Julia Abelson (CAN), Ph.D., M.Sc.
Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics
Harkness Project Title: Informing and Becoming Informed: The Public, the Media and Coverage Policies for New and Emerging Health Care Technologies
Biography at time of Harkness Fellowship: Julia Abelson, Ph.D., a 2005-06 Commonwealth Fund Harkness Associate in Health Care Policy, is an associate professor in the department of clinical epidemiology and biostatistics, an associate member of the department of political science, and director of the Centre for Health Economics and Policy Analysis at McMaster University. In 2003 she was awarded a five-year Canadian Institutes of Health Research New Investigator Award and is a past recipient of an Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care Career Scientist Award. She holds a doctorate in social and policy sciences from the University of Bath, England (1998) and an M.Sc. in health policy and management from the Harvard School of Public Health (1991). Her research interests include public values and health policy, health system governance and accountability, and health policy analysis. She publishes in the areas of health policy and democratic participation in journals such Social Science and Medicine, Health Affairs and the Journal of Health Services Research and Policy. She has also produced commissioned papers for the Commission on the Future of Health Care in Canada and Canadian Policy Research Networks, a national non-profit think tank specializing in social and economic policy research and public engagement. She teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in health policy. Through her research, education and service activities, she has worked closely with provincial, regional and local decision makers across Canada and is a member of several health research boards and committees.
Project: Abelson investigated the role of the media in shaping public opinion regarding new and emerging health care technologies – particularly opinion on whether these technologies should be covered by insurance – and how public attitudes influence health policy decisions. Using the example of Herceptin as a promising new therapy for breast cancer patients, she undertook a content analysis of newspaper coverage in the U.K., Canada, U.S. and France from 2005 to 2006. She also interviewed key players in Canada (reporters, columnists, cancer care organizations, and government officials) regarding media coverage of Herceptin.
Career Activity Since Fellowship
- Director, Centre for Health Economics and Policy Analysis, McMaster University, 2006
- Director, Health Policy Program, Centre for Health Economics and Policy Analysis, McMaster University, 2006
Professor, Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, McMaster University. (Updated January 2012)
Abelson J and Collins P. “Media Hyping of Drug Policy in Canada and the UK: The Case of Herceptin.” Healthcare Policy 2009; 4(3):113-128.
Abelson J, Miller FA and Giacomini M. “What does it mean to trust a health system: A Qualitative Study of Canadian Health Care Values.” Health Policy 2009; 91:63-70.
Abelson J, Forest P-G, Eyles J, Casebeer A, Martin E, Mackean G and the Effective Public Consultation Project Team. "Exploring the Role of Context in the Implementation of a Deliberative Public Participation Experiment: Results from a Canadian Comparative Study," Social Science and Medicine 2007; 64: 2115–2128.
Collins P, Abelson J, Pyman H, Lavis J. "Are We Expecting Too Much From Print Media: An Analysis of Newspaper Coverage of the 2002 Canadian Healthcare Reform Debate," Social Science and Medicine 2006; 63:89–112.