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Welcome to HC Link's blog! Our blog will provide you with useful information on healthy community topics, news, and resources, as well as information on HC Link’s events, activities, and resources. Our bloggers include HC Link staff and consultants, as well as our partnering organizations, clients, and experts in the health promotion field.

Please note: opinions in posts are those of the author and are not necessarily the opinions of HC Link or our funder.

We look forward to engaging in thought-provoking conversation with you!

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Webinar Recap - Highlights from the Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey

By Heather Lillico, Provincial System Support Program, CAMH

CAMH's Provincial System Support Program (PSSP) and EENet co-hosted part one of a two-part webinar series on Wednesday, June 22nd sharing findings from the 2015 Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey (OSDUHS). The OSDUHS always impresses me because it's the longest running school based survey in Canada! It began in 1977, at a time when bell bottom jeans and tie dye ruled the world.

The webinar kicked off with PSSP's very own Tamar Meyer and Jason Guriel sharing some highlights from the 2015 OSDUHS Drug Use Results Report. Then CAMH expert panelists Dr. Robert Mann, Dr. Hayley Hamilton, Gloria Chaim, and Angela Boak took turns discussing what stood out for them with the results, and how the information could be used to inform policy and programming. Here are some things that stood out for me from the webinar:

  • Students reported use of prescription opioids for nonmedical use, over the counter cough/cold meds, and energy drinks declined since 2013 (great!).
  • Ecstasy increased since 2013 (up 2.1%).
  • The age of initiation for drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, and using cannabis has increased over time (ie. students are starting later).
  • Abstinence from drug use including alcohol and tobacco is currently higher than about a decade ago.
  • Although tobacco smoking rates have declined, about 1 in 10 students still report smoking...that's still a big number!
  • Despite a long-term decline, binge drinking remains at an elevated level, as about one-in-six students (an estimated 168,100) report drinking five or more drinks on the same occasion once in the past month.

Have a listen to the webinar and look at the slides for more information.

OSDUHS also has a fantastic interactive website with highlights from the 2015 report which I recommend checking out. PSSP also includes the CAMH Health Promotion Resource Centre and the Opioid Resource Hub which help support the work of EENet, check them out as well for more resources!

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Part two of this webinar series will delve deeper into how to put all this fantastic research into action. Stay tuned for information on a date!

 

 

 

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Public Health Ethics Part 3 of 3: Applying Public Health Ethics at Your Work

By Stephanie Massot, Public Health Practicum Student at Health Nexus

This is the third blog post in a series on public health ethics. This post focuses on how to apply public health ethics to your work.

I am starting to feel as though public health ethics is like a good sandwich you have made yourself. If you have been following my last two blog posts in this series, you will be more familiar with your philosophical orientation and differentiating between bioethics, public health ethics, and health promotion ethics. These make up the main protein and key ingredients to a good public health ethics sandwich. If you have made a sandwich before, you are going to know what your favourite ingredients are – mine is always cheese and Dijon mustard! If it is your first time making a sandwich or you have been given new ingredients, there will be a new process and new discoveries. Guidance on making a sandwich is important. You need to know how to bring your ingredients together.

In public health ethics, frameworks have been developed to provide assistance to practitioners who are deliberating an ethical issue in different contexts. Strengths of frameworks include making values explicit and thinking through potential unintended consequences of proposed interventions, from policies to programs. The National Collaborating Centre for Healthy Public Policy (NCCHPP) has an extensive list of ethics frameworks for public health. Going back to the sandwich analogy, what you use to ‘frame’ your ingredients, from a challah bun to rye bread, will change your eating experience. For instance, Nancy Kass provides a list of questions in her framework (great summary from NCCHPP) and Andrew Tannahill focuses on a list of principles or ‘principlism’ to guide his framework.

Principlism is a ‘broad approach of identifying a set of principles to be considered and specified when facing a decision that may contain ethical issues1 and a practical tool for practitioners who are not familiar with public health ethics. Principles can be separated into substantive and procedural categories:

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I was recently reading Unison Health and Community Services’ workbook (jam-packed with tasty ingredients) for community based evidence-informed practice. What I noticed was that an ethical framework(s) was not provided, even for the evaluative learning tools. Referring to another tool such as the Community Ethics Toolkit, could support you to consider and dialogue about public health ethics.

