Health & Illness
Course infoSchedule
Course moduleLET-CIWM477
Credits (ECTS)5
Language of instructionDutch
Offered byRadboud University; Faculty of Arts; Communication and Information Studies;
dr. G.J. Olthuis
Other course modules lecturer
prof. dr. W.J.P. Stommel
Other course modules lecturer
prof. dr. W.J.P. Stommel
Other course modules lecturer
prof. dr. W.J.P. Stommel
Other course modules lecturer
Contactperson for the course
prof. dr. W.J.P. Stommel
Other course modules lecturer
Academic year2023
PER 3  (29/01/2024 to 07/04/2024)
Starting block
Course mode
RemarksAccessible to students from the MA-program CIW (C&B and GC&D), and RU master students.
Registration using OSIRISYes
Course open to students from other facultiesYes
Waiting listNo
Placement procedure-
Upon completion of the course you will be able to:
  1. distinguish and explain different definitions of health, illness, and care, as well as medicalization of illness and stigmatization of patients;
  2. relate these phenomena to health-related communication, conceptualizations, and behaviors in groups of different socio-cultural and socio-economic background;
  3. analyze how and where low (health) literacy and limited access to healthcare have consequences to (in)equality regarding health, illness, and care in culturally and religiously diverse societies;
  4. apply the results of your reflections and analyses (objectives 1,2,3) to practical contexts (particular illnesses, societal groups) and report on them in an oral presentation and a written report.

In culturally, socially, and religiously diverse societies, people have different ideas about what it means to be healthy or to be ill. Such different conceptualizations of health and illness may impact whether and how people talk about health-related topics, and they may also impact people’s health-related experiences and behaviors. Differences in socio-economic status may influence the extent to which people have access to healthcare. Differences in socio-cultural background may influence whether or not people seek (medical) help when they experience physical or mental problems. And differences in (health) literacy levels may have consequences for how people interact with healthcare providers and healthcare professionals.

By closely collaborating with students from other faculties, this course will teach you which communicative, medical, social, and ethical considerations play a role in providing as equal and inclusive healthcare as possible. Together, you will seek to answer questions related to health and illness such as: ‘What do different people consider to be a healthy or unhealthy lifestyle?’, ‘How do socio-cultural norms and values affect stigmatization of (mental) illnesses?’, ‘How can health-related (prevention) campaigns be effective for different target groups?’, and ‘What is the role of metaphor in effective patient-caregiver communication?’

In this course, you will study recent theoretical and empirical research articles that discuss health-related topics as societal phenomena. You will identify how people with different social, cultural, and economic backgrounds think and talk about their health and the health or illness of others. You will also analyze what consequences differences between societal groups may have for such things as adherence to health-related measures, vaccination readiness, and therapy loyalty. A number of healthcare professionals and health-communication specialists will give interactive workshops to illustrate how they (try to) deal with matters of health and illness in a culturally and religiously diverse society.


Presumed foreknowledge
Toegelaten of voorwaardelijk toegelaten tot de Masteropleiding CIW, en studenten van een andere masteropleiding aan de RU.
Test information

Deze cursus is onderdeel van het onderwijstraject Health Care Humanities, die bestaat uit zes cursussen (Levensloop (FTR-THMA 208); Pijn en lijden (FTR-THMA 209); Ziekte en gezondheid (LET-CIWM 477); Techniek en toekomst van gezondheid en zorg (LET-CIWM 478); Kiezen in de zorg (MED-1HCHKZ); Global Health (MED-1HCHGH)).
Required materials
De literatuur bestaat uit een verzameling artikelen en boekhoofdstukken uit verschillende wetenschapsdomeinen, van filosofie/ethiek tot sociologie (zie Brightspace).

Instructional modes
Attendance MandatoryYes

Group assignment
Test weight30
Test typeProject
OpportunitiesBlock PER 3, Block PER 4

Minimum grade

Individual assignment
Test weight70
Test typeProject
OpportunitiesBlock PER 3, Block PER 4

Minimum grade