Statement of purpose Communication strategies can potentially be impactful in injury prevention policy work, though most practitioners have little to no training in the field, nor the resources to hire staff to work in this arena. Framing science offers some basic concepts that can improve policy communications by helping to translate scientific ideas into information useable and understandable by the public. Learning a few key concepts can help injury prevention policy communications become more effective. Examples of policy communications that use framing principles will be shared.
Methods/Approach The injury prevention community in North Carolina works to use policy for prevention, and employs framing science to make its communications impactful for policy makers and the public. Framing involves using schema that help people make cognitive sense of information, appropriately handling dominate cultural narratives and values that can get in the way of your messages being heard, and using techniques to order information in ways that help audiences become engaged in the message. The information on the website injuryfreenc.org uses framing principles, and will be explored. The specific case of attempts to repeal NC’s motorcycle helmet law is discussed.
Results Framing tools have shifted the approach of the injury prevention community in North Carolina from relying on data and statistics (what and how of an issue), to ensuring that the question of why the issue matters is the first thing offered in communication materials. This approach helps practitioners guide the direction a person receiving the message goes in their mind, and gives more of a chance of the message making an impact. Having framed messages available online to all advocates helps ensure consistency, and makes the information that is shared research-based, but also easy to understand.
Conclusions If injury prevention practitioners are to be successful in policy work, it is important that communication efforts are done using science-based principles such as framing. Framing offers tools and concepts that can make subtle, but important shifts to information presented to the public and policy makers.
Significance and contribution to the field Communications has great potential to affect injury prevention practice, but it is vital that the science behind communications practices is employed to achieve desired outcomes. We use research-based interventions to prevent injuries, and our communications practices should be no different. Framing science is an example of an approach that can help improve outcomes, and a concept that has tools that are accessible to practitioners without having to be formally trained in communications.
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