Friday, September 28, 2012

Health Knowledge

Usually we expect folks with direct experience on a topic to have greater knowledge about that topic.  Seems reasonable.  This survey, at least when it comes to health, suggests otherwise.  It finds "people with a family history of sodium-related diseases did not have more knowledge on the relationship between sodium consumption and risk of getting certain diseases than those with no history."

In other words, direct experience with sodium-based diseases did not lead to greater knowledge about the problems of sodium consumption.

If you're not into following links on suspicious blogs like this one, here's the key graph from the press release:
Researchers from North Carolina State University analyzed data collected from 489 consumers who participated in a quantitative Internet survey designed to gather knowledge and attitudes towards dietary sodium, sodium in foods, and health. The consumers were divided into two groups: group one, for those who had no family history, and group two, for those that did. Results showed that having a disease history did not increase the level of knowledge that excess sodium intake increases the risk of getting diseases.
This is kinda odd and interesting and a little bit scary.  Not that it's about sodium and salt, but if we broadly extend this to health in general it says a lot about what people know, or don't know, even when they're directly exposed to the problem through family.  You'd expect greater knowledge.  This raises some important questions and challenges for those in the health communication field when it comes to informing the public.  If even direct experience with a health problem doesn't help, how much can you expect a health campaign to succeed?

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