Readability and Visuals in Medical Research Information Forms for Children and Adolescents

Petronella Grootens-Wiegers, Martine C. De Vries, Tessa E. Vossen, Jos M. Van den Broek

Children are often-overlooked receivers of medical information, and little research addresses their information needs. However, young children are capable of understanding medical concepts, and they express the desire to be informed. This study addresses the quality of medical research information forms for children in the Netherlands, by assessing text readability and the role of visuals. Children’s reading books, nonfiction books, and textbooks were used as comparison. Seven focus groups were conducted to identify children’s preferences and needs for text and supporting visuals. We argue that the use of visuals is a powerful, but neglected, tool to improve medical information for minors.



How Laypeople Understand the Tentativeness of Medical Research News in the Media: An Experimental Study on the Perception of Information About Deep Brain Stimulation

Joachim Kimmerle, Danny Flemming, Insa Feinkohl, Ulrike Cress

Medical research findings are often tentative, and people should be able to perceive this. However, the psychological processes underlying this ability are largely unclear. In a laboratory experiment, we found that the following factors had an impact on perception of tentativeness of research findings reported in a newspaper article: (a) the framing of findings, (b) emphasis on the limited reliability of the findings in the article, (c) people’s provisional opinion on the topic, and (d) their medicine-related epistemological beliefs. We make recommendations to science journalists to help promote the public understanding of health research and provide suggestions for future studies.


(Re)acting medicine: applying theatre in order to develop a whole-systems approach to understanding the healing response

S. Goldingay, P. Dieppe, M. Mangan & D. Marsden

This critical reflection is based on the belief that creative practitioners should be using their own well-established approaches to trouble dominant paradigms in health and care provision to both form and inform the future of healing provision and well-being creation. It describes work by a transdisciplinary team (drama and medicine) that is developing a methodology which is rooted in productive difference; an evolving synergy between two cultural and intellectual traditions with significant divergences in their world-view perceptions, approaches and training methods. This commonality is underpinned by four assumptions that: (1) human-to-human interactions matter, (2) context matters, (3) the whole person and their community matters and (4) interpretation matters. In this paper, we reflect on the project’s early stages and uses of this methodology to investigate the fundamental human-to-human interaction of a person seeking healing (a healee) with a healer. We believe that this interaction enables the healing response – the intrinsic ability of the human organism to self-heal and regain homeostasis.


Is it believable when it’s scientific? How scientific discourse style influences laypeople’s resolution of conflicts

Rainer Bromme, Lisa Scharrer, Marc Stadtler, Johanna Hömberg and Ronja Torspecken

Scientific texts are a genre in which adherence to specific discourse conventions allows for conclusions on the scientific integrity of the information and thus on its validity. This study examines whether genre-typical features of scientific discourse influence how laypeople handle conflicting science-based knowledge claims. In two experiments with a total of N = 120 participants we investigated to what extent laypeople take into account such features when judging the “scientificness” and credibility of conflicting knowledge claims about medical issues and issues related to climate change and when determining their personal agreement with conflicting claims. Results showed that laypeople use genre-typical discourse features to evaluate the scientificness and credibility of conflicting science-based information. However, depending on the scientific topic, they appear to distinguish between what they judge to be credible and what they personally believe to be true. Educational implications of the findings are discussed.