Public Health Links, Lost in Translation #solo13links

PLOS held a science outreach workshop at Spot On London '13 on science communication using falling vaccination rates as a focus. Panelists included PLOS ONE Editorial Director Damian Pattinson, PLOS authors Marc Baguelin, Tammy Boyce and Stephan Lowendowsky, and PLOS blogger Beth Skwarecki.

  1. Science journalist Suzi Gage (@soozaphone) of Sifting the Evidence blog on The Guardian served as our moderator.
  2. Last session looking at weak links btwn sci comm leading to decrease in vaccination rates in Europe #solo13links
  3. Panelist Damian Pattinson wrote a preview blog post for EveryONE on the purpose of this panel.
  4. Damian Pattinson: Coming as I do from a background of ‘peddling the evidence,’ it disturbs me when I see evidence ignored in favour of quackery. But I also bring a personal perspective to this issue. As with climate change, it frustrates me that my own actions are not enough to safeguard my children against a threat to their health and safety. Although no vaccine is perfect, every time my children play with others who are intentionally un-vaccinated their risk of contracting preventable contagious diseases increases. ...We aren’t the first and certainly won’t be the last meeting of scientists and science writers to take on this issue, but that doesn’t let us off the hook and excuse us for not trying.
  5. oh goodie a session on de-bunking anti-vaccine quackery #solo13links #wddty
  6. Who should be the spokesperson for vaccines? Doctors, media, researchers? #solo13links Live stream discussion: 
  7. What can scientists do to help make sure people get vaccinated or does it have to come from higher up the chain? #solo13links
  8. #solo13links Public health debate on vaccination programmes. Fascinating to hear wide range of views from researchers on panel.
  9. DP: In many ways, I don’t blame the public for being mistrustful of scientific research – the scientific community and mainstream media make it very hard for people to know what to believe. As Editorial Director of a large journal, I see the entire spectrum of misinterpretation of data. I see original datasets being over-interpreted by authors, in order to get published in top journals. I see journalists taking these papers and adding yet another layer of spin in order to sell them to the public. I see newspaper editors pushing the most shocking articles to the front pages to ensure maximum impact. It’s little wonder that the public are mistrustful.
  10. Why do authors tell people their paper is going to change the world when it isn't, need to be truthful and say what is there #solo13links
  11. @BethSkw When writing about politically charged science, it's important that the research backs you up. #solo13links 
  12. Also highly relevant to #solo13links panel: MT @Protohedgehog Should all journals require a lay summary with research articles? #solo13open
  13. DP: At PLOS ONE, we are trying to deal with these challenges by encouraging honest reporting of data. By removing the question of ‘novelty’ and ‘impact’ from our review process, we aim to get authors to state simply what they’ve discovered without feeling they have to dress it up in layers of over-interpretation. That drug you’ve discovered kills some cells in a petri dish. Great! Is it a cure for cancer? No. So don’t say it is – we’ll still publish your paper!
  14. Panelist Tammy BoycePhD (@tamboyce) holds an honorary lecturing post with the Centre for Infection Prevention and Management, Imperial College London, Hammersmith Hospital, London, and was a Research Fellow in Health, Risk, Science and Communication at the Cardiff School of Journalism.  Tammy’s research has been published in Nature Reviews Immunology, and the British Journal of Healthcare Management. She was one of the first to examine public reception of media coverage and the impact the style of reporting has on public opinion and vaccination decisions. From this research, Tammy published the book Health, Risk and News: The MMR Vaccine and the Media (with Peter Lang, 2007). Her latest research article in PLOS ONE examines the role of the school nurse in addressing inequities in HPV vaccine uptake in the UK.
  15. TB: Despite high uptake in the UK, some girls remain at risk of not being vaccinated with all three doses. School nurses played a key role in reducing health inequalities in the delivery of the HPV programme. Other studies identified religious beliefs and ethnicity as potentially influencing HPV vaccination uptake but interviews for this research found this appeared not to have occurred. Instead school nurses stated girls who were more likely to be missed were those not in education. Improving understanding of the delivery processes of immunisation programmes and this impact on health inequalities can help to inform solutions to increase uptake and address health inequalities in childhood and adolescent vaccination programmes. From her recent research abstract.
