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Archive for the ‘Non-NLM Resources’ Category

Measuring Success Toolkit

Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) is a form of assessment used to help improve the performance and achievement of program results and often used by both non-government organizations (NGOs) and government agencies. It utilizes a staircase diagram with six questions related to program planning, monitoring, and evaluation; with information about clarifying the differences. While not specific to health information outreach programs, the Measuring Success Toolkit, from the Urban Reproductive Health Initiative, is about health program planning, monitoring and evaluation. The toolkit provides helpful resources from the initiative’s multi-country perspective of working with the urban poor and the significant health disparities they face that may be helpful to consult when working with health information outreach partners in underserved communities. The Toolkit includes subject-specific M&E resources such as maternal & child health and HIV/AIDS, and the resources within the toolkit are selected by M&E experts and reviewed quarterly following established criteria, to identify important resources from diverse perspectives that include accurate, up-to-date information.

New Toolkit on Health Literacy and Health Insurance Literacy!

According to recent studies, and despite new private insurance coverage over the past year, many people do not understand the very terms and concepts necessary to make informed choices. A new Alliance for Health Reform Toolkit, Health Literacy and Health Insurance Literacy: Do Consumers Know What they are Buying? addresses the extent and significance of both health literacy and health insurance literacy for Americans buying and using health insurance.

A few highlights from the Toolkit:

  • Nearly nine out of ten adults have difficulty using health information to make informed decisions about their health.
  • Half of Americans don’t understand such basic health insurance terms as premium, deductible and copay.
  • Thirty-seven percent of marketplace enrollees did not know their deductible, and 47% of those receiving subsidies did not know the amount of federal assistance they were getting.
  • The cost of low health literacy in the United States currently represents between 7% and 17% of all personal health care expenditures.

Contents of the Toolkit include:

  • An overview of problems associated with health literacy as well as studies analyzing their impact.
  • Links to reports and news articles explaining and analyzing the issue.
  • Contact information for leading experts on the issue.

Nature Magazine Publisher to Merge with Springer Science

The publisher of science magazines Nature and Scientific American is merging with private equity-owned peer Springer Science+Business Media, creating a group with 1.5 billion euros ($1.75 billion) in annual sales and 13,000 employees. Germany’s Holtzbrinck, which owns Nature publisher Macmillan Science and Education, will combine the majority of its activities with BC Partners’ Springer unit, which publishes scientific, technical, and medical books and journals. Springer Science Chief Executive Derk Haank will head the new merged company, which will have an enterprise value of more than 5 billion euros. Macmillan Science and Education Chief Executive Annette Thomas will serve as Chief Scientific Officer. The deal is expected to close in the first half of 2015.

Macmillan’s English language school books and social sciences publisher Palgrave Macmillan will be part of the merged entity, as will Springer’s publications and data for professionals. Holtzbrinck’s investments in IT and software businesses, its consumer books unit Macmillan Publishers, and its U.S. higher education business will not be part of the transaction. Springer Science is a separate company from German publisher Axel Springer owning leading tabloid Bild, while Holtzbrinck Publishing is a different company than Dieter von Holtzbrinck Medien, which publishes German business daily Handelsblatt.

“Guide on the Side” Software for Creating Interactive Tutorials

The University of Arizona (UA) libraries developed an open-source tool called Guide on the Side for creating interactive tutorials. The left frame of the screen contains instructions and can also have quizzes or links to other information, and the larger, right side has the live website to interact with, without losing your place in the tutorial. A four-minute introductory video about the software is available for viewing on the NLM National Training Center (NTC) web site.

Guide on the Side is an open source PHP and MySQL program and needs to be installed on a server. The program requires a handful of common PHP packages enabled. Once installed, it is very easy for someone without programming experience to create interactive tutorials, which can be easily updated if the interface of the database or other web resource changes. Several examples of Guide on the Side tutorials for TOXNET resources are available on the NTC web site. The UA Libraries have developed more than 25 tutorials using the tool, which have received nearly 73,000 uses in one year. Other libraries have installed the software, begun creating tutorials, and joined a discussion group to continue improving the software.

NAL Unveils New Search Engine for Published USDA Research!

The National Agricultural Library (NAL) has unveiled PubAg, a user-friendly search engine that provides public enhanced access to research published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists. NAL is part of USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS), and has one of the world’s largest and most comprehensive compilations of agricultural information available.

PubAg is a new portal for literature searches and full-text access of more than 40,000 scientific journal articles by USDA researchers, mostly from 1997 to 2014. New articles by USDA researchers will be added almost daily, and older articles may be added if possible. There is no access fee, and no requirement for a username, password or any other form of registration to use PubAg. Phase I of PubAg provides access for searches of 340,000 peer-reviewed agriculturally related scientific literature, mostly from 2002 to 2012, each entry offering a citation, abstract and a link to the article if available from the publisher. This initial group of highly relevant, high-quality literature was taken from the 4 million bibliographic citations in NAL’s database. Phase II of PubAg, planned for later in 2015, will include the remainder of NAL’s significant bibliographic records. PubAg has been specifically designed to be easy to use and to serve a number of diverse users including the public, farmers, scientists, academicians and students.

