Community, culture and health

Dr. Cindy Patton has conducted a series of studies on knowledge transfer from medical experts to clinicians, media, policymakers and the public. In dramatic and exceptional cases, this exchange happens almost directly. The media’s extensive reporting on health emergencies involving SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy or Mad Cow Disease) created demand from health consumers for more medical research, changes in public health policy, and reassurance about their risk for these conditions. But more often medical research filters down through clinicians and advocacy groups, who translate complex information for consumers and advocate for their medical needs. In addition, government policy makers must sort through information from researchers and citizens to adapt health policies and resources to changing medical needs. Dr. Patton is examining existing methods and systems for exchanging information in various settings—clinics, research centres and global information networks. The research could be used to create better channels for transferring specialized medical information. Dr. Patton is also developing training programs for researchers and the public to help improve their understanding of how to efficiently transfer knowledge from medical experts to people affected by health issues.