Training Journalists and Researchers to Communicate Key Healthcare Findings

The National Center for Health Research’s project “Spreading the Word” ran from 2018 to 2021 and was partially funded through a Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) Eugene Washington PCORI Engagement Award (8598-NCHR). This project was designed to bring together journalists, medical writers, researchers, and medical experts to effectively disseminate findings from PCORI-funded studies and to ensure that the media are interested in important new PCORI research findings. It included in-person training, several teleconferences highlighting newly published PCORI-funded research and 2 training webinars. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the second workshop was postponed from March 2020 to August 2021.  However, thanks to a PCORI COVID-19 Enhancement award, we were able to offer a free series of COVID-19 remote teleconferences. For more information on our COVID-19 teleconference series click here .

NCHR hosted 2 in-person workshops as part of the “Spreading the Word” project, bringing together PCORI-funded researchers and journalists to discuss groundbreaking new PCORI-funded research; enable journalists and researchers to network and train them how to communicate more clearly with each other, and educate writers on how to communicate with their audiences. We held our first workshop on March 14-15, 2019 and our second workshop on August 6, 2021. Both workshops focused on clinical effectiveness research, which compares different prevention or screening strategies or different treatments.  We taught journalists how to evaluate the quality of new studies and how to reconcile conflicting results and conclusions, and how to better understand research design, data analysis, and data interpretation.  A major focus was to teach journalists the types of questions they should be asking researchers when reporting on health research.

We also developed two brief webinars based on some of the most well-received presentations of our workshops. The first webinar is designed for researchers who want to better communicate in an interesting and understandable way with journalists (and the public).  You can watch the webinar “Training Researchers to Communicate CER Findings to Journalists” here.

The second webinar is designed for journalists who want training in patient-centered clinical effectiveness research study design, analysis, and interpretation and explains the kinds of research issues that journalists need to understand so that they can ask essential questions regarding new research results on medical treatments, prevention, or screening. You can watch the webinar “Health Research Issues 101: The Basics for Health Journalists” here.

If you have any questions on this project, please contact Nina Zeldes at