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Biomedical Literacy in the United States: Exploring the borderland between science and citizenship
Unformatted Document Text:  6 knowledge. A farmer, for example, can have a reasonable understanding of the impact of price supports on his own income and survival based on years of experience in the industry and information provided by interest groups and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. A parent or teacher may have a clear understanding of the likely impact of an increased emphasis on reading skills during the elementary school years without additional information. Commuters have preferences about highway construction and public transportation funding based on their personal experiences and needs. Fewer citizens, however, have the personal knowledge or experience to assess the merits of alternative proposals for the storage of nuclear waste or for the funding and regulation of stem cell research. It is in these scientific and technical areas that a border tension arises between issue literacy and democracy. EXPLORING THE BORDER To explore this borderland, this analysis will focus on biomedical literacy, attentiveness to biomedical policy, and participation in the political system to influence health or biomedical policy issues. The first part of this analysis will examine the factors associated with the development and maintenance of biomedical literacy and issue attentiveness, focusing on the experience of American adults over the last decade. This analysis will identify the relative influence of formal education, gender, life stage (age), general political interest, and subject-relevant media consumption on current biomedical literacy and issue attentiveness among American adults. Too often, communication analysts have focused all of their attention on the medium and too little on the social and educational context of human learning and retention. Recognizing that public policy in specialized domains such as biomedical policy is determined primarily through the legislative process (with executive branch influence) rather than elections, the second part of the analysis will focus on the usefulness of biomedical literacy and attentiveness to biomedical policy in understanding which citizens actually seek to influence biomedical and health policy in the United States.

Authors: Miller, Jon. and Kimmel, Linda.
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knowledge. A farmer, for example, can have a reasonable understanding of the impact of price supports
on his own income and survival based on years of experience in the industry and information provided by
interest groups and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. A parent or teacher may have a clear
understanding of the likely impact of an increased emphasis on reading skills during the elementary
school years without additional information. Commuters have preferences about highway construction
and public transportation funding based on their personal experiences and needs. Fewer citizens, however,
have the personal knowledge or experience to assess the merits of alternative proposals for the storage of
nuclear waste or for the funding and regulation of stem cell research. It is in these scientific and technical
areas that a border tension arises between issue literacy and democracy.
EXPLORING THE BORDER
To explore this borderland, this analysis will focus on biomedical literacy, attentiveness to
biomedical policy, and participation in the political system to influence health or biomedical policy
issues. The first part of this analysis will examine the factors associated with the development and
maintenance of biomedical literacy and issue attentiveness, focusing on the experience of American
adults over the last decade. This analysis will identify the relative influence of formal education, gender,
life stage (age), general political interest, and subject-relevant media consumption on current biomedical
literacy and issue attentiveness among American adults. Too often, communication analysts have focused
all of their attention on the medium and too little on the social and educational context of human learning
and retention. Recognizing that public policy in specialized domains such as biomedical policy is
determined primarily through the legislative process (with executive branch influence) rather than
elections, the second part of the analysis will focus on the usefulness of biomedical literacy and
attentiveness to biomedical policy in understanding which citizens actually seek to influence biomedical
and health policy in the United States.


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