The International Journal of Public Health blog

More and more public health related journals are expanding their online universes with blogs. Eg. BMJ and PLoS have blogs associated to their journals. Now one of the smaller journals of Public Health has also started a blog. The International Journal of Public Health’s blog is made as a joint venture with the Swiss School of Public Health +.

The blog aims to promote debate around current public health issues and articles published in IJPH and to bring together public health research and clinical practice. The idea behind it has been double:

  1. to provide a discussion platform for quick and direct exchange; and
  2. to put this discussion in an open space so that interested public health people from various fields can follow it and make contributions.

The blog seems to be populated with new posts quite regularly. Mostly the posts work as advertisement of newly published articles in International Journal of Public Health or events at the Swiss School of Public Health +. Almost all the posts end with a question, inviting the readers to comment, share ideas, thoughts and critic, such as:

“What do you think about this study? What could such results mean for Public Health policies?” or “We hope you find these articles useful! What other methodological articles would you like to see in IJPH?”

So far the comments section has not been used much. Whether this is due to lack of interest in commenting or inawareness of the blog is difficult to say as the blog is still quite new, and only was launched early in 2011.

Creating a open commenting culture is perhaps also just something that takes time…


The Chirurgeon’s Apprentice

Public health history is a part of public health sciences. And the history of public health holds many great stories relevant for blogging. I just came across this blog about “the horrors of pre-anaesthetic surgery”. The blog is called The Chirurgeon’s Apprentice and is written by Lindsey Fitzharris, a medical historian at Queen Mary, University of London.

I have read some of the posts and really like them. For example this post about Grave Matters: The Body-Snatchers Unearthed. Lots of good stuff about the theft of bodies, people mistakenly being buried alive and the training of doctors in the 1700s. Apparently I’m not the only one to like the blog. At least it was awarded with the Cliopatria Award for ‘Best Individual Blog’ in 2011.

The Chirurgeon’s Apprentice is an example of how the reasons to start blogging can be many. For Lindsey Fitzharris it was: “a way of reaching out to friends and family who did not understand what it was I did as a historian of medicine. Since its inception in September 2010, however, the website has taken on a life of its own, far exceeding all my expectations.”


Also deans of Schools of Public Health can blog – and master the discipline very well!

I love when I come across people, who in a public health perspective are high ranking and hold influential positions in public health – and who blogs! It proves that blogging is for all, whether you’re a public health student or the dean of a School of Public Health. This week I came across a great example of the later.

Antoine Flahault is dean of the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Santé Publique (EHESP, School of Public Health, which belongs to Sorbonne Paris Cité, a confederal French university), and a regular blogger on his own University blog, which is simply called Antoine Flahault’s blog, and was started already in November 2007 (it is available in both English and French).

The content of the blog seems very much to be a reflection of the different aspects of public health which Antonie encounters both as a Dean of a School of Public Health and as a public health professional himself. He shares his thoughts and opinion on for example (and these are just a few!):

What I like about the blog, is that Antonie Flahault is not afraid to share his opinion. He argues for his points of view and thus indirectly gives a window into where he sees that a school of public health should be heading. He poses questions and invites comments (although this doesn’t seem much used), which hopefully stimulates discussion and reflection among his readers. And then something I appreciate very much: he writes as him. Not only as the dean, but as Antonie Flahault. This gives the blog a personal touch, which makes it engaging to read. There are no pictures, but lots of background links and the blog is very much alive with very regular postings of new blogs. I truely feel I have learnt something new or reflected on a topic after having read his blog posts.

I have come across other blogs run by deans of schools of public health – but not many, and this one is definitely the absolute best I have encountered so far. I just started following Antoine on Twitter and look forward to reading more of his thoughts on public health, which are very inspirering.

