Monday, February 23, 2009

Health in the news: Cont...

Myself and the chief librarian will be participating in our hospital's Mini Med this year along with Dr. Eddy Lang. Dr. Lang teaches Evidence-based medicine to McGill medical students, is associate editor of several medical journals and co-authors a health column for the Montreal Gazette. His contributions to journalism are in fact the topic of this post.
HealthWatch runs every other week as a regular Gazette feature where medical journalist Evra Taylor Levy and emergency physician Eddy Lang help make sense of sometimes contradictory medical research.
What is so special about the column is that it does everything I was criticizing journalists for NOT doing the last time I wrote, and even takes it a step further by breaking it all down into clearly marked sections that help readers make sense of the research. Specific sections vary by column but here are a few to give you a sense:
  • The study: provides the full reference.

  • What was already known about...: gives a brief overview of the topic.

  • What was this study about and how was it done?: sometimes this one is broken down into two sections:

  • What kind of study was this?: explains the study- for example if it was a randomized-controlled trial you get an explanation of what that means. And:

  • How was this study conducted?: explains the methodology in plain English.

  • What makes this study unique?: is self-explanatory.

  • What were the key findings?: see above.

  • So, what's the bottom line?: what does this mean for the readers? What should they do now that they are aware of this study?

  • Online resources: provides links to just that, online consumer health resources on the topic at hand.
Can you see why I'm excited? Take a look at this column about diets and see how much easier it is to understand the research. The only thing missing is a link to a full text copy of the study itself.

I swear I only met him after I wrote my last post!

1 comment:

Lorie Kloda, MLIS, AHIP, PhD said...

Hey, this is really good news. I don't read the Gazette regularly, so I didn't know about Eddy's column until I read it here!