers and practitioners move beyond traditional practices of information transfer (based on a one-way monologue) and toward a more useful and appropriate notion of information exchange (based on two-way dialogue).

Suggested Citation

  • Lee, Renée Gravois & Garvin, Theresa, 2003. "Moving from information transfer to information exchange in health and health care," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 56(3), pages 449-464, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:56:y:2003:i:3:p:449-464

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Miller, Douglas L. & Paxson, Christina, 2006. "Relative income, race, and mortality," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(5), pages 979-1003, September.
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    3. Victor R. Fuchs & Mark B. McClellan & Jonathan S. Skinner, 2004. "Area Differences in Utilization of Medical Care and Mortality among U.S. Elderly," NBER Chapters,in: Perspectives on the Economics of Aging, pages 367-414 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Christopher J. Ruhm, 2000. "Are Recessions Good for Your Health?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(2), pages 617-650.
    5. Alberto Alesina & Reza Baqir & William Easterly, 1999. "Public Goods and Ethnic Divisions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(4), pages 1243-1284.
    6. Michael Grossman, 1976. "The Correlation between Health and Schooling," NBER Chapters,in: Household Production and Consumption, pages 147-224 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Jennifer M. Mellor & Jeffrey Milyo, 1999. "Re-Examining the Evidence of an Ecological Association between Income Inequality and Health," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 9922, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
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    10. David A. Jaeger & Susanna Loeb & Sarah E. Turner & John Bound, 1998. "Coding Geographic Areas Across Census Years: Creating Consistent Definitions of Metropolitan Areas," NBER Working Papers 6772, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ferlie, Ewan & Crilly, Tessa & Jashapara, Ashok & Peckham, Anna, 2012. "Knowledge mobilisation in healthcare: A critical review of health sector and generic management literature," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 74(8), pages 1297-1304.
    2. Bezner Kerr, Rachel & Dakishoni, Laifolo & Shumba, Lizzie & Msachi, Rodgers & Chirwa, Marko, 2008. ""We Grandmothers Know Plenty": Breastfeeding, complementary feeding and the multifaceted role of grandmothers in Malawi," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 66(5), pages 1095-1105, March.
    3. Reavley, Nicola & Livingston, Jenni & Buchbinder, Rachelle & Bennell, Kim & Stecki, Chris & Osborne, Richard Harry, 2010. "A systematic grounded approach to the development of complex interventions: The Australian WorkHealth Program - Arthritis as a case study," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 70(3), pages 342-350, February.


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