  16. You cannot have a panacea to a problem via one singe route #solo13links
  17. It takes time and persistence to address health inequalities #solo13links
  18. People thought girls would have more sex because of the HPV vaccine #solo13links
  19. The media can inform you (and scare you) but they can’t reassure you. Nurses can fill that gap #solo13links
  20. Panelist Beth Skwarecki (@BethSkw) is an independent science journalist specializing in public health issues who writes for AAAS Science News, and DoubleXScienceand blogs on the PLOS BLOGS Network. Recent posts have covered the HPV vaccine’s “image problem” and the role of Twitter in spreading misinformation on the 2009 H1N1 pandemic.
  21. When @BethSkw noticed other health-conscious moms were anti-vaccine she double-checked evidence & found it was all pro-vaccine. #solo13links
  22. .@BethSkw on word of mouth: scientists may like data, but anecdotes may resonate more w/ people #solo13links stream: 
  23. Beth Skwarecki:  From her Public Health Perspectives post: "HPV Goes Up, HPV Goes Down, and America Has an Image Problem with this Vaccine": It’s the “your teenage girl will have sex” vaccine. Not that it will cause her to have sex; studies show it won’t, and according to the surveys that’s not even what parents fear. But I have a good guess why so many check “Not needed” as their reason for not giving the vaccine: it makes them think about their daughter, or their son, having sex.
  24. Panelist Marc Baguelin PhD (@marcbaguelin) is a mathematical modeler working in the Immunisation department at the Health Protection Agency and at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine on models of influenza transmission, immunization, and control. Marc’s research has been published in the journals VaccineBiostatistics, and Emerging Infectious Disease. His latest studyAssessing Optimal Target Populations for Influenza Vaccination Programmes: An Evidence Synthesis and Modelling Study, published in PLOS Medicine, resulted in a change of UK health policy with an extension of the influenza vaccination programme to 2-16 year old children.
  25. Marc Baguelin: “Traditionally, vaccination programmes have targeted over 65s or people with health conditions who are most at risk of serious complications from flu. But by targeting children, who our study confirms are the main spreaders of the flu virus, we would expect to see significantly fewer cases of flu in the wider population and a reduction in flu-related deaths among elderly people. “The roll-out of the new children’s flu vaccine is already underway in England, Wales and Scotland this year; improving vaccine coverage among children should be a priority for similar countries considering their vaccination policies, as our findings suggest there will be great benefits to the community as a whole.” 
  26. MB: Vaccination of children would not directly prevent as many influenza-related deaths as vaccination of elderly people, but it might indirectly prevent deaths in elderly adults by inducing herd immunity—vaccination of a large part of a population can protect unvaccinated members of the population by reducing the chances of an infection spreading. From his recent PLOS Medicine research article.
  27. "Unfortunately, in public health, if it's working, nobody knows bc nobody sees it happening." Yep, hence vaccines mistrust :( #sciwri13
  28. One example is outbreak of measles in Wales. No one believed vaccines were not harmful until faced with reality of disease #solo13links
  29. UK "academy" schools are a public health concern because they can opt out of national school vaccination programmes #solo13 #solo13links
  30. NHS Behind the Headlines  is a great corrective to media misreporting - but needs more publicity #solo13 #solo13links
  31. #solo13links 'Sometimes scientists are accused of being political, but often that's just because their findings are inconvenient' How true.
  32. Clinician felt morally obliged to be on twitter in the age of ‘diagnosis by google’ to correct misinformation #solo13links
  33. #solo13 Interesting view from audience about the reasons academics don't engage in campaigns - fear of 'media slut' label!
  34. Don’t assume only middle class make decisions that inform policy, and acknowledge some might want heuristics to make decisions #solo13links
  35. @Schrokit #solo13links i do! I'm the public! I don't it, mind, I just assume the press are wrong. This is a successful heuristic.
  36. Damian Pattinson: All of us continue to pay the price for the broken public trust that came from the Andrew Wakefield-MMR debacle of the mid-90s (from his EveryONE post.)
