Cancer, a communication course against fake news

Cancer, a communication course against fake news

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Elements of epidemiology, health organization, health prevention. But also focus on clinical trials, psycho-oncology, neuroscience and communication techniques. These are some of the topics that will be explored in depth during the university specialization course “Communicating cancer, medicine and health”, starting next May 10th at the Polytechnic University of Marche. An initiative now in its second edition, which brings together communication experts and specialists from the healthcare world, which aims to make healthcare information more reliable, honest and effective, with special attention to oncology.

Cancer, communication is still not correct

In fact, the data suggests that we are still far from the goal. The internet and social media often report incorrect information on treatments, not based on evidence, not infrequently on alternative therapies to treat the disease, passed off and considered credible. A phenomenon that, according to one study recently posted on JMIR Cancer, it especially affects people suffering from cancer: up to 70% of them have in fact been exposed to some type of “bad information” on social media. And we are talking about potentially very high numbers considering the impact of the disease: in Italy alone there are around 3.7 million patients affected by tumors, some more curable, others less so.

The benefits of correct communication

For all these patients, for their families, but also for all citizens, correct information and effective communication between doctor and patient can make the difference, as recalled Rossana Berardi, Professor of Medical Oncology at the Marche University, Director of the Oncology Clinic of the Marche University Hospital and National Treasurer of AIOM (Italian Association of Medical Oncology). “Effective communication between patient and doctor is proven to increase people’s satisfaction, reduce stress, promote faster recovery and improve pain control, treatment adherence and quality of life. Neoplasms have a very strong impact on our national healthcare system, also in terms of direct and indirect costs. From diagnoses to rehabilitation, through therapies and prevention, every aspect of oncology can and must be communicated to patients, but also to citizens. The objective of our course is to train professionals capable of disseminating and informing on a very complex and difficult topic”.

Just as correct communication has benefits for doctors and patients, bad information can in fact be very harmful: “In the oncology field, bad information is more harmful than in other fields, because it impacts public health and potentially on patients, who risk of making wrong decisions for their treatment path – he added Marcello D’Errico, Professor of Hygiene at the Polytechnic University of Marche – Communicating cancer and, more generally, medicine and health correctly represents a weapon to be exploited also in terms of public health and is a formidable educational tool for the entire population. But, to do this, you need to know the mechanisms of communication.”

A course to train health communication professionals

The course is aimed at different figures. Journalists, press officers, employees of public relations offices, but also healthcare workers and spokespersons for healthcare companies, he adds Mauro Silvestrini, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery of the Polytechnic University of Marche. Everyone, he explains, can be “a “compass” for the population and help them orient themselves in an unmanageable sea of ​​information, often unfortunately false. It must be the task of the academic world to address this problem at its roots, obviously focusing on the training of new specialists.” The second edition of the course, by investing in the training of health communication specialists, aims to respond to this need. “After the great success of the first edition we decided to replicate with a new one which includes big innovations – he concludes Mauro Boldrini, AIOM Communications Director – Over the last year we have witnessed the end of the emergency linked to the pandemic and the beginning, or continuation, of serious international crises. All this has diverted attention to the topic of fake news in medicine which is instead a worrying phenomenon that is continuing.”

The course is part of the larger project Communicate about cancer and it is made possible thanks also to the support of the Associations Loto odv (association against ovarian cancer) and Anvolt odv (National Association of Volunteers against Cancer). All information (lessons, duration, costs, requirements) can be found on website of the Polytechnic University of Marche. You have until April 15th to submit your application for admission to the 25 available places.

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