Archive for the ‘Health Literacy’ Category
Tuesday, March 7th, 2017
Oncology Doctor Consults with Patient by National Cancer Institute is licensed under CC0.
Recently, I taught a class on how to help older adults find health information. One of the issues that came up during the class was patient safety, which has been a trending topic for us this past year.
Unlike the patient-doctor relationship of the past, patients today are encouraged to be active partners in the healthcare team in order to, in part, reduce the errors that occur in routine processes. According to Sir Liam Donaldson, named by the World Health Organization as the Envoy for Patient Safety, these errors occur in 10% of hospital admissions and sometimes lead to fatal outcomes.
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “develops the knowledge, tools, and data needed to improve the health care system and help Americans, health care professionals, and policymakers make informed health decisions” as stated on their profile.
One of these tools is a set of questions that patients can ask their doctors. They also have additional information on what one might ask pre- and post-appointment, along with a guide on building your own set of questions. The basic set includes:
- What is the test for?
- How many times have you done this procedure?
- When will I get the results?
- Why do I need this treatment?
- Are there any alternatives?
- What are the possible complications?
- Which hospital is best for my needs?
- How do you spell the name of that drug?
- Are there any side effects?
- Will this medicine interact with medicines that I’m already taking?
One of the participants in the course suggested an additional question to ask the doctor that resonated with the other professionals in the class:
“What happens if I do nothing?”
Asking the right questions is an important part of taking care of one’s health. Find more on AHRQ’s Questions to Ask Your Doctor.
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Tuesday, February 21st, 2017
The Marshall Islands – Majuro – Window by Stefan Lins is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
In the Pacific Ocean near the equator and just west of the international dateline, there is a small country known as the Marshall Islands, which has a population of 53,000 inhabitants. Somewhat similarly, if you head to Springdale, Arkansas, located in the northwest corner of the state, you will find not only the Consulate of the Marshall Islands, but the largest community of Marshallese Americans in the continental U.S., with an estimated population between 6,000 and 14,000.
The Marshall Islands have become a place of despair and great poverty. It was the site of 67 nuclear tests that occurred over a 12-year period; in 1956, the Marshall Islands was called “the most contaminated place on Earth” by the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission.
In 1986, after the war had ended, the Marshall Islands became their own fully sovereign nation, but also became a U.S. Associated State, receiving assistance from the U.S., and also allowing Marshallese to travel and work within the U.S. without a visa. Springdale, Arkansas became the best immigration option after the first Marshallese to arrive, John Moody, sent back word about jobs available at Tyson Foods, where the company is headquartered.
And while 1,000s of Marshallese traveled halfway across the world to to escape the poverty and health issues, they are still plagued by diseases including diabetes, heart disease and cancer, some of which stem from the nuclear tests, but others that occurred after the fact; like how U.S. food aid to the Marshall Islands came in the form of processed items, which have contributed to the diabetes among the population as well as obesity.
Besides having a general distrust for health professionals, causing them not to seek medical treatment, many Marshallese also have no way to afford it, as the U.S. rescinded Medicaid and Medicare following the original 1986 agreement, leaving many without any form of health insurance.
But there is some hope for the Marshallese in Springdale, Arkansas. The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Library has begun a program to assist those displaced Marshallese, in part through funding by NNLM SCR. By teaching classes to Marshallese health workers and raising awareness for the health literacy information available, UAMS hopes to be able to eventually improve the overall health of the Marshallese of Northwest Arkansas. It will just take time.
To read more about the Marshallese population in Springdale, please visit “For Pacific Islanders, Hopes and Troubles in in Arkansas.”
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Thursday, January 26th, 2017
Untitled by Tim Bish is licensed under CC0.
January is Birth Defects Prevention Month and several states in our region want to inform residents about what can be done. In the U.S., birth defects affect 1 in 33 babies and cause 1 in 5 infant deaths every year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the National Birth Defects Prevention Network (NBDPN).
The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH), in partnership with NBDPN, hopes to raise awareness for infections like cytomegalovirus (CMV), which can cause birth defects.
CMV is a common infection which affects more than half of U.S. adults by age 40 and which often doesn’t make those who are infected ill. However, if a pregnant women gets the infection, it can spread to the unborn child, called congenital CMV. Only about 1 in 150 babies is born with congenital CMV; however, 1 in 5 of these babies will experience long-term health problems, such as hearing loss, vision loss or cerebral palsy, among others.
Pregnant women will often contract CMV from young children, which is passed through saliva or urine. Regular hand washing, as well as not sharing utensils or cups is a good way to prevent spreading CMV.
