by Dinethra Menon
Although health writing demands rigour for scientific and medical accuracy, creativity is still an essential aspect of the writing process. You may find you’re constantly churning and unearthing ideas in your mind for topics for health articles, using a broad spectrum of processes.
However if you feel at times the best health articles have already been written, the good news is finding inspiration can come from unlikely sources – and not only new research, breaking medical news and media releases. When you think outside the box, you may find the most intriguing ideas for stories.
Once you start the creative process, you will notice article ideas all around you. Here are six novel suggestions to help you get started.
1. Statistics in government reports
Every year the government releases the most recent population data on health. These reports can provide a snapshot of where current gaps lie in health care and potential issues or threats in your local region.
For example, demographic statistics can provide insight into rising costs associated with an ageing population, birth rate in teenagers or the number of people with a specific chronic disease and disability. By taking the time to read reports, the data can begin to tell you a story and you can use these statistics to give your writing depth and a unique angle.
2. Trending #hashtags on social media
One of the many advantages of using social media for health writing is reading what’s trending. Hashtags (#) used in social media, such as Instagram or Twitter, can identify social media buzz associated with a current health issue and direct you straight to a story.
When reading hashtags, I find delving deep into the conversation associated with the hashtag also helps understand the public’s view of the health issue, and may show you differing points of view for a story.
3. Most-read topics on popular websites
If you scroll down the right or left sidebar of popular websites, the columns sometimes have a list of most-read articles or topics read that day. This can give you a clue for the articles with the most clicks and what is popular with readers.
Keep in mind the website you’re sourcing this type of information from, as it can provide a background to the audience. For example, the most popular articles on CNN news compared to News from Harvard Health will be based on different demographics and interests.
4. Conversations in Facebook groups
Facebook is another powerful social media tool that can be helpful. You can join a variety of industry-related or personal groups that may discuss health issues that people care about and you may not otherwise be privy to.
I am a member of a local parenting group and recently was able to observe a lengthy discussion from new parents and their health concerns about vaccination. It was both concerning and eye opening, but gave me food for thought in terms of how parents feel about this topic.
Sometimes you may not have to go online to grab parts of conversations for interesting topics for articles. Conversations while having dinner with friends can be great sources of current issues in health.
5. Google trends
If you’re not yet familiar with the Google trends tool in Google, it’s worth taking a short browse in your settings toolbar to identify what keywords are Googled right now.
I just did a quick search for Australia and found in the last few days the issue of ‘marriage advantage’ and death rate from cancer from a recent published article. This tells me that local readers are interested in may want to learn more. You can also filter for region, categories and by news or images, which can help you understand the audience or type of information sought.
6. Comments sections of news articles
Whenever I read a health news article, I make sure I always read the comments in the section below the article. If there are any comments, they usually are posted when the article has been thought provoking or has touched upon on health controversy.
Reading the comments can see how people respond to issues and give an insight into a variety of opinions. It also helps you understand if the news is truly reflective of what the public wants to hear and their point of reference for a specific health issue.
Do you have other ideas for finding health article ideas? Feel free to share in the comments below.