C40. Rice, R.E. (2004). The Internet and health communication: An overview of issues and research. In P. Lee, L. Leung & C. So (Eds.), Impact and issues in new media: Toward intelligent societies (pp. 173-204). Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press.


Health issues are becoming increasingly important for the public agenda. The same is true of new communication technologies, especially the Internet.  The intersection of these two highly significant social trends creates a rich, consequential, and challenging domain for users, health providers, researchers and policy-makers.  New communication media and information systems will likely transform the way health care is provided in at least as profound a way as did the movement of the site of health care delivery away from the barbershop.  People will be empowered to gain expert insight into their problems and assess the options available to treat them.  Diagnosis and cure will be dispensed interactively and electronically.  At the same time, there are many opportunities for incorrect, misleading, fraudulent and dangerous practices.  Serious questions also arise about the ability of those with economic, intellectual, or physical limitations to participate effectively in this new environment.  This chapter reviews the primary issues and research surrounding the use of the Internet for health communication.  The following sections review three major categories of applied and research issues: (1) Coverage and use of Internet health communication, (2) major communication issues, and (3) major industry and policy issues. 

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