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CFP: Digital (mental) health? On new orientation of diagnosis, treatment, and self-help through the use of digital media

Workshop of the collaborative research project „Automated modelling of hermeneutic processes – The use of annotation in social research and the humanities for analyses on health“ (hermA) on the 4th and 5th February 2020 in Hamburg

As the digitalisation of health systems is progressing, an intensive discussion of the norms and values concerning this process has begun. Regarding the field of diagnosis and treatment of illnesses, as well as the storage of the data that is produced in the course of this, new questions arise. Digital devices are used increasingly in the various processes in the health system, with which data is collected and stored digitally. As a result, questions concerning the changing relationship between health care providers, patients, and the technical infrastructure, as well as regarding the processing, storing, and analysis of the thus created data emerge. At the same time, the communication and the manners in which knowledge is generated in the field of illness and health in the digital sphere change, as in such cases as consulting „Dr. Google“, viewing videos on YouTube, or using apps as a way of treatment or for monitoring your own health.

The workshop aims to differentiate the research area of digital health care and communication with a focus on mental health. This thematic context offers links to the methods of the Digital Humanities and the Computational Social Sciences and their further development within the thematic field of interest. The workshop will have two core themes:

1. Digital (mental) health care

What kind of data exists and is generated on the institutional, economic, and personal level within the health care system? How can the structured analysis of (long-term) data facilitate diagnoses and treatments? How is the increasing access to „big data“ changing the health care system?

What possibilities do apps offer in the context of treatment, for example in the area of emotional and mental support? How do these work together with „analogue“ treatments? In which cases do doctors and health professionals offer remote treatment, in which are chatbots used, and where are the both combined? Who designs these formats, and what do the usage and interactions facilitated by them look like?

2. Digital health communication

What new forms of health communication emerge and persist in the process of digitalisation? What role do blogs and social media communities play in health communication? Where can one find professional services online and how are these used? How are images of mental and physical health conveyed as a result?

Both perspectives have in common that they are asking after evaluations and the acceptance of the changing field of health, as well as the appertaining norms being negotiated. The workshop’s goal is to examine these perspectives in an interdisciplinary context and bring them together productively in order to work together to develop them further. Because of this, we explicitly welcome conceptual or theoretical contributions that are still at an early stage of development. Subsequent to the workshop, a further collaboration of the participants is aimed for.

Please send your abstract for a paper of 20 minutes to lina.franken@uni-hamburg.de until the 30th of November 2019. The abstract should be 1-2 pages including references. Please also enclose a short biographical note. A reimbursement of travel expenses is possible.

Organisation and planning: Lina Franken, Gertraud Koch, Heike Zinsmeister


Dr. Lina Franken
Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin
Universität Hamburg
Institut für Volkskunde/Kulturanthropologie
Forschungsverbund „Automatisierte Modellierung hermeneutischer Prozesse“ (hermA)
Grindelallee 46
20146 Hamburg

Tel.: +49 40 42838-9943