4/15. Guest Lecture—“Further reflections on ethics in health communication.” Prof. David H. Lee (Communication/Humanities)

Please watch Dr. Lee’s presentation in its entirety, then make two posts below as comments on this post, or as a response to another student’s comments. These comments are due before the following class period (i.e. before 2:30pm on Tuesday, 4/20/21)

The first one is your own individual thoughts and response to the lecture. This post should be at least 75 words long. You should interact with main ideas, although what you say is up to you. You may want to criticize an idea, agree with something, or offer further insight or thoughts about some topic discussed by our guest. Or, you may want to pose a question for others about the lecture. I expect the post to interact with the content of the actual lecture, and not just the day’s topic or other thoughts you may be having.

The second post is an interactive comment, posted as a response to another student’s comment. There is no length requirement on this post.

57 thoughts on “4/15. Guest Lecture—“Further reflections on ethics in health communication.” Prof. David H. Lee (Communication/Humanities)”

  1. Thank you Professor Lee for such a wonderful lecture.

    Health disparities is a growing issue in the US. People are classified through their socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, and gender. These factors plays a huge role in the outcome of the type of healthcare an individual receives. Unlike other countries, united states does not provide free or low cost health care services to everybody and a lot of people are unable to access to health care due to cost and or struggles to access to resources and facility. Often time people who experience a health issue may delay or reject the idea of going to seek medical health at all. It is very unethical to make health care a capitalist’s endeavor.

    Also depending of the factors mentioned above individuals may be blamed(Victim blaming) for the health issues they experience. Such as those who are experiencing obesity and diabetes, those individual might be viewed with a stigma. ” They did this to themselves”, “They shouldn’t have eaten so much junk food”, “They should have taken care of their own bodies.” If people who are in lower social class are provided with adequate resource and education they will be able to help themselves prevent such diseases, we cannot blame them for things they are not educated about. It is one thing to have knowledge about a situation and not following it and another when you were not taught at all.

    1. I agree with you Vivian. Lower class people simply don’t have many choices concerning their health. For instance, the only jobs an uneducated immigrant could get are under paid jobs with long hours and short breaks. They do not have a choice but to take those jobs. Without universal health insurance, they would not be able to take care of themselves properly. It is a vicious spiral.

    2. Hi Vivian, it is true what you mentioned. It is not about blaming people for their actions or inactions about their health. One way to reduce childhood obesity and health literacy are by promoting prevention and communication. Informing in a timely manner and educating parents and children about the possible risks of some diseases can be an effective way to reduce childhood obesity and health literacy.

    3. I agree with you Vivian. Most lower class Americans only have the option to to use resources they have available to them. It’s tough because certain people can actually be saved by the proper resources upper class Americans may have. For example, in lower class neighborhoods there tends to be fast food spots all around the area. Why? Because 9/10 the food is cheap. This causes the lower class to become less healthy, which breeds obese people to become obese.

    4. I agree that lower class people do not have many choices when it comes to health care , this is the reason they have higher Health issue and higher mortality rates.

    5. Hi Vivian,

      Thanks for this thoughtful comment. I agree with you that there is a big risk of “blaming the victim” when the focus is on lifestyle and behavior.

  2. I am very glad that City Tech College provides health communication major for bachelor’s degree as it is becoming more important than ever that our society needs to improve on health communication. In the lecture, Professor Lee asks a question whether I think our government has played a too active role in public health or it can be more active. About this issue, I agree with Professor Lee. I believe that since it is concerning public health, our government should be stricter and clearer on rules such as wearing a mask in public area.

    1. Hi Fengxia,

      Yes, I also think it is awesome that City Tech provides health communication major as a bachelors degree. I feel like often time communication is overseen and many ignores the fact that effective and efficient communication is the most important factor towards not just the medical field but as well as all other fields.

  3. It was interesting what Dr. Lee mentioned about childhood obesity and health literacy. It is true that the increase in childhood obesity in recent years is alarming. As mentioned by Dr. Lee, is produced mainly by an inadequate diet and little physical activity, as well as patients’ ability to understand or follow medical recommendations given by doctors. However, all this could improve if doctors would focus on getting their message to patients correctly. In other words, doctors should make sure that the patient clearly understands their indications by explaining treatment options in detail with understandable terminology so that patients are well informed and prepared to take the best medical decision.

    1. I agree with you Meilly. Doctors should really focus on making sure the patient understands what is being said to them. Often times the health care providers are preoccupied trying to service other waiting patients that they only give a brief description of the patients ailments or health care plan without confirming that the information is being comprehended.

