Trusting what you see: the importance of images shared with evidence for health decision-making and how to get it right

Session Type
Oral presentation
Communicating evidence including misinformation and research transparency
Chapman S1, Morley K2, Ryan-Vig S1
1Cochrane UK, UK
2Cochrane Consumer, UK

The images we use when sharing evidence are important. Images can convey ideas quickly, simply, more universally and sometimes more powerfully than text. They can engage and inform our target audiences of people who may use the evidence for their health decisions. Well-chosen images can draw people in, arouse emotions, and influence someone’s decision whether to read on. They can also enhance or reinforce written information and contribute to the credibility of the content. By contrast, bad image choices can repel, misrepresent and undermine the trustworthiness of the written information they accompany, as well as of the organisation sharing the image. Here, we will encourage people to reflect on the impact of images, by exploring some positive examples of image choice, as well as some problematic ones. We will share some key considerations to guide your image choices - including pitfalls to look out for. We will explore, for example, the importance of: depicting a diverse range of people to ensure wide representation and inclusivity; accurately depicting the evidence; choosing realistic and relatable images that depict topics sensitively; and avoiding images that stigmatize or reinforce stereotypes. We will also consider how alternatives to stock images, especially art made by people about their health experiences, can be particularly powerful and relatable. As we look at the impact of image choice, we will draw on Cochrane’s Guide to Choosing Images for Sharing Evidence, produced by Cochrane UK with input from a diverse global advisory group and which is now a Cochrane learning resource.
Patient, public and/or healthcare consumer involvement: One of the abstract authors is a consumer. The Guide we draw on was developed with the help of a global advisory group which included healthcare consumers. We include, and advocate for, images made by people to reflect their health experiences and talk about involving consumers in image choice.