Science has been under attack again recently, and as a team of health communicators, we have something say about it. Here’s why:
- Years of efforts to improve access to life-saving medicines through scientific innovation, advocacy, awareness and greater health literacy have improved lives – and underline the need to fight for voices that champion equality and evidence. When we include communities in the conversation and lead with the language those communities actually use, our reward includes better patient outcomes, reduced stigma, and ground-breaking technology.
- The people most affected by specific conditions, diseases, and abilities have to have a voice in deciding how those things are described and how they identify themselves within them. The NHS’s shared decision making initiative is an example of the positive strides possible in this space. If you exclude the term transgender from official discussion of legislation that might affect people who identify as transgender, what are you really saying?
- Decisions about health have to be grounded science. To say something is ‘science-based’ is to remove bias, and demonstrate the objective strength of information presented. To remove that qualification puts lives at risk.
This isn’t a political conversation, it’s a human one. Words give us the power to be as specific, inclusive, and informed as possible about decisions that define us.