Health and (media) consumption: possibilities for better patient engagement?

Presentation abstract

I will explain and discuss the health-related behaviour of people from the viewpoint of media and consumer culture. The empirical research shows significant social differentiation across generations and education in the perceived health norms among Estonian population. Younger, female and educated have internalized the positive health approach and take active pre-emptive care of one’s health. This pattern of thinking and relevant lifestyle is related to higher consumerism and to the perceived normality of medical pluralism i.e. legitimacy of alternative and complementary methods. Another pattern can be characterized by doctor-centered health approach what means giving authority to medical experts and low readiness to take preventive measures (healthy eating, moving, etc.) as well as rejection of medical pluralism and diversity. This pattern is statistically more common to older people, men, and Russian-speaking respondents. The talk will discuss the norms for self-care, growing individual autonomy and consumer logic in health affairs that pave the way to integrative medicine and patient engagement.

Brief biography

Triin Vihalemm is Professor of communication research in University of Tartu. Her researcher profile is sociology of communication with a focus on the role of communication in social change processes. She is known for her publications about collective identity and post-Soviet transition culture. Her recent works concern mediation and change of consumption, health and environment-related practices. Her favourite approach is to start the analysis from the prism of people’s mundane, everyday habits and routines and gradually move towards the underlying nexuses of social norms, cultural symbols, material environment and sanctions that coordinate the social practices. She has participated, as a leader or team member, in several national and international projects analysing the interventions and communication programs. She holds trustee positions such as member of Estonian Public Service Ethics Committee and Vice President of Estonian Sociologists’ Association. Vihalemm has also good experience with applied research projects devoted to the social innovation and communication and she is working within novel practice theory-based approach as an alternative to the individual behavior-centered awareness-raising programs. She has been visiting research fellow at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies.