NUI Galway Health Promotion Research Centre calls for increased focus on equity in eHealth

Academics at NUI Galway’s Health Promotion Research Centre have cautioned over the impact that the digital divide may have amid increasing use of eHealth for promoting health and wellbeing.

Ahead of the 25th annual Health Promotion Conference at NUI Galway, the co-chairs of the event, Dr Victoria Hogan and Dr Jane Sixsmith, highlighted the need for ongoing research on the issue of unequal access to technology and digital information and services.

This year’s online conference – Health Promotion through eHealth: Challenges and Opportunities – is open to all, and it takes place on Thursday, 24 June 2021, between 9am and 4pm. Register online at https://col.eventsair.com/ahp2021/registration

Dr Victoria Hogan, conference co-chair, said: “Given the ubiquitous nature of digital technology in everyday life, and the increasing importance of technology for health, this is considered a priority area for both health promotion research and practice.”

Dr Jane Sixsmith, conference co-chair, said: “The increasing use of digital technology is an opportunity for the promotion of health but the challenge is the inequality in access as a result of the digital divide. As we further develop and use these technologies for health we must ensure equity of access.”
The Health Promotion Conference will be attended by Frank Feighan T.D., Minister for State at the Department of Health with responsibility for Public Health, Wellbeing and the National Drugs Strategy.
This year’s event brings together leading academics, researchers, practitioners and policymakers working with eHealth. They will explore the use of eHealth in various settings such as the workplace; children’s health; mental health; and health promotion apps.

It is hosted in partnership with the Department of Health, the Health Service Executive and the Association for Health Promotion Ireland.

Professor Margaret M Barry, Established Chair in Health Promotion and Public Health at NUI Galway, will moderate a live panel discussion on the opportunities and challenges of eHealth for health promotion.

Professor Deborah Lupton, SHARP Professor, Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences, University of New South Wales, Australia will draw on projects she has led which have addressed people’s everyday experiences of digital health – from googling symptoms to using discussion forums, websites, social media groups, YouTube, apps and wearable devices. She will also touch on the future of digital health in Covid-19 times.

Professor Ernst Bohlmeijer, Professor of Mental Health Promotion, University of Twente, the Netherlands will focus on the use of eHealth and mHealth in promoting public mental health.

Ian Power, chief executive of SpunOut.ie and 50808, will speak on bringing information and support to young people and to where young people are. Muiriosa Ryan, Social Media Manager, Health Service Executive will speak on the HSE’s social media strategy and how it is used in a global pandemic. Niamh Connolly, Marketing Officer at NUI Galway, will deliver a workshop on the use of social media for health promotion.

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