Autumn Symposium 2018

Sour fruits from the tree of knowledge? How we communicate evidence

Patients, doctors, media representatives and politicians: The communication of health-related evidence has several target groups that differ strongly in their previous knowledge, intentions and information needs. However, there are things in common, such as in communication psychology and sociology: The evidence communicated is often faced with internal resistance due to information overload, ingrained prejudice and competing influences – from marketing frames to fake news.

In contrast to such influences, many messages of evidence-based medicine are complex, counterintuitive, abstract and thus unemotional, that is, anything but catchy. These “sour fruits from the tree of knowledge” cannot be sweetened en passent, for instance by radically decreasing complexity or increasing emotionality – this would endanger their informative value.

On 23 and 24 of November 2018 in Cologne, 10 experts examined the topic from different perspectives in several (German-language) presentations: What are the basics, barriers and success factors of effective health communication? Which target groups do we communicate with and how? In this context, what are the specific conditions on the Internet? Are podcasts and storytelling suitable for evidence-based medicine? How does the rebuttal of myths and fake news work in the health field? How important are scientific findings in political processes, such as for legislation? How does scientific journalism convey complexity, and what is the relationship between emotion and evidence? What information (and in which format) and skills do doctors require for successful communication with patients? Does evidence-based health information in its current form fulfil the needs of people?

As always, the IQWiG Autumn Symposium provided lots of room for open questions, interdisciplinary discussions and networking.

Presentations (German):

Further information:

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