Category: Health Promotion & Disease Prevention

Stubbornly high rates of health care worker injury

HCW_Injury

Ann Smith starting working as a bedside nurse on an Edmonton general medical unit  in 2012, three years after graduating with her nursing degree. She was working a night shift when she entered the room of an elderly patient who had called for help to get to the washroom. The patient had very limited use…

Physician health: reducing stigma and improving care

Physician wellness

John Bradford always prided himself on being psychologically tough. After all, he needed to be. As one of Canada’s top forensic psychiatrists, he analyzed some of the country’s most high-profile murderers including Paul Bernardo, Karla Homolka and Robert Pickton. In order to keep healthy and reduce stress, Bradford exercised regularly and played competitive squash and…

Sheltering Canada’s homeless

Homeless

“I’d do whatever I had to do to stay warm” recalls David, who was homeless on Toronto’s streets from 2000 to 2003. David said he spent the winter nights in emergency shelters, and bitter cold days in bank ATM lobbies or riding around on public transit. “Survival was tough” he says, describing everyday life on…

Combating antibiotic resistance in Canada

antibiotic resistance

Michael’s Story Michael was a 75 year-old living in Canada’s Prairies. His wife recently spent five days in hospital for a scheduled hip replacement. At the time she was admitted to hospital, Michael was on a one-week course of Amoxicillin, an antibiotic medication to treat a sinus infection. Michael spent a great deal of time…

Groundbreaking Canadian cohort studies aim to shed light on risk factors for cancer, chronic diseases

Groundbreaking Canadian cohort studies aim to shed light on risk factors for cancer, chronic diseases

The British Whitehall studies helped establish the importance of the social determinants of health, while a Danish study of children provided strong evidence to disprove the damaging MMR-vaccine-causes-autism hypothesis. Those are just two of many international cohort studies—studies that follow large groups of people over many years. In Canada, starting such studies has never been…

“Chronic blindness” to health impact of alcohol policies

Health Impacts of Increased Availability of Alcohol

It’s a political football. Whenever the prospect of privatizing the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) is placed on the agenda, the result is a heated and polarized debate. Tax revenues, employment, competition and consumer convenience—these are the concerns that dominate discussion. But when it comes to any changes in alcohol policy, explicit consideration of the health…

Dangerous drug interactions and how to stop them

Lisa Priest Personal Health Navigator Sunnybrook healthydebate.ca

The Personal Health Navigator is available to all Canadian patients. Questions about your doctor, hospital or how to navigate the health care system can be sent to AskLisa@Sunnybrook.ca The Question: My mother is on six different medications from different pharmacies under the care of three specialists. How do I avoid a dangerous drug interaction? The Answer: This is…

Alcohol and diabetes: a potentially dangerous mix

Lisa Priest Personal Health Navigator Sunnybrook healthydebate.ca

The Personal Health Navigator is available to all Canadian patients. Questions about your doctor, hospital or how to navigate the health care system can be sent to AskLisa@Sunnybrook.ca The Question: How does alcohol consumption affect diabetes? I work with street people who don’t always eat properly. Does it worsen their diabetes? The Answer: Intuitively, you would think that…

Promoting vaccine benefits: public health officials call for a rethink of communication with parents

Promoting vaccine benefits: public health officials call for a rethink of communication with parents

Public health officials must find better ways to communicate with parents about the risks and benefits of childhood vaccination, researchers and public health officials agree. That task is particularly challenging in the absence of a national, or a provincial, vaccine surveillance registry because, to target messages effectively, accurate and timely information about vaccination rates and…

Are Canadians too salty?

Six Grammes of Salt

Salt intake is difficult for individuals to control, because more than three quarter of the salt we consume comes from processed foods, like bread, deli meats and dairy products. Most Canadians are consuming more than double the daily recommended amount of salt. While there is a link between salt consumption and heart disease and stroke,…

Weighing the harms and benefits of mammography

Harms and Benefits of Mammography

Healthydebate.ca has run a series of stories on breast cancer screening mammography, stimulated by the recent guidelines from the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care.  This last story focuses on how women and policy makers must balance the benefits and harms of screening mammography. The issues raised in this series are relevant to screening…

Did mammography save her life?

Did Mammography Save Her Life?

Some breast cancers detected by screening mammography are cured and would have led to death had they not been detected early. Other breast cancers detected by screening can be treated just as effectively if diagnosed later, may not have needed treatment at all, or may be so advanced that treatment does not prevent death from…

Interpreting randomized trial evidence around mammography

Interpreting Randomized Trial Evidence on Mammography

The Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care recently released recommendations about screening for breast cancer.  These recommendations have been criticized by some because they emphasize the results of randomized trials.  This article explores the advantages and limitations of randomized trial evidence regarding screening mammography.  The recent recommendations by the Canadian Task Force on Preventive…

Presenting the benefits of mammography

Presenting the Benefits of Mammography

The results of research on screening for breast cancer with mammography can be presented in ways that make the benefits seem larger or smaller  Similarly, the benefits can be described as avoiding deaths from breast cancer or avoiding deaths from any cause Part of the debate about the benefits of screening mammography may be related…

The mammography controversy

Mammography controversy

In medical journals, doctors and scientists continue to debate the relative benefits and harms of breast cancer screening for women who are at average risk of developing breast cancer. This debate is not always reflected in screening programs, most of which strongly recommend mammography to average risk women within a certain age bracket. Some experts…

Should health care workers be required to get the flu vaccine?

flu vaccine

Each year several thousand Canadians die from influenza. Vaccinating health care workers against flu reduces transmission and would protect patients who are most vulnerable.  However, only about 40% of hospital staff in Ontario were vaccinated last winter. Is it time for Ontario to make the flu vaccine mandatory for health care workers? Explaining the influenza…

Are bedbugs a health problem?

Bed Bug

The past ten years have seen a surge of bedbug infestations across North America, with many cities across Canada affected.  Although they do not cause or transmit disease, bedbug infestations are often perceived to be a health problem. An effective and efficient bedbug strategy requires coordination among various sectors, including public health, housing, community and…

Need & access to bariatric surgery in Ontario

Belly iStock_000012609799Small

The frequency of obesity has skyrocketed across Canada, and its treatment is a major challenge to the health care system.  Bariatric surgery is an effective treatment for obesity that appears to be good value for money.  Although Ontario is expanding bariatric surgery capacity, some are concerned that capacity remains below current needs.  What is bariatric…

Direct-to-consumer genetic testing comes to Canada

LittleBoyGenetics_2

Genetic profiles are being offered directly to consumers online for relatively reasonable sums of money. These websites are not yet widely known to Canadian consumers.  Doctors and the public need to be educated to better understand what the results of these tests mean.  E-commerce has exploded over the past decade, and now you can buy…

Do lessons from the fight against smoking apply to reducing obesity?

Obesity2

A multi-pronged strategy was needed to significantly reduce smoking rates across Ontario over the last few decades. Obesity is a current and worsening public health threat.  The obesity epidemic may also need to be attacked from many angles, but may be harder to effectively fight than smoking. Healthydebate.ca took to the street in December 2010…

Are hand washing rates posted by Ontario hospitals believable?

iStock_000000477809SmallPS

Ontario’s hospitals are required to publicly report how often staff wash their hands. There is large variation in hand washing rates between hospitals. This variation more likely reflects how hospitals measure hand washing, rather than the frequency of hand washing itself. Ontario’s hospitals are required to publicly release information about how often staff wash their…