Other examples of blogs (not newsletters) by Deans of Schools of Public Health:

Just a little bit of background info on Antoine Flahault:

Antoine Flahault was formerly a public health intern, doctor of medicine, doctor of biomathematics, professor of public health at Université Paris Descartes – public health practitioner at Hôtel Dieu de Paris ; he was former head of the public health department at Tenon hospital, Paris. He headed the Sentinelles research team at Inserm-UPMC (UMR-S 707) and the WHO Collaborating Centre for electronic disease surveillance. He co-ordinated a research programme bringing together disease surveillance, preventive epidemiology and mathematical modelling. In collaboration with WHO, he developed the international ‘flu monitoring system (FluNet). In 2006 he was responsible for setting up an interdisciplinary unit for research into Chikungunya and since 28 November 2007 he has been responsible for a research and monitoring unit into emerging diseases in the Guyana and Caribbean region. He was appointed director of the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Santé Publique (EHESP, School of Public Health, which belongs to Sorbonne Paris Cité, a confederal French university) from 1 January 2008. He has been elected as president of the Association of Schools of Public Health in the European Region (ASPHER) in 2010-2011. He has been elected as Correspondant Member at the French Academy of Medicine in December 2009.


Ryan Goslingfying biostatistics communication

Biostatistics is perhaps not the most approachable thing to people outside the biostatistics sphere, and as a discipline of Public Health Sciences it is sometimes frowned a little bit upon. Maybe because it is, even to many public health professionals, quite boring. It’s all about numbers, computer programmes, likelihoods, tests and probabilities and communicating it is difficult to do in a sexy or funny manner. Or is it…

A wonderful friend and fellow public-health’er who for better or worse have biostatistics as an integrated part of her work sent me this link to a Biostatistics Tumblerblog. She wrote:

“This is perhaps also a way of communicating public health sciences :)”

ww.biostatisticsryangoslingreturns.tumblr.com

The website is the product of one PhD student’s free time and is meant purely as entertainment. It is hardly ‘Science Communication to the Public’, but perhaps one could argue that it is a way of communicating science to the insiders of biostatistics.

It uses the (unsexy) language of biostatistics and combines it with the (sexy) Ryan Gosling – thus it puts together two opposites. It is this combination that appeals to at least my friend and probably also to many of the other followers of the blog.

Go to the blog and check out this simple way of communicating biostatistics. Below a few appetizers picked out by a fan of the blog:

“Hey girl, since I met you I’ve violated my independence assumption”

Hey girl, before I meet you I wasn’t complete and sufficient”

Hey girl, if I was a non-adherent participant, would you still include me in your analytic sample?”

Hey girl, sometimes I feel like a nul-hypothesis. I will never be accepted”

If anybody knows of similar blogs, combining public health disciplines with short texts and photos do not hold back – share it!


Blogger – a hero or villain?

In Raleigh, NC! And ScienceOnline2012 starts in just a few hours. Yeah. During my trip here from Copenhagen, yesterday I was in many ways confronted with one of the topics which will most definitely be mentioned in today’s talks – blogs.

As if the airline knew that at least two people on their flight were heading to #Scio12, the inflight magazine opened up with the article “How to make a food blog”. Glorifying the blog as something every food lover should have. Interviews with food bloggers from across the world, who have made a name for themselves – though blogging. In the article the blogger is definitely in the hero category. (Couldn’t help thinking a similar thing should be done just focusing on blogging scientists and researchers from different fields – and it should figure in exactly an inflight magazine too!)

On the second flight, the inflight entertainment system offered the movie “Contagion”. A film about a flu pandemic causing deaths all over the world at extreme speed, followed by general panic and chaos amongst the population. One of the drivers of the panic and anger is a blogger (played by Jude Law) who doubts the intentions of the government and the pharmaceutical industry in stopping the disease from spreading. In addition, he claims to have found the cure for the virus by some homeopathic treatment, which people end up committing crimes for in their attempt to get it. All through the film, the blogger is the villain and a problem for the authorities and who in the end gets his (well deserved?) punishment.

It was interesting to see these two perspectives on blogging. I look forward to spending the day with lots and lots of bloggers, tweeters etc. (heros as well as villains and all those in between). I have a feeling it will be a blast (as a participant of previous ScienceOnline conferences told me at the bus stop yesterday). The Tweeting have definitely already begun and I fear a little how to make it through 450 people tweeting at the same time…..