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Archive for the ‘Public Health’ Category

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:

Registration open for the March 7, 2016 forum: Using Data to Improve Clinical Patient Outcomes

Monday, February 1st, 2016

When you hear “Big Data” what comes to mind? Research? That’s where the NN/LM focus has been–introducing health sciences librarians to the role they can play in managing and curating research data, introducing health sciences librarians to training resources and tools to teach students and researchers what should be considered when they produce data.

Big data does not just exist in the research setting. There is a lot of patient data that exists in each of our hospitals, medical centers, and healthcare systems. Doesn’t this quantity of patient data qualify it as big data too? Some of us say the answer is, “Yes.”  

On March 7, 2016 the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Pacific Northwest (PNR) and MidContinental Regions (MCR) are sponsoring an event that will provide an overview of current and potential uses of patient data to improve patient safety, quality of care and evidence-based practice: Using Data to Improve Clinical Patient Outcomes. (more…)

Resource Guides on Recent Public Health Incidents

Thursday, January 28th, 2016

The National Library of Medicine (NLM) recently developed resource lists for three public health emergencies affecting both local and global communities. An incident Web page was created to gather resources on the emerging health issues arising from the Zika Virus. Two PDF documents on recent chemical incidents have been updated.  Links to these lists are included below and also can be found on our NLM Disaster Health home page. (more…)

Zika Virus- Travel and Pregnancy Notices

Thursday, January 21st, 2016

For some of us the Zika virus is something new.  However, it was actually identified in the 1940’s in Uganda. The Zika virus was considered a rare disease primarily located in African countries with a smattering of occurrences in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands. In May 2015 the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) issued an alert confirming infections in Brazil where it has been noted that over 3,500 babies have been born, since this past May, with microcephaly. It is not known for sure if the Zika virus is responsible for this outbreak of microcephaly but many doctors believe there is a connection. The Zika virus is a mosquito-borne illness that can be transmitted from pregnant mother to baby. Symptoms of the virus are typically mild and include fever, rash, joint pain, headaches, and red eyes which lasts from a few days to a week. The virus has not been reported in the United States except through returning travelers though just last week health officials in Hawaii reported a recent birth in which a  baby with microcephaly had been infected with the virus whose mother had been in Brazil last May. The Zika virus is spreading throughout the Americas and was reported in Puerto Rico this past December. Because there is no known treatment or vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has issued a health advisory for travelers to 14 countries and territories in the Americans where Zika has been reported and has developed interim guidelines for pregnant women or wish to become pregnant who are considering travel to areas with outbreaks of Zika virus.


Make 2016 the Year of Emergency and Disaster Preparedness

Wednesday, December 30th, 2015

When setting your goals for the year ahead, why not include emergency or disaster preparedness? By tackling the preparation activities over several weeks — whether it’s a trip to the grocery or hardware store, making copies of valuable information, or agreeing on a plan with relatives—you can make be more prepared in 2016. The first post in this series on emergency and disaster preparedness focuses on preparedness at home and with family. (more…)

PNR Rendezvous,

Monday, December 7th, 2015

Date: Wednesday, December 16

Time: 1:00pm Pacific Time, Noon Alaska Time, 2:00pm Mountain Time

Join us next week when NN/LM PNR Community Health Outreach Coordinator, Emily Glenn, presents information regarding is the openly available federal registry and results database of publicly and privately funded clinical studies conducted in the United States and around the world. The registry and results database are vital resource for researchers, healthcare providers, and health sciences librarians who wish to consult the entire body of evidence on any particular topic. This presentation will provide an overview of the information in, drawing from records for trials involving mobile apps, plus an update of policies and laws that impact clinical trials. You will gain a basic understanding of how records can be part of the landscape of research evidence when considering the effectiveness of an intervention. (more…)