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Improving news coverage of older adults: 6 tips for journalists

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From as early as age 3, people begin to form negative biases toward older people, research has shown, and as many as half of all people worldwide carry spirit beliefs. For journalists, recognizing inherent biases is key to producing better, deeper coverage of aging-related issues and stories involving older people.

The following tips, provided by two experienced journalists who have spent decades covering health and aging, are designed to help newsrooms improve their coverage of longevity and topics that matter to older adults. By developing a more informed and nuanced approach to these stories, journalists can contribute to eradicating ageism and its many harmful effects.

1. Terminology matters.

The phrases “senior citizens” and “the elderly,” once in common usage as nouns, are today sometimes considered demeaning to older people, says Paul Kleyman, a longtime journalist and the national coordinator of the Journalists Network on Generations, an organization that provides information and networking opportunities for journalists who cover aging issues. Those terms may imply that they are separate from other citizens, or frail. However, Kleyman adds, “elderly” is sometimes acceptable as a modifier.

Using the word “seniors” to describe older people as a group is generally okay, Kleyman says, but “older people” is considered the most neutral language. Be careful with “old.” While some find the phrase “old people” to be more accurate than “older people” – “We’re all perpetually ‘older’ until we’re dead, right?” says Kleyman – other people find that phrase insulting, because many people who have lived a long time don’t feel “old.” And while acceptable, the phrase “older people” is vague. When possible, it’s best to be specific when referring to population groups by age; for example, say “people aged 65 and older” or “people who are 80 years old and older.”

The AP Stylebook echoes these sentiments: “The term elderly is acceptable in headlines when relevant and necessary because of space constraints. But aim for specificity when space allows: Couple in their 90s die in Manhattan luxury high-rise blaze rather than Elderly couple die in Manhattan luxury high-rise blaze.”

In general, reporting about people in terms of their identities is hard, but carefully considering how we do so is useful. “It makes you think about the limits of our language,” Kleyman says. “We have this constant incentive to seek precision, but then we also need to understand that precision is of a cultural moment.”

It’s always possible that some people will object to the language journalists use in referring to their identities. Kleyman advises using these instances as opportunities to explore why people are objecting to a term. Journalists who are unsure about the right descriptors to use should consider asking sources how they want to be described, he says. “Of course, I had one person who I was writing about who said, ‘Just call me an old fart!’ There’s always one.”

2.Avoid using stereotypical images.

The old woman staring out of a window, or sitting in a wheelchair at a nursing home. The old man with a cane sitting alone on a park bench. Images like these can perpetuate negative stereotypes about older people as less capable, lonely, sick and in decline.

Although research shows print media especially has improved significantly in this regard in recent decades, mass media portrayals remain largely stereotypical, says Liz Seegert, a longtime health and aging reporter and the aging topic lead for the Association of Health Care Journalists. “If somebody is older on a TV show, they either get portrayed as a grumpy old man or somebody who’s a little out of it,” she says. “There are very few accurate portrayals.”

When possible, using images that directly illustrate the story at hand are best. But that’s not always possible, especially on tight deadlines and tight budgets. In such instances, the best choice is the most neutral image: an older hand with a younger hand, for example.

“The simplest advice is to think about what you want your story to convey,” says Kleyman. “If you have to default at the last minute, try to go with a neutral image… In terms of your ongoing messaging as a reporter, I think it’s important to just stop and think.”

3. Flip and broaden the narrative.

If a story is only a story because of the age of the person involved, reporters and editors should look for a broader angle — or a new story. With a little more thought and reporting, that story about an 85-year-old who ran a marathon can be transformed into a story about the increasingly active lifestyles of older people, says Seegert.

“I wouldn’t write the story on just the fact that he’s 85 and ran a marathon,” she says. “I would flip it [and explain that] Joe Smith just ran his 10th marathon at age 85, and this is becoming a more common occurrence as people live longer.”

That said, it’s critical to seek the individual perspectives of multiple older people when reporting on topics that affect them, because the experiences and opinions of older adults vary.

