Posted March 31, 2010
By Kyle Glennie
He’s a clinician, a researcher and an educator, and now Dr. Jim Dickinson can add another role to his already busy schedule: federal health task force member.
Dickinson, a professor in the Departments of Family Medicine and Community Health Sciences, has been appointed to the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care, and will help develop independent, evidence-based advice and recommendations relating to disease prevention, early disease detection and good health promotion.
“Participating in this Task Force will provide contact with the best critical thinking in the world about preventive activities, and will allow me to bring those ideas back to the Faculty–both to work on putting into practice the current best evidence, and to focus research on the areas where better evidence is needed,” says Dickinson.
After earning his medical degree in Australia, Dickinson came to Canada for family practice residency training at McMaster University and a fellowship at McGill University. After completing both he returned to Australia where he earned his PhD on preventive work in general practice. Later he edited the Australian National Preventive Guidelines. “During that time, we in Australia regarded the reports of the Canadian Task Force as a great resource; one of Canada’s great contributions to medical thinking,” he recalls.
Dickinson has been particularly interested in teaching critical appraisal of preventive activities. He is also focused on understanding why some ineffective preventive activities are adopted and then widely used by medical professionals. “We get into patterns of practice and once learned these are very difficult to unlearn. But it’s vitally important not to waste energy on useless activities because they interfere with all the valuable things that we can do for our patients.”
The task force comprises 12 primary care and disease prevention experts from across Canada. The first meeting will occur shortly in Ottawa, and the newly assembled group will first have to sort out the topics that need development of guidelines. From there they will decide whether to use current guidelines, write new ones, update old recommendations, or identify need for new evidence.