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Public Understanding: Research

  • By: Evan K. Perrault
  • In: Encyclopedia of Health Communication
  • Edited by: Teresa L. Thompson
  • Subject:Public Health Education & Health Promotion, Health Psychology, Health Communication

According to the National Science Foundation, more than 80 percent of Americans state they have at least some interest in new scientific discoveries. However, while the populace might have an interest in scientific research, they are probably unlikely to understand much of the research that is conducted or why it is being conducted. Part of this stems from the fact that research is a never-ending process; new findings will always lead to new research questions.

Another problem is that research can usually never give absolute answers, so conventional means of spreading information to the public (i.e., the news media) avoid covering research-related stories that do not have concrete results. What this means is that potentially lifesaving or life-altering information is being denied to a public that ...

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