SciCombinator

Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Public

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There is currently a lack of information about the uses, benefits, and limitations of social media for health communication among the general public, patients, and health professionals from primary research.

Concepts: Health care, Health care provider, Medicine, Sociology, Illness, Research, Public relations, Public

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Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), a simple means of brain stimulation, possesses a trifecta of appealing features: it is relatively safe, relatively inexpensive and relatively effective. It is also relatively easy to obtain a device and the do-it-yourself (DIY) community has become galvanised by reports that tDCS can be used as an all-purpose cognitive enhancer. We provide practical recommendations designed to guide balanced discourse, propagate norms of safe use and stimulate dialogue between the DIY community and regulatory authorities. We call on all stakeholders-regulators, scientists and the DIY community-to share in crafting policy proposals that ensure public safety while supporting DIY innovation.

Concepts: Perception, Direct current, Transcranial magnetic stimulation, Transcranial direct current stimulation, Public, Stimulation, Do it yourself, DIY

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Scientists who perform environmental research on policy-relevant topics face challenges when communicating about how values may have influenced their research. This study examines how citizens view scientists who publicly acknowledge values. Specifically, we investigate whether it matters: if citizens share or oppose a scientist’s values, if a scientist’s conclusions seem contrary to or consistent with the scientist’s values, and if a scientist is assessing the state of the science or making a policy recommendation. We conducted two 3x2 factorial design online experiments. Experiment 1 featured a hypothetical scientist assessing the state of the science on the public-health effects of exposure to Bisphenol A (BPA), and Experiment 2 featured a scientist making a policy recommendation on use of BPA. We manipulated whether or not the scientist expressed values and whether the scientist’s conclusion appeared contrary to or consistent with the scientist’s values, and we accounted for whether or not subjects' values aligned with the scientist’s values. We analyzed our data with ordinary least squares (OLS) regression techniques. Our results provide at least preliminary evidence that acknowledging values may reduce the perceived credibility of scientists within the general public, but this effect differs depending on whether scientists and citizens share values, whether scientists draw conclusions that run contrary to their values, and whether scientists make policy recommendations.

Concepts: Regression analysis, Science, Bisphenol A, Experiment, Least squares, Linear least squares, Scientist, Public

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Hypertension is a major cause of mortality and morbidity today. The “silent” nature of hypertension makes it critical to determine its prevalence and its severity in the general public and to identify strategies to identify people unaware of its presence. A mobile hypertension awareness campaign was created to: (i) determine the prevalence and types of hypertension in an urban North American center, (ii) increase hypertension awareness, and (iii) identify reasons for lack of therapy adherence.

Concepts: Medical statistics, North America, Public

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The general public has numerous misconceptions and a lack of awareness and understanding regarding some of the prevalence, characteristics, and treatments of autism. As a result, education and awareness activities to increase the general public’s understanding and awareness of autism are important. This study was conducted throughout Utah to inform public education and awareness efforts being planned as part of Utah’s State Plan for Improving Outcomes for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Development Disorders.

Concepts: Understanding, Autism, Pervasive developmental disorder, Asperger syndrome, Autism spectrum, PDD-NOS, Public, Utah

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To synthesise results of population surveys assessing knowledge and attitudes about prevention and treatment of dementia.

Concepts: Public safety, Public

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ABSTRACT The voluntary moratorium on gain-of-function research related to the transmissibility of highly pathogenic H5N1 influenza virus should continue, pending the resolution of critical policy questions concerning the rationale for performing such experiments and how best to report their results. The potential benefits and risks of these experiments must be discussed and understood by multiple stakeholders, including the general public, and all decisions regarding such research must be made in a transparent manner.

Concepts: Microbiology, Influenza, Avian influenza, Transmission and infection of H5N1, Influenza A virus subtype H5N1, Public, Reassortment

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Science communication is increasingly important for scientists, although research, teaching and administration activities tend to eat up our time already, and budgets for science communication are usually low. It appears impossible to combine all these tasks and, in addition, to develop engagement activities to a quality and impact that would make the effort worth their while. Here we argue that these challenges are easier addressed when centering science communication initiatives on a long-term vision with a view to eventually forming outreach networks where the load can be shared whilst being driven to higher momentum. As one example, we explain the science communication initiative of the Manchester Fly Facility. It aims to promote public awareness of research using the model organism Drosophila, which is a timely, economic and most efficient experimental strategy to drive discovery processes in the biomedical sciences and must have a firm place in the portfolios of funding organisations. Although this initiative by the Manchester Fly Facility is sustained on a low budget, its long-term vision has allowed gradual development into a multifaceted initiative: (1) targeting university students via resources and strategies for the advanced training in fly genetics; (2) targeting the general public via science fairs, educational YouTube videos, school visits, teacher seminars and the droso4schools project; (3) disseminating and marketing strategies and resources to the public as well as fellow scientists via dedicated websites, blogs, journal articles, conference presentations and workshops - with a view to gradually forming networks of drosophilists that will have a greater potential to drive the science communication objective to momentum and impact. Here we explain the rationales and implementation strategies for our various science communication activities - which are similarly applicable to other model animals and other areas of academic science - and share our experiences and resources to provide ideas and readily available means to those who are actively engaging or intend to do so.

Concepts: Model organism, Science, Theory, Das Model, Drosophila melanogaster, Drosophila, Public, YouTube

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‘Responsible drinking’ campaigns emerged in the early 1970s as a means of addressing hazardous drinking and its related consequences. While these were initially the product of public health agencies and health-related NGOs, they are increasingly being developed and disseminated by the alcohol industry. There is considerable debate as to whether industry-generated campaigns are designed to reduce hazardous drinking and related problems (as argued by their developers) or are designed to avoid government regulation or even to increase sales. The aim of the present study was to explore the way that recent industry-developed responsible drinking campaigns are perceived and interpreted by the general public. That is, do they promote low-risk drinking, promote risky drinking, or just muddy the waters. Two sub-studies were conducted. The first, a mall intercept study with 180 adults in two Australian shopping districts, explored participants' understanding of slogans/taglines. The second, an online survey with 480 Australian adults, explored understandings and interpretations of television/online commercials. The results of the two studies revealed diversity in participants' interpretation of the ‘responsible drinking’ advertisements. Terminology utilised in industry-developed advertisements was found to be ambiguous; for example, what age group was being referred to in the tagline ‘Kids and alcohol don’t mix’, and whether ‘Drink Properly’ meant not drinking to excess or drinking in a way that made you look more sophisticated. In Study Two, the government-developed campaign (‘Know when to say when’) was clearly interpreted as warning against risky consumption of alcohol; whereas the industry-developed campaigns (‘How to drink properly’, ‘Kids absorb your drinking’, ‘Friends are waiting’) were interpreted to have a range of different meanings, including some seemingly unrelated to alcohol. These findings are consistent with the literature evaluating anti-smoking campaigns developed by the tobacco industry, and previous research showing that industry communications serve to soften public opinion and create the impression of a ‘socially responsible’ industry but are likely to be less effective than initiatives focused on the availability and promotion of alcohol.

Concepts: Perception, Linguistics, Interpretation, Drinking culture, Responsibility, Public, Sociological terms, Social responsibility