Sizzle and Snake (Oil): Health Literacy in the Digital Age | Community of Innovation Podcast, Episode 9

Older adults looking over health information at a laptop

Technology has transformed our access to medical and health information, for good and ill. Web search results put serious researchers and clinicians on the same ‘stage’ as digital snake oil salesmen, all fighting for people’s limited attention. Add to this the growing importance of preventing and managing chronic conditions such as dementia, and the need for health literacy has never been greater.

Enter the health literacy innovators!

This episode, CABHI Managing Director Dr. Allison Sekuler sits down with three people that have taken on this challenge. Their projects, the Fountain of Health and iGeriCare, each combine digital technology with evidence-based health information to reach people with the information they need to stay healthy, and care for others, as they age.

Join us as we hear how detail-oriented researchers learn to add a little ‘sizzle’ to their ‘steak’, use the principles of behaviour change on both patients and their fellow clinicians, and win the battle to relegate snake oil to the bottom of the barrel.

Listen to the podcast here:

Featuring special guests:

Dr. Anthony Levinson, Neuropsychiatrist, Director, Division of e-Learning Innovation, McMaster University

At the Division of e-Learning Innovation, Dr. Levinson exercises his passion for researching and developing online solutions to deliver high-quality health educational experiences to both the public and health care professionals. IGeriCare provides a unique opportunity to leverage his expertise in mental health and learning technologies to create a modern and engaging approach to dementia education. Dr. Levinson practices Medical Psychiatry, is an Associate Professor and holds the John Evans Chair in Health Sciences Educational Research and Instructional Development at McMaster University.

Dr. Keri-Leigh Cassidy, MD FRCPC, is a Professor of Geriatric Psychiatry at Dalhousie University, and the founder of the Fountain of Health™ Initiative for Optimal Aging. She is also the co-founder of the World Aging and Brain Health Institute, and Vice President of the Canadian Academy of Geriatric Psychiatry. Dr. Cassidy is a national expert in late life mood disorders and psychotherapy teaching at the CAGP National Review Course in Geriatric Psychiatry, and author of Enhanced Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for older adults. Dr. Cassidy received the 2016 Canadian Academy of Geriatric Psychiatry Award for Outstanding Contributions to Geriatric Psychiatry in Canada. She was the 2018 recipient of the Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR) Betty Havens Prize for Knowledge Translation in Aging.

Dr. Michael Vallis, PhD. R. Psych

Dr. Vallis is a registered health psychologist practicing in Halifax, Canada. He is a Health Behaviour Change Consultant and Associate Professor in Family Medicine at Dalhousie University. His main areas of expertise are diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular risk and gastroenterology. He has worked in the public health system for 35 years and is now working as a consultant and doing private practice. He regularly supervises clinical and academic students at Dalhousie and is active in research on motivation, behavioural change and psychosocial adaptation to chronic disease. He consults nationally as well as internationally and is heavily involved in journal editing, clinical practice guidelines and academic publications. He was recently awarded a Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal by the Government of Canada on the recommendation of Diabetes Canada.

Recommended resources:

From Dr. Levinson:

From Dr. Cassidy:

From Dr. Vallis:



Podcast Theme music: “Air Hockey Saloon” by Chris Zabriskie, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License