Last week the media made headlines that alcohol is unsafe at any quantity. It was based on a Lancet study that drew that conclusion. Aaron Carroll publicsplained it in the New York Times. It’s worth a read to understand how we might begin to put headlines and research conclusions into the proper context
Medical research is complicated. Few among us are in a position to tell us what a study means or if its conclusions are sound. Few (doctors included) have the capacity to understand the subtleties of what’s published in a medical journal. And among those who do understand, fewer have the gift of shaping it in a way that consumers can process. Those that can do both are rare.
But the translation of research findings is critical to how the world understands medical progress.
We live and work in an attention economy. As more outlets compete for our bandwidth, there is a desperate race to pull you in. As a result, the promulgation of poor research or the misrepresentation of good research represents one of public health’s great challenges of the information age .
The concept of translation and medical communication gets little serious attention. Aaron Carrol’s work shows how science can be democratized for a consuming public. Alan Alda dedicated his life to it until very recently.
In the post-truth age, correcting the crisis of medical misinformation represents a big opportunity for those with the capacity to to translate.