Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

[Reblog] Radio: Old Dog, New Tricks? (Mental Health Radio Programs)


June 11, 2012 · by  · in Mass Media

The British Medical Journal recently highlighted award winning healthcare communication campaign efforts and I was intrigued that a radio program made the list of “imaginative and effective” communication methods.  This effort consisted of 12 phone-in radio programs with 22 clinicians to talk in-depth about different mental health issues.  It was specifically broadcasted to a rural and socially isolated area.  The main purpose: to reduce stigma surrounding mental health.

So, we have story telling narratives by our friends and neighbors in a rural and socially isolated region, broadcast for any and all to hear.  Is this innovative?  Any Frasier fan would likely say no.  But with this particular audience, (and not the bustling and heavily populated Seattle) I immediately thought of social norms.  (Without getting too theory heavy, think descriptive norms- what you believe is typical or normal and subjective norms- what your friends/family think.)  So, these fine British clinicians worked to reduce stigma by demonstrating that mental health issues not only exist, but they exist in your community.  Listen up Cornwall as your friends and neighbors talk about their mental health troubles!

Know Your Audience | Now, this could have been a fictional program with actors portraying mental health issues, moving this into an edu-tainment area, or perhaps a standard PSA, which is so often distributed via radio.  But what stood out to me was that this audience was not going to pay attention to a social media campaign or a TV commercial.  They might, however, pay attention to local folks telling their story, their experience with mental health on the radio.    Storytelling can be powerful and when balanced with the clinical expertise or evidence, has the potential to make an impact.  Yes, radio is an old medium.  But that doesn’t mean we can’t find new ways to use it.

I make no claims to be an expert in mental health stigma, but while looking into this issue, I came across a few interesting links.

Canada’s Anti-Stigma Ad Campaign

San Diego’s “It’s Up to Us” Anti-Stigma Campaign Radio Spots

Minnesota’s Twin Cities is building a mental health facility with reducing stigma in mind and in design.

National Alliance on Mental Illness- Stigma Busters

July 6, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Move for Food Freedom!

One Mover's Blog

“Food Safety Now!”

Who wouldn’t rally behind such a cause?

This has been the battle cry of those in the uppermost echelons of our food regulatory bodies and public health departments for years now. With each widely-publicized food-borne disease outbreak comes more proposed controls on who, where, when, why and how we can put food on our tables. With such names as The Food Safety Modernization Act, it’s hard to argue against the proposals…at least until you peel away the layers.

The vast majority of these bills are simply means to control the food supply; and thereby control the citizenry. Sure there are some well-intentioned, pure-hearted advocates of food safety out there. You’ll always see some grieving mother who’s child fell victim to a tainted chicken finger but the legislation seldom addresses the source of the problem. The majority of the food-related regulations that are proposed (these bills are chock…

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July 6, 2012 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , | Leave a comment

Are all pest control methods toxic? (with links to tips)


From the 1 July article at Mother Jones

..The organization Beyond Pesticides works to educate the public about the potential harm in conventional pesticides while also offering alternative, less toxic means of pest control, such as integrated pest management, or IPM. Integrated pest management seeks to manage rodent and pest infestations in the least toxic way to humans and the environment. It should ideally involve a system of monitoring and prevention, and use chemicals only as a last resort. When chemicals are used, the least toxic chemicals should be chosen (of which a list can be found here). If you’d like to find nearby green pest-control services, you can look one up in Beyond Pesticide’s online guide.

Of course, you can always do your own pest control, and it doesn’t have to involve the toxic roach sprays you can find in your local supermarket’s automotive aisle.
A few tried and true tricks?
Keep your house clean. I mean, really clean. Even if dinner is all cleaned up, make sure to thoroughly wipe down all surfaces (countertops, stove, microwave) each and every night. Keep food covered tightly and in the fridge – meaning don’t leave any fruit out on the counter or on the kitchen table.
Then once your house is clean, make sure to seal up all leaks and cracks and potential gateways into your warm, inviting home. You might find this New York City pictorial guide to controlling roach and mice infestations (of which I experienced many before I moved to the virtually rodent-free state of New Jersey) helpful. And if you’ve tried everything and nothing seems to work, give the green pest controllers a call. Or move to California. I’ve heard there are no bugs there…