This is in sharp contrast to the damaging misperception that older people are part of one monolithic group.

“There are all these stereotypes about older people as a group,” says Seegert, “like everybody’s going to have dementia, everybody’s going to be frail, and they’re no good at technology, for example, or they can’t learn anything new. The truth is… only a very small percentage of people wind up in nursing homes. Most older people, while they may slow down a little bit or have some chronic diseases they have to manage, live pretty normal, everyday lives.”

4. Check your bias before the interview.

The biggest mistake reporters make on stories about older people, says Kleyman, is that they approach the older person as someone in a state of decline, rather than as someone at a later stage of growth and maturity, with important wisdom and experience to share. Making a mental note of your attitude before an interview can help avoid this.

5.Know the Big 4.

The United States has four primary national, interdisciplinary nonprofit organizations that specialize in aging-related issues and research: The American Geriatric Society, the American Society on Aging, the Gerontological Society of America, and the National Council on Aging. Kleyman says understanding the mission and focus of each can help inform reporters’ coverage of aging issues and related research.

American Geriatric Society: Founded in 1942, this New York-based organization has a membership of about 6,000 geriatrics healthcare providers, including physicians, nurses, and social workers. AGS is focused on research and dissemination of knowledge to improve health care and outcomes for older adults in the US

American Society on Aging: Based in San Francisco, the American Society of Aging, where Kleyman worked as editor of Aging Today for about 20 years, grew out of a regional organization in 1954 and focuses on connecting with community programs and the business community. It produces podcasts and webinars and provides resources on issues such as spirituality and aging.

Gerontological Society of America: Focused broadly on academic research and translating research to practice, GSA has about 5,500 members – including behavioral and social scientists, clinicians, biologists, psychologists, social workers, educators, economists, and policy experts – in the US and abroad. Founded in 1945 and based in Washington, DC., the organization publishes journals, newsletters and trend reports, and sponsors a fellowship for journalists covering aging issues.

National Council on Aging: A national lobbying group founded in 1950, the NCOA advocates for community service programs, particularly those that benefit lower-income and otherwise marginalized older people. The organization also provides tools and resources for community groups and individuals.

It is important to note that the field of gerontology – the study of aging, old age, and problems that affect older people – only formed about 100 years ago and started to gain momentum after World War II. Increases in longevity necessitated professional associations to share knowledge and establish best practices in studying aging processes and issues unique to older people.

There is a social and political lag in all of this,” says Kleyman. “The systems really need to catch up.”

6. Explore other points of view.

In addition to the four major national groups, there are issue-specific nonprofits and associations involved in studying and lobbying on aging-related topics. These can be useful sources of information, but Kleyman advises to first ask or dig into where each organization gets its funding. Legal advocacy groups, like Justice in Aging, and community groups are also excellent resources.

Additionally, because women, on average, earn less and live longer than men, many chronic conditions and social issues like ageism are problems that disproportionately affect women. Reporters should consider seeking the viewpoints of women and women’s health organizations for aging-related stories. Seek out sources through organizations such as the National Women’s Health Network, Society for Women’s Health Research, National Women’s Law Center and Women in World Foundation.

Research to explore

Old Age-Related Stereotypes of Preschool Children

Alison Flamion, et al. April 2020, Frontiers in Psychology

Global Report on Ageism

2021, World Health Organization.

Visual Ageism in the Media

Eugene Loos and Loredana Ivan. May 2018. Contemporary Perspectives on Ageism.

Take note: The Journalists Network on Generations publishes an e-mail newsletter called GBO News, which includes networking opportunities and information (including research) for journalists who cover stories about aging. Subscriptions are free to journalists.

To learn more about how to inform news coverage of issues related to aging, check out our research roundups on the impact of ageism, the epidemics of loneliness among older people and prescription drug prices.