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Just like you might not enjoy the idea of combining certain ingredients on your sandwich (pickles and peanut butter anyone?), there will be conflicts between principles that will require deliberation. Frameworks for public health ethics will need refinement, perhaps they will even need to be combined, for your context – only through practice will you find out how to best apply them. For an excellent case study check out: ‘Getting Through Together: Ethical Values for a Pandemic’. The Ministry of Health in New Zealand worked closely with Māori communities because ‘shared values give us a shared basis for decisions.’ Now how about that sandwich?

 

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1 MacDonald, M. (2015). Introduction to Public Health Ethics 3: Frameworks for Public Health Ethics. National Collaborating Centre for Healthy Public Policy. Montréal, Québec.

 

 

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HC Link Blog Series on Facilitation Techniques: Wrap Up

By Kyley Alderson, HC Link

Good facilitation is an essential component to achieving success as a group. A facilitator helps a group to accomplish its objectives by ensuring comfort, fairness and good participation from all members, maximizing a group’s ability to come up with ideas/solutions, and keeping a group on track to move towards its goals.

At HC Link, we take pride in our staff and our ability to help groups achieve success through our facilitation skills. We have received a number of requests asking for more information on various facilitation approaches and techniques – so we decided to do a blog series to assist in your learning!


Here is a listing of all of the blogs in this series:

Introduction to Choosing a Facilitation Technique

Peer Sharing: the wise crowds technique

Breaking the Ice: putting a little fun into working with groups

Appreciative Inquiry

Facilitating a Priority Setting Exercise

1-2-4-all: Engage everyone in group conversation

Using “Visioning” as a Facilitation Technique

Using popular theatre as a facilitation technique


We hope you found this information and examples helpful!

Please feel free to contact us with any questions you may have – or to request a service from us to help with facilitating your community processes, meetings or events.

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Public Health Ethics Part 2 of 3: Distinguishing between different types of health-related ethics

By Stephanie Massot, Health Nexus

This is the second blog post in a series on public health ethics. This post focuses on differentiating between bioethics, public health ethics, and health promotion ethics.

Perhaps you have been entering in some Socrates-type conversations since reading ‘Public Health Ethics Part 1 of 3: Does Your Philosophical Orientation Matter?’ and now you are feeling ready for some practical ethical frameworks to work through some health-related ethical questions, such as ‘do I prioritize autonomy or community for my program?’ or ‘is my policy paternalistic?’ Just before we start driving down the road of applying ethical frameworks, we need to take a quick pit stop and make sure we are all on the same map and heading in a similar direction as far as how we define different health-related ethics.

Not only are there many definitions for public health and health promotion, but now you may feel as though you are in the weeds trying to differentiate between bioethics, public health ethics, and health promotion ethics. You may not emerge from your rabbit hole of research for days. So why might it be important to spend the time getting to know the difference between these three types of ethics?

Unearthing the origins of words or concepts helps us to appreciate their impact on the present context. For instance, the word ‘gypped’ (often spelled incorrectly as jipped) is still used by folk to refer to instances where they have felt cheated out of something because they do not know that it has a negative connation. It is derived from the word ‘gypsy’ and portrays Romani people in an offensive manner. As a student, I wish I had spent more time tracing the roots of some of my most often referenced journal articles – what was the background of the author? Did their country’s politics impact their writing? Was the methodology of the study strong? Was the sample size robust?

Through the guidance of Dr. Ross Upshur, I did get an opportunity to delve into why there are differences between bioethics, public health ethics, and health promotion ethics. What I came away with is that it really comes down to values.

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Public health ethics only became a distinct area in the late 1990s. Prior to this time, Bioethics (considered synonymous with health care ethics) was considered an acceptable theoretical base for ethical issues faced by public health practitioners. Why as members of a public health network (mentioned in Part 1 of this blog series) would it matter what base you are using to discern ethical issues in your field? This table will help you distinguish between different types of health-related ethics:

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* Reference: MacDonald, M. (2014). Introduction to Public Health Ethics: Background. Montréal, Québec: National Collaborating Centre for Healthy Public Policy.
** Carter, S., Cribb, A. & Allegrante, J. (2012). How to think about health promotion ethics. Public Health Reviews, 34(1), 1-24.


