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Making Sense of Health Evidence: The Informed Consumer

Cardiff University via FutureLearn

This course may be unavailable.


Every day we read or hear about new health research that looks at what might help or harm, limit or extend our lives. Health research is big business and over a million papers are published every year on health-related topics. So how do we find the evidence we need and, more importantly, how do we judge how good that evidence is?

Over four weeks, this free online course will:

  • look at what factors make some evidence less reliable;
  • provide practical help on how to find the best evidence;
  • improve your understanding of health research and its terminology; and
  • give you some simple tools to help judge whether you can believe it.

The issues raised in this course are examined in a series of weekly case studies. These provide a framework to discuss wider issues in health research. Topics include the Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) vaccine, the use of drugs in pregnancy and the impact of dehydration on how well we function.

As part of the course, we will be developing a resource bank that points you to sources of good evidence throughout the world. We would like you to participate in this process by identifying the best evidence-based health resources in your country and acting as a quality checker.

The team of educators on the course come from a range of disciplines, including health, social sciences and journalism, and teach courses at all levels on how to understand research and use it effectively.

You might want to sign up for this course if:

  • you, a member of your family or a friend have a medical condition, so you can understand the evidence for various treatment or management options;
  • you are applying to study a health-related subject at university;
  • you have a general interest in the topic and want to improve your knowledge; or
  • you are involved as a lay (non-expert) member of a research committee or advisory panel.

The only requirement is having an interest in the topic. So if you want to understand why not all evidence is good evidence, and learn how to tell the difference, this course is for you.

Taught by

Fiona Morgan


4.5 rating, based on 4 Class Central reviews

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  • Margaret O' Doherty completed this course, spending 3 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

    If you are confused by what you read on the internet about medicines this course points you towards reliable sources of information and shows you how to weigh up often contradictory opinions.
    It does as it says. It makes sense of the evidence and allows the consumer to make an informed decision. Are the benefits greater than the risks? After taking this course you will be much better able to ask your doctor the right questions.
  • Vicky Pang completed this course.

  • Nicole S.

    Nicole S. completed this course.

  • Melissa R

    Melissa R completed this course.

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