The Texas Department of State Health Services (TSDHS) on the other hand promotes a more general approach to Birth Defects Awareness Month, sharing information related to the 2017 theme: “Prevent to Protect: Prevent Infections for Baby’s Protection.” Tips include properly preparing food, seeing a doctor regularly, protecting oneself from Zika-carrying mosquitoes and maintaining good hygiene.
To read more information about National Birth Defects Month, please visit NBDPN’s website.
To read more information from OSDH, please visit “Prevent to Protect: Prevent Infections for Baby’s Protection.”
To read more information from TDSHS, please visit “January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month.”
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Thursday, January 19th, 2017
Untitled by Mindy Olson P is licensed under CC0.
New Mexico is seeing its largest cluster of whooping cough cases in infants since 2013. So far, four infants from Eddy, Curry, Rio Arriba and San Juan have a confirmed case. The cases have all been reported in infants under six months old.
“Whooping cough is very contagious and can cause serious cough illness―especially in infants too young to be fully vaccinated,” said Department of Health Secretary Lynn Gallagher in a New Mexico Department of Health news release. “Getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent your child from getting it.”
Whooping cough, scientifically known as pertussis, is highly contagious. It is characterized by uncontrollable, violent coughing, which often makes it hard to breathe, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. After a bout of coughing, the person often has to take large, deep breaths, creating the “whooping” sound. Anyone can get whooping cough, but it is extremely dangerous and can be fatal to those less than a year old.
Whooping cough is spread by coughing or sneezing, and those who are infected can be contagious for up to two weeks after the cough starts.
Whooping cough is best prevented by getting the vaccine. Infected persons can be treated through antibiotics—early diagnosis and treatment is very important.
To read more about whooping cough in New Mexico and how to prevent it, please visit the New Mexico Department of Health’s website.
To read more general information about whooping cough, please visit the CDC’s website.
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Thursday, January 12th, 2017
Untitled by Liam Welch is licensed under CC0.
Did you know more than 3 million people in the U.S. are affected by glaucoma? Do you know what glaucoma is?
Glaucoma is a group of diseases that can damage the eye’s optic nerve, the part of the eye that connects it’s to the brain. When damaged, it can cause vision loss, and in fact, glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in the United States, according to MedlinePlus.
Everyone is at risk for glaucoma, but there are certain groups of people who should be more aware of potentially contracting the disease—mainly seniors. Those over age 60 should get an eye exam every two years. Additionally, African Americans over age 40 and those with a family history of glaucoma should also get checked regularly, as they are more at risk.
Glaucoma symptoms vary, and those with the disease may experience none. But over time they may notice a loss of peripheral vision, tunnel vision, eye pain, nausea, blurred vision, halos around lights and/or reddening of eyes.
There is no cure for glaucoma, but it can usually be controlled, especially when caught early on. Current treatments include prescription eye drops and surgery.
This January, recognize National Glaucoma Awareness Month by considering getting an annual eye exam.
To read more about glaucoma, please visit “Glaucoma Resources for Special Populations from National Library of Medicine,” and/or MedlinePlus.
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Tuesday, January 10th, 2017
“Photo” by WikiImages is licensed under CC0.
While you may not think tuberculosis (TB) is a concern for yourself and your family, many people in the U.S. suffer with it, and for the first time in 23 years, the U.S. saw an increase in diagnosed cases in 2015. There were 9,557 cases total and it affected 27 states and the District of Columbia, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
This increase calls for a more comprehensive public health approach to curbing TB, according to the CDC’s report. Suggested strategies according to the report are:
- “Increased testing and treatment of latent (showing no symptoms) TB,
- Greater efforts to reach populations most affected by TB, and
- Reducing TB transmission through effective diagnostic and treatment strategies.”
TB is a bacterium that usually affects the lungs but can affect any part of the body. It is usually spread through the air when a person throat coughs, speaks or sings and another person breaths it in. But not everyone who becomes infected will become sick, which is called latent TB infection. This occurs when your body is able to fight off the bacteria.
Primary TB symptoms include a cough that last as for three weeks or longer, pain in the chest, and coughing up blood. Others may also include weight loss, fatigue, no appetite, chills, fever and sweating at night.
To read more from the recent CDC report, please visit “Burden of TB in the United States.”
To read more general information about TB, please visit the CDC’s website.
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Tuesday, October 4th, 2016
“Oklahoma Health Equity Campaign”
October is National Health Literacy Month! Did you know there’s a campaign that addresses health inequities in Oklahoma?
Through the Oklahoma Health Equity Campaign (OHEC), community leaders and organizations have come together to provide resources aiming to give an opportunity for Oklahomans to reach their full health potential regardless of their social position. Resources include a Health Literacy Clearinghouse with links to toolkits, resources for patients, research and reports, health literacy assessments and training, and multimedia presentations.
