Health Evidence™ is a database maintained by the National Collaborating Centre for Methods and Tools (NCCMT). Our goal is to provide a best-in-class resource of high-quality synthesis evidence to support public health decision making. Health Evidence™ includes quality-appraisals on peer reviewed, published evidence syntheses evaluating the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of public health interventions.

A Letter from Our Scientific Director

The story of how Health Evidence™ came to be begins many years ago when I started my career as a public health nurse at the City of Hamilton Public Health Department. In those early days, I often found myself questioning my practice and wondered what research evidence supported what I was doing as a public health nurse. Having taken courses focused on critical appraisal of research and research methods during my undergraduate degree in the School of Nursing at McMaster University, it was inevitable that I would question my practice in this way.

I was blessed with working at a health department that had a comprehensive library service, and as public health professionals we were encouraged to access these library services to address practice-based questions. So, with the best of intentions, I set out to find answers to my questions.

I recall calling the librarian and asking her to search for studies evaluating a particular intervention I was implementing. A few weeks later, a very large envelope arrived on my desk full of articles related to my question. I recall being very excited about the opportunity to read research studies and report back to my team what I found.

However, the day the package arrived was already fully booked with home visits, meetings, charting (my front-line daily responsibilities). So, the envelope was placed in my inbox, with the expectation that in the coming days I would work my way through reading each article. My excitement about being able to delve into the research slowly eroded as the realities of front- line daily practice meant I did not have the time during my regular working day to read these articles.

Several months later I found that envelope buried beneath many other pieces of paper, with only one or two papers read. However, seeing this envelope again motivated me to 'just get to it' and read the papers. So, I took them home, thinking I would find the time at night and on weekends to read them. However, several months later, these papers were still unread.

Years later, I realize this early experience as a public health nurse significantly impacted my career path. The creation of Health Evidence™ is an attempt to ensure, at a minimum, that public health professionals can quickly and easily access research evidence on the effectiveness of public health interventions. While I was extremely fortunate to have a librarian who conducted literature searches and retrieved relevant papers for me, many public health professionals were not so fortunate. Still today, many public health professionals across Canada experience significant barriers in identifying and accessing relevant evidence on the effectiveness of public health interventions.

Since launching Health Evidence™ in 2005, we have sought feedback regularly from public health professionals at all decision-making levels in all provinces and territories in Canada. We have listened carefully to your feedback and have sought to integrate your suggestions within the Health Evidence™ website. We have strived to ensure that Health Evidence™ delivers high quality, needed products to the public health community in Canada and I look forward to hearing your feedback.

On behalf of the staff at the NCCMT we wish you all the best in your efforts to achieve evidence-informed decision making in public health in Canada.

Maureen Dobbins

Funding & Acknowledgments

The NCCMT is hosted by the School of Nursing at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. The NCCMT is currently funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada, the national public health body in Canada that provides leadership in preventing disease and injury and promoting health.

The McMaster Optimal Aging Portal

The McMaster Optimal Aging Portal (the Portal) provides evidence-based information on how people can stay healthy, active and engaged as they grow older. The Portal is a trusted voice on optimal aging for citizens, clinicians, public health professionals and policymakers. Health Evidence™ is one of four best-in-class databases that populate the Portal with the latest research abstracts relevant to aging.