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Journal: Health communication


By integrating the simplicial model of social aggregation with existing research on opinion leadership and diffusion networks, this article introduces the constructs of simplicial diffusers (mathematically defined as nodes embedded in simplexes; a simplex is a socially bonded cluster) and simplicial diffusing sets (mathematically defined as minimal covers of a simplicial complex; a simplicial complex is a social aggregation in which socially bonded clusters are embedded) to propose a strategic approach for information diffusion of cancer screenings as a health intervention on Facebook for community cancer prevention and control. This approach is novel in its incorporation of interpersonally bonded clusters, culturally distinct subgroups, and different united social entities that coexist within a larger community into a computational simulation to select sets of simplicial diffusers with the highest degree of information diffusion for health intervention dissemination. The unique contributions of the article also include seven propositions and five algorithmic steps for computationally modeling the simplicial model with Facebook data.

Concepts: Sociology, Topology, Topological space, Simplex, Algebraic topology, Polytope, Simplicial complex, Simplicial set


In view of a growing interest in argumentative discourse in the context of patient-centered consultation and shared decision making, this article explores the role that argumentation has been attributed in the literature on doctor-patient consultation so far. It studies to what extent theories and concepts of argumentation have been applied by scholars from various fields in order to analyze, understand, facilitate, and improve the argumentative nature of medical consultation. It reports on an extensive and systematic literature search-using eight online databases, expert suggestions, and a manual search-and the subsequent evaluation of 1,330 abstracts on the basis of strict inclusion and exclusion criteria. Forty relevant scientific contributions are grouped into four main categories and discussed accordingly: (a) argumentation theory, (b) discourse analysis, © medical informatics, and (d) medical ethics. Because of its systematic approach, this study forms a solid starting point for further integration of argumentation theoretical insights into contemporary views of patient-centered medicine and evidence-based medicine. It provides suggestions for further interdisciplinary and theory-driven research with a strong focus on empirical reality. Doing so, a preliminary model is proposed that outlines the potential effects of the quality of doctors' communication on proximal, intermediate, and long-term consultation outcomes.

Concepts: Scientific method, Systematic review, Debate, Science, Anthropology, Theory, Medical informatics, Argument map


A key concern on college campuses is how to help students avoid negative outcomes related to alcohol use. One way to address this is to encourage students to intervene when they see others engaged in high-risk behavior. This approach, referred to as bystander intervention, requires that individuals seek to influence others; however, research on bystander intervention has not explored how students communicate when they intervene. Drawing from a multiple goals perspective, we examined individuals' goals during intervention, the types of messages individuals use to intervene, and the relationship of design logic to sense of efficacy and messages used. Participants (n = 212) identified their goals and indicated what they would say to intervene in two college-drinking scenarios. We found that differences in goals were related to the types of messages used, with more specific goals leading to messages better aligned with achieving those goals. Additionally, more sophisticated design logic was related to a higher sense of efficacy and was reflected in the types of messages individuals used to intervene. The study views bystander intervention as an influence process and highlights the communicative challenges that can impact how people intervene.

Concepts: University, Intervention, Communication, Message, Bystander effect


Although television medical dramas have been popular for a long time and have delivered health- and medical-related information to audiences, few studies have focused on audience’s view. This study explores motives for and consequences of viewing medical dramas from the uses and gratifications (U&G) perspective. A survey identified college students' motives toward medical drama viewing and the relationship of the motives with individuals' health information orientation, audience activity (selectivity, attention, involvement), and their use of health information learned from the dramas. Although viewers' primary motive for viewing medical drama was not to gather health information, only health information motive, among all motives, directly predicted use of health information from medical dramas. Viewers' entertainment-related motives toward medical drama viewing indirectly and positively predicted use of information in the dramas via involvement with those dramas, and indirectly and negatively via attention to the story in those dramas. Theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed.

Concepts: Health care, Entertainment, Drama, Audience, Motive, Medical drama, Theatre, View


As nurses' communication is essential to prevent, intercept, and resolve medical mistakes, it is important to understand how they learn to communicate about medical errors. In this study, we identify memorable messages about communicating about mistakes that nursing students receive during their training and how they make sense of these messages. Data were acquired through individual interviews with 68 nursing students. The data were analyzed using a thematic constant comparative method. While open and honest communication about medical errors was the overarching message participants formally and informally learned, for nursing students, communicating about medical errors is a much more complex process than using open and honest communication. When dealing with medical errors, nursing students relied on three major memorable messages to guide their communication: (a) Not everyone hears about errors, (b) hierarchy matters, and © passive communication is the best way to interrupt or report an error.

