The importance of access to health research

I don’t think the importance of Ancel Keyes’ so-called “Seven Countries Study” can be understated in regard to its effect on US health policy and beliefs. If someone wanted to examine this 60-year-old paper for themselves they would find obtaining any information about it very difficult to obtain. It can be found in PubMed (assuming one knows the actual title: Atherosclerosis: a problem in newer public health) but there is not even an abstract published, let alone the full text of the paper. And if one were inclined to read the 2 peer-reviewed rebuttals (that I’m aware of) to that paper published a couple of years afterwards those are similarly unavailable. A couple of days ago EFF weighed in on the subject of public access to health research:

In the digital age, it is absurd that ordinary members of the public, such as healthcare professional and their patients, cannot access and compare the latest research quickly and cheaply in order to take better care of themselves and others.

A Case Study in Closed Access

Since 2008 all research funded by the NIH must be submitted to PubMed Central within 12 months of publication in a journal (NIH Public Access Policy Details). While this is a huge step forward there are still issues with the availability of older research both publicly and privately funded. It is important, especially in matters of health and public health policy, that people have access to the relevant research.

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