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Canadian Public Health Association

Student Blog


2018

Health Literacy and Public Health

June 4, 2018

Increasingly complex health care systems require individuals to assume a high degree of autonomy and employ self-management strategies to achieve their best health. Health literacy is one primary skill useful in navigating such complex systems. To date, there is no commonly accepted definition of health literacy in either academic or grey literature. It is a relatively new concept and ambiguities prevail.  Originally defined as literacy skills such as reading, writing and numeracy in the health domain, some sources claim that health literacy has evolved into a more fluid…


Towards Reconciliation Efforts: The Need for Indigenous Voices in Indigenous Health Strategies

April 30, 2018

In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) released its Calls to Action to “redress the legacy of residential schools and advance the process of Canadian reconciliation” (TRC, 2015, p.1). Many of the calls are applicable to universities and researchers because institutions of higher learning have the resources and influence to enable change in education, health and reconciliation. This article is a precursor to the emerging literature on institutional best practices of answering the calls. The purpose is to encourage individuals who are involved and capable of being…


Wisdom2Action: Mobilizing youths' lived-experience knowledge to inform mental health services

February 22, 2018

Many young people under the age of 25 in Canada struggle with mental health issues. Overall, 75% of ongoing mental health issues develop during adolescence, with 10-20% of youth affected by some kind of mental illness, while suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15–24 year olds. As our current healthcare system transforms to…


Why are students using study drugs, and what can we do about it?

January 24, 2018

Student use of off-counter stimulants for studying purposes is becoming an increasingly challenging issue as more students use them to study and negative health effects becoming increasingly reported. Recent studies suggest that more than 1 in 20 North American university students have engaged in the use of ADHD treatment drugs such as Adderall, Ritalin, Concerta, or Focalin for studying purposes in the past year [Non-medical use of prescription stimulants among US college students: prevalence and correlates from a…


2017

Can you imagine a public health response without signs telling people what to do?

December 20, 2017

On 9 September 2017, following an emotional fact-finding mission on tuberculosis [TB] in Igloolik and Iqaluit, Stephen Lewis concluded: “There is a TB crisis in Nunavut at this very moment…” TB is preventable and Canada is among the countries with the lowest incidence in the world. Higher rates of TB in the North are largely driven by social determinants of health, including a devastating housing crisis and chronic overcrowding, food insecurity, and a perpetual shortage of specialized nursing services. Persistent rates of infection are also fueled by a deep and long-standing mistrust of Canadian government officials in northern communities complicated by the forced removal of many Inuit from their homelands in the name of public health in the 1950’s and 60’s.

Three degrees of social influence: the catchy idea of social contagion in public health 

November 6, 2017

Social contagion is catching on, with no vaccine in sight! But don’t panic: exposure to this concept may be beneficial for public health. For one thing, viewing certain harmful social phenomena with public health impacts – such as gun violence, teen suicide, drug use, or obesity – as having epidemic-like features may help fight these otherwise difficult-to-treat problems. Many public health campaigns aim to embed new and positive social norms in a population – such as covering a sneeze with your elbow instead of your…


Physician-assisted death

July 26, 2017

 “If you don’t have liberty and self-determination, you’ve got nothing… and this is the ultimate self-determination, when you determine how and when you’re going to die when you’re suffering (People v. Kevorkian, 2001).” Nearly 15 years after Dr. Jack Kevorkian’s infamously spoken words, physician-assisted dying remains a controversial issue in Canadian society. In 2013, polls demonstrated that 32% of Canadians were either ‘somewhat opposed’ or ‘strongly opposed’ to physician-assisted death (PAD), and only 29% ‘strongly supported’ PAD (Environics Research Group, 2013). However, in…


Radon: A silent threat

April 11, 2017

Canada’s public health community is committed to upstream health promotion and disease prevention. This includes a responsibility to raise awareness on ‘silent’ factors in the physical environment which threaten the health of Canadians. Radon is one of these silent threats.

2016

Interested in research? Tips for success from a fellow student

December 21, 2016

Students are becoming increasingly interested in participating in research. Many already possess the skills required to make meaningful contributions to their field. Learning how to access scientific literature, online training modules, free apps, student grants, and mentorship opportunities, are just some ways students can enrich their skills in research and succeed in the projects they hope to complete.

A humble approach to community-based interventions

October 19, 2016

I recently received a very important piece of advice for moving forward in the field of public health. During a classroom discussion focused on how we, as public health professionals, could help a community deal with a public health issue, my professor asked us “What is the first question you need to ask?” One of my colleagues offered the answer: “How can I help you?”