May saw some 63 delegates and researchers in population health, medical humanities, medical education, health sociology, health communication and cultural studies from Australia, South Africa, Ghana and New Zealand come together to share current research and best practice in the health care communication space.
The two day symposium was funded by a Worldwide Universities Network Research Development Fund. The project lead, Associate Professor Rob Cover from the School of Social Sciences, said, “The symposium was aiming to build interdisciplinary relationships both across the University and internationally to aid intervention, practice and policy advice in this very significant area.”
A round table discussion at the conclusion of the symposium identified key principles arising from the work presented. These included:
- The need for social scientists and health professionals to work together to influence policy development;
- The importance of community engagement and ownership if heath care communication programmes are to be successful;
- The utility of social media platforms for health care communications to be considered amongst a suite of communication strategies rather than in isolation; and
- The utility of built environments and communication around the cognitive and physical benefits of activity across the lifespan are key.
Professor Sandra Carr from the School of Allied Health added that, “Enhancing the collaborations between social sciences and health could not only lead to research and practice opportunities but meaningful education and training experiences in the health professions.”
A second symposium focusing on engaging with industry and the health sector will be offered on December 10 and 11. More information about the project is available from ComHealth@gmail.com.
Fittingly, the Faculty is introducing a new major – Humanities in Health and Medicine* – that will be offered as part of the Bachelor of Biomedical Science from 2019.
Humanities in Health and Medicine will be offered as an interdisciplinary, humanistic and cultural study of health, illness, health care, and the human body, mind and spirit. In order to be effective, health care professionals need to understand not only the workings of the body from a scientific perspective, but also to know how people and societies function, and the art and science of caring for people.
Professor Carr said, “This major will balance the educational experience for students where arts and humanities subjects will help prepare them for a degree in health.”
“Any student already planning a career in medicine, dentistry or as a health professional, in health care policy, psychology, public health, social work, patient advocacy, or health journalism will benefit from completing this major.”
The major will be available for students undertaking a Bachelor degree in Biomedical Science and is a collaboration between the Schools of Medicine and Allied Health.
* This is a new major and course content may be subject to change.