Investigators in the area of health cognition have focused on how the beliefs held by the public influence their health-related decisions and practices. Similarly, health educators and public health communicators are interested in how best to inform and educate people so that they are more responsive to health-related messages. Public’s understanding of health concepts has bearing on consumer health decisions and behaviors.
Health care is moving toward a team effort, with patients as partners, which necessitates new sets of skills and knowledge. The emergence of e-health technologies has opened up new horizons for promoting increased self-reliance in patients. Although information technologies are now in widespread use, there is often a disparity between the scientific and technological knowledge underlying health care practices and the cultural beliefs, mental models, and cognitive representations of illness and disease. Misconceptions based on inaccurate perceptions and mental models, and flawed prior beliefs could lead to miscommunication as well as to erroneous decisions about individuals’ own health or the health of their family members.
To optimize the utilization of health information and supporting technologies for the public, we need to understand how people think, reason and make decisions that affect their health and wellbeing. Research related to cognition and informatics has focused on investigations of how people understand health information, assess risky behaviors, make their healthcare decisions, and how health information technologies can be used to support these tasks. Since the patient is the central entity of healthcare practice, the knowledge generated from this research is essential in improving biomedicine and health care. The purpose of this book is to present state of the art research in cognitive informatics for understanding and modeling health behaviors. The chapters in the book cover contributions from recognized researchers and leaders in the field.