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Our aim is to transfer life-saving knowledge to large numbers of responders: Knowledge Dissemination in the E-health Era


The origin of ‘public health’ discourse goes back to the 19th century when ideas of health and wellness began to take hold as an academic discipline at universities first in Europe (France and UK), and then in US. As scientific knowledge grew, public authorities were more concerned on general sanitation (Chave 1984) and gradually were formed to employ newly discovered interventions against health threats. The principles of public health in earlier times were guided more by the notions of the commons, wellbeing, and local knowledge. In recent times, our understanding and practice of public health is guided more by technological advances generally based on governmental decisions (Green et. al, 2009). Eventually, the growth of a public system for protecting health hinges upon scientific discovery and knowledge dissemination (KD). This paper aims at analysing the process of re-contextualization in specialized English when moving from the field of medicine to public health in contexts in which the primary communicative objective is KD across digital media (Bondi et al., 2015). Health promotion efforts that are mediated by digital technologies (‘e-health communication’) may have great potential to promote desired behaviour changes through distinctive features such as mass customization, interactivity and accessibility (Neuhauser/Kreps 2003). The study is designed to highlight both the specificities of KD of public health as a new genre (Garzone/Ilie 2014; Salvi/Bowker 2015) and the linguistic/discoursal strategies adopted by the scientific communities in the interaction between experts and lay persons (as well as the textual genres mainly used by experts) over the dedicated online platforms (WHO, IARC, WHO at UN, HCiE, etc.). Given the communicative immediacy of the new medium, it becomes necessary to investigate the impact of digital technologies on the linguistic processes of popularization, re-writing and re-contextualization designed by the scientific communities for effective health care messages that target wider audiences.