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#healthlit: a Twitter hivemind of health literacy

Closeup of HiveMind wire and glass sculpture

HiveMind by 917 Press

On October 7, 2010, the first organized discussion on Twitter about health literacy using a hashtag of #healthlit was hosted by Dr. Cynthia Baur, the Senior Health Literacy Advisor for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (@CDC_eHealth on Twitter) and healthfinder.gov (@healthfinder on Twitter). The main topic discussed was How can we improve health literacy? along with the recently launched National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy and the CDC blogged about the experience. An online archive of the October 7th #healthlit conversation is available.

The National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Pacific Northwest Region (@nnlmpnr on Twitter) participated in the second #healthlit chat discussion on October 28, 2010, hosted by Health Literacy Missouri (@HealthLitMO on Twitter) featuring Dr. Baur, Dr. Arthur Culbert (CEO of Health Literacy Missouri), and Gary Schwitzer, publisher of HealthNewsReview.org and organized as a Twitter Town Hall. The main topic discussed was Communicating with the media and the public and organized around 5 main questions that are referred to as Q1-Q5. by participants. The questions were

  1. What is the importance of working with the media to communicate health messages in a health literate way?
  2. What strategies are most effective in discussing health literacy with the media? What issues does the media care about most?
  3. How have you integrated health literacy into your communication with the public? What strategies work best?
  4. What ideas do you have for better educating the public on important health issues in a more health literate way?
  5. How have you used social media to communicate with the public or media about health literacy?

Participants in the chat were extremely diverse, ranging from local to national and international organizations and people who were eager to share their resources and thoughts regarding health literacy. Among the resources shared were

Health Literacy Improvement (includes the new National Action Plan from the Department of Health & Human Services)
Goals of National Action Plan
(How Health Literacy Missouri is addressing the seven main goals)
Health Literacy (NN/LM’s national resource page)
Program for Readability in Science & Medicine
(free online course for research teams to improve readable content)
Critical MASS toolkit (free for individuals, addressing causes & impacts of health disparities)
Health News Review (helps journalists and the public evaluate the claims in health care news stories)
PLoS Medicine: Does It Matter Who Writes Medical News Stories? (Sept. 14, 2010 research article)
Health in the Headlines (continuing education class from the Medical Library Association)
Ethical Criteria for Medicinal Drug Promotion (resource from the World Health Organization)
Association of Health Care Journalists (independent nonprofit for advancing public understanding of health issues)
Twitter for health journalists (from the Association of Health Care Journalists)
Health Literacy Universal Precautions (from the Agency from Healthcare Research and Quality)
Healthy Roads Media (multilingual and multiformat plain language health resources)
Literacy Teaching & Training Materials (from the National Center for the Study of Adult Learning and Literacy – NCSALL)
Ethnomed (medical and cultural information about refugee & immigrant groups)
Videos and cool tools (part of MedlinePlus plain language health information resources)
Improving Health Literacy for Older Adults (PDF report from CDC)
ESOL Teachers: Helpers in Health Care (the role adult literacy teachers have from NCSALL)
Health 2.0: Can you have a doctor visit on Facebook? (article from the San Francisco Chronicle)
Health Literacy Online (from HHS)
MedlinePlus Connect (future project to integrate information from MedlinePlus into electronic health records EHRs)
Building a National Health Literacy Cooperative (from Health Literacy Missouri)

An online archive is available which is less voluminous than the October 7th chat and easier to follow as a result. We look forward to participating in future #healthlit discussions and providing coverage here in the Dragonfly afterward!

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