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Processes of individual and collective health-related knowledge-construction

Knowledge Construction Lab

ScienceCampus Tuebingen, Cluster: Construction and Exchange of Complementary Medical Knowledge in Informational Environments


January 2011 - December 2012


ScienceCampus Tuebingen


Nowadays, internet forums, wikis, and blogs are used extensively for health-related knowledge construction. In a first step, this project has examined how knowledge exchange about complementary medical topics occurs in sports-related and in health-ideology online communities (netzathleten.de and urkostforum.de, respectively). It has been shown that the interpretation and use of health knowledge are strongly influenced by individual and collective concepts of health, and are thereby dependent on social issues. In addition, we’ve recognized that logical inconsistencies in collaborative health-related knowledge construction are widespread. Based on these findings, we investigate how people deal with health information that is contradictory to their individual knowledge and their individual health concept. An elaborate field experiment in cooperation with the PT Academy (a school of physiotherapy in Tuebingen), deals with these influences on health-related knowledge construction using wikis. Furthermore, field studies explore how online health communities handle new information representing their own or other health concept and how they deal with health-related statements peppered with logical inconsistencies.


  • Institute for Sports Sciences, University of Tuebingen: Prof. Dr. Ansgar Thiel
  • Institute for Psychology, University of Tuebingen: Dr. Joachim Kimmerle


  • Kimmerle, J., Gerbing, K.-K., Cress, U., & Thiel, A. (in press). Exchange of complementary and alternative medical knowledge in sport-related Internet fora. Sociology of Sport Journal.
  • Kimmerle, J., Moskaliuk, J., Cress, U., & Thiel, A. (2011). A systems theoretical approach to online knowledge building. AI & Society, 26, 49-60.
  • Kimmerle, J., Moskaliuk, J., Bientzle, M., Thiel, A., & Cress, U. (2012). Using controversies for knowledge construction: Thinking and writing about alternative medicine. Proceedings of the 10th International Conference of the Learning Sciences (Vol. 1, pp. 1-8). Sydney: International Society of the Learning Sciences.
  • Kimmerle, J., Abels, K., Becher, K., Beckers, A., Haussmann, A., Thiel, A., & Cress, U. (2011). Construction of health knowledge in an alternative medical community of practice: Hermeneutic analysis of a web forum. In H. Spada, G. Stahl, N. Miyake, & N. Law (Eds.), Connecting Research to Policy and Practice: Proceedings of the 9th Computer Supported Collaborative Learning Conference (Vol. 1, pp. 1-8). Hong Kong: International Society of the Learning Sciences.