Mobile Data Solutions Online Course

Are you curious about the use of smart phones, tablets, or other mobile data resources to collect data for your assessment project, but are seeking more information on how to determine if this is the right approach for your project or program and how to process the data you collect using this method? Then check out Mobile Data Solutions, which was created as part of the Mobile Solutions Technical Assistance and Research (mSTAR) project, with expertise provided by U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Digital Development Lab and designed by TechChange.

The primary goal of this freely available and accessible online course (free registration is required) is to learn more about mobile tools, processes, and strategies for data collection in order to use mobile devices (referred to as mobile data solutions) to their full potential. The course will take about two hours to complete and can be done at your own pace over time. Progress in the course is saved so you’ll be taken to the point where you stopped to continue learning the next time you access it.

The learning objectives of the course are:

  • Describe examples of mobile data solutions from collection through visualization
  • Articulate the benefit of using these solutions
  • Analyze the challenges and limitations associated with mobile data solutions
  • Assess whether or not particular mobile data solutions are appropriate for a project, program or problem
  • Outline how to design a project or activity to include mobile data solutions
  • Explain the steps involved in implementing mobile data solutions
  • Summarize how to analyze, visualize, and share mobile data

Evaluation “Coffee Breaks” from the CDC

Want to build your repertoire of evaluation skills? Check out this library of evaluation-related podcasts and webinars from the CDC’s Division of Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention. These are archived documents from 20-minute presentations about evaluation. The usual basic topics are represented, such as Making Logic Models Work for You and How Do I Develop a Survey? But a number of the presentations cover topics that are not standard fare. Here are a few titles that stand out:

Most presentations consist of PDFs of PowerPoint slides and talking points, but there are a few podcasts as well. All presentations seem to be bird’s-eye overviews, but the final slides offer transcripts of Q&A discussion and a list of resources for more in-depth exploration of the topic. It’s a great way to check out a new evaluation interest!

NIH Manuscript Submission (NIHMS) System Getting a New Look!

Manuscript Submission System

In January, 2015, the NIH Manuscript Submission (NIHMS) system will be getting a new interface design, which will streamline the login and manuscript submission processes and provide relevant help information on each screen. The NIHMS sign-in routes will be available from the homepage, with options based on a funding agency or signing in through NCBI. The new homepage will also include a graphic overview of the NIHMS process, allowing you to hover over each step for more information or to click on “Learn More” to read the complete overview in the FAQ. Once you are signed in to NIHMS, you will be directed to your Manuscript List. From this page you can manage and track your existing submissions, submit a new manuscript, and search for a record. You can also click on any headings in the information box to expand a topic and read the help text. The initial deposit will still require you to enter a manuscript and journal title, deposit complete manuscript files, and specify funding information and the embargo.

Key updates will include:

  • Assigning an NIHMSID to a record only after files have been uploaded, i.e., at the Check Files step;
  • A streamlined deposit process with clearly defined and explained actions in each step;
  • Requiring the Submitter to open the PDF Receipt to review the uploaded files and confirm that the submission is complete before advancing to the next step;
  • Relevant help information on each page; and
  • Requiring the Reviewer to add funding before approving the initial deposit.

NCCAM Gets New Name!

As part of the omnibus budget measure signed by President Obama in December 2014, Congress changed the name of NCCAM to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, or NCCIH. The change was made to more accurately reflect the Center’s research commitment to studying promising health approaches that are already in use by the American public. Since the Center’s inception, complementary approaches have grown in use to the point that Americans no longer consider them an alternative to medical care. The name change is in keeping with the Center’s existing Congressional mandate and is aligned with the strategic plan currently guiding the Center’s research priorities and public education activities. The mission of the organization will remain unchanged.

Large population-based surveys have found that the use of “alternative medicine,” unproven practices used in place of conventional medicine, is actually rare. By contrast, integrative health care, which can be defined as combining complementary approaches into conventional treatment plans, has grown within care settings across the nation, including hospitals, hospices, and military health facilities. The goal of an integrative approach is to enhance overall health, prevent disease, and to alleviate debilitating symptoms such as pain and stress and anxiety management that often affects patients coping with complex and chronic disease.

The Office of Alternative Medicine (OAM) was established in 1992 within the Office of the Director, NIH, to facilitate the study and evaluation of complementary and alternative medical practices and to disseminate the resulting information to the public. In 1998, NCCAM was established by Congress, elevating OAM to the status of an NIH center. In February 2011, NCCAM released Exploring the Science of Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Third Strategic Plan 2011–2015, which continues to guide NCCIH’s work.

Rural Health Needs Assessment and Program Evaluation

Rural and medically underserved areas often have challenges including both increased health disparities and population health issues combined with limited resources and healthcare providers to help meet these challenges. The use of appropriate program evaluation measures can help to assess what actually works for rural health settings since many evidence-based strategies are based on urban and non-rural populations.

The Rural Assistance Center has recently issued a freely available online guide, which is intended to help an organization:

  • Identify the similarities and differences among rural health research, assessment, and evaluation
  • Discuss common methods, such as surveys and focus groups
  • Provide contacts within the field of rural health research
  • Address the importance of community-based participatory research to rural communities
  • Look at the community health needs assessment (CHNA) requirements for non-profit hospitals and public health
  • Examine the importance of building the evidence-base so interventions conducted in rural areas have the maximum possible impact