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Premises of Health Communication

Health communication is grounded in contemporary theoretical premises from the larger field of communication; these premises have implications for health communication practice in health care and promotion. These premises are that health communication is not a panacea; instead, it provides a message- and meaning-centered theoretical approach, includes formal and informal communication contexts, includes messages that influence health both intentionally and unintentionally, and reflects a social systems approach. In addition, communication that is interdependent with health performs both instrumental and constitutive functions.

It is not a panacea. Health communication often focuses exclusively on disease prevention and health promotion and thereby may promote health communication as a panacea (i.e., serves solely “positive” purposes). Communication also may function to “promote disease” by promoting risk taking (e.g., tobacco product advertising) ...

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