Unwritten rules, the health information activities of African and Chinese populations living in the west of Scotland

  • Kirsty Elizabeth Henderson

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    In industrialised societies Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) populations continue to battle against a rising tide of health inequalities that disproportionally affect their communities. To succeed, academics, policy-makers and public health providers need to fully understand the deep-seeded roots of health inequalities; to put into context the barriers facing people with varying heritage and cultural backgrounds. This research recognises information is a privileged commodity and a vital part in the fight to overcome health inequalities. Essentially this PhD presents a unique window into the health information activities of African and Chinese populations by exploring the varying routes through which ethnic identity continually shapes health information seeking and sharing. To achieve this, a pragmatic mixed methods approach was employed. Data was collected from 117 self-completion questionnaires, while ethnographic material was gathered from 36 semi-structured interviews and participant observation exercises spread over 7 months. The works of Sociologist Goffman (1959; 1963) and Information Scientist Chatman (1996) provide theoretical frameworks for data analysis and comparison in this research. Key findings recognise that for both BME communities health information seeking and sharing activities occur within cultural systems and social networks. Participants' perceptions of health ownership, stigma, privacy, and trust reinforce constraints around health information disclosure as well as seeking and sharing activities. Yet, findings also suggest that certain obstacles could be overcome with the assistance of information technology. eHealth (electronic healthcare delivery) offers settings whereby users could temporarily lift themselves out of information poverty and attain culturally sensitive health information. However, in order to achieve greater eHealth uptake developers need to work in conjunction with BME community organisations to raise awareness, build trust and relevance whilst encouraging the development of eHealth literacy skills.
    Date of Award18 Sep 2015
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University Of Strathclyde
    SupervisorColin Clark (Supervisor) & Ian Ruthven (Supervisor)

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