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HLTH 260: Health Literacy and Communication: Ethical Use of Information

Consuming information of an ethical manner

For college-level research, you'll want to consider using only the highest-quality information sources you can find. Between the internet and SU’s library, the “best” information can depend on the assignment. 

A rough guide to spotting bad science

Critically Evaluate Information

Video Tutorial: Ethical Use of Information

Creating information of an ethical manner

As outlined in the work of Jurgen Habermas, there are stipulations for a communication interaction that is as free from coercion as possible. How does this relate to health promotion interventions?

  1. Stipulations as the the truth of health information
    • "Do not imply that the expertise of those who are cited in the intervention is the only legitimate authority to make the health recommendations. By implication, this could entail allowing or acknowledging alternative conceptions or engaging in a dialogue about them.

    • Avoid using jargon and technical language and relying on privileged sources of data. For example, when promoting diagnostic preventive tests, explain the risks of not taking these tests in understandable language.

    • Allow alternative ways of framing and prioritizing health issues. For example, sexual health of adolescents could be framed in different ways according to culture and social norms.

    • Ensure that the health issues that are promoted are truly relevant to the intended populations and not made to seem relevant because they are important to the interventionists. One example of this would be focusing on a particular issue when community members would prefer to look at another one, such as women’s health issues (McLeroy et al., 1995)."

  2. Stipulations as to the correctness and reliability of health information
    • "According to the stipulation of correctness, health promoters should avoid asserting certainty in their health claims when tentativeness or degrees of probability would be more accurate."
  3. Stipulations as to comprehensibility, clarity, and completeness
    • "Drawing on ethical obligations associated with equity, this stipulation points to the importance of presenting the information in a way that people with limited competencies in literacy and numeracy can understand."
  4. Stipulations as to sincerity
    • ​​"This type of obligation is particularly important when the health promotion intervention concerns members of diverse groups who may feel that they have been exploited in the past or that there are hidden agendas in the intervention that are meant to serve the purpose of others rather than themselves."
  5. Stipulation as to inclusion
    • "...the communication process should include respect for others’ point of view, beliefs, and suggestions."

Quotes from Guttman, N. (2017). Ethical issues in health promotion and communication interventions. Retrieved from