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Women’s Health

International Relations Degree: Jobs You Can Pursue with It

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Child marriage is very common menace in Pakistan and is deeply ingrained in traditional, societal, and customary norms. Yet it indicates a severe abuse of the human rights of girls. One in three girls in Pakistan get married before becoming 18 years old (Demographic and Health Survey 2012-13).

A girl’s access to a sound and secure childhood, a good education that can lead to better employability, civic and political empowerment are all violated through early marriages. With 1821 child brides in 2020, Pakistan was placed sixth among nations with the highest number of child brides. Girls lose their childhood and future opportunities when they are married as minors. Girls who marry are less likely to complete their education and are more vulnerable to abuse, marital rape, and health problems. Furthermore, child marriage puts girls at risk for unsafe births, ulceration, STDs, and maybe even death. Also, teenage girls are more likely than women in their 20s to pass away due to difficulties during pregnancy. Firstborn children of women who were 16 years old, 17 years old, and 18-19 years old at the time of birth experienced death rates that were, respectively, 2-4 times, and 1.2-1.5 times higher than those of mothers who were 23 to 25 years old. This is an unfortunate truth, that while the humankind has reached the moon and mars, our women are still dying from unsafe births.

This threat has also been documented in a number of previous articles. However, the latest event of the forced marriage of a young girl from Balochistan, who was just five years old, has shaken me from the core. The girl’s father filed a FIR with the Khuzdar Police Station alleging that his daughter was forced into marriage as a result of regional and tribal beliefs. After the FIR was filed, the Federal Shariah Court Chief Justice took suo-motu notice of the situation and stated that the act appeared to be against both the 1973 Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and Islam.

Factors behind forced marriages in Pakistan

There are several factors why early age marriages are prevalent in Pakistan. The majority of these causes include: permissive legislation; a failure to enforce existing laws; the treatment of children as slaves; a primitive feudal class fabric; lack of public awareness of the negative effects of child marriages; widespread poverty; Watta Satta (Weddings between the children of siblings or the exchange of girls in marriage between two households.) underlying trafficking; Concept of Vani (Another harmful tradition is the offering of girls, frequently minors, in marriage or enslavement to a family who has wronged them as payment to settle disputes) and a lack of political will on the part of the government. The inadequacy of birth registration system and lack of responsiveness is a major contributor to forced marriages. The age of the child or children at the time of marriage can be falsified because birth registration for minors, especially girls, is hardly given priority here. Moreover, there is no unified, impartial, or robust child rights associations that might keep an eye on violations of children’s rights, specially female teens.

legislation

The Prevention of Anti-Women Practices (Criminal Law Amendment) Act 2011, which has “reinforced protections for women against discrimination and abuse,” was passed in Pakistan in 2012, according to the country’s National UPR report to the HRC. Forced marriages, child marriages, and other social customs that are harmful to women are being made illegal.

The following headings represent how the Committee on the Rights of the Child addressed the problem of child or early marriages in its Final Report and Recommendations (2009): the child’s definition, non-discrimination, respecting the child’s opinions, teenagers’ health, harmful society customs, trafficking and selling

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, whose Article 16 affirms that every woman has the right to get into matrimony “just with her free and unconditional approval,” have both been signed and ratified by Pakistan.

Pakistan has joined the Child Rights Convention, which requires state parties to uphold children’s rights to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion in Article 14.

The Sindh Provisional Assembly unanimously approved the Bill on November 2016 to put an end to forced marriages and conversions. The bill was compellingly prevented by the agitation of the Islamist groups and parties, and was never enacted into law.

recommendations

First, it seems that nobody in Pakistan, including a lot of women, cares about the precarious status of women. In reality, some educated working women are subjected to so much harassment from men, their families, and society at large that they lack the strength to fight back against their critics. Therefore, the small group of women representatives campaigning for the rights of marginalized women in Pakistan deserve special recognition for their bravery in standing up for and promoting women’s rights despite the fact that doing so would subject them to harassment from males and society.

