Dear colleagues and friends
I urgently need some input on how to proceed. I recently tried to get a letter to the editor published in a major international scientific journal but was refused with the simple - and on the surface, reasonable - argument that the journal does not carry a Letters to the Editor section.
My letter critiqued a conflict of interest (COI) I perceive on the part of the editor of the said journal, who is simultaneously employed by one of the huge multinational pharmaceutical companies. I have received no comment on this issue from the editor or from the managing editor about this, nor do I expect to.
However, this topic seems to me to be far too important for me simply to accept this letter of rejection. To paraphrase, it is actually about protecting the soul of a (fairly) new discipline, health communication. Hence, I am seeking avenues to publish this letter elsewhere, perhaps on this forum. But before I do this, I thought perhaps I might ask for advice on this issue.
Without getting too long-winded - the underlying issue seems to me to be the current operating and accepted but to me questionable definition of health communication itself (dealing as it does with effecting behaviour change, arguably a paternalistic, patronizing and self-serving definition devised by health and allied professionals to justify campaigns whereby they - OK, we - attempt to affect behaviour changes in OTHER people, for all the right reasons, of course, but still....). My point is that if such a definition allows for the editor of a journal to simultaneously work for a multinational drug company (which, yes, is very much involved in behaviour change, notably getting people to purchase their products), then there is something terribly wrong with the very definition itself.
True communication - whether on health or anything else - surely has nothing intrinsically to do with changing other people's behaviour but rather with a respectful exchange of ideas, which may or may not lead to those and other consequences.
I would welcome any thoughts on this general issue of the nature of health communication as well on the issue of conflict of interest, and how to proceed in this case.