      1. Hi Meilly and Keisha,
        Yep those are some of the problems we address in COM 2403ID Health Communication too. Part of the issue is that providers are limited by “managed care.” It is focused on keeping costs down but providers don’t have much time to spend with patients.

    2. I agree with you Meilly. Doctors should really focus on making sure the patient understands what is being said to them. Often times the health care providers are preoccupied trying to service other waiting patients that they only give a brief description of the patients ailments or health care plan without confirming that the information is being comprehended.

      1. I think that making sure patients understand what is being said to them is not enough. People want autonomy more than anything. Who in the right mind needs a soda bigger than 16oz? Yet, people protested fiercely on soda ban. Effective communication would require to lead patients to the right conclusions on what is important to them, and how to achieve that.

    3. I agree with you Meilly. Although it may be the patients decision to choose unhealthy foods to consume, but at the end it’s the day it should always be the health care provider’s job to make sure their patients are making healthy choices. They should clearly explain both the benefits and flaws of switching their lifestyle over to a more health friendly one, rather than giving a vague statement that’s required by protocol. As a health care provider you should always care about your patient’s well being, even if they have a hard time doing it themselves.

  4. Health literacy and an unhealthy lifestyle go hand in hand. I often say if you want to hide knowledge write it in a book. Most medications come with labels and a finely printed booklet about the active in ingredients describing their side effects on the person taking the medication. The issue is, most patients do not read past the “take two times per day for seven days.” The lack of literacy is harmful not only because you may end up with an adverse effect but taking prescribed medicines without truly knowing the outcome may cause future health issues. Dr. Lee mentioned an ad that said spoke on childhood obesity leading to adult obesity. Bad eating habits usually start at a young age. As mentioned in the lecture, working parents in low income areas may not have the time to prepare a meal or even have the resources to include fresh produce. The term obesity may even be lost in translation. Often times people think obesity means 600lbs when in actuality obese people just have an excessive amount of body fat. A patient being able to decipher medical terminology is imperative for effective health care.

    1. I agree with you most information are hidden from people and the lack of literacy and not understanding the description could be dangerous because of the side effect it comes with it. Bad eating habits starts at a young age because parents not having time to prepare a healthy meal.

    2. thank you for your response, I agree that often times people do not read the labels of their medications nor do they read after care guidelines. It is so important to stay informed and be knowledgeable on what not only goes on in your body but also have to better care for yourself.

  5. This lecture was very informative about your actions have consequences. AI is used in the medical fields in order to find better solutions. It will help improve solving problems but may also endanger peoples lives. Health Communication is about talking to people about their health to avoid certain health outcomes. It focuses on what humans can do to avoid a serious problematic outcome that may happen in the future if people don’t change their lifestyle.

    The changes in peoples health can occur when they try take care of themselves and its not always their fault for example you have children staying at home because the parents don’t want them going outside and exposing them to danger. Health communication used medical terminology to get the message across the patient in a way to make them understand. Conflict of interest can occur when they do a study but that study isn’t true and the company is funding those people to promote their product. Health Care can’t be used for profit because it can distort things.

    1. Hi Neil,I agree with you that although that AI can be beneficial it can also be harmful because its programed to do certain task but it cannot do critical thinking that is needed in the medical field.

    2. Hi Neil

      I totally agree with your comments. IA is great but as with all things, there are disadvantages. I also agree with health and it not always being that persons fault. Better health communication could help improve health and health outcomes.

  6. I found this lecture by Dr Lee to be very informative. He touches on many topics like health literacy and obesity in children’s. I found it interesting when the topic of AI intelligence and the use of it in the medical field. The benefits of AI in the in the Healthcare were discussed in the lecture but what stands out to me is when the Dr Lee stated that AI is only as intelligent as who ever programed it.
    Dr Lee also spoke on obesity in children’s and how it can lead to them being obese as adults. And how having a low health literacy can affect a persons health outcome in the long run.

  7. This lecture is very informative. Dr. Lee talked about that health communication is about lifestyle changes, and it focuses on what people could do to improve their health. There are structural determinants that people cannot control, and individual determinants that people could make changes. Also, the healthcare providers should focus on providing information about individual determinants, and they should do a better job in communication to deliver the health message to the patient. Healthcare providers should use plain language instead of professional terms, so the patients have a better understanding of their health conditions and what they could do to improve their health. Moreover, Dr. Lee pointed out that AI could eliminate medical errors, but there is a question that who can eliminate AI errors. AI is set up to deal with the situations in its system, so it will not know how to respond to emergency events, but people are more flexible to manage the emergency.

