Health on the Internet: implications for health promotion

Autor: Peter Korp

Abstract: 

The aim of this article is to discuss the implications of health on the Internet for health promotion, focusing in particular on the concept of empowerment. Empowering aspects of health on the Internet include the enabling of advanced information and knowledge retrieval, anonymity and convenience in accessing information, creation of social contacts and support independent of time and space, and challenging the expert–lay actor relationship. The disempowering aspects of health on the Internet are that it involves a shift towards the expert control and evaluation of sources of health information, that it widens the gap between ‘information-rich’ and ‘information-poor’ users, thus reproducing existing social divisions, and that the increase in medicalization and healthism results in increased anxiety and poorer health. The health promotive and empowering strategies presented in this article are directed at strengthening people’s ability to evaluate different information sources in relation to their own interests and needs rather than in relation to scientific and/or professional standards.

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