Finding and using research evidence: A guide for citizens (Blog Posts)

Finding and using research evidence: A guide for citizens (Blog Posts)


An Internet blog is a commentary written about a specific topic and often these topics cover issues that are really important people such as optimal aging. Ideally the information used to inform the block should be based on credible scientific information. Unfortunately it’s not always easy to identify the most relevant high quality research evidence to inform blogs. Selecting only the most credible sources to inform a blog is really important. It becomes even more important when the target audience increasingly relies on the blog as a source of trustworthy health information. Welcome to module number five in the finding
and using research evidence a guide for
citizens course. In this module we’ll focus on blog posts. Citizens are often frustrated by the fact that
research evidence only answers partially the
questions that they have. It doesn’t help them understand the research
evidence of context or bring the evidence alive for a good story in
the way journalist would. Systematic reviews and summaries that
present the key messages from reviews are
one helpful way for answering very specific
health questions but citizens may be interested in a general
health topic such as diabetes and they want to know different things about
that topic for example how to self-manage
their condition, what steps they ought to take with their
Physicians to help them make better
decisions, and this requires several reviews or
summaries, not just one. Citizens might also want to know about
patients and clinicians experience with the
condition or treatment to help them understand what the best
available evidence means in real life. One potential solution to the frustration just
mentioned are well written blogs which can
help provide people with more comprehensive
answers to their health related questions. Blogs are one way to pull together a number
of reviews, summaries, and other types of
research evidence alongside the real world
experiences a patients and clinicians which provide citizens
with the types of well-rounded answers that
they are seeking. Reviews that answer several questions
related to the same overarching issue such
as diabetes can be presented together to provide many
answers for citizens interested in diabetes. Insights from patients with diabetes and from clinicians who provide care to
patients with diabetes can also be integrated
into a well written blog post. As mentioned at other times
in this course providing research evidence and health
information is one input but other inputs such as indigenous ways of
knowing, cultural factors that may influence how Health
Care decisions are made, and other types of personal preferences are
extremely important to put alongside the best
available research evidence. A blog post is an optimal format to do this
because it provides people with an
opportunity to merge the insights from research evidence
summaries with other information that are important to
people such as indigenous ways of knowing. The McMaster Optimal Aging Portal provides
an illustration of an approach to developing
well rounded comprehensive blog posts that
integrate insights both from the best available research
evidence as well as the experiences of patients,
citizens and clinicians. Blog posts have titles that help people
determine the post relevance to them. The bottom line presents a summary of key
messages so that citizens can walk away
with answers to their questions. Direct quotes contained within the blog help
to signal insights from individuals with lived
experience or expertise. References at the end of the blog help to
signal for people reading it that it integrates a
number of sources to provide comprehensive
answers to the types of questions that citizens and
patients may have. The bios provided at the end of the blog tell
you who has developed the blog post for example who the authors were, who the experts and citizens were that
provided the insights, and so on. Writing blogs about important health topics that matter the most to people is an important process that allows them to engage with the best available research evidence in instances in which they don’t have the skills or knowledge to do that themselves. An easy to understand blog based on the best available research evidence is one way to support people to find and use research evidence about the topics that matter the most of them. When writing blogs based on the best available scientific evidence unfortunately sometimes the language can get technical and academic. Even if we’re trying to write in user-friendly language it may be important to write additional blogs that explains some of the technical terms used in other blogs. By doing this we empower people to better understand science and to better understand what the best available research evidence says about the topics that are important to them.

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