July 6, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , | Leave a comment

New study maps hotspots of human-animal infectious diseases and emerging disease outbreaks

FIGURE 2. Global richness map of the geographic origins of EID events from 1940 to 2004.
The map is derived for EID events caused by all pathogen types. Circles represent one degree grid cells, and the area of the circle is proportional to the number of events in the cell.
This image and others from this article may be found here 


Maps reveal animal-borne disease as heavy burden for 1 billion of world’s poor; new evidence on zoonotic emerging disease hotspots in US and Western Europe

From the 4 July 2012 EurkAlert article

NAIROBI, KENYA (5 July 2012)—A new global study mapping human-animal diseases like tuberculosis (TB) and Rift Valley fever finds that an “unlucky” 13 zoonoses are responsible for 2.4 billion cases of human illness and 2.2 million deaths per year. The vast majority occur in low- and middle-income countries.

[An abstract of the article may be found here. Full text requires a paid subscription. Article may be free at a local academic, public, or medical library. Call ahead and ask for a reference librarian!]

The report, which was conducted by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), the Institute of Zoology (UK) and the Hanoi School of Public Health in Vietnam, maps poverty, livestock-keeping and the diseases humans get from animals, and presents a “top 20” list of geographical hotspots.

“From cyst-causing tapeworms to avian flu, zoonoses present a major threat to human and animal health,” said Delia Grace, a veterinary epidemiologist and food safety expert with ILRI in Kenya and lead author of the study. “Targeting the diseases in the hardest hit countries is crucial to protecting global health as well as to reducing severe levels of poverty and illness among the world’s one billion poor livestock keepers.”

“Exploding global demand for livestock products is likely to fuel the spread of a wide range of human-animal infectious diseases,” Grace added.

According to the study, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Tanzania in Africa, as well as India in Asia, have the highest zoonotic disease burdens, with widespread illness and death. Meanwhile, the northeastern United States, Western Europe (especially the United Kingdom), Brazil and parts of Southeast Asia may be hotspots of “emerging zoonoses”—those that are newly infecting humans, are newly virulent, or have newly become drug resistant. The study examined the likely impacts of livestock intensification and climate change on the 13 zoonotic diseases currently causing the greatest harm to the world’s poor.

The report, Mapping of Poverty and Likely Zoonoses Hotspots, was developed with support from the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID). The goal of the research was to identify areas where better control of zoonotic diseases would most benefit poor people. It also updates a map of emerging disease events published in the science journal Nature in 2008 by Jones et al.i

Remarkably, some 60 percent of all human diseases and 75 percent of all emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic. Among the high-priority zoonoses studied here are “endemic zoonoses,” such as brucellosis, which cause the vast majority of illness and death in poor countries; “epidemic zoonoses,” which typically occur as outbreaks, such as anthrax and Rift Valley fever; and the relatively rare “emerging zoonoses,” such as bird flu, a few of which, like HIV/AIDS, spread to cause global cataclysms. While zoonoses can be transmitted to people by either wild or domesticated animals, most human infections are acquired from the world’s 24 billion livestock, including pigs, poultry, cattle, goats, sheep and camels.

July 6, 2012 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , | 1 Comment

Like It or Not, Facebook and Friends Can Be Used to Influence Health Behavior

From the 5th July 2012 article at Science News Daily

Most people call it the “art” of persuasion, but public health researchers at the University of Southern California (USC) are trying to pinpoint the “science” behind social influence….

Valente, whose research focuses on social networks and influence, has compiled a collection of methods that public health advocates use to stimulate changes in behavior and explains why certain methods may be more effective than others in particular situations. The analysis appears in the July 6 edition of the peer-reviewed journal Science, the world’s leading outlet for scientific news, commentary and research.

Due to the large number of interventions available to researchers — Valente identifies 24, each with at least several variations — the researcher says a more robust framework is needed for deciding which tactics are best used in particular settings.

