2 thoughts on “Advance Health”

  1. We will join together on our first day to think about how science communication can contribute to each of 4 priority areas of the Rockefeller Foundation. Each is framed very broadly –no doubt intended to encompass a wide range of issues and ideas of relevance in both developed and developing countries. Each is also framed in positive terms, in the ways such an initiative can bring benefits to societies.

    As we think about these 4 priority areas it seems fruitful to think about the aspects of each that create more resistance or potentially more controversy in society. That should help us narrow down aspects of each priority area where science communication practice and theory can help navigate the terrain in a fruitful way.

    I will ask us in our opening session to identify some areas of resistance relevant to each priority area. Please start thinking about this and, if you can, add your own ideas here so that we can build on them when we are together at Bellagio.

    I will start us off. One ripe area of resistance relevant to advancing health is vaccine hesitancy or vaccine confidence. This is a topic that keeps coming up in my discussions with stakeholder groups in the U.S. and in Europe. It is an area with importance in developing as well as developed nations, albeit with different contours and concerns. Concerns among some segments of the population have persisted over many years now. And, concerns likely connect with broader views about Western or conventional medicine. These aspects should make it a fruitful avenue for our conversations and for its relevance to the mission of the Rockefeller Foundation.

    What other aspects of advancing health might we consider together?

  2. Science communication in the medical sciences

    Below is part of a text that I’ve recently written for the launch of a science communication platform in the medical sciences. I hope that this can shed some light to our discussions on the ‘difficulty’ of communicating medical sciences with the public, and what can be done about that.

    “Science communication is part of everyday life for scientists. They often communicate with their peers, many give public talks and speak to journalists, write for blogs and newspapers, appear on TV or engage in public discussions. But this is far from saying that all scientists engage in science communication. Some scientific areas are more lacking than others when it comes to public communication, with, perhaps surprisingly, health and medical sciences amongst the areas that communicate least with the public, as my research shows. This is at best surprising. Global health faces many challenges, from infections and spread of diseases to the health risks of environment pollution, all of which call for public engagement. Also, there is considerable public demand for health and medical communication, with medical discoveries garnering amongst the highest levels of interest from the public. Besides, scientists are regarded by the public as the most trusted providers of scientific information including in the medical sciences…”

    Why are the medical sciences and medical scientists amongst the least communicators? what values are at stake when communicating medical sciences? what is the role of health practitioners and scientists in public communication?

    Martin Bauer and I conducted a nation-wide study of portuguese research institutes in all areas of research (OECD classification including medical sciences as one broad category), which offers some insights into this question. We profile types and intensity of communication activity in different areas and resources available to support scientists in their public communication efforts; medical sciences are amongst those communicating less.

    here: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0963662516633834

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