McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

Blog sponsored by the McMaster Health Forum wins CMA media award

Published: September 20, 2012

A Maclean’s magazine blog that was established with the support of the McMaster Health Forum and brings to light the most relevant evidence related to various health issues has been recognized with a coveted health journalism award.

Julia Belluz, who writes Science-ish, a joint project of Maclean’s, The Medical Post and the Forum, has won the 2012 Excellence in Digital Health Reporting award from the Canadian Medical Association. The CMA Media Awards, announced this week, honour outstanding Canadian journalism that enhances understanding of health, the healthcare system and the role of health professionals.

Through the weekly blog, Belluz checks the latest health headlines against the best available research evidence and holds politicians, healthcare leaders and other journalists to account for ill-informed public statements.

Launched just over a year ago in an effort to improve the state of public discourse on health issues, Science-ish has become one of the most-visited blogs on both the Maclean’s magazine and Medical Post websites. Prior to its launch, researchers at the Forum trained Belluz, associate editor at the Medical Post, to find and use research evidence, by utilizing databases containing systematic reviews to inform her blog posts.

The digital reporting award is one of 11 journalism awards granted by the CMA.

"Each year, we are increasingly impressed with the quality of health-related journalism we see," said Dr. Anna Reid, president of the CMA. "Reporters show an incredible ability to cover emotional and complex topics in ways that Canadians can understand, while also helping advance health policy in this country."

To write the weekly blog, Belluz has access to the Health Systems Evidence database managed by the Forum, as well as three others: Evidence Updates, which is a joint project of McMaster’s Health Information Research Unit and the BMJ Evidence Centre that supports decisions on clinical topics; Health-Evidence.ca, based at McMaster and focused on public health topics; and the Cochrane Library, which provides independent, high-quality evidence on a range of topics. Using these resources, Belluz can fact check health-related claims made in the media or other public domains, and interview experts to learn more about the best available research evidence rather than their personal opinions.

The Forum has also convened a virtual panel of experts who Belluz can contact for assistance in finding and using research evidence and in identifying potential topics and experts.

Topics covered by the blog since its launch cover the gamut from physician bonuses, to the health risks of wifi, to tests and treatments for a myriad of diseases.

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