    1. Hi Xue, I liked your comment about AI not being able to respond in the case of an emergency. Artificial Intelligence has a certain database to pull from. However, when an impromptu hospital visit happens where a medical professional is needed to provide a fast and accurate treatment in that moment, AI may not be the most efficient tool in the toolbox. Doctors would be better suited for emergencies.

  8. One of the topics that Dr Lee discussed in his lecture was the benefits of artificial intelligence in healthcare. While it can store and analyze large amounts of data, and assist in interpreting images, fully relying on it can cause harm in the long run because it lacks the critical thinking skills that an experienced human healthcare worker might possess. For example, a patient comes to the ER with shortness of breath, and an AI’s algorithm would diagnose the patient with asthma, meanwhile the patient could actually be suffering from something more serious and immediate like congestive heart failure.

    1. Hello, Agnieszaka. I agree with you that AI could provide help in some aspects of healthcare, but we should not fully rely on it because there are limitations of what AI could do. AI only can perform what it was programmed to do, so when there are complex situations, it could lead to errors. Therefore, it is significant to identify the risks AI could bring before applying to healthcare.

    2. Hi Agnieszka,
      I like how you were talking about fully relying on AI can be very effective for your critical thinking skills especially for someone that works in healthcare. Critical thinking skills can help someone with a lot of experience handle a situation quicker than it should have taken.

    3. Hi Agnieszka,
      I like your hypothetical example. I think this raises a good question about what are the criteria for making any diagnosis. Depending on the condition, it can’t be on just one symptom but a whole symptomatic profile. And the symptoms are not, themselves the disease. Of course, human healthcare workers make these types of errors frequently as well. I have had students report going to the ER and being sent home, only to return the following day and found to have something more serious.

  9. Once again, a very insightful and enjoyable presentation from Professor Lee. In this lecture he emphasizes the duties of justice and beneficence. Acting unselfishly and for the benefits of others is the supreme principle that upholds healthcare. In this quest for doing good, there may be a few bumps in the road due to unintended consequences. This is where Professor Lee brings up the topic of AI in technology. The upside to this belief is filled with many helpful ways in which we can use robots. However, these benefits may also include privacy concerns as well as our autonomous rights being infringed upon. Professor Lee also touches on the topic of victim blaming. I have stated in the past that I am a firm believer in the fact that we control our own health with our everyday decisions. Does this mean I support victim blaming? No. Every human doesn’t choose to be born into a certain economic or social class. It’s not their fault if they were born in a neighborhood filled with polluted air and now they’ve contracted lung problems. However, I do believe that if and when a person has the ability or the opportunity to make a decision for the betterment of their health, they shouldn’t think twice about taking that step forward.

    1. On this topic, some policy makers note that the most unhealthy contribute to high health care costs.
      Here is an amazing statistic:

      “Super-users are patients who visit the hospital and ED frequently. They tend to be uninsured or enrolled in Medicare or Medicaid. Super-users account for just 5 percent of the U.S. population, but 50 percent of health care spending.” –source: https://www.advisory.com/en/daily-briefing/2017/04/28/super-users#:~:text=Super%2Dusers%20are%20patients%20who,percent%20of%20health%20care%20spending.

      People are free to choose to smoke, for example. But if the health costs that result from their decision are costly for everybody, should that person be taxed extra for making that choice? We already have that with the price of cigarettes. $13 for a pack of smokes in NYC. Down south you can get them for $5.

      I agree with Anthony that individuals should share some of the responsibility.

  10. I agreed with Dr. Lee’s lecture that we should not blame the patient for their lack of knowledge but instead blame the providers for not explaining the problem properly. Providers need to use simpler terms. Patients are intimidated by medical terminology and providers need to be mindful of that; because how to explain something could change someone’s life. Also, his point made about ads for pharmaceuticals on TV was very good. Why advertise to consumers about drugs they don’t even understand? A physician that identifies that particular issue should be the only person explaining treatment or recommending drugs. Also, his point about researchers sometimes being funded by the drug companies that are pushing that particular drug was so eye opening. That seems so unethical and a serious conflict of interest. Also profit motive for health care should definitely be considered unjust and is so unethical as well. In relation to AI in health care I consider it a positive for health care, it picks up where providers fall short, but providers should always work in conjunction with AI to ensure accountability on both ends

    1. I agree with you, Adela. Using words like chubby and fat instead of proper medical terms will hurt people’s self-esteem if it’s not bad already. This can affect them mentally and they might end up doing actions that make their case worse. As well as lose motivation to take care of their health issues.

