About the communication of health research: generating trust through information and education
La comunicazione della ricerca scientifica: informare (e formare) generando fiducia
Public communication strategies of scientific findings can be placed at various levels on a scale that originates from purely informative methods and, through increasingly persuasive methods, goes up to coercion. Institutional communication of science during the covid-19 pandemic is affected by the tension between the pursuit of the ethics of transparency and the need to achieve public health goals: a communication focused on information, that neutrally highlights both the risks and the
... es of an intervention, could reduce the acceptance of this intervention in the short term, but consolidate people's trust in institutions in the long term. On the other hand, a more persuasive communication could lead to a greater adherence to the proposed intervention in the short term, but weaken the trust of the communication's recipients towards the institutions. Whenever there is robust evidence in favor of the net benefit of an intervention, informative and persuasive communication tend to overlap, while interventions with an uncertain relation between pros and cons should orient communication towards more informative strategies: even when this is not possible, as in the case of health emergencies, transparency in communication remains decisive. In this regard, transparency is configured as the common denominator of a type of science communication that can generate trust in its recipients. But transparency alone is not enough. In fact, its effectiveness is lost if the communicated contents are not useful and if the recipients of the messages are not able to receive them adequately. Based on Italo Calvino's Six Memos, we define six requirements for transparent communication of scientific research and emphasize the importance of interventions aimed at promoting health literacy since primary school, such as the international Informed Health Choices project.