Author Archive

Direct-to-Consumer Genetic Testing: A Slippery Slope?

The Food and Drug Administration recently announced that genetic testing company, 23andMe, can inform people of their breast cancer risk linked to three specific BRCA1/BRCA2 gene mutations—without involving a doctor. These gene mutations are most common in people of Ashkenazi Jewish decent, but they are not the most common BRCA1/BRCA2 mutations among the general population.

The announcement sparked some debate. Is it a step forward in cancer care or cause for alarm? 23andMe believes that marketing these types of tests directly to consumers is “incredibly valuable for those who might not be aware of their Ashkenazi Jewish descent or aren’t familiar with their family history of cancer.” There’s certainly an argument to be made that open access to genetic information is a good thing—it can arm consumers with important information, help them take control of their health, and even save lives. But what if people misread, misinterpret, or do not understand the results?

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The Ugly Side of Social Media Exposed

Does social media encourage the worst in human nature?

Having spent the last decade working in social media, I’ve seen a lot of bad behavior. From nasty Facebook comments to people berating each other in forums, I’ve brushed it off by telling myself that passionate people are more likely to express themselves online. Middle-of-the-road people don’t bother.

recent study in Science has me questioning whether I’ve been too optimistic all these years. Over the last decade on Twitter, the study found that falsehoods in news were much more likely to spread than accurate news, and spread more quickly. Even more depressing, authors found that humans—not bots—were more likely to share the falsehoods.

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What Are Our Options for Addressing Gun Violence?

Over the past several years, we have seen engagement in social change in the U.S. unlike any that I have seen in my lifetime—from Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ equality to climate change, TimesUp and now gun violence prevention.

Last year I wrote about my experience participating in the Women’s March on Washington and what social and behavioral science can tell us about why we march and why protest marches can be a successful tool in social change. As I plan to participate in the March For Our Lives on March 24, and because I am a social marketer, I find myself reflecting on how social marketing can be best utilized to tackle our society’s wicked problem of gun violence.

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Beyond Bedside Manner: Effective Provider-Patient Communications

Effective communication between provider and patient is a critical component of all patient-centered care. As a health communications professional, I appreciate this fact. As a mother/patient/caregiver, I appreciate it even more. 

We’ve all had that moment in the doctor’s office either as patient or caregiver… “The test results are positive,”…is that a good thing? “The numbers are borderline,”…so we’re in the clear until next year’s exam? “We will explore palliative care,”…is that the same as hospice?

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7 Things I’ve Learned from Developing Social Media Content for a Federal Stats Agency

Admit it: when you log on to your social media every day, the last thing you’re looking forward to is seeing content from a federal statistical agency. And who could blame you? It doesn’t sound nearly as exciting as content from your favorite celebrity, sports team, or public figure.

But look at the Facebook and Twitter pages for our client, the U.S. Department of Education’s National Assessment of Educational Progress(NAEP, also known as The Nation’s Report Card) and maybe you’ll ask yourself: Why have I not been following NAEP?

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