As has been widely explored in the literature, the evolving science-communication landscape has posed challenges to the credibility and trustworthiness of nutrition and health communicators. Especially, the Internet-mediated democratization of expertise, where every blogger and Web site owner becomes a subject-matter expert, has been problematic for communicators. This article, the second in a Nutrition Today series examining evolving communication issues in the digital age, explores the implications of the reported declining trust in science communications. The authors cite a new definition of trust, suggested at a National Academies of Science workshop, and they report recent survey findings on public trust. After a detailed discussion of the implications of these findings, the authors offer some guidance to nutrition and health communicators on meeting evolving trust challenges.
Sylvia Rowe, MA, is currently president of SR Strategy, Washington, DC, which addresses the science to communications to policy continuum on a broad range of global health, nutrition, food safety, and risk issues. She is also an adjunct professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy.
Nick Alexander, BA, is former senior media counselor for the International Food Information Council Foundation located in Washington, DC. A former network correspondent with ABC News Mr Alexander has, for more than a decade, written about science communications issues and the evolving challenge to public acceptance of credible science.
The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.
Correspondence: Sylvia B. Rowe, MA, SR Strategy, LLC, 1100 Connecticut Ave, NW Ste 600, Washington, DC 20036 (firstname.lastname@example.org).