Health communication research in europe: An emerging field

Peter J. Schulz, Uwe Hartung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


There are at least five aspects that can serve as indicators of the establishment of a scholarly discipline: (a) the existence of journals devoted to the field, (b) the existence of scholarly associations, (c) the creation of departments, institutes, and academic positions by universities, (d) the foundation of study programs, and (e) the publication of textbooks. If these criteria are applied, health communication has been an established discipline in the United States for years. As to journals, Health Communication has entered its third decade last year-its first issue appeared in 1989, and the celebration of its 100th issue is the occasion for this brief review. The Journal of Health Communication entered the field 7 years later, in 1996, and the first issue of the Journal of Health & Mass Communication has just appeared. As to associations, the International Communication Association (ICA, strictly peaking not a U.S. association, but under heavy influence of U.S. scholars) has had a health communication division since 1975, with a forerunner reaching 3 years more into the past. The history of the Speech Communication Association (SCA, now the National Communication Association, NCA) health communication division reaches back to 1985. At the same time, the mid-1980s, scholarly conferences on health communication began to be held and multiplied. Teaching and study programs followed suit, as did textbooks such as Kreps and Thornton's 1984 Health Communication: Theory and Practice, Sharf's The Physician's Guide to Better Communication from the same year, and Northouse and Northouse's Health Communication: A Handbook for Professionals, published a year later (Kreps, Bonaguro, & Query, 1998). So the 1980s are the decade that witnessed the establishment of an academic field called "health communication" in the United States. The situation in Europe was different, and still is. Although the field of health communication has gained profile in Europe also, it still is, if the preceding criteria are applied, in its infant stage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)548-551
Number of pages4
JournalHealth Communication
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2010


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