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Gretchen Berland is one of my heroes, so I was thrilled when she asked me to give a guest lecture at Yale. Then I read the syllabus for “Media & Medicine in Modern America.” It’s too cool to keep to myself…

The organizing themes for the course include:

(1) Who created and disseminated health information, and how was that information communicated to the public?  How and why have particular audiences been targeted by gender, age, race, ethnicity, region, and class?

(2) How did a symbiotic, sometimes adversarial relationship emerge between two of the most successful industries of the twentieth-century—medicine and the media?  What have been the changing patterns of collaboration and conflict?  And what have been the consequences of this partnership for the public’s health?

(3)  How have organizations with competing agendas used the media to promote their economic, political, and social interests?

(4) How has the mass media shaped cultural representations of physicians, biomedical researchers, health, and disease, as well as health-related public debates and political controversies?  How have media portrayals shaped public expectation of medicine and perceptions of the medical profession?  And how has the media influenced perceptions of health and illness by the medical community?

Readings for this week:

*Pauline W. Chen, “Medicine in the Age of Twitter,” New York Times (June 11, 2009).

Carleen Hawn, “Take Two Aspirin and Tweet Me in the Morning: How Twitter. Facebook, And Other Social Media Are Reshaping Health Care,” Health Affairs 28 (2009): 361-368.

*Susannah Fox and Sydney Jones, “The Social Life of Health Information: Americans’ Pursuit of Health Takes Place within a Widening Network of both Online and Offline Sources,” Pew Internet & American Life Project (June 2009), pp.1-72.

*Sachin H. Jain, “Practicing Medicine in the Age of Facebook,” New England Journal of Medicine 361 (2009): 649-651.

Leslie Beard, Kumanan Wilson, Dante Morra, and Jennifer Keelan, “A Survey of Health-Related Activities on Second Life,” Journal of Medical Internet Research 11 (2009): e17.

Websites of Interest (review of these sites not required, but each may serve as a research reference)

Suggestions welcome in the comments for what else these undergrads should read – and what I should tell them!


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