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Archive for the ‘Public Health’ Category

50th Anniversary of the first Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

Variety of no smoking signs

January 11, 2014 marked 50 years since U.S. Surgeon General Luther Terry released the landmark report that concluded smoking causes cancer. Since the report was released in 1964, the United States has seen a number of tobacco control campaigns and litigation in an attempt to improve public health. Here are some of the highlights, taken from JAMA’s interactive timeline of  Tobacco-Related Events, United States, 1900-2014. 

  • In 1965 the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act is passed and US Congress requires health warnings on cigarette packages.
  • In 1966 warning labels reading “Caution—Cigarette Smoking May Be Hazardous to Your Health.” begin to appear on cigarette packaging.
  • 1967 marks the first World Conference on Smoking and Health in New York.
  • 1969/1970 Congress passes the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act of 1969 which requires a stronger warning label on packaging. The act also bans cigarette advertising on television and radio.
  • January 2, 1971 sees the television and radio advertisement ban go into effect.
  • In 1975 Minnesota becomes the first state to enact the Clean Indoor Air Act, which “requires separate smoking and nonsmoking areas in public settings”.
  • 1983 marks the beginning of workplace smoking restrictions.
  • In 1984 the Food and Drug Administration approves “nicotine gum as a pharmacologic aid for smoking cessation”.
  • In 1988 California voters approve Propsition 99, ” increasing the cigarette tax from 10 cents to 35 cents per pack. Revenues are earmarked for tobacco-related public health initiatives and research.”
  • 1990 marks the end of smoking on airplanes.
  • In 1996 the Clinical Practice Guideline on Smoking Cessation is published by the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research
  • After being denied in 2000, the FDA gains regulatory authority over tobacco products in 2009.
  • In 2012-2013 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention launch the first fully federally funded “Tips from Former Smokers” campaign encouraging smokers to quit.

Although much progress has been made in the past 50 years, there is still much work to be done; according to the CDC an estimated total of 43.8 million people are still smokers who put themselves and others at risk every day. Cigarette smoking is also the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, something which many organizations are working to change. Examples of anti-tobacco organizations and campaigns include Smokefree Women and Tobacco Free Kids.

For more information on the Surgeon General’s Report and tobacco control, check out the following resources:

In addition to the interactive timeline, JAMA has also designated this month’s theme as “50 Years of Tobacco Control“.

To read more about the original 1964 report, visit the CDC’s page on the History of the Surgeon General’s Reports on Smoking and Health.

To read an interview with acting Surgeon General Boris Lushniak on “The past, present and future of tobacco”, visit the American Public Health Association’s (APHA) Public Health Newswire Voices page.


January 2014 Issue of NIH News in Health Now Available

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

NIH News in Health Jan 2014Check out the January issue of NIH News in Health, the monthly newsletter bringing you practical health news and tips based on the latest NIH research. In this edition:


 Health Capsules:

Click here to download a PDF version for printing.

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: