PCST Network

Public Communication of Science and Technology


Educational Disparities, Biomedical Efficacy and Science Knowledge Gaps
Can the Internet help us reduce these inequalities?

Andreea Moldovan  

The economic, health, and knowledge disparities between the world's "haves" and "have-nots" are some of the key issues we face in this day and age. (World Economic Forum, 2011) Unfortunately, very little communication research has been applied to understanding what we can do to help reduce these inequalities. Even more worryingly, some studies have found that feeding more information to the public through traditional media has the adverse effect of widening gaps based on educational disparities. ( Tichenor, Donohue, Olien, 1970) We study the impact that Internet use has on the disparity between lowly and highly educated citizens in terms of their science (biomedical) knowledge, as well as their sense of efficacy regarding medical research. For this, we employ Wave II of the Wellcome Trust Monitor Survey (2012), which is fielded to a nationally representative sample of the UK population. We conduct a series of moderated regression models with mean centring and we find that increased Internet use in the lower education group can help significantly narrow both knowledge and efficacy gaps that emerge from educational disparities. Implications for science communication are discussed.

A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.