RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – Communication about the risk and benefits, safety and effectiveness of human drug products to the public is complex and challenging. Researchers at RTI International are working to improve the communication of scientific information to a diverse public audience.
Under the terms of a cooperative agreement with the Office of Communications in the Center for Drug Evaluation & Research of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, researchers at RTI will identify different groups of people who use and receive information about over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medicines. RTI researchers will conduct a large-scale survey of the public and collect data about how well people understand drug safety messages and basic information about health; how consumers currently obtain information about medicines, including from interactive technologies; and selected information needs and preferences.
“FDA understands that people have different needs when it comes to information about medications and drug safety,” said Paula Rausch, Ph.D., RN, director of the Division of Health Communications, Office of Communications, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, Food and Drug Administration. “We are working to better determine how best to provide important information that is understandable, timely and useful so that patients can make informed health decisions.”
Based on the survey data, the researchers will identify subgroups of the public, and then make recommendations about strategies for developing FDA messages and communication activities to meet these differing needs. The goal is to communicate about risks and benefits of medications as clearly as possible so that people can process and understand this information and use it in their decision making.
“Simply identifying which population subgroups are more or less likely to understand information is not sufficient for improving risk communication,” said Lauren McCormack, Ph.D., senior director of RTI’s Health Communication Program. “We also need to understand what helps them make informed choices and then apply practical guidelines that communication science supports at this time.”