The government should spend on education particularly in marginalized areas of Pakistan where majority girls have no access to even primary education. Instead of just being a consequence of financial adversity, social conservatism may also contribute to the educational disparity between boys and girls. Long-term policy considerations need to be taken. Lack of maternal education would have a detrimental impact on future generations and is, therefore, just as important as boys’ education because it is believed that mothers’ education plays a significant part in children’s overall development and a complete generation.

Forced marriage victims are also denied access to their most basic yet important right, good education. Here, I want to share a story of a 17 year old advocate fighting child marriages from Swat. Given that it was customary in her household for girls to enter into marriage when they are old enough to fetch water, she was getting married to a taxi driver just at tender age of 11. In an interview, she stated:

“I bravely told my family that if they get me married to that person, I will file a case against them in law. Firstly, they and my community didn’t support me, even denigrated me. But now they do. One human being with conviction can bring the change”

Moreover, police need to be given the capacity to look into the culprits and take appropriate action. I definitely do not mean “Freedom From Law” or “No Accountability” when I talk about empowerment. To ensure that the complaints filed get noticed and are addressed, rigorous policies regarding the institution of police must be devised and put into effect along with increase in the severity of punishments for such activities.

All those engaged in a child marriage, including the parents of the bride and groom as well as the person who solemnises the marriage; the NikahKhwan shall face serious punishment.

The legal age for marriage should be the same for both sexes, which is 18 years. However, the system for registering births needs to be improved. Nadra needs to implement a digital birth registration system that is systematic and reliable.

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Women’s Health

What is women’s health and why is it important?

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At the Norwegian Research Center for Women’s Health, we appreciate the public attention on women’s health over the past weeks here in Norway. I suspect that some of the reason for this debate is that we have different perceptions of what women’s health really is.

Menstrual complaints or life-long health care?

On the labor ward as an obstetrician, I get to share incredible moments with a new family, but I also see women struggling with illness and concerns related to pregnancy, birth and maternity. This part of women’s health, reproductive health, is obviously near to my heart.

For me, as a gynecologist and medical doctor, it is also natural to include menopausal complaints, cervical cancer and endometriosis as a part of women’s health. The fact that women react differently to some medications than men, or that research on how women are treated by the healthcare system is a part of women’s health, can be easier to forget.

I have a plea to politicians and the administration for more earmarked research funds for women’s health (…)

Gender differences in health are also women’s health. These are diseases and disorders that only affect women, affect more women than men, affect especially many women, or have different consequences for women than for men.

A few examples of these inequalities are that women have different signs of a heart attack than men and risk not getting the correct diagnosis, that rheumatic diseases affect more women than men and lack research-based knowledge, or that many older women have osteoporosis that is not optimally treated.

What about women’s health outside of Norway?

Health is often understood in terms of a society’s expectations and resources, and although it perhaps shouldn’t be, I think women’s health in Afghanistan has different issues than women’s health in Norway.

Globally, it is a big problem that women die due to pregnancy and childbirth, or that they do not receive the health care they need because of inequality or lack of access to qualified health care.

In the research project I participate in, we investigate severe bleeding after childbirth. This is potentially life-threatening, but fortunately in Norway women rarely die due to bleeding. Nevertheless, it is important to find out more about such serious complications to childbirth in order to ensure safe births for Norwegian women, but also to contribute to increased knowledge of a complication that may affect all women giving birth all over the world.

Research into women’s health in Norway can therefore also be useful to countries that for various reasons cannot conduct themselves. Research papers are mostly published in a way that makes it possible for everyone to read, and at congresses, we can meet doctors and researchers from all over the world to share the results.

What about women’s health in Norway today, and what are the knowledge gaps?

As a woman in Norway in 2022, I actually believe I am quite well off. I am lucky to live in a society with a focus on equality between men and women, and with a public healthcare system available to all.

Nevertheless, I know that certain women’s diseases have a lower priority by both health personnel and in research. The Norwegian Women’s Public Health Association has demonstrated how endometriosis is a disease with a knowledge gap, which is not prioritized enough by health care personnel. Another, and often shameful condition with lack of attention, is chronic genital pain, and these examples are far from alone.

