Tag Archives: Social Environments

Conflict and disease: A complex relationship

Author: Robert A. Frank 

Societies will always be subjected to situations that test their tolerance thresholds. When a stressor exceeds a society’s capacity to cope, “failure” of the system is often manifested as social unrest, falling along a spectrum of intensity ranging from civil wars and revolutions to riots, strikes, and protests (Braha, 2012). The conflict leading to social unrest is most often initiated by groups on the disadvantaged end of systemic inequalities, as a desperate effort at effecting change (Haas, 1986). Although social unrest is sometimes a necessary vehicle for cultural revolution, the resultant disruption of society invariably creates a volatile environment that is vulnerable to adverse health outcomes (Jovanović, Renn, & Schröter, 2012).

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MCR-1: The consequence of antibiotic misuse and evolving resistance

According to a recent paper published the Lancet, a superbug gene that confers resistance to colistin, an antibiotic used to treat Gram-negative bacterial infections when all other drugs fail, has been discovered in China (Liu et al., 2016; TheStar, 2016). The gene in question, called MCR-1, was found in E.coli in samples from meat, hospital patients, and livestock in southeastern China. Given that China is among the countries with the highest colistin use in agriculture, resistance to the drug may have originated in that part of the world; however, new reports show that the gene is not restricted to China as the following countries have similarly discovered MCR-1 in bacterial DNA: Algeria, Canada, Denmark, England, France, Laos, Portugal, Thailand, The Netherlands, and Wales (TheStar, 2016). Some of the bacterial DNA analyzed and found positive for the MCR-1 gene was derived from specimens archived before 2015; therefore, dissemination of the gene has outpaced discovery, and the issue at hand may already be an international crisis.

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Ebola in West Africa: The Impact of Social Determinants

Auteure: Audrey Caron 


(An English translation will be available soon)

Depuis plus d’un an, l’Afrique de l’Ouest fait face à la plus importante épidémie d’Ebola de son histoire. Cet essai présente les divers déterminants sociaux de la santé qui ont eu un impact sur l’ampleur de cette crise. L’environnement, la culture et les services de santé sont les facteurs prédominants du développement de cette épidémie, qui a fait des milliers de morts. Ces déterminants ont joué un rôle tant dans le déclenchement de l’épidémie et la transmission du virus, que dans l’étendue de celle-ci. Depuis plusieurs années, il est admis que les déterminants sociaux sont des facteurs très essentiels dans la prévention des problèmes de santé. En effet, ils permettent d’améliorer en amont les capacités des communautés et les conditions de vie des populations, ainsi que de réduire les inégalités sociales en santé. Il est donc important de les considérer afin de permettre l’endiguement de la crise et prévenir une autre catastrophe.

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eHealth governance: Google, dot-health and privatizing the Internet

On February 10th, 2015, Google announced the development of a new feature in their research engine to guide users towards sound evidence-based health information. It will take the form of a “knowledge graph” , an encyclopaedia providing users with information about an illness: from common symptoms to general treatment options [1]. Most users have seen knowledge graphs before when searching through Google, usually about a celebrity, a country or a historic event. The information featured in this graph comes from Wikipedia, Google Images and other diverse sources of information that Google is compiling using a clever search algorithm to judge the relevance of the source. Continue reading eHealth governance: Google, dot-health and privatizing the Internet

The Disability Experience: Living with a Birth Defect Resulting from Thalidomide Exposure

Authors: Émilie M. MEYERS & Jeffrey W. JUTAI


The drug, Thalidomide, is a classic example of how medicine has the potential to cause us harm. The market flooding of this drug in the 1950’s resulted in the birth of 8 to 10 thousand children with birth defects. Today in Canada this tragedy still affects the lives of approximately 125 individuals. How do these individuals live their lives and what has been the overall impact of their impairment? This article explores the lived experience of a woman born with upper limb phocomelia as a result of Thalidomide exposure. A one hour unstructured face-to-face interview was conducted. Permission was received from the interviewee to make a voice recording of the interview allowing for a more concrete data review. The interview uncovered 6 primary themes indicating that a physical impairment resulting from thalidomide can have a minimal impact on an individual’s overall quality of life, as long as sufficient support and a positive self identity is present. The interviewee’s accounts suggest that living with disability is a unique experience that can lead to positive outcomes. The ultimate conclusion of this paper is that more extensive research is needed to further represent the voices of the disability community.

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Case Based Learning Teaching Methodology in Undergraduate Health Sciences Health Sciences Cased Based Learning Pilot Project

Authors: Kaitlyn BROWN, Mary COMMANDANT, Adi KARTOLO, Casey ROWED, Agatha STANEK, Heebah SULTAN, Kabir TOOR, & Victoria WININGER


Case-based learning (CBL) is an interactive teaching approach involving small-group discussion to determine a range of solutions for a presented patient case. In light of the success that the approach has achieved in numerous professional and undergraduate programs, a pilot project was introduced in 2009 by senior health sciences students, who acted as CBL facilitators, at the University of Ottawa for undergraduate courses in the Interdisciplinary School of Health Sciences (ISHS). In collaboration with faculty professors, the facilitators developed CBL sessions consisting of patient cases that were reflective of the core objectives of health sciences courses. A total of 144 undergraduate students from three ISHS courses took part in these sessions; they were evaluated based on the calibre of their participation and a quiz. The quiz consisted of 5 questions that evaluated the students’ mastery of the concepts covered in the CBL session. The students also completed an evaluation of the pilot project. On a nominal scale of one to five, the students on average scored 4.13 out of a possible 5.00 (SD 1.48) marks on the quiz. In the evaluation, the students rated the project as having an overall learning benefit of 3.82 on a nominal scale of one to four. The evaluation indicates that the students perceived the program as having significant learning value and the quiz marks confirmed that CBL promoted the application of lecture content to practical scenarios. These preliminary findings suggest that implementing CBL in ISHS would enhance students’ academic experience. Further sessions based on this model would improve from more rigorous pre- and post-session assessments.

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Portrayals of Childbirth: An Examination of Internet Based Media



More pregnant women turn to reality-based television programs and the Internet than to prenatal classes. Scant research examines the portrayal of childbirth in these new media. Although its impact is unknown, we do know that up to 20% of pregnant women fear giving birth; consequences include avoiding pregnancy, termination, depression, and increased maternal morbidity.

Overall internet content tended to be contradictory but largely reflected two categories: natural and mainstream, with two different portrayals of childbirth. Natural sources focused on eliminating fear, discrediting hospital births, and promoting ‘alternative’ options such as home birth and midwifery. Mainstream sources reinforced fears, discredited home births, reported statistics from studies, and employed misinformation. Popular Internet sources tended to have the goal of educating whereas media uncovered in the purposive searches tended towards entertainment goals. Conflicting and misinformation from the Internet may entrench rather than assuage fears. Women may become confused and develop a heavily biased representation of birth. This could strongly impact a woman’s approach to and experience of birth.

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