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Science, Health and the Media Research Group

Researching the key debates about science and health in the media.

This research group addresses key debates about science and health in the media ranging from questions about accuracy and hype to reflections on ethics, stigma and social context.

Research questions include:

  • How is science, technology and health reporting 'produced' by PR sources and journalists or by 'grass roots' campaign groups?
  • How are diseases, people with particular illnesses or the announcement of scientific findings represented in a range of media from news reporting to science fiction?
  • How are such representations interpreted/incorporated (by media audiences, policy makers, and 'publics'?

Aims

The aim of this research group is to critically examine how media representations of science and health are created, represented and understood. Our work includes collaboration with charities (eg challenging stigma around disfigurement), promoting debates about the ethics and practice of science PR, and engaging with cultural debates (eg about the end of life).

Funded research

This research group has been involved in over M£1 of funded research. Major project topics include genomics, representations of emerging technologies, debates around stem cell research, the representation of women in science and the operation of science PR.

Funding bodies include the ESRC, the Wellcome Trust, UKRC and the Department of Health.

PhD students

A lively group of PhD students are developing studies in a wide range of related areas including projects on 'Constructed futures for care home residents';  ‘Female Genital Mutilation’, ‘Media reporting of AIDS’, ‘The debate about genetically modified crops in the UK', ‘TV drama about human cloning' and ‘Radio discourse about hybrid embryos’.

MSc in Science Communication

We contribute to the MSc in Science Communication - a collaboration between us, the School of Social Sciences, and Techniquest.

Examples of our research projects

  • Dying with reduced agency: people, places, principles and policies (GW4 network grant, June-November, 2014)
  • Improving allied health professional communication and practice (ESRC Acceleration Award, July 2014)
  • Understanding and optimising health-related press releases as complex public health interventions (led by Psychology, 2014-2016)
  • Exploring the potential of digital stories in professional training (ESRC IAA funding)
  • Vegetative and minimally conscious states: Creating a web resource for families of severely brain injured patients (ESRC Knowledge Exchange Award, and DIPEx charity) (2013-14)

Covid-19

In 2020 we started a series of  research projects around the pandemic including: a survey of 200+ creative freelancers to assess government policies for the self-employed (Lewis et al), a study of press coverage of the crisis for cultural and creative industries (Allan et al), an analysis of broadcast news and diary study of people’s understanding of Covid-19 (Cushion et al), a questionnaire study across 42 countries looking at children's media use in the pandemic (Carter et al) and another looking at schools’ use of multimedia platforms (Carter as Co-I, collaboration with King’s college). We also bid for, and won, a British Academy grant to look at "The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on community journalism start-ups in the UK” (Wahl-Jorgensen).

Alongside research we delivered webinars on broadcasting in lockdown and toolkits for journalists reporting on Covid-19, briefed senior news editors on accuracy when covering diverse lockdown rules across the UK, set up initiatives to help community journalists, held a series of webinars with those in charge of creative industry support and collated information and advice for creative companies and freelancers. Additional initiatives included contributing to a Welsh Parliamentary Committee report on the impact of the Covid-19 on journalism and local media; compiling evidence about data management and coronavirus contact tracing; developing guidelines for the Wales NHS confederation; initiating a two volume special issue of Digital Journalism on the pandemic and established a new blog platform dedicated to amplifying the voices of people from the Global South which in turn informed a timely peer-reviewed journal publication (“The rise of the data poor: the COVID-19 pandemic seen from the margins (Trere & Milan, 2020, Social Media and Society).

Previous projects include:

  • Digital Storytelling in health services (PI Jenny Kidd; 2014 – July 2016)
  • Understanding and optimising health-related press releases as complex public health interventions’(PI Dr Sumner)
  • Expanding, Embedding, Evidencing impact of e-learning to improve patient care (ESRC,2019 - 2020))
  • Feeding, eating and drinking in neurological care (Welsh Government (HCRW), 2019- 2023, Dr J Latchem-Hastings (MEDIC), Prof M Busse-Morris (MEDIC), Prof J Kitzinger (JOMEC)
  • Cultural production, social movements and virtuous spirals: Using cultural production to influence social transformation (Environmental). An ethnographic case study of a transmedia and translocal experiment(Marie Curie fellowship for Dr Joan Haran), European Commission (Horizon 2020), £201,487, December 2015 - November 2018 (508069)
  • Media reporting of end of life decisions (2K, CUROP award)
  • The Value of Death(cross-University networks and events funding in collaboration with the Lancet Commission)
  • Dying Well with reduced agency( GW4 Accelerator Grant, £75,000, June 2015- November 2015)
  • ‘Research impact through art: developing a cross-college arts collaborations around a serious health issue’(PI, Kitzinger) 2014 - July 2015

Lead researcher

Professor Jenny Kitzinger

Professor Jenny Kitzinger

Director of Research: Impact and Engagement and Co-Director of the Coma and Disorders of Consciousness Research Centre

Email
kitzingerj@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone
+44 (0)29 208 74571

Academic staff

Dr Cynthia Carter

Dr Cynthia Carter

Reader

Email
cartercl@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone
+44 (0)29 2087 6172
Professor Justin Lewis

Professor Justin Lewis

Professor of Communication

Email
lewisj2@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone
+44 (0)29 208 76341
Professor Stuart Allan

Professor Stuart Allan

Professor of Journalism and Communication

Email
allans@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone
+44(0)29 208 74509
Dr Andy Williams

Dr Andy Williams

Senior Lecturer

Email
williamsa28@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone
+44(0)29 208 70088
Professor Simon Cottle

Professor Simon Cottle

Professor of Media and Communication / Director of Communications, Human Security and Atrocity in Global Context Research Group

Email
cottles@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone
+44 (0)29 208 74506
Dr Emiliano Treré

Dr Emiliano Treré

Senior Lecturer in Media Ecologies and Social Transformation

Email
treree@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone
+44 (0)29 2251 0736