Just before the turn of the millennium, a report on women’s health in Norway came out (NOU 1999:13, regjeringen.no). The report that there was a lack of knowledge, both about specific women’s diseases and about connections between health and living conditions. It also demonstrated that there was already important knowledge about women’s health and living conditions that was not taken into account in health care policy decisions or in the health care system.

Lack of research on girls and older women

In Norway, the time has now come for a new evaluation of women’s health, and a new report will be drawn up by the women‘s Health Committee, a public committee on women’s health and health from a gender perspective.

I hope that the updated collection of knowledge will reach our decision makers, and that the content is taken into account in other ways, so that the committee’s work contributes to change and improvement of women’s health in Norway.

With regard to further research into women’s health, a report was recently published by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. The report shows that there is a lack of research on girls as children and adolescents, as well as older women.

It also revealed that there is a lack of systematic reviews on certain conditions, for example prolapse of the vaginal wall. We also need more knowledge on how traditional treatments affect women in diseases such as COPD, skin cancer and lipoedema.

What do we research at the Norwegian Research Center for Women’s Health?

I am so proud of all my colleagues that advocate women’s health at the hospital, and in the field of research!

In our shared office is obstetrician and senior researcher Katariina Laine. Among other things, she has researched, and contributed to the reduction of perineal injuries after childbirth.

Also in the office is dermatologist Kristin Skullerud. Her research project is testing medications against the painful vulva disease genital erosive lichen planus. Her supervisor and dermatologist Anne Lise Helgesen has also created the website vulva.no, which contributes to increased knowledge about vulvar complaints, a part of women’s health previously neglected.

I hope you have learned a little more about women’s health, and understand my passion for women’s health care and research.

I have a plea to politicians and the administration for more earmarked research funds for women’s health. And to the same politicians and to the health care facilities, a demand for action to implement the treatment that the research demonstrates is missing.

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The ScienceNorway Researchers’ zone consists of opinions, blogs and popular science pieces written by researchers and scientists from or based in Norway.
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Women’s Health

XOMA Acquires Royalty and Milestone License to Ebopiprant, a Preterm Labor Asset, Being Developed by Organon

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XOMA Corporation

XOMA assumes the rights to ebopiprant from ObsEva, including the Organon License, Patent Estate, and Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, license, for a $15 million outlay

Potential to earn $475 million in development, regulatory, and sales milestones

Low- to mid-teens royalties upon commercialization

Expands XOMA’s portfolio into new therapeutic segment – women’s health

EMERYVILLE, Calif., Nov. 22, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — XOMA Corporation (NASDAQ: XOMA), a biotech royalty aggregator playing a distinctive role in helping biotech companies achieve their goal of advancing novel therapeutic candidates aimed at improving human health, announced today it has acquired all rights and title to ebopiprant held by ObsEva for $15 million plus certain earn-out payments. XOMA has assumed the ebopiprant intellectual property (IP) estate and all license agreements, including the 2021 exclusive license agreement from ObsEva to Organon related to the development and commercialization of ebopiprant.

“We are very pleased to add ebopiprant to XOMA’s royalty and milestone portfolio. Preterm labor is extremely stressful for expectant parents and their families. The costs to care for premature babies can quickly escalate to hundreds of thousands of dollars, resulting in long-term financial distress for many families,” stated Jim Neal, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of XOMA. “The economics in the ebopiprant license acquisition have the potential to deliver significant returns to XOMA and our stockholders from the clinical development milestones alone. We wish Organon, a global women’s health company, success in its development activities with ebopiprant.”

Under the terms of the agreement, XOMA has acquired all rights to ebopiprant held by ObsEva, including the Organon/ObsEva license agreement and the IP associated with the asset. XOMA will now be entitled to receive up to $475 million in development, regulatory, and sales-based milestone payments under the ObsEva/Organon license agreement. XOMA will pay to ObsEva a portion of the development and regulatory milestones, as well as certain sales milestones, up to $98 million. Upon commercialization, XOMA will receive royalties that range from low- to mid-teens from Organon and will make a mid-single-digit royalty payment to Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany.

