11 - Public Dissemination & the Media

11 - Public Dissemination & the Media - Public...

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Public Dissemination and the Media: How Health-related Research is Presented in the Media… The Health Scare of the Week… When reading a newspaper or watching television news we are often faced with the latest health scare: o Patents dying from medical incompetencies o Pesticide residues killing children o “Dark-brewed death” correlation between coffee consumption and pancreatic cancer o Cell phones cause brain tumors Not Just About Fear…. We can also be faced with confusion and contradiction in media reports about any singular health topic or research result We can also find conflicting, controversial and/or meaningless research findings on any one topic Part of the meaninglessness comes from the common sense approach Consumers are left wondering who or what to believe For Example…Antioxidant Vitamin B Carotene 1990 observational epidemiological data strongly supported the hypothesis that dietary carotenoids reduce the risk of lung cancer craze for carrots increased Four years later a large scale randomised trail showed an 18% increase in lung cancer in those taking B Carotene How do we makes sense of these different results? We need to ask ourselves: Is the world such a dangerous place, or do we just need more clarity, direction and insight when reporting health-related research data in the media?? Furthermore, should we just be passive recipients of this media information, or do we need a better informed consumer of health-related research? How can we as consumers of health-related research judge responsibly when we are so dependent upon the fidelity of transmission from the laboratory, or government agency to our morning headlines? Most of us have to rely on media for accessible info Consumers of knowledge must demand clarity and certainty in the reporting of health-related research outcomes… Ppl rely too much on others to interpret results for them A Critical Perspective… Are the news reports accurate, or at least impartial in their accounting? o Impartial views are getting harder to find Is the magnitude of these dangers considerably overblown? o We’re drawn to other focuses, and we need to be mindful of what’s important What exactly have been demonstrated by the studies - Cause? Cure? o Causation vs association What if, in fact, neither the underlying science nor the underlying headline was quite what is seemed to be? Understanding the Fear, Confusion and Contradiction We have to address fear and confusion Consumers of health research need to address the litany of fear, confusion and contradiction in health research. We need to understand the: o Critical differences between “association” and “causation” o The “culture” of news stories o How is news reported? How do they grab our attention? o
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This note was uploaded on 12/26/2011 for the course FNR 100 taught by Professor D.mahoney during the Winter '10 term at Ryerson.

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11 - Public Dissemination & the Media - Public...

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