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 Assoc Prof Rob Cover from the School of Social Sciences said that “…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
- the utility of built environments and communication around the cognitive and physical benefits of activity across the lifespan are key.
Prof 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.