Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Consumer Health Toolkit for Library Staff

From a Sept 30 announcement by NN/NLM -Southwestern Region (National Network of Libraries of Medicine)

We are pleased to announce the publication of the Consumer Health Toolkit [PDF format] the result of a multi-year collaboration between the California State Library and NN/LM PSR. The Toolkit is a comprehensive professional development resource for librarians and library staff to build their competencies in providing excellent consumer health services to users.


The Toolkit

The Toolkit is divided into six sections. Depending on the library staff person’s position or role, some sections may hold more appeal than others. The final document is 93 pages in length; we are certain that there is something for everyone in this resource.

Core Competencies

The first section, Core Competencies, identifies a set of competencies required to provide quality health information services to the public. The list of eight competencies was written specifically for this Toolkit. This section can be thought of as the foundation, and next four sections provide the necessary skills and knowledge for building solid competencies in consumer health. Library staff will be able to use the list to reflect on their own skills in a particular area. Each of the competencies is supported by materials in the Toolkit.

Health Resources

The Health Resources section is a collection of health information on a variety of topics, all with a focus on healthy living. We know that many health problems can be prevented or minimized if people adopt healthy behaviors, such as eating well, doing physical activities, and taking advantage of preventive health care. People need good information in order to make healthy changes in their daily routines. This section includes carefully selected resources with a focus on prevention of disease and healthy living. While prevention is at the top of the list, resources are also included for coping and living well with chronic conditions.

Early in the planning stage, a decision was made not to include general health information on diagnosis and treatment of diseases and conditions. Other excellent resources such as already serve this purpose better than we ever could, so this section is intended to be an adjunct to other authoritative resources. Many more quality resources were identified than there was room for in the document. The chosen resources are representative of the best resources available and can be used as examples of quality health information.

Consumer Health Information Services

The Consumer Health Information Services section provides a wealth of resources. This section includes community needs assessments, health reference services, collection development, marketing services, and creating targeted health-related programming for users. Perhaps one of the most useful parts of the entire Toolkit will be the recommended core reference and print series section. Again, the list is not comprehensive, but these titles were carefully chosen by subject specialist librarians as recommended titles for a consumer health collection.

Technology and Health 2.0

The Technology and Health 2.0 section covers the convergence of technology and health information. People are using the Internet not only to find health and medical information, but they are also sharing information with others. Librarians may be uncomfortable recommending sites where the information is user-generated, but we need to accept the trend. People are using sites in this way, and there is evidence that it is useful for many. While some of the content on these online resources is contributed by patients and health consumers, the chosen sites adhere to strict privacy guidelines and other important criteria. This section provides information and links to resources that you can trust, along with tips on talking to your patrons about the pros and cons of utilizing information from social sites for health information.

This section also covers new technologies and formats for delivery of health information, such as audio, video, and content optimized for mobile devices. Numerous podcasts from authoritative sources are recommended. Resources and information in the section will help librarians understand and evaluate new mechanisms for health information sharing and delivery, so they can feel comfortable in recommending certain sites and content when appropriate.

Workplace Wellness

The Workplace Wellness section includes guidelines and helpful resources for setting up wellness strategies and programs in libraries, businesses and organizations. One goal of this work is to bring awareness of healthy behaviors, and to promote the concept of libraries as healthy places, thereby leading to healthy communities. It is our hope that library managers and staff will embrace the notion of wellness, not only in the workplace, but in our personal lives as well.

Resources for Health Care Professionals

The final section includes carefully selected resources for health professionals, including health literacy curricula, improving communication with patients, and resources to improve cultural competency. Additionally, the entire Toolkit is intended to bring awareness to health professionals that public libraries are reliable sources of health information for patients and consumers, due to training and knowledge of authoritative health resources. The original survey findings indicated that clinicians may not be aware of training librarians receive or be doubtful of the quality of the health information that is provided to users. Creating partnerships with health care professionals and health-related organizations can improve the health literacy and quality of life in the entire community. Health professionals will also benefit from exposure to quality health resources that are appropriate for their patients.


October 7, 2010 - Posted by | Health Education (General Public) | , ,

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