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Public health in the digital era part 1: the top 10 health blogs you should be reading

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The internet is a double-edged sword.  We have access to a world of information, but we’re overwhelmed by news reports, policy developments, and new scientific research.  Reading high-quality blogs is one way of staying on top of recent issues in public health. Here I present ten of the best health blogs, drawn from recommendations from colleagues, my own personal favorites, and a completely unscientific survey of the internet.  Part 2 of this series features the top ten digital tools that public health researchers should be using.

  1. The Pump Handle

Self-described as a ‘water cooler for the public health crowd,’ with a name based on one of the most famous public health interventions.  The Pump Handle focuses on environmental and occupational health, but includes posts on vaccination, pandemic preparedness, and antibiotic resistance.

Ryan Gosling pump

Check out the public health Ryan Gosling tumblr

  1. Health Blawg

David Harlow is a health care lawyer and consultant with over 25 years of public and private sector experience. On the Health Blawg he writes about legal, policy and business issues facing the health care community, with a focus on health IT, health care data and privacy concerns.

  1. Trade, Investment & Health

If you’re anything like me, learning about trade law brings on intense headaches, confusion and uncontrollable crying. Fortunately, Benn McGrady brings a depth of knowledge to the field that most health researchers can only dream of. Benn posts on international trade law and its intersection with public health – particularly in relation to food, alcohol and tobacco regulation. Best of all, he’s based at the O’Neill Institute.

  1. The Lancet’s Global Health Blog

These, days, most of the heavy-hitting journals have blogs, and The Lancet is no exception.  Its Global health Blog reports on access to medicines, chronic and infectious disease control, reproductive and maternal health, climate change, and other diverse international health issues.

  1. Sarah Boseley’s Global Health Blog

Sarah Boseley’s Global Health Blog proved popular with O’Neill Institute members when I asked for their favorite reads. Boseley is an award-winning health editor at The Guardian, and her blog focuses on global health governance (including the work of the WHO, the WTO, and the Global Fund), infectious disease control, and issues in women’s and children’s health.

  1. Food Politics

Marion Nestle is a leading academic and nutrition activist. If there are any recent developments in food, nutrition or agricultural policy, then you can guarantee she’s posted on it – probably on the same day.
food politics

  1. Health Law Professors’ Blog

Law professors post on ACA implementation, privacy, health and human rights, food and drug law, and a broad range of other health law topics. HealthLawProf also posts lists of recently published articles and events of interest to health lawyers.

  1. Well

Intended for a general audience, The New York Times’ Well Blog contains a mix of easily-digestible reports on scientific studies, healthy recipes, and information about health, illness, treatment and exercise.

  1. Not in my Food

A team of food safety advocates runs the Consumers Union blog on the sustainability, safety and healthiness of the food supply. Recent posts focus on GMOs, food labelling and the use of antibiotics in raising farm animals.
10. Science-Based Medicine
Science-Based Medicine uses scientific evidence to deflate health myths and quackery, tackling issues like childhood vaccines, health supplements, and faith healing.
Honourable mentions
Impatient Optimists
Impatient Optimists reports on the work of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s grantees, partners, leadership and staff. It also features stories on areas of interest to the Foundation, including vaccines, poverty, polio eradication and family planning.
Public Health Matters
The CDC’s blog on public health emergencies and pandemic preparedness. Of note: it contains an entire section on zombies.
zombie health care
More on food
Eat Drink Politics
Michele Simon brings her passion and expertise as a public health attorney to the fight against Big Food and Big Booze.
Civil eats
Over 100 contributors make daily posts on news related to the American food system, with the aim of building a more sustainable and equitable food environment.
Health News Watchdog
Health News Watchdog aims to improve public dialogue about health care by taking a critical view of health care journalism, advertising, marketing, public relations and other messaging that influences consumers.
The Hill
The Hill’s healthcare division is regularly updated with news on health care policy, research, funding and legislation. In May Dr Phil testified before Congress about the over-prescription of psychotropic drugs to children – who knew?
Dr Phil
Health Wonk Review
A biweekly compendium of recent blog postings on health policy, infrastructure, insurance, technology and managed care.  Don’t’ just read it – become a contributor and share ideas and network with others in the field.
From the journals
Prominent researchers post on health policy, infectious diseases, public health, quality of care and global health. In March the O’Neill Institute’s own Larry Gostin wrote on reductions in the rate of childhood obesity in the US.
Health Affairs
Health Affairs’ blog covers issues in domestic health policy and events hosted by the journal. It also has an excellent blogroll.
Global Health Governance
GHG’s blog covers a broad range of global health issues, including bioterrorism, emerging infectious diseases, universal health care, and health and human rights.
Wildcard entries
Groundup is a South African community journalism project. Its health section publishes stories of poorer South Africans’ experiences of the health care system, and the social determinants of health, with a focus on HIV, TB, sanitation, education, and women’s and immigrants’ rights.
Healthy Travel Blog
The perfect travel blog for the health fanatic in your life, with recommendations for fitness-based holidays, healthy travel snacks and international recipes.
And finally…
I’d love to hear your recommendations for great blogs on public health, health care and health law. Id’ welcome any suggestions in the comments section below.
Happy reading!
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  • Miranda says:

    I don’t know if we will get to 100% coverage but we are inching towards it and I hope that with the next set of policy reforms, we can get into the high 90’s. And that would be good.

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