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Next PNR Rendezvous – Precision Medicine

“Adventures in Precision Medicine: A Major Public Research Initiative and it Implications for Healthcare Consumers and Institutions” is the title of our next PNR Rendezvous webinar September 21. Malia Fullerton, Associate Professor of Bioethics and Humanities at the University of Washington School of Medicine and Adjunct Associate Professor in the UW Departments of Epidemiology and Genome Sciences, as well as an affiliate investigator with the Public Health Sciences division of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (FHCRC).  In early 2015 President Barack Obama announced an ambitious research initiative aimed at generating data needed to usher in a new era of medicine, one that will deliver “the right treatments, at the right time, every time to the right person.” This project, known now as the Precision Medicine Initiative or PMI, is recently underway and seeks to enroll 1 million or more patients from around the United States.  What will healthcare consumers need to know before they decide to participate?  And how will the national effort to study specimens, medical record data, and information collected by mobile health technologies from thousands of patients impact healthcare delivery?

Public librarians and those working in healthcare will find this an informative session as Precision Medicine becomes the primary delivery of healthcare. This impacts not just researchers and clinicians but the general public as healthcare consumers.

When: September 21, 1:00pm Pacific Time, Noon Alaska Time, 2:00pm Mountain Time Read more »

Teaching Social Determinants of Health

The social determinants of health — or conditions under which people live, work, attend school and play — have an effect on health, quality of life, access to care, life expectancy, and more. Factors such as socioeconomic status, education, and physical environment contribute to risk factors and life expectancy. The Kaiser Family Foundation has an issue brief addressing these issues, Beyond Health Care: The Role of Social Determinants in Promoting Health and Health Equity. The Centers for Disease Control’s Social Determinants of Health page has tools for teaching and learning about the social determinants of health, as does Healthy People 2020, with Interventions and Resources.

Teaching health professions students about the impact of social determinants of health, especially in medical school, is part of a recent trend towards social accountability. Educating future medial providers to be aware of the diversity of their patient populations will lead to better care for these patients. Published in the journal,Medical Teacher, Twelve Tips for Teaching Social Determinants of Health in Medicine, seeks to increase awareness and provide recommendations based on a review of the literature to develop ways of teaching medical students to think critically about the social and cultural issues impacting health.

K-12 NLM Games: Reinforce Science Concepts and Supplement Curricula

Over the years NLM  talked with hundreds of science teachers of all grade levels from all over the country.  These teachers were asked what they wanted from NLM resources. Since science concepts can be difficult to understand and to remember many of these science teachers requested animated videos or games to help supplement their curricula and help students better understand concepts of science using a method they would find enjoyable. Whether wanting to pair DNA or learn about chemicals, these games offered by NLM are a fun and creative way for students to better grasp concepts and reinforce learning.

Bohr Thru: 3-match style game which requires users to collect and organize protons, neutrons and electrons in order to create Bohr models that represent the first 18 elements on the periodic table, such as Carbon, Nitrogen and Lithium. With the help of the main character, Atom, players become familiar with a variety of chemical elements and their structures. Teachers can easily implement short, in-class game sessions to enhance their students’ understanding of the periodic table.

ToxInvaders:  Players learn about chemicals and the environment by engaging in an interactive shooter game to protect the environment from toxic chemicals.  Quizzes are taken to progress between levels. A detailed tutorial is included. Available for iPhone and iPad.

Base Chase: Learn the bases of DNA with this fast-paced, educational app. Players grab bases of DNA in order to complete unique DNA strands for a variety of animals. DeeNA, the game’s cartoon mascot, assists players in completing each of the required tasks. The game includes a helpful tutorial. Available for iPhone and iPad.

Run4Green: The importance of environmental conservation is reinforced through this interactive, slide scrolling game. Topics, such as greenhouse gas reduction, renewable energy and green product purchases are emphasized throughout game play. Playing as a jolly, green and earth-shaped character, users collect coins and perform environmentally friendly tasks. The game is appropriate for students in grades 5-8. Available for iPhone and iPad. Read more »

Parents’ Health Literacy and Emergency Room Visits

Parents’ health literacy (the ability to obtain, process and understand the information needed to make appropriate decision about their health) can impact the health of their children. Research shows that low health literacy in parents is associated with a higher number of visits to the Emergency Department by their children. Roughly one in three parents of children coming to the Emergency Department are thought to have low health literacy. Conditions such as asthma, which may be better treated by home visits, can result instead to emergency visits without parents having the right treatment information.

