Photo: CDCAedes aegypti
The news media, for the most part, played a helpful role in communicating the known health risks of the Zika virus to the public during the 2015-16 outbreak, in comparison to the Ebola outbreak two years earlier, according to a set of studies that were published in a special December 2018 issue of the journal “Risk Analysis.”
The group of studies, titled “Communicating Zika,” looked at how the understanding of Zika developed, how Zika risks were translated to the media and how the media’s coverage shaped public perceptions of the virus. Continue reading
A pediatrician sees a child with untreated tooth decay, but doubts a dentist will be available in the child’s community. The pediatrician does not write a referral.
A dentist notices a patient’s suspicious oral lesion, but fails to follow up. Care is delayed.
A pregnant woman with an infected tooth is advised to seek dental care but has no regular oral health provider. She ends up in an emergency room where her underlying dental problem remains unresolved.
Photo: DFID-UK Department for International Development via Wikimedia
During an infectious disease outbreak, how does a journalist provide accurate information about risks to the public as the event is unfolding?
Explain what is known and unknown at the time about the threat, and put the risk in context to risks that people assume daily, suggests Anthony Fauci, M.D., director of the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Continue reading
A mainstay of health reporting is covering outbreaks of foodborne illness, whether it’s salmonella in peanut butter (and its criminal consequences) or listeria in cantaloupes or ice cream. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention maintains a robust site documenting food-borne illness outbreaks, by the time the CDC cites a case on its website, the outbreak often already been in the news since potential outbreaks are first investigated by local and state health departments.
How do these smaller agencies decide how and when to publicize details about a suspected or confirmed outbreak? Continue reading
Photo: COD Newsroom via FlickrHealth literacy, and its impact on health disparities, is gaining increased focus among health care providers and researchers. AHCJ hosts a webinar on the topic May 11.
A pinned tweet touting the latest superfood. A Facebook post on vaccines. Advice from a neighbor or friend. A poster or billboard. Google.
Health information is blasting out to the public in ways it has not before. And if you think it’s hard for health journalists to make sense of the maze of conflicting data or complex studies, imagine how difficult it can be for the public to understand health and make sound choices.
Enter health literacy. Continue reading
Alice Dreger, a professor of clinical medical humanities and bioethics at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, writes for Pacific Standard Magazine about the public health threat caused by public officials who censor news, fail to respond to press queries or prevent health agency employees from speaking to journalists without a representative from the press office.
Dreger points to the current Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) crisis, referring to a piece in Wired by AHCJ board member Maryn McKenna. But she also reminds us that it was journalists who sounded the alarms about the dangers of thalidomide and the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, not to mention the journalists who pushed for more public awareness of AIDS when the Reagan administration was limiting the response to the emerging disease. Continue reading