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Archive for the ‘Health Literacy/Consumer Health’ Category

“Where are you really from?”: Multicultural Competence

Monday, November 23rd, 2015

What is cultural competency?  Like many concepts, there is no one definition.  Cultural awareness is a fundamental element in cultural competence. Being aware and conscious of cultural differences and similarities is important but so is the awareness of one’s own culture and recognizing and acknowledging the impact it has on those of other cultures.  Our communities are becoming more and more diverse as people move from one place to another whether seeking education, better opportunities or because of political turmoil, violent conflict, economic hardships, or for a variety of other reasons.  Imagine the fear and stress of coming to a country where language, transportation, money, housing, healthcare, laws, social customs are all very different and being expected to assimilate almost immediately!  But cultural competency isn’t just limited to new immigrants as many ethnic groups have been living here for generations or centuries before Europeans arrived but continue to be minority cultures.

According to the National Institutes of Health, “Culture is often described as the combination of a body of knowledge, a body of belief and a body of behavior. It involves a number of elements, including personal identification, language, thoughts, communications, actions, customs, beliefs, values, and institutions that are often specific to ethnic, racial, religious, geographic, or social groups.”  Typically we think of ethnic or racial groups as cultures.  This is true, they are indeed cultures but the term ‘culture’ can also be used to describe other social groups such as youth, rural, and specific disabilities or health conditions.  For example you may have heard of deaf culture or culture of poverty.  The terms ‘community’ or ‘world’ have also been used.  But awareness of these various cultures is important in communication, in education, business and health.  Our ability to interact with various cultures with sensitivity, awareness, and respect can affect disparities, opportunities, and successes.  (more…)

National Rural Health Day

Monday, November 16th, 2015

rual flat landscapeThe National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health have designated this year’s National Rural Health Day, November 19.

According to the 2010 census data, about a quarter of the U.S. population resides in rural areas and about 65% of U.S. counties are designated as rural.  Many people are drawn to the beautiful landscape, the slower pace, and the close-knit community experience.  Many of these communities have thriving businesses, provide essential services, and have a rich family and historical heritage.

Yet, rural areas experience some health challenges that many in urban areas do not.  Accessibility to health care is a tremendous issue and is affected by several factors.  The number of primary care physicians in rural areas is low.  Only 10% of physicians practice in rural areas and if a specialist is needed the access is even more difficult.  And it’s not just a physician shortage but the number of non-physicians, such as dentists, nurses, pharmacists, mental health workers, and others is alarming low.  Fewer health services in rural areas requires greater effort for those in rural areas to access care.  Transportation, whether due to long distances or having an unreliable vehicle creates obstacles to chronic disease and preventive health appointments. Sometimes this also requires taking off work several hours or even whole days. Communities in rural areas also have a higher rate of older adults who tend to have more chronic conditions and there is a higher rate of poverty and fewer economic and educational opportunities.  Many people are uninsured or under-insured and may not know about health issues and health insurance.  Also, the small town charm that so many find attractive can also be a factor that limits people’s access to health information and to access to care.  Many health issues such as mental health, chronic diseases (such as HIV), substance abuse, domestic violence, sexually transmitted diseases can make it difficult to seek help and treatment due to stigma and lack of anonymity. (more…)

Acknowledging Native American Veterans

Thursday, November 5th, 2015

flags-945510_640Veterans Day is approaching and is a special time to pay tribute to veterans of all wars. These men and women have sacrificed much for the freedoms we all enjoy and for which we are thankful. However, the results of war are often devastating for veterans, their families and eventually we all feel the effects.  Many veterans experience physical and psychological trauma which can have an enormous effect on those around them.  Many are unemployed, economically depressed, experience added family problems, and may lead to suicide in some cases.

