Side Effects Public Media

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We're a health news initiative exploring the impacts of place, policy and economics on America's health. Our reporting sheds light on root causes of community-wide health problems—from chronic disease, to mental health and addiction, to infant mortality—and on new efforts to solve them.

We are headquartered at WFYI Public Media in Indianapolis, and work in partnership with KBIA in Columbia, Missouri; St. Louis Public Radio; Illinois Public Media in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois; WNIN in Evansville, Indiana; and WOSU Public Media, in Columbus, Ohio. We also work with contributing reporters from other public radio stations around the Midwest and Great Lakes regions. We're intent on telling stories from under-covered communities and hidden-away places.


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An unusual court in Columbus, Ohio, offers a therapeutic approach instead of a punitive one to sex workers. In this two-part series, we hear the story of Stephanie Rollins' recovery from two decades of addiction and sex work, and the judge who offered her a new path for her life.

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This series explores the health needs and concerns of foster children.

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In 2007, 12,000 inmates with mental illness sued the Illinois Department of Corrections, alleging the agency punishes inmates with mental illness instead of properly treating them. A settlement was reached in 2016, when the state agreed to revamp mental health care and provide better treatment. But a federal judge has ruled that care remains “grossly insufficient” and “extremely poor.”

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In the grips of an opioid addiction epidemic, many communities are increasing efforts to prevent overdose or stem the easy access to drugs. Meanwhile, long-term recovery for many people struggling with drug or alcohol addiction remains elusive. Despite advances, addiction has strikingly high relapse rates. This series explores obstacles that hold people back from treatment and new approaches to care that can help people stay well in the long term

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Sick is a podcast about the things that can happen to our bodies—and how we respond.

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Our health journalism collaborative explores the impacts of place, policy and economics on Americans' health.

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Personal experiences of people in recovery shared at a live storytelling event in Indianapolis.


Caption: Julie Callahan shows a picture of her family, including her son Jackson, who is non-verbal autistic. She says relinquishing custody was the last option left., Credit: Paige Pfleger, Side Effects Public Media
Across the United States, parents of children with severe mental health issues can face an excruciating decision: If they can't afford costly healt...

  • Added: May 21, 2019
  • Length: 04:06
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The CDC says smoking is the leading cause of cancer and cancer deaths. But research shows most smokers don’t quit -- even while battling cancer.

  • Added: May 16, 2019
  • Length: 03:35
Caption: Anne Polston holds her 2-year-old granddaughter., Credit: LISA GILLESPIE/SIDE EFFECTS PUBLIC MEDIA
About 100,000 Kentucky children are being raised by people other than their parents – a number that puts Kentucky above all other states. A great n...

  • Added: May 15, 2019
  • Length: 03:55
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When health researchers make headlines, it’s often for a sensational project – like manipulating genes to create a baby. But others are examining b...

  • Added: May 09, 2019
  • Length: 03:49
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The new governor of Illinois wants to legalize recreational marijuana across the state. Meanwhile, some doctors across the state are already prescr...

  • Added: May 09, 2019
  • Length: 03:46
Caption: Nicholas Richter gets a measles vaccine shot from a nurse at a Louisville clinic., Credit: LISA GILLESPIE, WFPL FOR SIDE EFFECTS PUBLIC MEDIA
Tens of thousands of people will soon be headed to Louisville for the Kentucky Derby. And that worries public health officials. They’ve seen measle...

  • Added: Apr 30, 2019
  • Length: 03:36
Caption: Bobette Nzuzi (left) and Lisette Chibanvunya (right) are interpreters for the Northeast Health Council in Missouri., Credit: SEBASTIÁN MARTÍNEZ VALDIVIA/SIDE EFFECTS PUBLIC MEDIA
Refugees and other immigrants face lots of obstacles when it comes to getting healthcare. And the language barrier is one of the biggest. A clinic ...

Bought by WRST-FM Oshkosh

  • Added: Apr 24, 2019
  • Length: 03:54
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: Kazito Kalima is the founder of the Peace Center for Forgiveness & Reconciliation in Indianapolis. He came to Indiana on a basketball scholarship after his family was killed during the Rwandan genocide in 1994., Credit: Lauren Bavis, Side Effects Public Media
The U-S is a landing spot for thousands of people fleeing persecution, war and violence. And that can trigger mental illness in many of these U-N-s...

Bought by WHCP-LP

  • Added: Apr 17, 2019
  • Length: 04:03
  • Purchases: 1
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The opioid epidemic has ravaged cities across the United States. And just a couple of years ago, Dayton, Ohio, had one of the nation’s worst overdo...

Bought by WRST-FM Oshkosh

  • Added: Apr 09, 2019
  • Length: 03:28
  • Purchases: 1
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Some doctors see access to birth control as a tool in the fight to decrease maternal and infant mortality. Indiana has one of the nation’s worst ra...

Bought by WAMC and WRST-FM Oshkosh

  • Added: Mar 27, 2019
  • Length: 03:53
  • Purchases: 2