Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

U of M Widget Translates Medical Terms

From an October 1, 2010 Cornflower news item

The Plain Language Medical Dictionary Widget is a project of the University of Michigan Taubman Health Sciences Library (THL) as part of the Michigan Health Literacy Awareness Training Program (

A team at THL developed this Plain Language Medical Dictionary Widget that can be embedded on websites and blogs. This tool uses plain language definitions to common medical terms from a little-known PDF that was created by the US government but never widely utilized. The original source for these definitions can be found in the Plain Language Thesaurus for Health Communications, Draft 3, October 2007. National Center for Health Marketing, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Health and Human Services, United States of America. #07-151(NE)/092607.

This dictionary widget makes plain language translations more available, accessible, and discoverable in support of health literacy initiatives and outreach. To browse dictionary terms, click on the drop down menu to select from a list of high-level medical terms. Once a word or phrase is selected, the plain language translation will appear in the box. Please visit ( to learn more about the tool and to get the code to add it to your own page.

October 6, 2010 Posted by | Health Education (General Public) | , | Leave a comment

Database to Help Scientists Understand How Differences in DNA Contribute to Human Health and Disease

From a National Institutes of Health (NIH) press release

The National Institutes of Health today announces the launch of a new resource, called the Database of Genomic Structural Variation, or dbVar, to help scientists understand how differences in DNA contribute to human health and disease.

The database will help track large-scale variations in DNA discovered in healthy individuals as well as those affected with disorders such as autism and cancer. Additionally, dbVar will collect data on a diverse array of organisms, including agriculturally important plants and livestock. The database was developed by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), a division of the National Library of Medicine (NLM) at NIH.

October 6, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Locating Health and Medical Information – An Updated Library of Congress Guide

This Science Reference Guide includes information in the following areas

October 6, 2010 Posted by | Consumer Health, Health Education (General Public) | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Multilingual HIV/AIDS Patient Handouts

[Editor Flahiff’s note: This is listing is not exhaustive! If you cannot locate a handout in a needed subject area/language, please email me at jmflahiff at I will at the very least reply within 48 hours, hopefully with a great resource for you. Any/all suggestions for additional multilingual resources are most welcome.]

Healthy Roads Media now has 16 HIV/AIDS online patient handouts in English, Karen, Nepali, and Somalia.
Topics include overviews, basics, signs/symptoms, and treatment.

Healthy Roads Media has patient handouts in other areas, as asthma, cancer, dental health, diabetes, immunization, mental health, pregnancy, sexual health, smoking, and tuberculosis.

A Few Additional Multilingual Health Information Resources

Health Information in Multiple Languages (MedlinePlus)

Patient Education Handouts (EthnoMed) — As of Dec 2010 languages included Amharic, Chinese, Hmong, Karen, Khmer, Oromo, Somali, Spanish, Tigrinya, and Vietnamese

Consumer Health Information in Many Languages Resources (National Network of Libraries of Medicine) As of Dec 2010 languages included American Sign Language, Arabic, Cambodian/Khmer, Chinese, French, German, Hmong, Korean, Laotian, Russian, Spanish, Thai, and Vietnamese

Multilingual Health Information (Stanford) As of Dec 2010 the site included nearly 50 languages
Health Materials in Languages other than English

Sources(with additional links)
Multicultural and Multilingual Health Information (University of Colorado Denver Health Sciences Library), including Health Websites in Other Languages (Binghampton University Libraries)

October 6, 2010 Posted by | Consumer Health, Health Education (General Public) | Leave a comment

Variety Spices Up Americans’ Sex Lives, Survey Says

Responses also suggest teens more careful about sex than many adults believe

Excerpts from a Health Day News item

MONDAY, Oct. 4 (HealthDay News) — Americans are engaging in a wide range of sexual activities, including oral sex, anal sex, and partnered masturbation in addition to vaginal sex, according to the largest and latest survey of sexual behavior and sexual health in the United States.

The survey also found that adolescents are much more responsible than they’re made out to be, with some 70 percent to 80 percent reporting condom use during their last sexual encounter.

“We found an enormous diversity in the sexual repertoires of U.S. adults. They rarely engage in just one sex act when they have sex,” Debra Herbenick, a research scientist and lecturer in the department of applied health science at Indiana University in Bloomington, said at a press briefing held Thursday. “Vaginal intercourse is still the most common sexual act but many sexual events do not involve intercourse. What it means to have sex can vary greatly from one person to the next.” [Full text of the article is at Special Issue: Findings from the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior (NSSHB), Center for Sexual Health Promotion, Indiana University Check your local public or academic library for availability]

While 41 sexual acts were noted in the survey, Americans probably engage in more than those given that some behaviors — such as kissing — were not included in the questionnaire, Herbenick said.


