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Archive for the ‘Public Health’ Category

New AHRQ Health Literacy Tool for Patient Education Materials

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

Stethoscope on keyboardThe Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has created a new tool to “asses the understandability and actionability of print and audiovisual patient education materials”, entitled the Patient Education Materials Assessment Tool (or PEMAT). Patient education materials such as brochures and other aids are often complex and difficult for patients to understand, especially across various healthcare providers. This tool is designed to help  health care providers, health librarians, and other health professionals in charge of providing materials to consumers evaluate their print and audiovisual materials. If the materials meet a certain score, then most patients and consumers should be able to understand these materials and act on the information provided. 

The AHRQ website includes the instrument that can be used for both print and audiovisual materials, as well as a user guide and instructions on scoring.

To access or find more information regarding the PEMAT, visit the AHRQ PEMAT webpage.

Recorded Maternal and Infant Health Presentation Available

Monday, December 16th, 2013

Young Pregnant Woman Doing YogaOn December 3, 2013 the NN/LM SCR office hosted a webinar entitled, Healthy Beginnings: Information Resources for Maternal and Infant Health. Geared towards public health professionals, this presentation showcased free Internet resources used to promote health education and better prenatal care. This webinar came about as a direct result of the NN/LM SCR’s Public Health Regional Advisory Council meeting .

To view the video and presentation documents, visit the NN/LM SCR’s Presentations page.




Turkey Time!

Monday, November 25th, 2013

Autumn Cornucopia

It’s that time of year again! Cooking meals for friends and family is one of the best parts of the holidays–be sure you know how to do it safely.

The four biggest health issues when preparing a turkey include:

  • Thawing
  • Preparing
  • Stuffing
  • Cooking

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest three safe ways to thaw food: in the refrigerator, in cold water, and in a microwave oven. It’s also important to be aware that turkeys must be thawed at a safe temperature; between 40 and 140°F is when foodborne bacteria multiply the fastest!

As always, be mindful that preparing raw poultry includes the risk of spreading bacteria. Preparation areas (including hands, utensils, and work surfaces) should always be thoroughly cleaned before and after working with the turkey!

From the CDC: “For optimal safety and uniform doneness, cook the stuffing outside the turkey in a casserole dish. ” If you decide to cook your stuffing inside the turkey, however, use a food thermometer to make sure it’s been cooked to a safe temperature.

When cooking a turkey, be sure that you use a food thermometer to guarantee that it’s been cooked thoroughly and to a safe temperature (minimum internal temperature of 165°F) . If you are unfamiliar with using a food thermometer, get familiar with them here and learn to calibrate thermometers that haven’t been used in a while.

For more information on food preparation safety, visit the following resources. — Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures

Medline Plus — Food Safety

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service – Leftovers and Food Safety 

US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) — 4 Basic Steps to Food Safety at Home 

October is Health Literacy Month

Monday, October 7th, 2013

Books and Stethoscope with notepad

October 1-31st is Health Literacy Month! Did you know health literacy goes beyond the ability to read (although reading does play a large role)? Health literacy is the ability to get the health information you need, and to understand it. It is also about using the information to make good decisions about your health and medical care.

Here are some great resources that address health literacy!

MedlinePlus Health Literacy page (

  • This health topic page from MedlinePlus, a National Library of Medicine resource, not only gives a clear overview of health literacy but also does a nice job of breaking down some of the more specific issues that individuals face. MedlinePlus offers links to tutorials such as “Understanding Medical Words”,  ”Creating Easy-to-Read Materials”, and deciphering prescription drug labels.

National Network of Libraries of Medicine Health Literacy Page (

  • The NN/LM page on health literacy takes the basic information from MedlinePlus one step further. In addition to providing a clear and basic definition, this resource also gives users some statistics regarding the specific populations most affected by low health literacy. Information on research and initiatives being done to improve health literacy is also provided.

NN/LM SCR Health Literacy video (

  • Created by the NN/LM SCR, this video aims to give a brief overview of health literacy as well as shed light on resources that may be useful when working with low health literacy individuals or groups.

