“Have you heard of diabetes?”— The use of perspective-checking questions in creating knowledge needs in Taiwanese health education talks for elderly lay people

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Abstract

Health education for lay people, in contrast to that for clinical patients, is an important but challenging task since lay people may not feel the need to acquire this knowledge. Creating a sense of knowledge need in the lay people is thus crucial to achieving effective education. While great attention has been devoted to how participants’ knowledge needs are created in various communication media (such as academic writing, commercial advertising, and education in general), less has been directed to what and how such needs are created via health education talks. Likewise, how such studies could enrich our understanding of creating a sense of need across different media remains unexplored. Based on the discourse analysis of 169 Taiwanese health education sessions where college students delivered geriatric disease knowledge to elderly people, this study argues the following: 1) creating a sense of need is a prevalent pragmatic strategy in most communication media that involve a promotional goal; 2) events such as health education talks, having spontaneous interactions and on topics of high-stake consequences, allow a wide variety of needs and needs-invoking mechanisms to emerge; 3) knowledge deliverers’ use of perspective-checking questions (such as “Have you heard of diabetes?” or “Does anyone around you have diabetes?”) plays an indispensable role in enabling the recipients’ knowledge needs to surface; and 4) the distribution patterns of what and how knowledge needs emerge are related to the epistemological and interactional roles of the participants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-76
Number of pages30
JournalConcentric: Studies in Linguistics
Volume43
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017 May

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

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