Communication and dissemination is an important part of the research chain. Unfortunately, scientists too often overlook communication with the general public, or tend to speak our ”tribal” language, making it hard to understand the implications of scientific results.
Within the CERG group we work hard with this aspect, and try to reach out to the general public through several social media channels, user-friendly health and physical activity tools, media contributions, welcoming visitors to our lab, and attendance at both scientific and public events. Having many followers of our work humbles us, and we hope our effort in communicating the implications of our research is helping as many people as possible.
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In our prime month last year, we had 650.000 hits on our websites, and they are among the most visited sites at NTNU. Our blog has 10.000 hits a month, and our social media accounts are constantly growing. Before Christmas we released an international Facebook Page after requests from our international audience. Our crowdsourcing project, The World Fitness Study, has 3 million hits and we have collected 250.000 surveys to our research database. We believe that communication of science is so important, that we have chosen to hire a CERG Communications Advisor, Andrea Hegdahl Tiltnes. She has background as a Journalist, and is the key person in charge of this work. She has the skills we lack in communication with the general public, and are coaching us to talk to you in a way that is understandable.
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When discussion the importance of communication with researchers in medicine and health, we tend to get the response that it is easy to communicate exercise and health as this is something everybody is interested in. As only 20-30 percent of people in most industrial countries adhere to the minimum guidelines for physical activity, we believe that this argument is not valid. Our main challenge is to communicate well with the 70-80 percent of the public with a low interest in the association between physical activity and lifelong good health. As most of us have friends and relatives with cancer, heart disease, stroke and other life changing diseases, we believe all researchers in the field of medicine and health has a broad public if they communicate in a understandable manner. And, b[UW3] ottom line is that the aim of our research is to improve every field of medical treatment, and to create a healthier world through increasing knowledge for everyone.
This week we have been fortunate to be a part of the Bondi Fitness Festival in Sydney Australia. This has given us the opportunity to meet and discuss our research with new people with other perspectives on health and exercise, and challenges us outside of our normal comfort zone in the research community. Thank you to Crossfit Bondi and Adam Lindsay for the invitation, and the opportunity to see exercise and public health at play in this area of the world.
Trine Karlsen, Researcher at CERG