Health Literacy Out Loud (

  • From the Health Literacy Out Loud website: “Health Literacy Out Loud (HLOL) podcasts are a lot like radio shows. You can listen in as Helen Osborne interviews those in-the-know about health literacy. You will hear why health literacy matters and learn practical ways to help. Unlike radio shows, you access Health Literacy Out Loud podcasts from the Internet. You simply download the files to a computer, iPod, or other MP3 device and then listen to the podcast whenever, wherever, and however you want.”

Improving Health Literacy through the Teach-back Method

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

Doctor talks to a young woman at a desk.

Although the teach-back method is one typically targeted to health-care providers for their patients, it can be easily adapted to librarians or anyone else in an instructor/student role; in fact, many of you are probably already using it in some way or another.

So what exactly is the teach-back method?

This method of learning is essentially relaying information to someone using plain language and then asking that person to explain the information back, preferably using their own words. By doing this, the person giving the information (whether it be health-care provider or librarian) is ensuring that the patient or student understands the information and is able to retain the information. This is especially crucial for health-care providers; up to 80% of patients forget what their doctor tells them when they leave the office and half of what they do remember is incorrect (“Patients’ memory for medical information.” Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine 2003:96:219-222.). Implementation of the teach-back method can also be supplemented with easy-to-read materials rather than difficult patient education brochures.

For more information on the teach-back method as well as toolkits and training modules, see the following resources:

Teach-back Toolkit:

Interactive Teach-back Learning Module:

North Carolina Program on Health Literacy, Teach-back Method overview:



Introduction to Health Literacy YouTube Video

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

Logo for YouTube

A new video is available on the NN/LM South Central Region’s YouTube Channel! Created by the NN/LM SCR, this brief video aims to inform viewers of some health literacy basics as well as show viewers how to access easy-to-read material and resources.

To view the video, visit: 



Librarians Join Mental Health Conversation

Monday, September 16th, 2013

Creating Community Solutions Logo

In early 2013, President Barack Obama called for a “national conversation to increase understanding about mental health”. To address this need, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, and Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education, Arne Duncan, launched what is known as the National Dialogue on Mental Health.

Libraries are being encouraged to partner with Creating Community Solutions, part of the National Dialogue intended to increase mental health awareness at a local level, and host events that will bring community members together to participate in open-discussions about mental health. The American Library Association Center for Civic Life is partnering with a number of other civic groups on this initiative including America Speaks, the National Institute for Civil Discourse (NICD), the National Issues Forums Institute (NIFI), the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation (NCDD),Everyday Democracy, and the Deliberative Democracy Consortium (DDC) and already positive outcomes are being reported (see results of the day-long event in Sacramento, California-

In addition to hosting or participating in events, libraries can use many of the tools available on the Creating Community Solutions website. These tools include a mental health press kit, social media toolkit, several documents on facilitating community dialogue, recorded webinars to assist in training and preparation, as well as information briefs and planning guides developed by Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

To find more information about Creating Community Solutions and how libraries are participating, visit the following websites.

Programming Librarian – Libraries Join the National Conversation about Mental Health:

Creating Community Solutions website:

Texas Sees Rise in Cases of Pertussis

Thursday, September 12th, 2013

Nurse giving toddler a shot

According to a report from Reuters, in the past year, close to 2,000 cases of pertussis (also known as whooping cough) have been reported in Texas alone. Because pertussis is highly infectious and can cause serious problems in infants—especially those under four months of age and therefore unable to be vaccinated—and children, these numbers are of great concern to doctors and health officials alike.

Early signs of whooping cough infection include runny nose, low-grade fever, apnea, and a mild cough. After 1-2 weeks, the symptoms worsen into fits of rapid coughing followed by the tell-tale high pitched “whoop”, vomiting, and extreme exhaustion.

