Behind the headlines

About the project 

Every day we encounter various health claims about what can make us healthier, sicker or prevent us from getting sick. Advice on «what works» is given on social media, in advertisements and in traditional media, but also by family and friends. For example, we can read that «Coffee leads to cancer», «Owning a dog makes you less depressed» or that «Vitamin-C prevents colds».

Many do not have enough knowledge to assess the reliability of such claims. The consequences can be that one listens to advice that can be harmful and that one does not use forms of treatment that have been proven useful. This in turn can lead to unnecessary suffering and wasted resources.

Behind the headlines is an interdisciplinary teaching and research project at the Faculty of Health Sciences, OsloMet. The main goal is to raise the competence of students at OsloMet in critically evaluating health claims.

As part of the project, we develop teaching resources, initiate research projects and lead a network for those who teach critical thinking. Although Behind the Headlines is mainly aimed at students at OsloMet, our teaching resources can also be used to teach students in primary school and in upper secondary school.

Who we are

Behind the headlines consists of an interdisciplinary working group with a background in health service research, research methods, journalism, technological science, and library and information science. Students are also part of the working group and help create learning resources including films and games.

Project Management

Astrid Dahlgren, Professor, Faculty of Health Sciences, OsloMet

Working group

  • Anja Naper, Lecturer, Department of Nursing and Health Promotion, OsloMet
  • Elizabeth Paulsen, Lecturer, Department of Nursing and Health Promotion, OsloMet
  • Hanne Vollen, Special Librarian, University Library, OsloMet
  • Maryam Amini, Student, Master in Digital teaching design, OsloMet
  • Nils Erling Hårstadsveen, Student, Subject teacher in design, arts and crafts, OsloMet
  • Silje Skogheim, University librarian, University Library, OsloMet
  • Victoria Skjåvik, Student, Master in Public Health Nutrition, OsloMet

Reference group

  • Andy Oxman, Research Director, Centre for Epidemic Interventions Research, Norwegian Institute of Public Health
  • Astrid Torbjørnsen, Associate Professor, Fakultet for helsevitenskap, OsloMet
  • Atle Fretheim, Research Director/Centre Head, Centre for Epidemic Interventions Research, Norwegian Institute of Public Health
  • Christine Holst, Researcher, Centre for Epidemic Interventions Research, Norwegian Institute of Public Health
  • Hilde Tinderholt Myrhaug, Associate Professor, Fakultet for helsevitenskap, OsloMet
  • Ida Kristin Ørjasæter Elvsaas, stipendiat, Fakultet for helsevitenskap, OsloMet
  • Kim Gunnar Helsvig, Professor, Fakultet for lærerutdanning og internasjonale studier, OsloMet
  • Laurence Habib, Dean/Professor, Fakultet for teknologi, kunst og design, OsloMet
  • Marianne Molin, Professor, School of Health Sciences, Kristiania
  • Sarah Ellen Rosenbaum, Researcher, Centre for Epidemic Interventions Research, Norwegian Institute of Public Health
  • Steen Steensen, Professor, Fakultet for samfunnsvitenskap, OsloMet
  • Stig Nøra, Acting Head of Section, Seksjon for samfunnskontakt og forskningsformidling, OsloMet

What we teach

In Norway, those who work in the health and welfare services must work according to the principles underlying knowledge-based practice. In order for the service to be knowledge-based, good quality research must be used as a basis. Research answers several types of questions, some questions are about researching how many people have a disease or are at risk, how those who get sick fare, what are the causes of disease, how something is experienced and not least what is effective treatment.

Many people think that research can be difficult, this also applies to healthcare personnel. At OsloMet, all bachelor students at the Faculty of Health Sciences receive training in knowledge-based practice so that they will be equipped to use such knowledge when they go out and practice their profession. As part of this subject, they also receive training in breaking myths and exposing unreliable claims they encounter in the media and other parts of society that deal with the effect of various forms of treatment.

Behind the headlines is based on the international project Informed Health Choices (IHC) ( We teach and develop learning resources based on the framework developed by the IHC project. This framework consists of key concepts that help us evaluate claims, recognize reliable research, and make informed choices.