Wednesday 17 September 2014


Do you want to be able TO USE the available research to find out more about your health?

We are often prompted to find out when there has been some report in the media about some new breakthrough in medicine.

Fortunately, there is a great website promoted by the NHS who provided a much clearer explanation of the facts. Unfortunately, too few people know about Behind the Headlines so let others know and add it to your favourite sites. 

But let's go back a few stages. It might be helpful to spend a little time thinking about WHY you want TO USE research.

Light at end of tunnel
Is it...
  • to aid your discussions about your treatment options?
  • to understand more about the latest research?
  • to know more about your health and wellbeing?
  • to help, influence and give to research? (These are the next 3 places on the tour so more in later posts) 

Each is slightly different but having a clear picture of what you want can be helpful.

LANGUAGE WARNING - The next few suggestions take you into Researchland but help is at hand with this online Research Jargon Buster. I use the term Researchland advisedly as it has its own language, culture and time difference.

If you really want to find out directly about the actual research you could start with Google Scholar or with PubMed. Just type in an illness, condition or enquiry and just pick one or two to start with.

These search engines will provide you with loads of papers but very few will have a lay summary of what the study is about or the result.

All of this illustrates one aspect of the 'time difference' in research land. Some areas, like cancer, are very good at providing you with information about the disease and the research alongside the people being treated and those who are trying to find the best treatments.

CHALLENGE WARNING - What can you do individually and collectively to make a difference so that similar, sensible and clear information is available. This is why creating A Research Active Nation is so vital.

But, if you are still not certain about existing research you might like to visit this site where 'uncertainties' are explored

Music Time: You might now want to relax and think about how timely this information is for you.

When I took some information, that I had found on the internet, into my consultation I was pleasantly surprised by the positive reaction but it turned out that my consultant had written some of the pages!

Too often I hear that the standard reaction is raised eyebrows, a few tuts and compete dismissal of any information that the patient has acquired. This is wrong and doctors need to change.

If research is to be of genuine value then we can help change the culture to one of greater shared decision making. Any enquiry we make shows a commitment, an interest, a willingness to find out and be a more engaged in the outcomes for our health and well-being. 

The Next POST is about How to HELP research

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