Word-of-mouth interventions, for example, depend on the social network to succeed. In some cases, word of mouth is used to spread the word and in other cases to create groups of like-minded friends.

“Existing evidence indicates that network interventions are quite effective,” Valente writes. “Yet, the science of how networks can be used to accelerate behavior change and improve organizational performance is still in its infancy. Research is clearly needed to compare different network interventions to determine which are optimal under what circumstances.”

Valente notes that behavioral research is often used in marketing and business arenas; the public health sector is just beginning to implement that information as tools like Facebook and Twitter have made it easier to collect data and spread information, he says…

July 6, 2012 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

[World Bank Report] More relatively-poor people in a less absolutely-poor world

English: World Map showing the percent of nati...

English: World Map showing the percent of national populations living on less than $1.25 per day. UN Estimates 2000-2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)***$1.25_per_day_2009.svg

Poverty levels affect how governments and other entities spend on programs and who benefits from the programs.
These programs include health related initiatives and on going assistance.
So, how poverty is defined ultimately does affect global health.

From the summary at the World Bank 
    [ A PDF of the document may be found here]
Summary: Relative deprivation, shame and social exclusion can matter to the welfare of people everywhere. The authors argue that such social effects on welfare call for a reconsideration of how we assess global poverty, but they do not support standard measures of relative poverty. The paper argues instead for using a weakly-relative measure as the upper-bound complement to the lower-bound provided by a standard absolute measure. New estimates of global poverty are presented, drawing on 850 household surveys spanning 125 countries over 1981-2008. The absolute line is $1.25 a day at 2005 prices, while the relative line rises with the mean, at a gradient of 1:2 above $1.25 a day. The authors show that these parameter choices are consistent with cross-country data on national poverty lines. The results indicate that the incidence of both absolute and weakly-relative poverty in the developing world has been falling since the 1990s, but more slowly for the relative measure. While the number of absolutely poor has fallen, the number of relatively poor has changed little since the 1990s, and is higher in 2008 than 1981.
And from the introduction

“One of the oldest debates on poverty concerns whether it is ―absolute‖ or ―relative.‖ Theidea of relative poverty has long dominated measurement practice in Western Europe. Thepoverty line is set at a constant proportion—one half is common—of the country or year-specificmean (or median) income.2 By contrast, absolute poverty lines have dominated past practice insome rich countries (including the US) and in most developing countries. By this view, thepoverty line is intended to have constant real value. An example is the World Bank’sinternational line of $1.25 a day at 2005 purchasing power parity (Ravallion et al., 2008).

There are two ways we can interpret this difference. One can think of a poverty line as the money metric of an underlying concept of welfare. While not observed, the poverty line in the welfare space can be thought of as a social norm, which may well vary from one setting to another. The poverty measure in any given setting will only have salience and be accepted if it accords reasonably well with prevailing ideas of what ―poverty‖ means in that setting.3 We can expect norms to differ between a rich society and a poor one, and evolve over time in growing economies. In this sense ―poverty is relative.‖ However, using a lower real poverty line in poorer countries will not then be welfare consistent, in that two people judged to have the same welfare can be treated differently depending on where or when they live. Reasoning along these lines has motivated the past emphasis on measuring absolute poverty using a common real poverty line. There is a second, very different, interpretation of why richer countries have higher poverty lines. The absolute approach implicitly sees welfare as depending on ―own consumption,‖ though often with allowances for differing needs, depending on (say) household size or demographic composition.4 By this view, the setting in which a person lives is irrelevant to whether that person is deemed to be poor or not, once one knows the person’s own consumption level. By contrast, a relative line is implied by the presence of certain social determinants of welfare, which naturally vary with the context. Relative lines are seen to reflect welfare effects of relative deprivation—that comparing two people at the same real income theone living in the richer country will feel worse off—and costs of social inclusion, namely theextra expenditures deemed necessary for participation in a rich society as compared to a poorone, including the spending needed to avoid shame. By this second interpretation, povertycomparisons can still be interpreted as absolute in the space of welfare, but (given the socialeffects) an absolute line in the welfare space requires a relative line in terms of consumption..

July 6, 2012 Posted by | Public Health | , , , | Leave a comment


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