Seeking health information on the internet: lifestyle choice or bad attack of cyberchondria?
Source TitleMedia Culture and Society
PublisherSAGE PUBLICATIONS LTD
University of Melbourne Author/sLEWIS, TANIA
Document TypeJournal Article
CitationsLewis, T. (2006). Seeking health information on the internet: lifestyle choice or bad attack of cyberchondria?. MEDIA CULTURE & SOCIETY, 28 (4), pp.521-+. https://doi.org/10.1177/0163443706065027.
Access StatusThis item is currently not available from this repository
This article discusses the growing trend towards ‘lay’ people accessing information about health from the internet. Surveying the major studies of online health consumption, I argue that this phenomenon can be seen as a marker of a broader shift in focus within public health discourse and the popular media on health as an individual ‘lifestyle’ issue. Despite this cultural shift, the medical debate over online health consumption has been largely negative, viewing the internet as an unruly and unregulated space of mis-information and lay web users as potential victims of ‘cyberquackery’. In contrast to this reductive account, I discuss a qualitative study I conducted into young people's use of the internet for health material that showed they are often highly sceptical consumers of online health material. Furthermore, the study found that the kinds of health material young people access is informed by issues of social positionality or ‘health habitus’ complicating individualistic notions of lifestyle ‘choice’.
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