[Guest post by Margot Malachowski]
In March 2014, the Healthy Communities COI hosted a webinar entitled “Know Your Chances: How to Become a Better Consumer of Health Statistics”. https://webmeeting.nih.gov/p3n5k2rykp0/
The webinar was led by Steven Woloshin, MD, MS and Lisa Schwartz, MD, MS, authors of Know Your Chances: Understanding Health Statistics. This lively book aims to promote a healthy skepticism of touted health claims, and supports consumer decision-making by demonstrating easy ways to look at health statistics. After the webinar, the Healthy Communities COI developed the Health Statistics Book Discussion Project for librarians. The project ran from June 2014- May 2015. Our idea was to support librarians who wanted to use Know Your Chances to spark conversations in their communities. Twelve librarians participated in this project. Book discussions were offered for a variety of audiences, including a public library book group; a support group meeting; a professional development meeting for librarians; a professional development event for medical interpreters; and a class for seniors.
In collaboration with the NN/LM OERC (Outreach Evaluation Resource Center) https://nnlm.gov/evaluation , the Health Statistics Book Discussion Project developed a post-survey for discussion participants and a host-survey to send to the sponsoring institutions. Results showed that participants and the host organizations benefitted from the book discussions. Fifty-five participants completed the post-survey and six hosts completed the host-survey.
When asked, “will you do anything differently after reading the book”, 67% of participants replied yes. When asked “if yes, what will you do differently?”, most participants shared that they would be more critical and skeptical about study results. At several of the book discussions, participants were asked to write their take-away on a post-it note. One participant stated that “numbers are useless without understanding their full context.”
When asked, “Did attending the discussion add to your understanding of the book?”, 47 out of 55 participants responded “yes,” 7 out of 55 participants responded “not sure,” and 1 participants responded “no.” Response to “If yes, how?” included:
- Listening to the comments of other participants added to my own understanding of the book.
- A clearer understanding of the pros and cons and how to weigh them out for your own personal situation.
- The book was a lot to digest, so good to discuss. Handouts valuable and information concerning online sites and hospital librarian valuable, too.
All hosts thought the book discussion benefited their community and agreed that it contributed to their organization’s mission. In particular, the book discussion provided an opportunity for life-long learning, helped people make more informed decisions about their health, and created a better understanding of health communication related to statistics.
Know Your Chances: Understanding Health Statistics is a quick read and is freely available online on the PubMed Health bookshelf at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0050876/ For more information about the Health Statistics Book Discussion Project, please contact Michelle Eberle or Margot Malachowski.