New health information literacies. A nexus analytical study

Thesis event information

Date and time of the thesis defence

Place of the thesis defence

Linnanmaa, Martti Ahtisaari -lecture hall (L2)

Topic of the dissertation

New health information literacies. A nexus analytical study

Doctoral candidate

MA Anna-Maija Multas

Faculty and unit

University of Oulu Graduate School, Faculty of Humanities, History, culture and communications research unit

Subject of study

Information studies


Professor Olof Sundin, Lund University, Sweden


Assistant professor Noora Hirvonen, University of Oulu

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New health information literacies. A nexus analytical study

New technologies transform our everyday environments, enabling the formation of new information practices that involve multimodal content and its creation. These developments also challenge conceptions of literacies related to health and well-being. This thesis aims at increasing our understanding of new health information literacies as a sociocultural phenomenon to provide novel knowledge of the variety of health information practices enacted in people’s everyday social environments.

The theoretical-methodological perspective of this thesis is nexus analysis and the research was carried out in two phases. Phase 1 involved reviewing the current health literacy research in online contexts to reflect on contemporary academic discourses and practices. Phase 2 entailed considering the gaps identified in phase 1 and investigating the everyday discourses and health information literacy practices of young people in a social media environment. In phase 1, current research literature on health literacies in online contexts was systematically reviewed to synthesize health literacy concepts, definitions, their operationalization and approach to information. In phase 2, interviews, video diaries and YouTube videos of three video bloggers were qualitatively analysed.

The findings imply a need for conceptual and empirical development of health information literacies research in online environments. Phase 1 revealed that the ways new technologies transform our social practices or the multimodality of informational content online are not considered in current health literacies research. This was emphasized by the findings of phase 2: interconnected social, material and embodied health information literacy practices enabled information creation on social media. Specifically, information practices and authorities invested in them were constructed and enacted through embodied knowledge and authenticity of the presentation of health information and of the self.

These findings improve our understanding of information creation as part of transforming social practices in our everyday lives in a digitalized society. The findings may also benefit health promotion or education and information literacy instruction, specifically if the aim is to consider information practices relevant in everyday life.
Last updated: 23.1.2024