Personal story helps illustrate physiological effects of stress

Joe Rojas-Burke

About Joe Rojas-Burke

Joe Rojas-Burke is AHCJ’s core topic leader on the social determinants of health, working to help journalists broaden the frame of health coverage to include factors such as education, income, neighborhood and social network. Send questions or suggestions to joe@healthjournalism.org or @rojasburke.

The idea that chronic stress can change how your body and brain work fascinated Dan Gorenstein, a radio reporter at Marketplace, and it sparked the idea for an affecting, memorable piece about poverty and health.

The report pivots on the story of a woman with a troubled past and a painful confession. How did Gorenstein find her, and persuade her to go public? How did he balance her interests with his potentially conflicting interest in pursuing a good story?

The piece also distills a lot of complicated research about chronic stress, decision making and health. But it remains a tight, fast-moving narrative. I talked to Gorenstein and got the inside story on how he did the reporting.

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