Fundamental role of information in Health and Social Care

In the 1998 Acheson report, public health is defined as the science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life, promoting, protecting and improving health and well-being through society’s organized efforts. These efforts are aimed both at the global issues of people’s health and at the production and delivery of effective health services. Public health works through alliances, which run horizontally across various disciplinary, professional and organizational boundaries; it is on such collaborations that public health founds the development and practical implementations of evidence-based policies in all areas that have an impact on people’s health and well-being.

Dealing with public health means taking care of people’s health in relation to both specific groups of people and the whole society. Through research and action in the health and environmental fields, an individual social responsibility emerges, which is expressed as health promotion in the Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion (OMS GENEVA 1986): “Health promotion is the process of enabling people to increase control over, and to improve, their health. … health promotion is not just the responsibility of the health sector, but goes beyond healthy life-styles to well-being”.

Information as a means to health education

A crucial role of prevention operators today in public health will be to raise awareness of health-related issues and then proceed to health education by means of consciously constructed learning opportunities and communication forms. This aims to improve knowledge and to develop a life competence apt to contribute to individual and community’s health. Knowing about health implies acquiring a good level of knowledge, skills and self-confidence so as to contribute to improve one’s own and one’s community health through the adoption of a correct life style. Knowing about health is therefore key to acquire greater influence thanks to improved skills to access information and use it effectively. At present, therefore, it is necessary to identify forms of communication that can represent a core strategy to educate and inform the public about health issues. Exploiting communication means, multimedia systems and new teaching and learning strategies such as storytelling and digital storytelling can help to transmit health information of public interest, particularly to children, increasing awareness, on one side, of some specific aspects of individual and public health and, on the other side, the importance of health in social development.