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Personalizing Data Communication

Communicating data to the public is one of the most difficult aspects of public health. Most data is on a population scale, so it can be hard for an individual to see where they fit in or how their actions matter. It is important to present the information accurately while also making it personal to the reader.

Current Standards

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For example, throughout the COVID epidemic much of the public health data presented has been death rates. This data was generally presented in percentages of the population or deaths per 100K people. While these statistics are accurate, it is easy for the individual to disassociate with them due to the magnitude. A healthy person may look at this data and think “Well I don’t have much personal risk, so I don’t need to take precautions.”

A Personalized Future

It can be much more effective to present information in personal terms. For example, an organization might ask the question: “What would happen if your grandparent got sick?” Strategies like this are effective because they connect abstract data to individuals’ experiences and to people they regularly see. Communicating data on a personal level is vital to changing opinions and policy and should not be overlooked.