    2. I liked how you pointed out how the professor explained how some researches sometimes are being funded by the drug companies that are pushing a particular drug. Its despicable to think this actually happens but also an eye opener. Information like this can keep us alert and aware about going to health providers an what drugs they diagnosis for us.

    3. I liked how you pointed out how the professor explained how some researches sometimes are being funded by the drug companies that are pushing a particular drug. Its despicable to think this actually happens but also an eye opener. Information like this can keep us alert and aware about going to health providers an what drugs they diagnosis for us.

  11. Childhood obesity is an issue that many children face. Dr. Lee mentioned that people used to spend more time outside before but circumstances have changed now, which I agree. You have to consider how safe the street is and whether the children will meet unwelcoming people. Victim blaming is a bad way of making people aware of their issues because it’s not always in their hands. How one is raised and other health issues may be the reason for obesity.

    1. Childhood obesity is hard to avoid, every couple block is a fast-food chain restaurant. It is also a serious issue for the child’s future health considering the amount of sodium and fats they put into fast food.

  12. I enjoyed this lecture more than the first one. As we all know the world is evolving and changing in so many ways. Such ways could impact humanity for the good or bad. Artificial intelligence would advance the medical field. We could find new cures, new diagnosis’s, and doctors could even have an advantage when it comes to how much time they have to ave a patient’s life. When the professor starting talking about obesity within children and adults it made me think that there needs to be more resources that can give us a healthy life and regimen. In due time we would see if the change we want in the world has actually happened and not just spoken about.

    1. Its crazy when you think of how in low income neighborhoods there aren’t really healthy options to eat from. Guaranteed to see a fast food joint on the corner of the block but no healthy places like trader joes, so the blame for obesity cant soley be put on the individual when they have no access to good food. Trader Joes for example; I think theres 2 right next to eachother downtown brooklyn, but none in the neighboorhoods like brownsvile, east ny, flatbush. I wont be surprised if there is one in flatbush seeing how its being more gentrified and the income to live over there is rising up meaning itll experience better access to things

      1. Do you think that Trader Joe’s is healthier than other grocery stores, like a Western Beef, Joseph? It seems like most super stores have vegetables and fruits, etc.

  13. Professor Lee mentioned treatment design AI in healthcare. Seems pretty new to me that AI can find a better solution than human when human is the one that created AI. It is said to do things that any human mind can capable of. I found this interesting because there are many benefits of AI. One benefit that I agree on is reducing human errors because humans can make mistakes by lack of activeness but an AI won’t. This lecture is informative as it was from the previous lecture.

    1. Hi Grayson!
      I agree with you that the AI can find a better solution than any human. They can also do it in a quicker time too. Aside from these, the AI can help us find more information with other methods we program it to find, which could take us centuries if AIs weren’t used.

  14. The lecture with Dr.Lee was very informative. One of the topics he had explained was healthy lifestyle changes. In healthy lifestyle changes, there are structural determinants and individual determinants. Structural determinants are everything around us that effects our health, even stuff we might not even think would effect us. Health communication focuses on things we can change such as quitting smoking, exercising, changing our diet instead of just saying moving out of the area that is effecting us. Individual determinants are changes we make, or things we do to benefit our health. There’s victim blaming when we are looking into individual behaviors and changes. Obesity in children is relying on the parents and how they feed them and their health choices. The doctors should explain to the patient in a better way where the patient can understand and not feel blamed on the issue.

    1. I agree that Doctors could better explain without blaming the individual and its true that we live in a society that blames individual determinants as one of the main causes to our health problems but I do believe its 50% individual and 50% structural. I think that most people have the power to change their health habits but are living in environments that make it hard to say no to unhealthy snacks or food. And then there is the problem of the eating habits created by parents because of where they live. I do thinks its not as easy as it sound because people don’t really see the health risk of obesity or mental health problems that arise with being home with no physical activity etc. I’m sure that if people were informed they would try to make different choses on how they feed their kids etc.

