Health education and computer technology: The qualitative method of phenomenology and identified experts
Janet Roberta Hurley, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, United States
Southern Illinois University at Carbondale . Awarded
The purpose of the study was to describe the influence, impact, and implications of computer technology in health education as experienced by identified health education computer technology experts. Computer technology is defined as technologies such as listservs, databases, video/audio streaming, web based instruction, and development of web sites, CD ROMs, and software. The qualitative research methodology used to conduct this study was phenomenology in the tradition of Merleau-Ponty. Key in the data analysis were the description, reduction, and interpretation of data in order to produce a cohesive definition of the experience of health education computer technology. Participants were identified health education computer technology experts and numbered in total, ten. These experts were identified by elected health education association leaders, HEDIR technology award recipients, and on the recommendation of the dissertation advisor. Each participant completed a demographic survey and an interview either by phone or in person. These interviews were audio tape recorded and ranged in length from 50 minutes to 2 hours and 20 minutes. Each transcript was transcribed and coded into the interview protocol categories. In the phenomenological process of description, these coded quotes were pared down to comprehensible units and reported as the results. Next, reduction occurred through a further distillation of the quotes. Finally, the quotes were reduced to a fundamental state and transformed into the experience of computer technology in health education in the interpretation. Computer technology in health education is “one tool of many possible tools” that health educators may keep in their “arsenal,” giving health educators a choice in the way of tools to use and having “the capacity to increase the capacity of health educators to do whatever they want.” This tool of computer technology aids in informational purposes, “interacting,” “improv[ing] job performance,” “promot[ing] health education,” “organiz[ing],” and “solv[ing] problems.” The current state of computer technology in health education is seen as both positive and negative. While some health educators integrate computer technology into their health education practice, many still have not. These experts use health education computer technology for web based instruction, communicating with colleagues, and computer tailoring. Influential health education computer technologies have been the Internet, the HEDIR, and computer tailoring. The future of health education computer technology is unclear given the low acceptance of computer technology in health education; however, it has great potential. In order to influence the growing market of health information, health educators must become involved with developing innovative health education programs which meet the needs of the end users. Ways to incorporate computer technology into health education included helping colleagues learn about health education computer technology by giving them a “nudge” to forming a national research agenda in which health education computer technology is a subset. Finally, a technology savvy health educator is someone who has “vision,” is “open-minded,” “highly skilled,” “flexible,” “adaptable,” “patient,” “a little bit adventurous,” a “problem solver,” and a risk-taker.
Hurley, J.R. Health education and computer technology: The qualitative method of phenomenology and identified experts. Ph.D. thesis, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.
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