  37. Jenny McCarthy's antivaxx campaign efforts came up multiple times on the panel...

  38. Jenny McCarthy talks to CNN on how she cured her sons Autism caused by VACCINATIONS!
  39. So how can we correct the dissemination of wrong ideas and why do people tend to believe the hype. Any thoughts? #solo13links #solo13
  40. People are not convinced by facts. Saddest quote from #solo13links
  41. Panelist Stephan Lewandowsky PhD (@STWorg) is a cognitive scientist in the School of Experimental Psychology, University of Bristol, UK. His research, published in Nature Climate ChangeJournal of Experimental Psychology, andCognitive Psychology, examines peoples’ memory and decision making with particular emphasis on how people respond to corrections of misinformation. His latest PLOS ONE research article, The Role of Conspiracist Ideation and Worldviews in Predicting Rejection of Science,. studies how conspiracist thinking affects public attitudes towards scientific issues; as Hilda Bastain blogged: a “strong consensus around science can be seen as evidence that ‘they’re all in cahoots’… with vaccination, say, presenting yet more facts or another study could paradoxically confirm their rejection of science.”
  42. Stephan Lewandowsky from his recent PLOS ONE article: There are growing indications that rejection of science is suffused by conspiracist ideation, that is the general tendency to endorse conspiracy theories including the specific beliefs that inconvenient scientific findings constitute a “hoax."
  43. What are the variables that make certain people susceptible to misinformation? Fascinating!! I want to know now! #solo13links
  44. #solo13links 'the beliefs you already have influence what you are about to accept' - factors that come into play in vaccine decision making.
  45. A new study finds that conspiracy beliefs tie together those who deny climate change, refuse vaccines, and question GMOs.

  46. It is hard to undo damage without giving a simple idea that will stick in people's minds and replace the false information #solo13links
  47. @PLOS Yes, but they may need to be delivered to parents in a calculated manner by pediatricians, not the media/researchers. #solo13links
  48. Misinformation is different to disinformation, the later is the deliberate sharing of false information #solo13links
  49. People don’t know what to do when a mental model is ‘ripped out’ to correct you have to replace that with a sticky alternate #solo13links
  50. If you tell someone a fact and them tell them it is false they will still believe it unless you give an alternative message #solo13links
  51. Do we, was scientists have a moral obligation to engage the public directly to correct misrepresentation? #solo13links
  52. Message of change should come from figure of trust, e.g. Arnie and climate change to Republicans #solo13links
  53. MT @Jayarava: @PLOS but they don't change people's minds unless also take into account how they feel abt & value fac thets. #solo13links
  54. @PLOS @ScienceGist kinda insulting that none of the people besides the scientist add info value, isn't it? #scicomm #solo13links
  55. @pvanheus @ScienceGist Unless read it as scientist has to provide more clarity on research at beginning of comm "food chain" ? #solo13links
  56. Beth Skwarecki: From her Public Health Perspectives post, "Twitter Study of Vaccine Messages: Opinions are Contagious but in Unexpected Ways": Remember 2009? The H1N1 pandemic we were all waiting for? I do. I was pregnant; H1N1 was particularly risky for pregnant women. The vaccine wasn’t available until after I had my baby, but when they held a clinic an hour north of where I live, I brought my husband there so we could both get our shots. My infant son was too young to be vaccinated, so I wanted to protect him through herd immunity.
  57. .@BethSkw: Twitter full of negative comments about #vaccines; needs more positive messages #solo13links live stream: 
  58. Importance of scientists being on twitter: "It's the age of diagnosis via Google" #solo13links 
  59. What are some good basic vaccine safety information resources?
  60. Go play the vax game!! RT @BeckiePort First example, learning about epidemiology and vaccines  #solo13play
  61. Closing comments...
  62. #solo13links Thanks @SpotOnLondon learnt so much already - final lesson from today 'NHS behind the headlines' -so many things to follow up!
  63. PLOS  is a nonprofit publisher and advocacy organization founded to accelerate progress in science and medicine by leading a transformation in research communication.