Although most common (and dangerous) in infants and children, teens and adults can become infected as well. The best way to prevent pertussis is to get vaccinated and keep those that are contagious away from others.  Boosters—called DTaP and protects against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis—are available for all ages and are especially recommended for those who come into contact regularly with infants.

For more information on prevention and treatment of whooping cough, visit the following:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—Pertussis (Whooping Cough):

MedlinePlus—Whooping Cough health topic page:

Reuters—Whooping Cough Reaches Epidemic Level in Texas:

Protecting Your Pets During a Disaster

Monday, September 9th, 2013

Emergency worker carrying puppy

At the beginning of hurricane season, we mentioned some resources to help prepare for the worst but in the event of a natural disaster or other emergency situation, it’s also important to have an emergency plan in place for pets!

The American Red Cross recommends taking the following steps to ensure pet safety during a disaster:

Keep your pet’s essential supplies in sturdy containers that can be easily accessed and carried (a duffle bag or covered trash containers, for example). Your pet emergency preparedness kit should include:

• Medications and medical records (stored in a waterproof container) and a First Aid kit.
• Sturdy leashes, harnesses, and/or carriers to transport pets safely and ensure that your animals can’t escape.
• Current photos of your pets in case they get lost.
• Food, drinkable water, bowls, cat litter/pan, and manual can opener.
• Information on feeding schedules, medical conditions, behavior problems, and the name and number of your veterinarian in case you have to foster or board your pets.
• Pet bed or toys if easily transportable.

It’s also important to remember that should the need to evacuate arise, plan to take your pet with you or board them somewhere safe. Be sure to become familiar with nearby evacuation shelters that allow you to bring animals and be aware of the health risks involved when sheltering somewhere that allows a large number of animals and people in one location (See link to CDC’s Animals in Public Evacuation Centers).

For more information and resources:

American Red Cross – Plan and Prepare – Pets:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Emergency Preparedness and Response – Animals in Public Evacuation Centers: – Make a Plan – Caring for Animals:

Disaster Information Management Resource Center – Disasters – Animals in Disasters:

Developing a Disaster Supplies Kit

Wednesday, September 4th, 2013

Emergency checklist

As part of National Preparedness Month, the Red Cross has created a great video with tips on what to include in a disaster supplies kit (along with good examples of what should be left out!): The Kit You Don’t Want to Have: National Preparedness Month.

Even though the video takes a humorous approach to educating the public, it also does a good job of highlighting the importance of being prepared. Although the contents of a disaster supplies kit may vary, depending on the type of disaster common to your geographical area, there are some basic supplies every kit should include:

  • Water— a good, general rule of thumb is one gallon per person, per day (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home)
  • Food— the best foods to add to your kit are non-perishable, easy-to-prepare items (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home)
  • Flashlight with fresh batteries
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible)
  • Extra batteries—these should be of various sizes, depending on the items for which you need them
  • First aid kit – items in a first aid kid can vary; for a good break down of what you should include, see the Red Cross’ Anatomy of a First Aid Kit
  • Medications (7-day supply) and any accompanying medical items
  • Multi-purpose tool
  • Sanitation and personal hygiene items
  • Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies)
  • Cell phone with chargers (including car chargers, if you have them)
  • Family and emergency contact information
  • Extra cash
  • Emergency blanket
  • Map(s) of the area—don’t rely on your cell phone or GPS device for this! During a disaster or emergency situation, internet access and connectivity is limited and may not be available to you.

When putting together your disaster supplies kit, be sure that you put into consideration the needs of every family member–including babies and pets! If you know that you might be hosting friends and family during a disaster, keep that in mind as well when purchasing/storing water and food. For more ideas and resources on putting together a disaster kit, see the list below.

American Red Cross – Plan and Prepare – Get a Survival Kit : (Federal Emergency Management Agency) – Build a Kit:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Emergency Preparedness and Response – Gather Emergency Supplies:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Emergency Preparedness and Response – Information for Pregnant Women:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Disaster Preparedness for your Pet:  as well as a checklist of items for a kit (cat and dog):