Conceptual Understanding in the Domain of Health

Authored by: David R. Kaufman , Alla Keselman , Vimla L. Patel

International Handbook of Research on Conceptual Change

Print publication date:  June  2013
Online publication date:  July  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415898829
eBook ISBN: 9780203154472
Adobe ISBN: 9781136578212


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Of all scientific disciplines, knowledge related to health sciences arguably has the greatest bearing on the daily lives of individuals. In sickness and in health, we are health consumers, regardless of our occupation, demographics characteristics and social status. As we make routine decisions about nutrition, exercise, immunization, as well as non-routine decisions about medical treatment options, we implicitly and explicitly draw upon our health knowledge. The active role of health consumers is becoming widely recognized by health care organizations and policy makers. The objective of many consumer health initiatives is to empower health consumers and enable them to act as partners in their health care (Hack, Degner, Parker, & The SCRN Communication Team, 2005). Unfortunately, lack of knowledge and a non-normative understanding of health concepts present a barrier to achieving this goal. The emphasis on educated health consumerism creates new obligations and opportunities for science and health education, and requires a good understanding of lay health knowledge and its relationship to reasoning and decision making.

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