Between Openness and Secrecy

Controlling Medical Communication in Twentieth Century Sweden

  • Funder: Swedish Research Council

Project Description

The purpose of this project is to explore the management and control of medical communication in Sweden from around 1900 to 1980. Key actors in these processes were individual doctors, journalists and publishers as well as professional organisations, medical institutions and government agencies. The focus is on controversies regarding media coverage of medical topics and the shifting strategies developed to handle perceived threats of revealing too much or too little information to audiences that were also possible patients. The principles of confidentiality, anonymity, collegiality, public interest and freedom of the press all served to defend professional autonomy, boundaries and interests in disputes between doctors and journalists. Overall, these medical-medial activities, interactions and exchanges were decisive in determining which medical information became available to whom and under what conditions in twentieth century Swedish society. The project’s main goals are twofold: first, to gain better understanding of medical communication in a longer historical perspective; second, to develop a methodological and theoretical approach to studying the production of knowledge, ignorance and secrecy in the emerging field of medicine and the media.

Declassified document held by the National Archive of Sweden (Riksarkivet). Photo: Solveig Jülich.

About the Project

Project Duration

2023–2025

Funding

The Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet)

Researcher

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