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Archive for the ‘Health Literacy’ Category

Stress and the Relaxation Response

Tuesday, October 6th, 2015

[Guest post by Siobhan Champ-Blackwell]

WHEN:  Thursday, October 8, 2015 at 1:30 PM ET

WHO CAN PARTICIPATE:  The Disaster Information Specialist monthly webinar is free and open to everyone – please spread the word and invite others in your organizations, send to your email lists, and post to your social media accounts.

TOPICS:  “Stress and the Relaxation Response”

Stress is a very common reaction to disasters and humanitarian crises. Disaster-related stress affects the local population as well as the professionals and volunteers responding to a disaster. Even in the absence of a disaster, over 60% of visits (for any reason) to health care professionals are caused or exacerbated by stress for which there is no effective pharmacologic or procedural therapy. This presentation will focus on a counter-stress capacity –  the relaxation response. Its elicitation effectively counteracts stress and is therapeutic for a multitude of stress-related disorders. The relaxation response will be defined historically and physiologically. Its genomic underpinnings as well as its dramatic impact on health care resource utilization will be described.


Herbert Benson, MD, Director Emeritus Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine <> at Massachusetts General Hospital, Mind Body Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School; Manoj Bhasin, PhD, Director of Bioinformatics, Co-Director of Genomics, Proteomics, Bioinformatics and Systems Biology Center <>, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Assistant Professor of Medicine Harvard Medical School; James E. Stahl, MD, CM, MPH, Section Chief, General Internal Medicine Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Associate Professor of Medicine Geisel School of Medicine.


To join the meeting at 1:30 pm ET, Thursday, October 8, click on

Meeting number: 627 830 517
Meeting password: 1234


Or, if you are in the area you can attend the meeting in person at our offices at 6707 Democracy Blvd, Bethesda, MD, Suite 440. Park in the visitor’s parking lot (we will validate your parking), walk to the middle building (Democracy Two) and take the elevator to the 4th floor. Suite 440 is around the corner behind the elevators.


MORE INFORMATION:  For more information on this and past meetings, see

Guide to finding health information on Coping with Disasters, Violence and Traumatic Events,

Hope you can join us!

Siobhan Champ-Blackwell
301-496-2742, phone
301-480-3537, fax

Specialization in Disaster Information, Level II, Medical Library Association, completed 2012

Know Your Chances:  Understanding Health Statistics Book Discussion

Monday, October 5th, 2015

[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”.

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) , 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:  For more information about the Health Statistics Book Discussion Project, please contact Michelle Eberle or Margot Malachowski.

CommunicateHealth Webinars

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015

Librarians  HeartHealth Literacy

We have a crush on health literacy. Maybe you do, too. Or maybe you only like it as a friend. And of course it’s possible that you have no idea what health literacy is. Whatever kind of relationship you have, it’s about to get better. Join us on Thursday, November 19th at 10:30 AM for a webinar chock full of practical health literacy tips and tricks from Stacy Robison, President of CommunicateHealth and creator of the weekly We Heart Health Literacy series.

Make an Impact with Your Online Content: Design for Usability and Accessibility

Join us on Thursday, February 18, 2016 at 10:30 AM for a webinar that delves into the latest evidence-based, applied tips to make your online health information and services more appealing, accessible, and usable for your audiences — particularly for users who don’t have strong reading or health literacy skills. Using the latest version of HHS’ Health Literacy Online, Sandy Williams Hilfiker, Director of User-Centered Design at CommunicateHealth, will walk us through the latest research trends to make your online (including mobile!) health content effective and impactful.

Presenter Bios

Stacy Robison, MPH, MCHES, President and co-founder of CommunicateHealth, Inc. started the business at age 30… in her attic. 7 short years later, CommunicateHealth has 40 employees — and an impressive roster of government and private sector clients.

CommunicateHealth was founded on a core principle: people deserve clear and simple information about their health. Under Stacy’s direction, the CommunicateHealth team has won numerous awards for their work on consumer health websites and plain language materials. Their clients include CVS Pharmacy, UnitedHealthcare, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization.

Stacy has been a key player in the field of health literacy for the past decade, helping to develop several tools and resources for health professionals. In 2013, Stacy and the CommunicateHealth team launched We Heart Health Literacy — a light-hearted weekly email tip delivered to the inboxes of more than 1,200 subscribers.

Sandy Williams Hilfiker, MA, Director of User-Centered Design and Principal of CommunicateHealth, Inc., is a leading expert in the design and development of consumer health websites and e-health tools for users with limited health literacy skills and limited experience with the web. With experience testing websites, apps, and print materials with well over 2,000 limited literacy users and public health professionals, her expertise in the intersection of health literacy and usability is unparalleled. She is a passionate advocate for user-centered design spending over a decade dedicated to health communication and usability research. Sandy served as a Lead Editor for both editions of Health Literacy Online.

Register on our Training Calendar at:


Ayer Library: Story-time Garden

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015


[Guest post by Samantha Benoit]

The Ayer Library has been hosting a weekly story-time every Thursday for many years, it is during this time that we, as a librarians, try to expose this rambunctious group of toddlers to a variety of life experiences. With the introduction of STEM the library has been trying to incorporate science based events into its weekly story-time program. In early spring we had the idea to plant a garden with kids, and give them the experience of caring for, and growing plants.

The inspiration for this program stemmed from a number of families who lamented the fact they would not be able to plant a garden of their own. Many of the families in Ayer rent either apartments or houses, and cannot cultivate gardens on their property. Most of the staff however grew-up having gardens, and learned how to care for and harvest plants. We thought that planting a garden at the library would be a way to provide this learning experience for the kids, and it fit in nicely with the STEM programming we had been encouraging.

We had decided upon a raised bed for the garden, for easy maintenance, and so we would not have to ruin the library’s lawn. The bed is 4ftx6ft, and 7in. deep, and made from a few boards of untreated wood, and was built by the library staff. We lined the bottom with newspaper to prevent the grass from growing through, and then it was filled with soil. When buying plants for the garden, we kept in mind that we wanted the kids to interact with the plants, so a variety of vegetables were purchased, as well as herbs that had distinctive smells. From this planning we have a number of easy to grow vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, green beans and cucumbers, as well as herbs like mint, rosemary and lavender.

There were two programs running on the day of planting, one where a small group of kids planted and another where the kids were able to learn about worms. Since worms are essential to a garden’s health, we felt it was important of the kids to be able to have some hands on experience with them. This also broke up the group into two smaller and much easier to handle groups for planting. The worms were later released into the garden. Many of the kids loved planting the garden and continue to check on it each week. They like to report on how big their plants have grown. The parents have also shown an interest in the garden’s progress, which is encouraging. Other patrons have been asked to become involved in this project, we leave watering cans by the garden so that everyone can help take care of it. We have tried to make this a community effort, and it has been very successful, and we will definitely continue this project in the next few years.

Samantha Benoit, MLIS – Young Adult Librarian

Amy Leonard, M.Ed – Children’s Librarian

Christina Zoller – Assistant Children’s Librarian



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