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Communicating Science in an Empathic and Inclusive Way: Why—and How—Should Pain Researchers Do It?

During a recent episode of “The Pain Beat”—a monthly podcast hosted by the Pain Research Forum that provides a space for pain investigators to discuss important ideas in their field—a group of pain researchers, science communicators, and civic science advocates, including Rita Allen Foundation’s President and CEO Elizabeth Christopherson, Rita Allen Scholar Edgar Alfonso Romero-Sandoval (2011), and Civic Science Fellow Gregory Carbonetti (2020), centered the conversation around why science communication should be empathic and inclusive and how pain researchers can effectively communicate science to a diverse public. The discussion also addressed challenges pain researchers face–access to funding and misinformation–and offered solutions such as interdisciplinary collaboration and listening to priorities. To build bridges between scientists and society, Laura Lindenfeld of Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University says, “If we don’t communicate effectively, people are not going to care and they take action because they care, so if we want to make change, we have to think about the stories that we shape, who they reach, how we configure them, [and] who’s speaking.”