Tell someone that a claim is reliable and they might believe you. Show them how to assess the claim and they will know whether any such claim is reliable.
We are enabling people to recognize reliable and unreliable claims, and to use reliable information to inform their decisions. To do this we are developing learning resources and testing them to make sure they work. We are also building a library of other learning resources and focusing attention on those that have been evaluated and shown to work.
We have prepared a list of Key Concepts that people need to apply to assess claims about the effects of a treatment (any action intended to improve health). This includes concepts about claims and whether they are justified, about comparisons and whether they are fair and reliable, and about using evidence to make informed choices.
Claim Evaluation Tools
The Claim Evaluation Tools consist of multiple-choice questions that assess an individual’s ability to apply the Key Concepts. The Claim Evaluation Tools have been developed based on extensive qualitative and quantitative feedback from methodological experts, health professionals, teachers and members of the public.
Primary school resources
We have developed resources for teaching 12 of the Key Concepts to primary school children. These resources include a textbook and a teachers’ guide. The textbook includes a comic, exercises and classroom activities. Pilot and user testing show that children and teachers perceive these resources to be useful, and they were shown to be effective in a randomised trial in Uganda.
Podcast for parents
We have developed a podcast for parents of primary school children, which covers nine of the Key Concepts. Each episode of the podcast includes a short story with examples of treatment claims and a simple explanation of a concept used to assess the claims. The podcast was also shown to be effective in a randomised trial in Uganda.
Library of learning resources
The Critical thinking and Appraisal Resource Library (CARL) is a platform to collect and distribute freely-available learning resources intended to help people think critically about treatment claims. Each of the learning resources included in CARL is open access and categorised by the Key Concepts it addresses, the target learner group, and the format.
Other learning resources developed by the IHC team:
Testing Treatments is a guide to the methods, uses, and politics of “fair tests” (fair comparisons) of the effects of interventions for preventing, diagnosing, and treating disease. In 13 succinct chapters, rich with examples, the book addresses why we need fair tests of treatments, what fair tests of treatments are, and what we can do to improve tests of treatments. The book has been translated into 12 languages and is available for free download and as an audio book.
Know Your Chances
The goal of Know Your Chances is to help you better understand health information by teaching you about the numbers behind the messages – the medical statistics on which the claims are based. By learning to understand the numbers and knowing what questions to ask, you’ll be able to see through the hype and find the credible information that remains. This book has been shown in two randomized trials to improve peoples’ understanding of risk in the context of health care choices.
IHC learning resources are in the The eGranary Digital Library, an off-line information store that provides instant access to over 35 million digital resources for those lacking adequate Internet connections.