Check out this short public service announcement on obesity and use each of the different ethical approaches above to see what you perceive as an issue or non-issue. Which of the three health-related ethics comes closest to serving as the basis for the video you just watched? If you are thinking health care ethics, than we are heading in the same direction.

A campaign by the Covenant House called ‘why can’t street kids just get a life?’ takes a more public health ethics approach because it informs the general population in a public spaces, such as the subway, and includes values such as social justice and solidarity in the questions being asked. How could this campaign be changed if a health promotion ethics lens were applied in its creation? It is important to understand the ethical approach that you and your organization take, because whether you know it or not, your approach drives everything you do (e.g. policies, programs, marketing messages), much like your philosophical orientation. ‘Ethical Dilemmas in Health Promotion Practice’ can help you dive deeper into analyzing issues you may be observing in your work.

Although ethical questions such as ‘what is a good society?’ or ‘what should health promotion contribute to a good society?’ can seem daunting, engaging in ethical reflexivity to question our own assumptions can help us to uncover unintended consequences from well-intended health practices. Stay tuned for practical ethical frameworks to apply to your work in health!

 

 

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Parachute Safe Kids Week: At Home, At Play and On The Road

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By Sunitha Ravi Kumar, KT Coordinator at Parachute

This year marks the 20th anniversary of Parachute Safe Kids Week, an annual campaign that aims to raise awareness about preventable injuries in children. From May 30th – June 5th, communities across Canada will host family-friendly events to provide education about the top childhood injuries At Home, At Play and On The Road.

The number of deaths among Canadian children in the past ten years due to preventable injury has decreased by 28 percent. Think about it - that’s 2,098 children. You might be surprised to learn that even with this downward trend, in Canada today a child dies every few hours from a preventable injury...that is unacceptable.

But what does a preventable injury look like? 

At Home

safekidsweek2Children live in an environment built for adults, making children vulnerable to injury. Leading causes of injuries in the home include:

• falls down stairs or off furniture
• choking, suffocation and other breathing-related incidents
• poisoning
• burns and scalds
• drowning in the bathtub or backyard pool.

Being aware of hazards around the home and taking safety measures such as using baby gates on stairs and locking away medications, can make the home a safe place for kids to learn and grow.

At Play

Physical activity is an important part of childhood. Whether playing organized sports or participating in recreational activities, there may be some risk of injury. Assessing a child’s skill level, recognizing hazards in the physical environment, wearing the proper gear, teaching and practicing ‘fair play’ techniques can all ensure that play remains a part of healthy, active living.

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On the Road

Children are vulnerable road users. Did you know that transport-related incidents are the leading cause of death for Canadian children between the ages of 5-14? Between 2003 and 2012, almost half of all unintentional deaths for children 0-14 occurred on the road1. Regardless of whether children are pedestrians, cyclists or vehicle passengers, practicing and modeling safe behaviors while on the road can keep young ones and you safe on the road.

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Taking Part is Easy

As a national charity, Parachute is dedicated to closing the gap on childhood injuries. But, we need your help. Together, we can save more kids lives.

As a parent, caregiver, teacher or community partner, you can help reduce preventable injuries in children. Start by taking part in Parachute Safe Kids Week. Be sure to explore our 2016 Safe Kids Week Resources to help you roll out Parachute Safe Kids Week in your community. Make a pledge to keep kids safe and post to your social media channels using the hashtag #SafeKids20. Or visit our website and make a donation to support ongoing programs that keep kids safe.

Have a Safe Kids Week!

The Parachute Team
parachutecanada.org/safekidsweek
@parachutecanada

1. Statistics Canada. No date. Table 102-0540 Deaths, by cause, Chapter XX: External causes of morbidity and mortality (V01 to V89), age group and sex, Canada (table). CANSIM (database). Last updated December 10, 2015. http://www5.statcan.gc.ca/cansim/a05?lang=eng&id=1020540

 

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