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About Ebopiprant
Ebopiprant (OBE022) was licensed by ObsEva from Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, in 2015. ObsEva previously announced positive results from PROLONG Part B, a 113-patient Phase 2a proof-of-concept, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled Trial in women experiencing spontaneous preterm labor that compared atosiban (ex-US standard of care) plus ebopiprant versus atosiban plus placebo for 7 days. In the study, ebopiprant plus atosiban reduced delivery in singleton pregnancies at 48 hours after the start of dosing by 55% compared to atosiban plus placebo. Overall, 12.5% ​​of women receiving ebopiprant plus atosiban delivered within 48 hours of starting treatment compared to 21.8% receiving atosiban plus placebo (OR 90% CI: 0.52 (0.22, 1.23)). The incidence of maternal, fetal, and neonatal adverse events were comparable between both the ebopiprant and placebo groups.

About XOMA Corporation
XOMA is a biotechnology royalty aggregator playing a distinctive role in helping biotech companies achieve their goal of improving human health. XOMA acquires the potential future economics associated with pre-commercial therapeutic candidates that have been licensed to pharmaceutical or biotechnology companies. When XOMA acquires the future economics, the seller receives non-dilutive, non-recourse funding they can use to advance their internal drug candidate(s) or for general corporate purposes. The Company has an extensive and growing portfolio with more than 70 assets (asset defined as the right to receive potential future economics associated with the advancement of an underlying therapeutic candidate). For more information about the Company and its portfolio, please visit www.xoma.com.

Forward-Looking Statements/Explanatory Notes
Certain statements contained in this press release are forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, including statements regarding the timing and amount of potential commercial payments to XOMA and other Developments related to ebopiprant, the potential of XOMA’s portfolio of partnered programs and licensed technologies generating substantial milestone and royalty proceeds over time, and XOMA’s cash sufficiency forecast. In some cases, you can identify such forward-looking statements by terminology such as “anticipate,” “intend,” “believe,” “estimate,” “plan,” “seek,” “project,” “expect,” “may ,” “will,” “would,” “could” or “should,” the negative of these terms or similar expressions. These forward-looking statements are not a guarantee of XOMA’s performance, and you should not place undue reliance on such statements. These statements are based on assumptions that may not prove accurate, and actual results could differ materially from those anticipated due to certain risks inherent in the biotechnology industry, including those related to the fact that our product candidates subject to out-license agreements are still being developed, and our licenses may require substantial funds to continue development which may not be available; we do not know whether there will be, or will continue to be, a viable market for the products in which we have an ownership or royalty interest; if the therapeutic product candidates to which we have a royalty interest do not receive regulatory approval, our third-party licenses will not be able to market them; and the impact on the global economy as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Other potential risks to XOMA meeting these expectations are described in more detail in XOMA’s most recent filing on Form 10-K and in other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Consider such risks carefully when considering XOMA’s prospects. Any forward-looking statement in this press release represents XOMA’s beliefs and assumptions only as of the date of this press release and should not be relied upon as representing its views as of any subsequent date. XOMA disclaims any obligation to update any forward-looking statement, except as required by applicable law.

EXPLANATORY NOTE: Any references to “portfolio” in this press release refer strictly to milestone and/or royalty rights associated with a basket of drug products in development. Any references to “assets” in this press release refer strictly to milestone and/or royalty rights associated with individual drug products in development.

As of the date of this press release, all assets in XOMA’s milestone and royalty portfolio, except Vabysmo®, are investigational compounds. Efficiency and safety have not been established. There is no guarantee that any of the investigational compounds will become commercially available.

XOMA Investor Contact

XOMA Media Contact

Juliane Snowden

Kathy Vincent

XOMA Corporation

KV Consulting & Management

+1 646-438-9754

+1 310-403-8951

juliane.snowden@xoma.com

kathy@kathyvincent.com

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