Development of mass media resources to improve the ability of parents of primary school children in Uganda to assess the trustworthiness of claims about the effects of treatments: a human-centred design approach

29 Dec 2019


Claims about what we need to do to improve our health are everywhere. Most interventions simply tell people what to do, and do not empower them to critically assess health information. Our objective was to design mass media resources to enable the public to critically appraise the trustworthiness of claims about the benefits and harms of treatments and make informed health choices.


Research was conducted between 2013 and 2016 across multiple iterative phases. Participants included researchers, journalists, parents, other members of the public. First, we developed a list of 32 key concepts that people need to understand to be able to assess the trustworthiness of claims about treatment effects. Next, we used a human-centred design approach, to generate ideas for resources for teaching the key concepts, and developed and user-tested prototypes through qualitative interviews. We addressed identified problems and repeated this process until we had a product that was deemed relevant and desirable by our target audience, and feasible to implement.


We generated over 160 ideas, mostly radio-based. After prototyping some of these, we found that a podcast produced collaboratively by health researchers and journalists was the most promising approach. We developed eight episodes of the Informed Health Choices podcast, a song on critical thinking about treatments and a reminder checklist. Early versions of the podcast were reportedly too long, boring and confusing. We shortened the episodes, included one key concept per episode, and changed to story-telling with skits. The final version of the podcast was found to be useful, understandable, credible and desirable.


We found many problems with various prototypes of mass media resources. Using a human-centred design approach, we overcame those problems. We have developed a guide to help others prepare similar podcasts.