Concepts: Education, Sociology, Error, Communication, Message, Visual communication, Graphic communication, Mistake


This study investigated the interactive effects of attitudinal ambivalence and health message framing on persuading people to eat less junk food. Within the heuristic-systematic model of information processing, an attitudinal ambivalence (ambivalent or univalent toward eating junk food) by health message framing (advantage- or disadvantage-framed appeals) between-subjects experiment was conducted to explore a cognitive resource-matching effect and the underlying mediation processes. Ambivalent individuals reported a higher level of cognitive elaboration than univalent individuals did. The disadvantage frame engendered more extensive cognitive elaboration than the advantage frame did. Ambivalent individuals were more persuaded by the disadvantage frame and, for them, cognitive elaboration mediated the persuasion process via the systematic route. Univalent individuals were equally persuaded by the advantage frame and the disadvantage frame and, for them, neither the perceived frame valence nor cognitive elaboration mediated persuasion. Discussion of the null results among the univalent group leads to a response-reinforcement explanation. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.

Concepts: Nutrition, Eating, Cognition, Regulatory Focus Theory, Valence, Persuasion


Health knowledge and behavior can be shaped by the extent to which individuals have access to reliable and understandable health information. Based on data from a population-based telephone survey of 1,503 respondents of ages 18 years and older living in Douglas County, Nebraska, in 2013, this study assesses disparities in health information access and their related covariates. The two most frequently reported sources of health information are the Internet and health professionals, followed by print media, peers, and broadcast media. Relative to non-Hispanic Whites, Blacks are more likely to report health professionals as their primary source of health information (odds ratio [OR] = 2.61, p < .001) and less likely to report peers (OR = 0.39, p < .05). A comparison between Whites and Hispanics suggests that Hispanics are less likely to get their health information through the Internet (OR = 0.51, p < .05) and more likely to get it from broadcast media (OR = 4.27, p < .01). Relative to their counterparts, participants with no health insurance had significantly higher odds of reporting no source of health information (OR = 3.46, p < .05). Having no source of health information was also associated with an annual income below $25,000 (OR = 2.78, p < .05 compared to middle income range) and being born outside of the United States (OR = 5.00, p < .05). Access to health information is lowest among society's most vulnerable population groups. Knowledge of the specific outlets through which people are likely to obtain health information can help health program planners utilize the communication channels that are most relevant to the people they intend to reach.

Concepts: Health care, Epidemiology, United States, Report, Odds ratio, Communication, Household income in the United States, Broadcasting


As the interest in graphic medicine grows, health communicators have started engaging readers with compelling visual and textual accounts of health and illness, including via comic books. One context where comics have shown promise is cancer communication. This brief report presents an early example of graphic medicine developed by the American Cancer Society. “Ladies … Wouldn’t It Be Better to Know?” is a comic book produced in the 1960s to provide the public with lay information about the Pap test for cervical cancer prevention and detection. An analysis of a key narrative attribute, plot development, illustrates the central role that perceived barriers played in this midcentury public health message, a component that remains a consideration of cancer communication design today. This case study of an early graphic narrative identifies promising cancer message features that can be used to address and refute barriers to cervical cancer screening and connects contemporary research with historical efforts in public health communication.

Concepts: Cancer, American Cancer Society, Plot, Comic strip, Comics, Graphic novel, Comic book, The Beano


The American public is increasingly concerned about risks associated with food additives like high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). To promote its product as safe, the Corn Refiners Association (CRA) employed two forms of straw-person arguments. First, the CRA opportunistically misrepresented HFCS opposition as inept. Second, the CRA strategically chose to refute claims that were easier to defeat while remaining ambiguous about more complex points of contention. We argue that CRA’s discursive contributions represented unreasonable yet sustainable use of straw-person arguments in debates surrounding health and risk.

Concepts: Starch, Food additive, Argumentation theory, High-fructose corn syrup, Corn syrup, Sweeteners, Fallacy, Syrup


We narrate our personal journey through the political minefield that is postpartum crisis by examining our communicative strategies across friendship, research partnership and as mothers on social media platforms. In a country with the highest postpartum maternal death rate in the industrialized world, we argue sharing narratives is a radical feminist act and one that must continue to draw attention to marginalized bodies. We hope to elevate the study of communication challenges mothers may experience for personal and political reasons.