Community partners include the Oklahoma Literacy Coalition, Tulsa Hispanic Resource Association, Rogers County Literary Council, and the Latino Community Development Agency.
For more information, please visit the Health Literacy Clearinghouse.
Follow the Oklahoma Health Equity Campaign on Twitter and like them on Facebook.
-Written by Myriam Martinez-Banuelos, Consumer Health Outreach Coordinator, NN/LM SCR
Thursday, February 18th, 2016
Adapted from: National Library of Medicine’s News and Events dated 2/05/16
The National Library of Medicine is pleased to announce the launch of MedPix®, a free online medical image database originally developed by the Departments of Radiology and Biomedical Informatics at the Uniformed Services University, Bethesda, Maryland, USA. The URL is https://medpix.nlm.nih.gov/.
The foundation for MedPix was a radiology study tool that was originally developed by Dr. J.G. Smirniotopoulos in 1984. In the early 1990s, as radiology was moving from film to digital imaging, there was simultaneously a merger of the diagnostic imaging residency programs of the two premier military hospitals: Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the National Naval Medical Center. In the summer of 1999, a Web-based digital teaching file based on the radiology study tool was built at USUHS to allow the two military training programs to share teaching file cases, a training requirement. Soon, other military hospitals and several civilian institutions joined MedPix. Over the past 16 years, MedPix has amassed an impressive collection of over 53,000 images from over 13,000 cases.
The MedPix collection categorizes and classifies the image and patient data for each of several subsets of image database applications (e.g. radiology, pathology, ophthalmology, etc.). The content material is both high-quality and high-yield and includes both common and rare conditions. Most cases have a proven diagnosis (pathology, clinical follow-up). The teaching file cases are peer-reviewed by an Editorial Panel.
As a public education service, the NLM and MedPix provide the storage service, indexing, and Web server hosting. Individuals as well as institutions may participate. Contributed content may be copyrighted by the original author/contributor. No additional software required—your Internet browser is all you need!
The primary target audience includes resident and practicing physicians, medical students, nurses and graduate nursing students and other post-graduate trainees. The material is organized by disease category, disease location (organ system), and by patient profiles.
At this time, the new MedPix website is up. Existing users can login, but there is no access to CME credits yet, no new registration, no submitting a case and no search.
NOTE: MedPix provides a quick summary of medical information with images. It is not intended to be encyclopedic.
WARNING: This is not a substitute for medical advice, and the reader is responsible for confirming the accuracy of this information before beginning or changing any therapy or treatment.
Since its founding in 1836, the National Library of Medicine https://www.nlm.nih.gov has played a pivotal role in translating biomedical research into practice and is a leader in information innovation. NLM is the world’s largest medical library, and millions of scientists, health professionals and the public around the world use NLM services every day.
Friday, February 12th, 2016
Adapted from: Harvard Medical School’s This Week @ Harvard Health
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a condition in which the macula, the part of the eye that’s responsible for your sharpest and most detailed vision, begins to thin and break down, causing vision loss. If left untreated, it can lead to blindness.
There is no surefire way to prevent AMD. However, there are things you can do to delay its onset or reduce its severity. Here are 5 of our favorites:
- Smoking can speed up AMD damage. If you smoke, quit.
- Sunlight is thought to possibly promote AMD. Protect your eyes from the sun by wearing sunglasses and broad-brimmed hats.
- Research also suggests that certain nutrients help prevent macular degeneration. Eat a diet rich in fresh fruits and dark-green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, collard greens, and kale. The latter are especially rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, which are key for eye health.
- If you have intermediate or advanced dry AMD, or any stage of the “wet” form of AMD, ask your doctor about supplements. For example, people at high risk of developing the advanced stages of the “wet” form of AMD may lower their risk by taking high-dose combinations of antioxidant vitamins and minerals.
- It’s unclear whether omega-3 supplements are beneficial for AMD. But eating fish and other foods high in these nutrients may still be worthwhile for preserving optimal vision and overall good health.
For more information on keeping your eyes healthy, see The Aging Eye, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.
Monday, February 1st, 2016
Adapted from: NIH News in Health, February 2016 issue
Check out the February issue of NIH News in Health, the monthly newsletter bringing you practical health news and tips based on the latest NIH research. To search for more trusted health information from NIH, bookmark http://health.nih.gov.
Infertility Treatments and Children’s Development
Help for Rare and Undiagnosed Conditions
Featured Website: NIH Office of Dietary Supplements
Please NIH’s website http://www.nih.gov/ for current authoritative health information.