Goal 1: Promote Human Health

Achieving Excellence in Health and Science Communication

At least two thirds of US adults use the internet to access health information. The accuracy and quality of health and science information found on news media websites, corporate websites of the healthcare industry, blogs of healthcare providers and social media networks varies widely.

 

Nevertheless, this information can have a profound influence on the healthcare-related decision-making of patients. The anti-vaccination movement or an excessive fear of GMO foods are examples of how fragments of information removed from their broader scientific context can lead to paranoia and ultimately poor decisions that compromise public and individual health.

 

Improving health and science communication is a major public health challenge.

Tags (Keywords associated with the idea)

Is this idea a Compelling Question (CQ) or Critical Challenge (CC)? : Critical Challenge (CC)

Details on the impact of addressing this CQ or CC :

The NHLBI could lead the way by providing resources and funding to study the most effective ways to improve health and science communication. Examples of such approaches could be grants that fund how information pertaining to heart, lung and blood disease is disseminated to the public and how the quality of the content is regulated.

 

How do information hubs (media organizations, blogs, Twitter and Facebook accounts) assess the accuracy and quality of the medical and scientific content disseminated to their audiences?

 

Can collaborations between communicators (journalists, TED talkers, writers, etc.) and scientists/physicians help provide a more realistic and evidence-based portrayal of ongoing research efforts and the efficacy of treatments?

 

If the NHLBI is able to build such collaborations then the benefit to society could be quite significant. The public will be provided with resources to understand ongoing research efforts as well as obtain high-quality, up-to-date analyses of how research studies are relevant for them and their personal decisions regarding their health.

 

Even citizens who are not seeking medical advice would benefit from this because it would allow them to develop a realistic perspective and appropriate enthusiasm for the ongoing efforts in the basic sciences.

Feasibility and challenges of addressing this CQ or CC :

One challenge will be that this approach will require collaborations between diverse disciplines in order to be successful. Clinicians/Researchers in the cardiovascular, pulmonary and hematologic sciences will need to work closely with experts in communication sciences, behavioral experts and journalists to develop new approaches to health and science communication.

 

On the one hand, we want the science and medicine to be portrayed accurately, on the other hand, it is also important to ensure that this information is conveyed in a manner that is accessible for a non-specialist audience.

Name of idea submitter and other team members who worked on this idea : Jalees Rehman

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Idea No. 1013