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Global Public Health, Social Media and Research: Opportunities and Ethical Challenges

Thursday 18 September 2014, 11.30AM

Speaker(s): Dr Dan O'Connor (Head of Medical Humanities, Wellcome Trust, UK) & Dr Abha Saxena (Coordinator, Global Health Ethics, WHO)

The Knowledge, Ethics and Research Department  & WHO Collaborating Centre for Global Health Histories present: ‘Global Public Health, Social Media and Research: Opportunities and Ethical Challenges

Broadcast live over the internet, via webinar. To register, please use this link and follow the instructions:

Global Health Histories Seminar 81 Poster (PDF , 240kb)

Social media such as blogs, wikis, discussion forums, ratings sites and online social networks are transforming the ways in which people and health professionals create, share and understand health information. We can now find, discuss and even review diagnoses, symptoms and treatments almost instantly. Dr Dan O’Connor will explore the ethical challenges that this transformation raises for health research. Drawing on examples of emerging uses of social media in health research Dr O’Connor will argue that existing research ethics frameworks may be inadequate to deal with those ethical challenges. In their place he proposes an ‘ethics of apomediation’ in which the moral concerns of power differentials are replaced with those of a horizontal peer-to-peer system.

The increasing use of social media in health research brings to the fore ethical issues that have yet not been adequately addressed by current ethics guidelines, and need to be explored further. Drawing on the discussions within WHO’s Research Ethics Review Committee (WHO ERC), Dr Abha Saxena will talk about the  opportunities and challenges of using these new tools in the field of health research.

The Global Health Histories seminar series is a collaboration between the World Health Organization Department of Knowledge, Ethics and Research and the Centre for Global Health Histories (CGHH), part of the Department of History and a constituent member of Humanities Research Centre at the University of York, generously funded by the Wellcome Trust.

Location: WHO Library, Geneva, Switzerland

Email: For more information, please contact:






Global Health Histories Seminar 81 Flyer