Health journalists are the key to credibility in wellness
Before the wellness boom, health journalists produced most of our lifestyle and health content, mostly found in women’s magazines and the columns at the back of a tabloid and newspapers.
If you have the patience to go back through archived health articles, you would agree that most of the information was nothing short of dreadful. Our current over-saturation of clickbait headlines have nothing on the headlines that used to grace our newspapers. Fad diets, weird remedies and odd exercise regiments dominated and played a huge role in people feeling disengaged with learning about health and drove many to seek alternative sources of information.
Although the health information in newspapers has become a little more refined, fluffy and dubious content still dominates. It leaves you trying to decipher why health and wellness information is still at best confusing and at worse misleading. If you dig into the history of many health journalists, you will often find that a scientific background is not present and health is just an area of interest. This is not in itself an issue, and a science degree does automatically make you a credible writer by any means, but what it does provide is an understanding of interpreting scientific and health data.
One of the most common misgivings seen with content produced by health journalists is that clinical data or statistics are often taken out of context and misused as evidence for broad, vague claims. I recently read an article stating that four cups of coffee a day could contribute expanding life expectancy. That is a wild claim if I have ever read one. When you dig down in the study behind the headline, the sample group was solely made up of white men – which means that the study analysis was based on a limited population and any correlations taken from the study could not be extrapolated to the general population.
Credibility needs to be brought back into the centre of health journalism and there needs to be a fundamental change in they way health writers are trained and held accountable.
To address this issue, along with Health Bloggers Network, WellSpoken will soon be launching The Register of Health & Wellness Influencers, the first and only independent register for the Health & Wellness Influencers worldwide, recognising the qualifications and expertise of writers, influencers and bloggers within the wellness industry.
Credible information has the power to influence consumers decision-making process and drive positive uptake when it comes to choosing a wellness product or service to opt into. As an industry, our primary objective needs to be focused on ensuring that all health and wellness content generators work to high standards of practice when producing consumer content.