Mr Epidemiology

No, I'm not a skin doctor


Epi Night School

Basic Income: A radical idea for eliminating poverty

The Watson Arts Centre in Dauphin, Manitoba (photo from Wikipedia)
The Watson Arts Centre in Dauphin, Manitoba (photo from Wikipedia)

I imagine most of my readers have never heard of Dauphin, Manitoba. A small, farming community in Canada, Dauphin is a town that was part of an experiment back in the 1970s. The “mincome” project was launched in 1974, and offered everyone a minimum income. Unfortunately, the project was shut down in 1979 with a change in the government, and so the effects weren’t long term enough. The purpose of the mincome project was to see what would happen if a “top up” was offered to everyone. Dr. Evelyn Forget has been studying records from those years, and following up on people to see how it impacted their life. Would people stop working? Would there be higher rates of employment? How would people respond?

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Guest Post: The Evolution of Sedentary Time

Mr Epidemiology: Today, I’m welcoming Lindsay Kobayashi back to the blog. You can find out more about Lindsay at the end of this post.

How sad.

The negative health effects of sedentary behaviour are a hot topic gaining scientific and popular attention. Any Canadian reading the news should be aware that sitting is killing us – Maclean’s, the Globe and Mail, and the CBC have all recently published on the topic. Given the tsunami-like obesity epidemic that has risen over North America over the past few decades, critical investigation of our sedentary behaviour is highly warranted.

Every time I hear someone talk about how sitting is killing us, I return to the same question – If I was born 50 or 100 years earlier, would I be less sedentary than I am now? In the figure above, I’ve depicted my average 16-hour day (waking hours only). Exemplary of a big question in the sedentary behaviour research domain, I am what you would call an “active couch potato” – I spend 7-8 hours week engaged in moderate-to-vigourous exercise, yet I still spend 50% of my waking hours sitting in front the computer! What does this mean for my health? And yours too – if you are reading this, you are likely somewhat similar to me. Is this sort of sedentary behaviour a new phenomenon of the latter part of 20th and early 21st century? Continue reading “Guest Post: The Evolution of Sedentary Time”

Guest Post: What determines health?

Mr Epidemiology: Today, I’m welcoming Lindsay Kobayashi to the blog. You can find out more about Lindsay at the end of this post.

Health inequity is a global and a local problem.

As epidemiologists, we are concerned with uncovering the factors in populations that determine who gets sick, who stays healthy, who lives, and who dies. Human life is inherently social, and looking toward our societies and geography can help explain who is healthy or sick, and why. “Location, location, location” is a mantra that rings true with respect to life expectancy. In Canada and the United States, men can expect to live to 79 or 76 years, respectively, while women can expect to live over 80 years (1). The story is similar for most wealthy and developed countries. By contrast, take Afghanistan or any one of several sub-Saharan African countries, where a baby born today could expect to live only until his or her mid-40s or 50s(1).

Temporarily setting aside biologic limitations on health (a loaded issue for another blog post), human-made health limitations clearly exist in our world. A person’s life chances greatly depend on where he or she is born and lives and some people do not reach the same level of health achievable by others. Inequities in life expectancy exist within countries as well: Canada-wide, women residing the poorest neighbourhoods live two years less on average than women residing in the richest neighbourhoods, and this difference is four years for men(2). This striking inequity brings us back to the original question: What determines health?

Continue reading “Guest Post: What determines health?”

Romance is not a romantic comedy: The importance of good exposure measurement

If you live in Kingston, you may have come across this headline:

Kingston, ON is the most romantic city in Canada

Wonderful you think – after all, Kingston does have that small city charm, with lots of historical buildings, quaint little cafes and restaurants as well as being right on the water. Lots of romantic movie potential, where big city Sandra Bullock moves to a small town only to fall for lovable country mouse Ryan Reynolds.

It's like if you had this movie set in Kingston, instead of Alaska! .... which I wouldn't know because I've never seen it *cough*

And then you read the article more closely, and determine how they measured the “romanticness” of a city:

The online retailer bases its list by comparing sales data of romance novels, sex and relationship books, romantic comedy DVDs and CDs by Canadian crooner Michael Buble since Jan. 1 on a per capita basis in cities with more than 80,000 residents.

Wait, what?

Continue reading “Romance is not a romantic comedy: The importance of good exposure measurement”

Blog Update: A New Series – Epi Night School!

Good News Everyone!

Rene Najera hosted a very popular blog that has since been taken down. As part of his blog, he started a series entitled “Epi Night School,” where he briefly covered common experimental designs, and talked about their strengths and weaknesses. EpiRen has graciously allowed me to repost them here with my own edits.

I’m going to keep the spirit alive, but also provide page references in common Epidemiology textbooks such as Rothman’s Epidemiology: An Introduction, Hennekens’ Epidemiology in Medicine and Szklo and Nieto’s Epidemiology: Beyond the Basics.

Thanks Rene!

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