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American University Event: Public Health Researchers on “Making Data Talk”

In the fourth event of the Science in Society Film and Lecture Series at American University, on Monday, March 28 we will be hosting two leading researchers from the National Cancer Institute, discussing their book Making Data Talk: The Science and Practice of Translating Public Health Research and Surveillance Findings to Policy Makers, the Public, and the Press (Oxford University Press).

Details are below and video of the event will be available.

1:00 pm – 3:00 pm, Monday, March 28, Butler Board Room

(Campus Map & Directions)

The demand for health information continues to increase, but the ability of health professionals to provide it clearly remains variable. The aim of this book is (1) to summarize and synthesize research on the selection and presentation of data pertinent to public health, and (2) to provide practical suggestions, based on this research summary and synthesis, on how scientists and other public health practitioners can better communicate data to the public, policy makers, and the press in typical real-world situations. Because communication is complex and no one approach works for all audiences, the authors emphasize how to communicate data “better” (and in some instances, contrast this with how to communicate data “worse”), rather than attempting a cookbook approach. The book contains a wealth of case studies and other examples to illustrate major points, and actual situations whenever possible. Key principles and recommendations are summarized at the end of each chapter.

This book will stimulate interest among public health practitioners, scholars, and students to more seriously consider ways they can understand and improve communication about data and other types of scientific information with the public, policy makers, and the press. Improved data communication will increase the chances that evidence-based scientific findings can play a greater role in improving the public’s health.

Bradford. W. Hesse, Ph.D., is Chief of the Health Communication and Informatics Research Branch at the National Cancer Institute (NCI).  Located within the NCI’s Behavioral Research Program, Dr. Hesse serves as the Program Director the Centers of Excellence in Cancer Communication Research (CECCRs) and as the Program Officer for the Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS).  He serves in an advisory capacity for the NCI’s User Centered Informatics Research laboratory, as a standing member of the American Psychological Association’s Electronic Resources Advisory Committee, and as communication chair for the Society of Behavioral Medicine. His 2009 book “Making Data Talk: Communicating Public Health Data to the Public, Policy Makers, and the Press” applies cognitive science to the task of communicating scientific health findings to consumers in a data-rich communication environment.  He has authored or co-authored approximately 137 publications, including peer-reviewed journal article, technical reports, books, and book chapters.

David Nelson, Ph.D. is the Director of the Cancer Prevention Fellowship Program (CPFP) at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), having joined the NCI in October 2008.  The CPFP is an internationally renowned postdoctoral program designed to train future leaders in the field of cancer prevention research.  Dr. Nelson came to the CPFP after working as the Senior Scientific Advisor with the Alcohol Team at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  At CDC he worked for many years as an epidemiologist and health communication scientist in the Office on Smoking and Health.  He also served as the Chief of the Behavioral Surveillance Branch, where he was responsible for overseeing CDC’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), which is the largest telephone health survey in the world.  He was a Senior Health Scientist in the NCI’s Health Communication and Informatics Research Branch from 2000-2002, where he led efforts to develop the Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS).

He is an author on more than 90 articles in the peer-reviewed scientific literature.  Dr. Nelson is the lead author of the book Making Data Talk (along with NCI coauthors Dr. Brad Hesse and Dr. Robert Croyle) published by Oxford University Press in 2009.  He is the second author on the book Essentials of Public Health Communication, which was published in the fall of 2010.  He also was the lead editor of the 2002 book Communicating Public Health Information Effectively: A Guide for Practitioners.


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