Among the main findings:

  • Men and women usually engage in more than one sex act during a single sexual encounter.
  • While 85 percent of men perceived that their partner had had an orgasm the last time they had sex, only 64 percent of women said they actually had climaxed. While men were more likely to orgasm with vaginal intercourse, women generally needed a wider variety of activities.

    “We can’t help but notice the gender gap between male and female orgasms, men being a little bit clueless about their partner having an orgasm or maybe they’re getting bad information,” said Pepper Schwartz, a professor of sociology at the University of Washington in Seattle and a member of the Trojan Sexual Health Advisory Council.

  • Condoms are used for one of every four acts of vaginal intercourse by married couples (one in three for single people) and they are used more frequently by black and Hispanic Americans. The lowest rates of condom use are among adults aged 40 and over.
  • Adults and teens reported equally pleasurable sexual experiences whether the male was wearing a condom or not. “Today’s condoms are not those that [older] Americans grew up with,” said Michael Reece, associate professor of applied health science at Indiana University. “We need to update educational efforts.”
  • Contrary to popular belief, the majority of teens are not engaging in sex with another person. For example, 40 percent of males aged 17 reported vaginal intercourse in the past year and only 27 percent had had sex over the last three months.
  • Roughly similar rates of men and women (8 percent and 7 percent, respectively) identified themselves as gay, lesbian or bisexual.
  • The survey also addressed the “friends with benefits” phenomenon, finding that 13 percent of men and 11 percent of women aged 18 to 59 reported having had sex with a friend at their most recent encounter.
  • Some 30 percent of women reported chronic, ongoing pain associated with sex, much higher than previous estimates, Herbenick said.

Herbenick said the information from the survey can enhance Americans’ sexual health. “Health care will best be served if we attend to the wide range of ways people have sex,” she said.

Janice Flahiff’s thoughts…The reports do not seem to address related issues as consent, role of sex in relationships, unhealthy sex issues as disease and mental conditions, importance of communication in sexual relationships, etc. The articles do not appear to have a holistic approach to sex, but does include aspects that are worth noting for further research and for application to sexual health in personal and public health areas.

October 6, 2010 Posted by | Consumer Health, Health News Items | | Leave a comment

Affordable Care Act gives consumers new tools, makes health insurance market more transparent

From a news item by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today announced that new information and tools have been added to HHS’ consumer website that will make the health insurance market more transparent, increase competition and help lower costs for individuals.

For the first time ever, price estimates for private insurance policies are available, allowing consumers to easily compare health insurance plans – putting consumers, not their insurance companies, in charge by providing one-stop shopping and taking the guesswork and confusion out of buying insurance.

To help consumers make more informed choices, the site includes new information including two notable metrics never before made public:

  • Insurance providers are required to provide the percentage of people who applied for insurance and were denied coverage.
  • Insurance companies are required to provide the percentage of applicants who were charged higher premiums because of their health status.


….starting October 1, 2010, consumers will also be able to find information about health insurance options such as:

  • Monthly premium estimates;
  • Cost-sharing information, including annual deductibles and out-of-pocket limits;
  • Major categories of services covered;
  • Consumer’s share of cost for these services;
  • Percent of people in the plan who pay more than the base premium estimate due to their health status; and
  • Percent of people denied coverage from a health plan;


For more information, visit our Facebook page at, or the @HealthCareGov Twitter account.

October 6, 2010 Posted by | Health News Items | Leave a comment

The Case for a National Patient Library (Analysis and Commentary)

Recent article describes the benefits of providing consumer patient information in many areas of health care.

Interesting to note that, according to recent postings at Medlib-L (a listserv for medical librarians), there is no mention of roles for librarians.

Full text of this article is by subscription only, however it may be freely available at your local public or academic library.
Call ahead and ask for a reference librarian.

The abstract from the journal Health Affairs (v. 29, no. 10 [2010]: 1914-1919)

A national patient library that stored and communicated findings from research on the comparative effectiveness of health services could be a valuable resource for patients and clinicians. It could assist in improving the quality of health care and helpreduce inappropriate costs. Public confidence in a national patient library would require that its activities be insulated from government as well as from professional, provider, payer, and commercial groups and advocacy organizations. This article describes why such a library is possible and desirable, what it would do for whom, how it could be governed and financed, and how it could overcome initial challenges.

October 6, 2010 Posted by | Health Education (General Public), Health News Items | , , , | Leave a comment


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