  15. I truly appreciated this guest lecture, it gave further thought onto what importance we need to see within healthcare. One question asked was, what is the relationship between healthcare and justice? Firstly justice is to treat other equally and not as a means to an ends. Justice prohibits discrimination on any irrelevance of characteristics such as age, race, religion, etc.
    The relationship between healthcare and justice is too have all patients meet the highest level of health. All medical decisions and treatments should be equal distributed. No one should be given better treatment than others; fairness should never be questioned in relation to healthcare. Now unfortunately we’ve all heard of different discriminations people have had at hospitals, doctors often not believing what the patient is explaining, or making medical assumptions based on the outter appearance of the patient.
    Although there are laws and legislations to protect people this is not always the case. It is important to be informed and communicate as your own or another person’s advocate to make sure they are always treated to the full extent.
    Change is a collective actions, if everyone fights for the right to be heard and has accurate and informed information, control of justice is capable by collective change and action.

  16. The concept of AI in our health system was interesting to hear and I do think that there can be a lot of benefits but Dr. Lee made an interesting point about the three rules that Asimov says about robots, which are 1) that they will not harm humans 2)that they will obey humans unless it violates the first law and 3) that the robot must protect itself unless in it violates the first two laws, he say that this would mean putting benevolence into the way robots acts. This could create problems with autonomy because if a person does something like eat ice cream all day then the robot by these rules could take away the ice cream and throw it out because it is harming the person. Which brings me to one of the discussion questions he asked at the end of the class “What do you see as potential risk/benefits of artificial intelligence in health care?” I think that AI is important to improve our health care systems where it could help diagnose quicker which Dr. Lee also mentioned and it could catch errors that are caused by humans. But having a dependency of AI could also handicap Doctors, nurses and many other people because it will create a dependency and we wouldn’t truly understand diseases etc. I do believe that we should us AI because it does benefit us but I think there should be a balance between what we use it for and how we use these new technologies.

    1. A very thoughtful reply, Margarita. There can also be problems related to the limitations of the people who develop the AI, compared to the doctors who use it.

    2. Hi Margarita,

      Thanks for recounting my idea about the three laws of robotics. Whenever somebody is enabled to act in others best interest, problems can arise. For example, there is a critique of missionary work. Some missionaries believe that they are helping indigenous cultures by encouraging them to abandon their traditions and beliefs and adopt a Western value system. Critics say that this erases cultural diversity and makes everybody march to the beat of one drummer.


  17. Thank you again professor Lee for this informative lecture. I want to begin and talk about Artificial Intelligence it can have its ups and it can have its downs, however, it can’t help in an emergency that needs immediate attention. Yes, it can have fast and accurate diagnostics but whom should we trust from that information; because Artificial Intelligence can only program what is told to do but when there are complex situations it can lead the doctor the wrong way in a situation that could’ve been easily assisted. With Artificial Intelligence people are becoming lazy there giving too much trust away. One of the biggest reasons for child obesity is because of how much entertainment there is with less work, children don’t understand that staying home and not being active will eventually hurt them. Also with parents choosing the easy way out to make food for their children or just ordering can be very effective if it happens constantly, it’s understandable for parents who doesn’t have time to make food for their children but there is always a way to feed you kids healthier food and supporting them in sports activities.

    1. I might have mentioned this in my recording. I can remember being outdoors and playing with friends until dark. Climbing trees, riding bikes. Parents became concerned about the safety of their children being outdoors, and so nowadays kids are more likely to be indoors, playing video games, watching TV.

  18. Professor Lee gave really good examples when it came to victim blaming. We really cant blame the kids who eat all day while being indoors and not doing outdoor activities when it is their parents keeping them indoors due to the fear of something happening to their kids. 40% of adults and 19% of kids are obese in America but it is true like Prof lee said could be due to the fact that in some parts of the country’s it could be affordable to eat fast food as compared to eating healthier in which the grocery stores that sell healthy variety of food tend to be far, so are parents of obese kids to blame of the level of obesity when they cant even afford or get access to healthy alternatives?

  19. Hi PHIL 2203ID,
    It’s been a pleasure reading your comments about the talk. One thing I emphasize to my students is that I am not a medical professional. Just a regular person who has confidence in my ability to find health information and figure it out enough to (hopefully) make more informed decisions. I try to take a “hacker” attitude towards health. Even though I don’t have medical training, I can seek information, identify credible sources, etc. That’s the goal of health literacy, to be curious, and above all, to believe in one’s own ability. In psychology the term is “efficacy”–a sense of confidence that one can seek and find information, evaluate it critically, and make a reasonable decision based on the evidence.

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