Before they were even granted U.S. citizenship, thousands of Native Americans volunteered and served in the first World War and over 40,000 served in World War II despite their own lack of freedom here in their own country. For many Native Americans, becoming part of the military was an opportunity to prove patriotism, provide employment, to see the world and as a rite of passage. Despite the inner conflict of assisting an institution that marginalized, isolated and fought against them, many Native Americans wanted to assist in protecting their country. In fact Native Americans have the largest per capita enlistment of any ethnic or racial group.

The trauma of war on Native Americans and many rural veterans can be compounded by a number of factors including lack of transportation and other transportation factors, lack of services, unemployment, cultural barriers, awareness, and lower incomes.  Many have found help and support though traditional healing and opportunities provided such as the sharing of stories.

Several films have been produced that record the stories of Native American veterans allowing others to hear their voices. Here are previews about three such films.

The National Museum of the American Indian seeks to provide a forum for tribes to tell their veteran stories in the  Native American Veterans’ Storytelling Project. They have developed a model for this project for others to follow in hopes of preserving these stories for future generations. To learn more about this project and seek participation watch this informational video. (more…)

Health Insurance Marketplace, Open Enrollment Starts November 1

Monday, October 26th, 2015 Stock imageryNovember 1, 2015 is the first day to enroll in the Health Insurance Marketplace for 2016.  The enrollment deadline is January 31, 2016 otherwise the only way to qualify for insurance in 2016 is for a Special Enrollment Period.

According to Sylvia Burwell, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, in the five years since ACA was signed into law and the three years since Open Enrollment began in the Health Insurance Marketplace, about 17.6 million uninsured people have received health coverage.  The uninsured rate has dropped significantly for African Americans and Latinos.  According to ASPE Data Point, the number of uninsured has decreased primarily for three reasons, “…allowing young people up to age 26 to stay on their parents’ plans, the Medicaid expansion in 29 states plus DC, and the availability of affordable insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplaces.”  Despite these great gains, about 10.5 million uninsured Americans are still eligible for Marketplace coverage and almost half of those are between the ages of 18 and 34 while approximately one-third are people of color: approximately 19 percent are Hispanic, 14 percent are African American, and 2 percent are Asian American.  More needs to be done to continue to increase the number of Americans covered especially in under-served populations. Libraries, community organizations, and faith communities have an opportunity to join forces and reach out to get more people covered. (more…)

October is Health Literacy Month

Monday, October 12th, 2015

This year’s theme for Health Literacy Month 2015 is “Be a Health Literacy Hero”.  Whether you’re an individual or an organization, promoting health literacy makes you a hero.

Health literacy has been in the spotlight in recent years and is part of a growing movement to improve communication between patients and clinicians, reduce medical errors, lower medical expenses, and reduce health disparities.

What is health literacy?  According to Healthy People, “Health literacy is the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions.”

A person’s health literacy may affect their ability to navigate the health care system such as filling out forms, understanding the mathematical concept of risk for a disease, compliance with medication or other medical services.

Though a person’s literacy may be a factor in their health literacy, no one is exempt from low health literacy.  The health care world is a very foreign place even for those who are well educated.  Everyone’s health literacy level can drop just by hearing a diagnosis, having an emergency, or being in an unfamiliar health care setting.

A number of resources are available for libraries and others who want to work towards increasing health literacy. (more…)

WebJunction webinar, Public Health and Public Libraries: Librarians as Health Literacy First Responders

Wednesday, October 7th, 2015

WebJunction is offering a great webinar featuring two Consumer Health Coordinators from the National Network of Libraries of Medicine.

Date: 21 October 2015

Time: Noon – 1:00pm Pacific Time


  • Lydia N. Collins, Consumer Health Coordinator, National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Middle Atlantic Region
  • Anita Kinney, Program Analyst, United States Access Board
  • Christian Minter, Nebraska/Education Coordinator, National Network of Libraries of Medicine, MidContinental Region

A webinar exploring health-related outreach, programming, training, and funding so that your library can improve the health literacy of your community. (more…)