You may have spotted a number of stories in the tabloids last week which reported on the increase in incidence and prevalence of non-cystic fibrosis bronchiectasis, and the raised mortality in this group. The findings followed analysis of data from a large electronic health records database, the Clinical Practice Research Datalink. The authors of this study include some familiar names from NE Thames, Prof Jerry Brown and Dr Jennifer Quint. If you happened to get The Sun last Thursday (no comment on your choice of reading material…), you may even have spotted Prof Brown’s face!
The Times reported that: “Dickensian Lung Disease is back“, and the Sun went with the headline “‘Dickensian OAP bug cases surge.”
It is interesting to reflect on this story, and consider how we can ensure the media reports on our scientific findings accurately. We all hope our research reaches a large audience, and there is increasing emphasis from academic institutions and grant bodies, on measuring impact that extends beyond peer-reviewed journals. The original paper is in press and can be viewed in the ERJ, and the press release from UCL relating to the research can be seen on their website. Clearly, the use of the work ‘Dickensian’ caught the attention of the press, and was an effective hook in getting the story out. It is worth reading the paper, the press release and the articles and reflecting on whether you think the main points were translated across into the mainstream media articles.
Read the original article:
- Changes in the incidence, prevalence and mortality of bronchiectasis in the UK from 2004 to 2013: a population-based cohort study. Jennifer K. Quint, Elizabeth R.C. Millett, Miland Joshi, Vidya Navaratnam, Sara L. Thomas, John R. Hurst, Liam Smeeth, Jeremy S. Brown. European Respiratory Journal Nov 2015, DOI: 10.1183/13993003.01033-2015
Read more about communicating science to the public:
- Why we need to teach science communication to Undergraduates and Postgraduates from a group at Stanford University
- Science and the Public: A review of science communication and public attitudes to science in Britain from The Wellcome Trust
- Resources and reports on Public Engagement from The Wellcome Trust
- Standing Up for Science: a guide to the media for early career researchers from Sense about Science
- Tips and resources for researchers engaging with the media from the Science Media Centre
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