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Julia Abelson

2005-06 Canadian Harkness Associate Associate Professor Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics McMaster University

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

  • Professor, Health Research Methods, Evidence, and Impact, McMaster University, 2012
  • 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

Current Position: (updated 10/2017)

  • Professor, Health Research Methods, Evidence, and Impact, McMaster University 

E-mail: [email protected]

Selected Publications:

Daw JR, Morgan SG, Collins PA, Abelson J. Framing incremental expansions to public health insurance systems: the case of canadian pharmacare. J Health Polit  Policy Law. 2014 Apr;39(2):295-330.

Afaneh C, Abelson J, Rich BS, Dakin G, Zarnegar R, Barie PS, Fahey TJ 3rd, Pomp A. Obesity does not increase morbidity of laparoscopic cholecystectomy. J Surg Res. 2014 Feb 15. pii: S0022-4804(14)00158-9. 

Moat KA, Lavis JN, Abelson J. How contexts and issues influence the use of policy-relevant research syntheses: a critical interpretive synthesis. Milbank Q. 2013 Sep;91(3):604-48.

Abelson J, Bombard Y, Gauvin FP, Simeonov D, Boesveld S. Assessing the impacts of citizen deliberations on the health technology process. Int J Technol Assess Health Care. 2013 Jul;29(3):282-9.

Rychetnik L, Carter SM, Abelson J, Thornton H, Barratt A, Entwistle VA, Mackenzie G, Salkeld G, Glasziou P. Enhancing citizen engagement in cancer screening through deliberative democracy. J Natl Cancer Inst 2013 Mar 20;105(6):380-6.

Ellen ME, Léon G, Bouchard G, Lavis JN, Ouimet M, Grimshaw JM. What supports do health system organizations have in place to facilitate evidence-informed decision-making? A qualitative study. Implement Sci. 2013 Aug 6;8:84

Burchett HE, Dobrow MJ, Lavis JN, Mayhew SH. The applicability and transferability of public health research from one setting to another: a survey of maternal health researchers. Glob Health Promot. 2013 Mar;20(1):16-24.

Léon G, Ouimet M, Lavis JN, Grimshaw J, Gagnon MP. Assessing availability of scientific journals, databases, and health library services in Canadian health ministries: a cross-sectional study. Implement Sci. 2013 Mar 21;8:34.

Moat KA, Lavis JN, Wilson MG, Røttingen JA, Bärnighausen T. Twelve myths about systematic reviews for health system policymaking rebutted. J Health Serv Res Policy. 2013 Jan;18(1):44-50.

Boyko JA, Lavis JN, Abelson J, Dobbins M, Carter N. Deliberative dialogues as a mechanism for knowledge translation and exchange in health systems decision-making. Soc Sci Med 2012 Dec;75(11):1938-45.

Contandriopoulos D, Abelson J, Lamarche P, Bohémier K. The visible politics of the privatization debate in quebec. Healthc Policy. 2012 Aug;8(1):67-79.

Abelson J, Warren ME, Forest PG. The future of public deliberation on health issues. Hastings Cent Rep. 2012 Mar-Apr;42(2):27-9.

Solomon S, Abelson J. Why and when should we use public deliberation? Hastings Cent Rep. 2012 Mar-Apr;42(2):17-20.

Blacksher E, Diebel A, Forest PG, Goold SD, Abelson J. What is public deliberation? Hastings Cent Rep. 2012 Mar-Apr;42(2):14-7.

Lehoux P, Daudelin G, Abelson J. The unbearable lightness of citizens within public deliberation processes. Soc Sci Med. 2012 Jun;74(12):1843-50.

Bombard Y, Abelson J, Simeonov D, Gauvin FP. Eliciting ethical and social values in health technology assessment: A participatory approach. Soc Sci Med  2011 Jul;73(1):135-44.

DiCenso A, Bryant-Lukosius D, Martin-Misener R, Donald F, Abelson J, Bourgeault I, Kilpatrick K, Carter N, Kaasalainen S, Harbman P. Factors enabling  advanced practice nursing role integration in Canada. Nurs Leadersh (Tor Ont). 2010 Dec;23 Spec No 2010:211-38.

DiCenso A, Bourgeault I, Abelson J, Martin-Misener R, Kaasalainen S, Carter N, Harbman P, Donald F, Bryant-Lukosius D, Kilpatrick K. Utilization of nurse practitioners to increase patient access to primary healthcare in Canada--thinking outside the box. Nurs Leadersh (Tor Ont). 2010

DiCenso A, Martin-Misener R, Bryant-Lukosius D, Bourgeault I, Kilpatrick K, Donald F, Kaasalainen S, Harbman P, Carter N, Kioke S, Abelson J, McKinlay RJ, Pasic D, Wasyluk B, Vohra J, Charbonneau-Smith R. Advanced practice nursing in Canada: overview of a decision support synthesis. Nurs Leadersh (Tor Ont). 2010 Dec;23 Spec No 2010:15-34.

Gauvin FP, Abelson J, Giacomini M, Eyles J, Lavis JN. Moving cautiously: Public involvement and the health technology assessment community. Int J Technol Assess Health Care 2011 Jan;27(1):43-9.

Daudelin G, Lehoux P, Abelson J, Denis JL. The integration of citizens into a science/policy network in genetics: governance arrangements and asymmetry in expertise. Health Expect 2011 Sep;14(3):261-71.

Jabbar AM, Abelson J. Development of a framework for effective community engagement in Ontario, Canada. Health Policy. 2011 Jun;101(1):59-69.

Abelson J, Hadjivassiliou H, Guthrie C. Preparation of fluorescent pre-mRNA substrates for an smFRET study of pre-mRNA splicing in yeast. Methods Enzymol. 2010;472:31-40.

Gauvin FP, Abelson J, Giacomini M, Eyles J, Lavis JN. "It all depends": conceptualizing public involvement in the context of health technology assessment agencies. Soc Sci Med 2010 May;70(10):1518-26.

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. Opportunities and challenges in the use of public deliberation to inform public health policies. Am J Bioeth. 2009 Nov;9(11):24-5.

Mitton C, Smith N, Peacock S, Evoy B, Abelson J. Public participation in health care priority setting: A scoping review. Health Policy 2009 Aug;91(3):219-28.

Abelson J, Miller FA, Giacomini M. What does it mean to trust a healthsystem? A qualitative study of Canadian health care values. Health Policy 2009 Jun;91(1):63-70.

Mulvale G, Abelson J, Goering P. Mental health service delivery in Ontario, Canada: how do policy legacies shape prospects for reform? Health Econ Policy Law 2007 Oct;2(Pt 4):363-89.

Willison DJ, Schwartz L, Abelson J, Charles C, Swinton M, Northrup D, Thabane L. Alternatives to project-specific consent for access to personal information for health research: what is the opinion of the Canadian public? J Am Med Inform  Assoc 2007 Nov-Dec;14(6):706-12.

Abelson J, Forest PG, Eyles J, Casebeer A, Martin E, Mackean G. Examining the role of context in the implementation of a deliberative public participation experiment: results from a Canadian comparative study. Soc Sci Med 2007 May;64(10):2115-28.

Abelson J, Giacomini M, Lehoux P, Gauvin FP. Bringing 'the public' into health technology assessment and coverage policy decisions: from principles to practice. Health Policy 2007 Jun;82(1):37-50.

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.