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Biomedical Literacy in the United States: Exploring the borderland between science and citizenship
Unformatted Document Text:  2 and democracy. This paper presents measures of biomedical literacy (which may be the minimal threshold for following or participating in the formulation of biomedical or biotechnology policy), attentiveness to biomedical policy, and political contacting to influence biomedical and health policy. One analysis focuses on the factors associated with the development and maintenance of biomedical literacy and attentiveness to biomedical policy issues. A second model examines the role of these two intermediate variables on the reported behavior of making a policy-relevant political contact on a biomedical or health issue. BIOMEDICAL LITERACY Biomedical literacy refers to a level of understanding of biotechnology and medical research sufficient to read serious popular reports about current research, including reports in the Science Times section of the New York Times or the online reports of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute web site. It might be labeled biologic literacy or genomic literacy, given its focus on the biological and genomic sources of health, illness, and therapy. The term biomedical literacy is used in this analysis as a description of a body of knowledge that is central to understanding current public policy debates. The level of biomedical literacy is already an important component of any effort to understand public reaction to issues such as stem cell research, genetically modified foods, access to or the privacy of patient records, and funding for basic biomedical research. In future decades, the level of biomedical literacy will be increasingly important in debates about gene therapies for a wide range of diseases, xenotransplantation, targeted pharmaceuticals that require some knowledge of each patient’s genetic map, and the shape and composition of the health care system. Undoubtedly, there will be a global debate about the control of infectious diseases and the use of antibiotics, and this debate will require some understanding of the immune system. The level of biomedical literacy is a good indicator of the proportion of citizens who can comprehend and participate in these debates.

Authors: Miller, Jon. and Kimmel, Linda.
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and democracy. This paper presents measures of biomedical literacy (which may be the minimal
threshold for following or participating in the formulation of biomedical or biotechnology policy),
attentiveness to biomedical policy, and political contacting to influence biomedical and health policy. One
analysis focuses on the factors associated with the development and maintenance of biomedical literacy
and attentiveness to biomedical policy issues. A second model examines the role of these two
intermediate variables on the reported behavior of making a policy-relevant political contact on a
biomedical or health issue.
BIOMEDICAL LITERACY
Biomedical literacy refers to a level of understanding of biotechnology and medical research
sufficient to read serious popular reports about current research, including reports in the Science Times
section of the New York Times or the online reports of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute web site. It
might be labeled biologic literacy or genomic literacy, given its focus on the biological and genomic
sources of health, illness, and therapy. The term biomedical literacy is used in this analysis as a
description of a body of knowledge that is central to understanding current public policy debates.
The level of biomedical literacy is already an important component of any effort to understand
public reaction to issues such as stem cell research, genetically modified foods, access to or the privacy of
patient records, and funding for basic biomedical research. In future decades, the level of biomedical
literacy will be increasingly important in debates about gene therapies for a wide range of diseases,
xenotransplantation, targeted pharmaceuticals that require some knowledge of each patient’s genetic map,
and the shape and composition of the health care system. Undoubtedly, there will be a global debate about
the control of infectious diseases and the use of antibiotics, and this debate will require some
understanding of the immune system. The level of biomedical literacy is a good indicator of the
proportion of citizens who can comprehend and participate in these debates.


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