Author Archives: Chelsea

Communicating Uncertainty in Precision Medicine (forthcoming in ABM)

My colleagues and I conducted an experiment testing public responses to the disclosure of uncertainty in a news story about precision medicine research. We examined the communication of uncertainty about both scientific utility and data governance.

Here’s a brief summary of what we found:

Conveying uncertainty of either type had no overall main effect on outcomes. Instead, those who reported perceiving greater uncertainty had lower attitudes, trust, and willingness to join, while those with more tolerance for uncertainty, support for science, and scientific understanding responded favorably to the scientific uncertainty disclosure.

The article is forthcoming in Annals of Behavioral Medicine. In the meantime, I’ve shared a preprint.

Digital Health Engagement in the US Population (new HINTS brief report)

My colleagues and I have a new brief report in American Journal of Public Health!

The main takeaway:

Data from NCI’s HINTS shows #eHealth engagement varies by type and among population groups, suggesting ongoing inequities and potential exclusion from digital health interventions and digitally-based health research

The article has been published online ahead of print here. 

If you don't have access to the full article, here's a copy.

How Lay Audiences Respond to Disclosure of Scientific Uncertainty (NCA Presentation)

My coauthors and I just presented a study at the virtual National Communication Association conference. Since the conference was free to attend, I’m sharing the video here.

We examined the impact of communicating uncertainty about a new genomic discovery — as opposed to certainty — on news audience responses. Disclosing uncertainty led to greater news credibility and trust in the scientists, and less perceived hype.

Reactance review published in Communication Research

My review of psychological reactance research approaches is now out in Communication Research. This paper is the product of three years of toiling, having fascinating conversations with other scholars, and going through an incredibly rewarding review process with three very thoughtful and gracious reviewers. Surely one of those unicorn experiences, and very proud of the result!

The article can be accessed here, or contact me and I’ll send you a PDF.

Reactance to framed messages: triggered by dose?—Article in Risk Analysis

View Table of Contents for Risk Analysis volume 39 issue 8

Our study of loss/gain framing, reactance and dose was just published in Risk Analysis. We tested a range of messages about the health risks/benefits of physical activity. Effectively promoting exercise is a topic that’s near and dear to me, so it was fascinating to see the complex set of results that unfolded.

Access the article here, or feel free to contact me for a copy.

Summer ’19 at the Max Planck Institute

Photo credit: Melisa Basol

This past June I was selected to attend the Summer Institute on Bounded Rationality with 39 other emerging scholars from around the world. It was a wonderful experience!

Now in its 19th year, this international program is hosted by the Center for Adaptive Rationality and the Harding Center for Risk Literacy at the Max Planck Institute in Berlin.

Participants attend curated talks and workshops on decision-making under uncertainty and learn how to effectively communicate uncertainty (e.g., of scientific evidence or technological risk) to the public. Attendees also have the chance to present their own work-in-progress and get feedback from leading researchers and peers.

This year’s Institute theme was “bounded rationality in a digital world.” We examined human decision-making in a range of contexts, as well as issues in modeling and ethical dilemmas in AI. Speakers included Gerd Gigerenzer, Ralph Hertwig, Stefan Herzog, Iyad Rahwan and many others.

I presented work from my dissertation on how the public makes decisions about whether to participate in precision medicine research, navigating the many uncertainties inherent in this space.

Presenting at the HINTS User Conference

I had a wonderful time presenting at the HINTS User Conference in Bethesda in May. This meeting brought together a fascinating range of research projects that use the publicly available Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS) dataset. I presented the digital health engagement framework that I’ve been developing with colleagues at the National Cancer Institute and Mayo Clinic, as part of the Information and Communication Technology session. Our hope is that this framework will be helpful for researchers in synthesizing the range of digital health engagement-related measures in existing national datasets such as HINTS. We got great feedback and hope to publicly share it soon!

Disproportionate coverage of cancer research in the media—Article in BMJ Open

Our team’s study on coverage of cancer research in online media was just published at BMJ Open! We started the collaboration when I was working at NCI in 2017, and we set out to examine which cancer research was getting picked up in the news – and why.

Of particular interest: we found that level of coverage per cancer type doesn’t mirror incidence. For example, breast cancer receives disproportionately higher amount of media attention compared to incidence, while lung, colorectal, and pancreatic cancers receive disproportionately lower. It’s helpful to keep this in mind since what’s covered in the news can shape our perceptions of what health issues we should worry about.

As we note in the piece, “Results highlight a need for continued research on the role of media, especially online media, in research dissemination.”

It’s possible that media outreach on behalf of research teams – especially at top scientific journals or research institutions rich in such resources – plays a role in what gets covered.

This was my first experience with open publishing – our dataset and code are publicly available. Pretty neat!

The article can be found here (open access):