In addition to educating patients and families about their health and equipping them with the information they need to make informed decisions, healthcare providers and all those in the healthcare system must be educated about the effects of health literacy and given the tools they need to improve parents’ health literacy. Follow up phone calls, visits, and education about symptoms can help reduce the non-urgent need of emergency care.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends pediatricians assess parents’ health literacy levels during well child visits in a new study: Parent Health Literacy, Depression, and Risk for Pediatric Injury, in the July 2016 issue of Pediatrics. It is estimated that 80 million adults in the U.S. have low health literacy, and it’s now being studied as a variable in children’s health as well.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s Health Literacy Universal Precautions Toolkit for primary care providers offers ways to reduce the complexities of healthcare and increase patient understanding and enhance support for patients and families.

Additional References:

  1. Morrison, Andrea K. et al. “The Relationship Between Parent Health Literacy and Pediatric Emergency Department Utilization: A Systematic Review.” Academic pediatrics 13.5 (2013): 10.1016/j.acap.2013.03.001. PMC.
  2. Herman, A. et al. “Impact of a health literacy intervention on pediatric emergency department use.” Pediatric Emergency Care 25.7 (2009): doi: 10.1097/PEC.0b013e3181ab78c7.
  3. MedlinePlus: Health Literacy, Talking With Your Doctor, Hospitals as Health Educators.

National Recovery Month



Recovery Month, sponsored each September by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), is recognized to increase the awareness and understanding of substance use disorders and also to celebrate those in recovery. SAMHSA’s website provides resources for treatment and recovery, personal stories, and a treatment locator. SAMHSA defines recovery — from mental health disorders and from substance use disorders — as “a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential.” SAMHSA’s Ten Guiding Principles of Recovery are Hope, Person-driven, Many Pathways, Holistic approach, Peer Support, Relational and Social Supports, Culture based and influenced, Addressing Trauma, Strengths and Responsibilities, and Respect.

Additional resources:

  • See the Twitter presence of Recovery Month for announcements, to connect with others who are interested, and to attend chats. The Recovery Youtube channel features personal stories of recovery.
  • The American Society of Addiction Medicine defines addiction as a chronic brain disease in which a person regularly participates in behavior, such as drug-taking or gambling, despite the negative consequences. Addictions changes how the brain works, and may keep getting worse without treatment. Patient and healthcare provider resources are offered on their website.
  • Harm Reduction: The Drug Policy Alliance promotes the harm reduction approach as a public health philosophy and intervention which reduces arm associated with drug use. A basic tenet of harm reduction is that there has never been, and never will be, a drug-free society. Read more about harm reduction.
  • Medication-Assisted Treatment: See SAMHSA’s webpage about Medication- Assisted Treatment, or MAT, for information including including opioid treatment programs and combining behavioral therapy and medications to treat substance use disorders.
  • The National Library of Medicine’s MedlinePlus features patient and family information about Substance Use Disorders, Drugs and Young People, Prescription Drug Abuse, and more.

National Parks: Nature and Health Benefits

Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park

Today the National Park Service is celebrating its 100th birthday. What a wonderful milestone in our country’s history. Here in the Pacific Northwest we have some of the most beautiful national parks, forests, and preserves. Even here in Seattle, whenever I get a peek at Mt. Rainier my eyes become glued to the view, I hold my breath in awe, I start feeling energized and happier. And I also notice the people around me appear to have a similar reaction. There’s something about seeing that mountain that just puts me in a better mood.  I am not alone in this. A quick search on PubMed results in several research papers that discuss the many health benefits of being outdoors in nature.
Such health benefits may include:

  • increase in memory and attention spans
  • stress reduction
  • sharpening the senses
  • elevates moods
  • sense of well-being
  • decrease risk of developing poor vision
  • increase creative problem solving
  • improve immune system

Not everyone has a mountain view but whether it is a view of a sunset, a desert, a field of grain, a river, a garden- taking time to get outside and enjoy the view. It’s good for both the mind and the body!

MedlinePlus and other NLM resources have information and tools to help you exercise and be healthy:

Start today and make a point of going outside and consider making plans to visit one of the National Parks and start enjoying the health benefits!