The MEDEC Lab is a collaborative project directed by Nicholas King, Sam Harper, and Meredith Young, in the Faculty of Medicine at McGill University. Using methods from the social sciences, cognitive and behavioral psychology, and epidemiology, we explore the context-dependence of judgments about individual and population health, health inequalities, and health policy. Here are some of the questions we ask, and how we go about trying to answer them:
- Does the framing of health inequalities information in absolute or relative terms influence the way that people evaluate inequalities? We use two methods to address this problem: a structured review of medical and public health literature, to determine whether there is a systematic trend in the way that health inequalities information is reported; and cognitive psychology experiments that investigate the role of framing effects on individuals’ judgments of health inequalities.
- What is the relationship between equity and efficiency in public health? New medical technologies and public health interventions often increase inequalities while improving overall population health, as advantaged individuals tend to take advantage of these technologies sooner and in greater numbers. We have recently completed an analysis of worldwide survey data in order to determine the relationship between socioeconomic status and favored preference for equity in health.
- What ethical, conceptual, and empirical problems are raised by increased focus on the “social determinants of health”? We are just getting these projects started, funded by a $1.7 million Canadian Institutes of Health Research Grant on Health and Health Equity, which includes funding for several postdoctoral fellowships.
We are always on the lookout for and happy to hear from potential collaborators and students. Feel free to contact us any time!