What health research can I trust?

Friday, 1 April 2016

Contributed by Fiona Morgan , Lecturer/Systematic Reviewer, Cardiff University

Every day the news is full of reports of ‘ground-breaking’ treatments and factors that cause or prevent disease. How do you know whether these reports are reliable?

There is surprisingly little out there to help patients and patient advocates understand research, which is why we developed Making Sense of Health Evidence.

A free online course

This free online short course, produced by a team at Cardiff University, is an accessible introduction for those who want or need to know more about research. We look in detail at why not all evidence is good evidence and give participants the tools they need to tell the difference. Over a four week period the course covers factors affecting the reliability of health information, gives practical help on how to find the best evidence, explains the principles and terminology of health research and provides some simple tools to help judge whether or not it’s believable.

Each week there is a case study that illustrates the issues discussed during that week. Currently these include the use of medicines in pregnancy (with a look back to the thalidomide tragedy), the now discredited suggestion of a link between the MMR vaccine and autism, and research into the relationship between smoking and lung cancer.

Here is a taster – a short video about how to search Google more effectively for health information:

What participants said

'Coming to this course from a complete lay perspective I have found the experience invaluable. There are many things to think about and the advice we have been given points us in the right direction for our own individual purposes. A very professional and enjoyable experience.' Peter Gilbert  

'A very well presented course with lots of tools to let us do the research/reading to advocate for our own health needs.' Linda McNab 

Available worldwide

Anyone anywhere in the world can sign up to Making Sense of Health Evidence. All you need is reasonable internet access (internet connection with a consistent speed of 1.5Mbps or above). You can register for the next run by going to the course page.

Related pages