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Final thoughts

Finally, each educator talks about the the key message they hope everyone will take away from the course.
As this is the final week, we thought we would leave you with our own individual takeaway messages. So my message to you would be, healthy scepticism is a really great thing. Don’t dismiss everything out of hand. But check it out. Don’t assume it’s absolutely right in every case. And think about conflicts of interest. Andy? Yeah, mine’s very similar. My expertise and experience is all with reading the news media, and how they tell us about health and science. And I’d say read the news media with a sceptical eye. Don’t rely on just one source of information, even if it’s a seemingly trusted one like the BBC.
If it’s something that you’re concerned about or might affect you, always read about it covered in multiple sources. Go outside the mainstream media, which is often really resource strapped and unable to do things in perhaps the best way possible. Go to the specialist blogosphere. And go to the source as much as you can, as well. Try and read the paper, try and read the abstract. Read what other people in the same field are trying to say about any given and risk or concern or issue that you might have come across in what you read. Mark?
Well, I guess what I would hope would be the course has given people enough confidence and the tools to statistically interrogate a piece of evidence. It doesn’t have to be that complicated. You don’t have to do any algebra or anything like that. You can just examine it, and see what it means to you. You can interrogate the science behind it. You can ask simple questions about who the funder is, who is a population, does it apply to me, therefore? How long ago was the study, what is the size of the risk, is there an absolute risks that are provided? Is there an independent voice in the article that isn’t the researchers promoting their own work?
And I think just doing these simple sense checks, which can be done quite quickly. I think it’s about statistical literacy, and I think everybody’s capable of it. Keren? I think when we talk about any issues that relate to health, you need to have confidence in the information that you’re reading. So yes, we need to go to the scientific, to the robust resources. But sometimes the jargon there might be a little bit difficult to understand. So utilise the sites such as NHS choices behind the headlines and their glossary of terms. To help you understand what it is you’re reading. If we were going to read an article in French or German, we’d use a dictionary. We’d go to Google Translate.
To make sure that we understood what he was we were looking at. And I think the same thing applies whenever you’re looking at anything to do with health. Don’t be blinded by science. Make sure that you understand the message, and that you are informed, and use the glossary and all the resources that are freely available to you. Thank you.
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Making Sense of Health Evidence: The Informed Consumer

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