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Scientific Complexity, Communication of

  • By: Jakob D. Jensen
  • In: Encyclopedia of Health Communication
  • Edited by: Teresa L. Thompson
  • Subject:Public Health Education & Health Promotion, Health Psychology, Health Communication

Scientific research informs public policy and personal decision making. As result, scientific findings and recommendations are directly communicated to the public via media and public presentations, and indirectly through conversations with friends and family members or with practitioners such as doctors and nurses. Yet, the language of science is lexically complex and increasingly specialized. Moreover, scientists value and convey uncertainty more than other groups—including the public, perhaps—and these differences raise questions about the optimal way to communicate science to various audiences. Health communication researchers have developed theoretical frameworks for understanding the communication of scientific complexity (e.g., the model of information overload, uncertainty management theory) and explored both the content and effects of variations in form and delivery.

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