Judith Turnbull University of Modena and Reggio Emilia ”Online health information for the elderly.”


The aim of this paper is to investigate how health information and advice is communicated to the elderly on the Internet, which can be considered one of the main sources of information nowadays, even for the older generations. Recent studies have shown that there is a worryingly low level of health literacy among the elderly. As a consequence, the quality of health information made available to the public is of utmost importance. The analysis is made using a theoretical framework that takes into consideration both the cognitive and communicative dimensions of knowledge transfer, as well as the use of multimodality. The cognitive aspects cover the strategies adopted to explain ‘technical’ information to the reader, as for example through the use of definitions, examples, scenarios, metaphor in order to facilitate understanding, whilst the communicative strategies aim to establish a relationship of trust between the addresser and addressee. The study will also consider the role of lay knowledge.

Keywords: health information, the elderly, technical knowledge, advice giving.

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