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Making Data TalkThe Science and Practice of Translating Public Health Research and Surveillance Findings to Policy Makers, the Public, and the Press$
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Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195381535

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195381535.001.0001

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Conclusions and New Challenges

Conclusions and New Challenges

(p.300) 8 Conclusions and New Challenges
Making Data Talk

David E. Nelson

Bradford W. Hesse

Robert T. Croyle

Oxford University Press

This chapter reflects on implications of previous chapters and identifies key challenges. Public health professionals may fail to recognize their own epistemology, i.e., their assumptions that scientific methods and data are appropriate types of evidence is not shared by all. For many people, personal experiences or ideology can override scientific consensus. Health communication continues to be both art and science with no “best way” of communicating. Many types of public health data are susceptible to misuse and misinterpretation, hence the importance of ethics and integrity. The growing availability of data on many subjects increases opportunities to selective choose or locate findings conforming to existing beliefs and biases. As long mathematical literacy and numeracy levels remain low, lay audiences will continue to rely on communication intermediaries whose motives must be scrutinized. More research is needed on, among other things, how the type and format of data influence information seeking strategies by lay audiences.

Keywords:   epistemiology, scientific method, health communication, public health data, ethics, mathematical literacy, numeracy, information seeking

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