Uncomfortable Knowledge in Medical Practices

Social media has transformed how individuals handle their illnesses. While many patients increasingly use these online platforms to understand embodied information surrounding their conditions, healthcare professionals often frame these practices as negative and are unable to identify valuable information of illnesses that patients generate through social media. Patients’ embodied knowledge created through online platforms are described as healthcare professionals’ non-knowledge.

In the new article ‘Non-knowledge in Medical Practices: Approaching the Uses of Social Media in Healthcare from an Epistemological Perspective’ we problematize the distinctive understandings of social media between patients and healthcare professionals. Drawing on literature of social epistemology and ignorance studies, we argue that healthcare professionals see patients’ embodied knowledge, shared through social media platforms as uncomfortable knowledge. We show how healthcare professionals engage in several behaviours to preserve their authority and power in front of embodied knowledge empowered through these online platforms. Failing to recognize embodied knowledge can have consequences not only in terms of trust between patients and healthcare professionals but also in connection with epistemological populism and the transition towards patient-centred care. We conclude that media and digital health literacy could help healthcare professionals enhance the uses of social media in healthcare. Adopting the framework of social epistemology allows not only to offer valuable insights into how healthcare professionals manage patients’ social media practices, but also opens new avenues to improve healthcare digitisation.

Sendra, A., Torkkola, S., & Parviainen, J. (2023). Non-knowledge in Medical Practices: Approaching the Uses of Social Media in Healthcare from an Epistemological Perspective. Journal of Digital Social Research, 5(1), 70-89. https://doi.org/10.33621/jdsr.v5i1.152