Symposium Workshop

Expanding Horizons in Health Communication: Symposium and Workshop

19th January 2018

On 19th January 2018, the International Research Centre for the Advancement of Health Communication (IRCAHC) at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University proudly hosted a symposium to celebrate the renaming of the Centre and to introduce its renewed research agenda. The “Expanding Horizons in Health Communication” symposium attracted healthcare professionals, researchers and students in the fields of medical, social and human sciences. The symposium was followed by a practical workshop on 20th January that introduced an analytic software program (Discursis) to attendees.

Highlights of the first day included three keynote presentations and a discussion facilitated by Professor Bernadette Watson, Director of IRCAHC, and the Centre’s advisory committee.

Professor Janice Krieger, Professor and Director of the STEM Translational Communication Centre at the University of Florida, discussed the complexity of translating scientific knowledge into everyday health practices and behaviours. Professor Krieger used her rich research experience to emphasize the importance of social and cultural contexts in health research and the translation of knowledge into behaviours. Her presentation highlighted the importance of understanding these challenges and complexities when designing research.

Dr Wendy Wong, a registered Chinese Medicine Practitioner and Assistant Professor of the School of Chinese Medicine at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, discussed the complexities involved in communication across Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Western Medicine (WM) for both patients and clinicians. Dr Wong emphasised the need for the respective philosophies of care to be better understood to facilitate an exchange of information and the provision of safe and integrative care for patients. 

Dr Daniel Angus, Senior Lecturer in the School of Communication and Arts at the University of Queensland, introduced an innovative software program he co-developed called Discursis. Discursis is a computer-based visual text analytic tool for analysing communication data and has been used to with data in a number of languages. 

The facilitated discussion followed the presentations. Led by Professor Watson and the IRCAHC advisory committee, attendees were engaged in exchanging ideas on the development of research in health communication and exciting opportunities for collaboration at IRCAHC. 

The second day involved a workshop led by Dr Angus. At the workshop Dr Angus distributed the Discursis software and provided a hands-on training session on how to use the program. 

Dr Daniel Angus presented the basic principles underlying Discursis, along with its strengths and limitations in aiding discourse analysis. He also showed how conversations could be presented visually, and the kinds of information that could be gleaned quickly to characterise the conversation. Together with workshop attendees he worked through a number of examples from popular Australian television interview programs. Our attendees also brought their own datasets to explore some of the more advanced features of the software. They found the tool a particularly good way to reveal the interactional patterns and temporal dynamics that are crucial to effective healthcare communication. 

This two-day event was truly interdisciplinary and stimulating with attendees coming from various professional backgrounds across the fields of communication, medicine and technology. This diversity of expertise offered all participants the chance to learn from each other, contribute to discussions, and rethink health communication concepts and methods to analyse health conversations.

IRCAHC is going to organize similar events in future and we are looking forward to having more professional practitioners, researchers and people with a general interest in health communication to join us!