Understanding health research

In August 2016, the University of Glasgow, MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit launched Understanding Health Research, a new interactive website to help people go beyond the headlines and better understand health research. We helped in the development and promotion of this tool to make it as user-friendly as possible as part of our Ask for Evidence campaign.

Here’s what the researchers had to say in their blog for The Conversation: “One day we’re told that coffee causes cancer, the next that it protects us from it. Does this sound familiar? We’re all bombarded by confusing and contradictory health information every day – supposedly based on scientific evidence. But most of us have a difficult time assessing the quality of this evidence, particularly if it’s online. Many people who use health information on a daily basis haven’t been trained to appraise research critically, and even those that have may struggle to maintain the skills over time.

“We find this worrying, particularly given recent efforts to make research more open and accessible. To try to improve the situation, we have launched a free online tool called Understanding Health Research to help guide anybody who wants to understand a health research paper through the process of asking the right questions, so they can weigh up the evidence.

“There are real benefits to health literacy, which is the ability to understand, assess and use health information. These skills have been linked to better health outcomes, better relationships with healthcare providers, and better decision making.”

Click here to go to the tool.