Informed Health Choices Podcasts
Each episode includes a short story with an example of a treatment claim and a simple explanation of a Key Concept used to assess that claimKey Concepts addressed:
- 1-1 Treatments can harm
- 1-2 Anecdotes are unreliable evidence
- 1-3 Association is not the same as causation
- 1-4 Common practice is not always evidence-based
- 1-6 Expert opinion is not always right
- 2-1 Comparisons are needed to identify treatment effects
- 2-2 Comparison groups should be similar
- 2-8 Consider all of the relevant fair comparisons
The Informed Health Choices (IHC) podcast is designed to teach the parents of primary school children to assess claims about treatment effects and to make informed health choices. Each of the nine episodes includes a short story with an example of a treatment claim, a simple explanation of a concept used to assess that claim, another example of a claim illustrating the same concept, and its corresponding explanation. In each story there is a question about the trustworthiness of a claim, which is resolved by applying the relevant Key Concept. All episodes have a conclusion with a take-home message emphasising the concept. The examples used in the podcast are for claims about treatments for health conditions, which are of interest to the target audience, such as malaria, diarrhoea, and HIV/AIDS. We have also included claims about some common practices, such as contraception, which are of interest to our audience.
User testing in Uganda shows that parents perceive the podcast to be useful. We are currently evaluating the effects of the podcast in a fair comparison in Uganda. We have randomly allocated half of over 600 parents of fifth-grade students to receive the podcast. We will compare their ability to apply the Key Concepts to the ability of the other parents.
The topics and claims were identified from scanning recent mass media reports and interviewing parents. There are eight main episodes in the series covering nine Key Concepts. Each episode lasts about five minutes. One of the episodes (episode one) covers two closely related Key Concepts (1.1 and 3.5). Two additional episodes introduce the podcast and summarise the key messages from the first eight episodes, respectively. The final structure, content, presentation of the content in each episode, and the series as a whole was informed by an iterative user-centred process of development and user-testing. This process involved consultation with various stakeholders, including parents in our target audience, on the appropriate content to be included, and the presentation of this content in each episode, and in the podcast as a whole.