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Archive for the ‘Health Literacy/Consumer Health’ Category

How Patients Use Social Media, upcoming PNR Rendezvous

Tuesday, February 9th, 2016

media-998990_640On February 17, join us for the PNR Rendezvous on How Patients Use Social Media.  Our guest presenters will be health and science journalist Sally James and patient advocate, Stacey Tinianov. Sally and Stacey will lead you through how patients, as well as clinicians and researchers, increasingly use Twitter and Facebook to find and exchange many kinds of health information: including technical information about diseases, comparisons of treatments, as well as support for survivor issues in chronic and rare diseases. Live chats on these platforms draw thousands weekly.  Some researchers break news about peer-reviewed journal articles first on Twitter. Other researchers are recruiting subjects directly on social media. This webinar will provide practical examples to help you explore and understand how these resources are used and how moderators “curate” and archive tweets and posts from such conversations so they remain accessible.

We hope you can join us but if not, the session will be recorded. Check the PNR Rendezvous webpage a couple of days after the live session.

When: February 17, 1:00pm Pacific Time, Noon Alaska Time, 2:00pm Mountain Time (more…)

African American Health Disparities

Friday, February 5th, 2016

Take a look at this infographic.  Consider the numbers.  What does this say about race and health? About 610,000 people in the United States die of heart disease every year. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in most ethnic groups yet the health disparities for African Americans is cause for even more alarm.  African Americans have the highest prevalence of high blood pressure of any ethnic group which greatly increases the risk for stroke. Diabetes is the number one cause of kidney disease in African Americans. Minorities are affected by all sorts of health care issues that stem from a long history of disadvantage.  Segregation, racism, prejudice, ignorance, white privilege, discrimination, societal institutions, laws, socioeconomics, and more have all contributed to the poor health of many minorities in this country.

Unfortunately, like many societal issues, whether education, economic, legal, the focus tends to be on surface quick solutions rather than looking at the broader and deeper changes that need to happen.  It is easy to find tips to reduce heart disease such as exercise, healthy diets, quit smoking, and regular check-ups.  This is not to say that these tips are not good information but tend to ignore the greater and deeper understanding of the historical, political, socioconomic,  social-environmental and cultural factors that affect African American health.

History in medicine has not been kind to African Americans. Prior to the Civil War, African Americans were dependent upon their owners for healthcare and many received only a minimum amount of care. After the Civil War African Americans were often in separate hospital wards or not even allowed in hospitals. Many African Americans were not allowed into medical schools or if they were doctors already, could not practice in certain hospitals. Throughout much of history many African Americans were subjected to medical experiments, quite often without consent or without being given the full disclosure of the facts of the procedures of which they were participating. Even now with statistics regarding the health of African Americans so in contrast to non-Hispanic Whites, it is evident that segregation still remains. More must be done to reduce these alarming health disparities.

More research needs to be done regarding health conditions of African Americans and other minority groups. Research and clinical care must be done by more diverse professionals who could bring the cultural aspects to their work important to minority populations. Research and clinical care must be done with respect and understanding, with cultural competence of all racial and ethnic groups. African Americans are greatly underrepresented in healthcare so opportunities are needed for education and employment for those in minority populations so they can help bridge that gap and reduce medical mistrust.  A greater understanding of various cultural attitudes, behaviors, customs, practices and beliefs have benefits for all of us when seeking healthcare.  Changes are occurring at NIH and various health care and research institutions but we must all become more conscious about how our society and our health institutions affect those who need it most.

To learn more:

Caring for the Mind: Providing Mental Health Information at Your Library

Thursday, January 7th, 2016

Caring for the Mind is a Moodle format  3 credit CE class from the NN/LM PNR which runs from February 1-29. Responding to questions involving topics on mental health is challenging even for the most experienced librarian. In Caring for the Mind, participants will learn about resources and how to effectively provide mental health information at their libraries or community organization. The class is self-paced and participants will find it more rewarding by participating in class discussions. Caring for the Mind qualifies towards the Medical Library Association’s Consumer Health Information Specialization (CHIS). Not a medical librarian? Don’t worry, being a medical librarian is not required for this specialization nor to take the class.

It is recommended that participants register for a free Moodle account if they do not have one already.  If you encounter problems please contact Carolyn Martin at To create a Moodle account:

To register for this free class

NLM Releases New Health Literacy Tool Shed Website

Friday, December 11th, 2015

The U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM), in collaboration with Boston University School of Medicine is pleased to announce the launch of the Health Literacy Tool Shed:

The Health Literacy Tool Shed is a free, user-friendly, unique, curated online database of more than 100 empirically validated health literacy instruments. The Tool Shed serves as an interactive, one-stop shop where researchers use provided filters to select a health literacy research instrument.


Health News: Believe it or Not

Friday, December 11th, 2015

Vitamin D Deficiency May Cause MS
Employees Working Long Hours Face Increased Risk of Stroke
Coffee Could Literally be a Lifesaver

When you see these health headlines do you immediately think of how it pertains to you or someone you know?  You probably don’t think, “I should make sure this information is from a reputable source,” or “I should read that research article that this information is based on and ask my clinician about it.”

Health care reporting is complicated and has its challenges.  Many journalists do not have the background or education in health and science and are just as uninformed as the public.  They must rely on what they read in the research, what the researchers are telling them, or what is written in a press release that a public relations agency provides.  Often, journalists face tight deadlines that do not allow for in-depth investigation or must comply with commercial pressure to heighten interest or even direct a sales pitch associated with the story. (more…)

“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…)