Health Questions Shouldn't Hurt

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Health Questions Shouldn't Hurt

  1. 1. Health Questions Shouldn’t Hurt Washington Library Association April 21, 2006 Tacoma, WA Gail Kouame – Consumer Health Coordinator – NN/LM, PNR
  2. 2. Why Is Health Information Unique? Medical Terminology Scary! Highly Emotional
  3. 3. Medical Terminology - Deciphering “Medspeak”  Mostly Greek or Latin origins Diagnosis and Surgery – Greek Anatomical terms – Latin  Medical terms are formed from word: Roots Prefixes Suffixes Combining vowels/forms
  4. 4. Medical Terminology Deciphering “Medspeak”  Root – the foundation of the word, can be combined with a prefix or suffix  Prefix – place before the root to modify its meaning  Suffix – placed after the root to modify and give essential meaning to the root  Combining form – root with a combining vowel attached (e.g. lip/o-); o is the most common combining vowel
  5. 5. Medical Terminology Deciphering “Medspeak”  In deciphering medical terms, it is best to look first at the meaning of the suffix, then at the meaning of the root and prefix Example: hyperlipoproteinemia hyper- (prefix) – excessive lip- (root) – fat o (vowel used to create a combining form, lipo-) protein (root) – protein -emia (suffix) – blood condition Hyperlipoproteinemia – a blood condition, characterized by an excessive amount of fat and protein
  6. 6. Medical Terminology Deciphering “Medspeak” Example: pericarditis peri- (prefix) – around cardi (root) – heart -itis (suffix) – inflammation Pericarditis literally means “inflammation around the heart” but the dictionary states that this term means inflammation of the pericardium (-ium is a suffix meaning tissue), the sac that encloses the heart
  7. 7. Medical Terminology Deciphering “Medspeak”  Using a medical dictionary When the exact word for which you need a definition is not in the dictionary, look up the root word. Medical dictionaries use sub-entries heavily. You may find the exact word you are looking for listed under its root
  8. 8. Medical Terminology Deciphering “Medspeak” Example from Dorland’s Illustrated Medical Dictionary. Note the sub-entries. Kidney (kid´ ne) [L. ren; Gr. nephros] [MeSH: Kidney] either of the two organs in the lumbar region that filter the blood…The kidney consists of a cortex and a medulla abdominal k., an ectopic kidney situated above the iliac crest with the hilus adjacent to the second lumbar vertebra flea-bitten k., a kidney which has a small, randomly scattered petechiae on its surface, sometimes seen in bacterial endocarditis.
  9. 9. Medical Terminology Deciphering “Medspeak”  If the exact word you were looking for isn’t a sub-entry, look up the word’s prefixes and suffixes. Common medical prefixes and suffixes will have main entries.
  10. 10. Pop Quiz  On page 2 of your Medical Terminology handout, there are some exercises.  Using the tables of prefixes, suffixes, and roots on the following pages find the meanings of the words on the bottom of page 2.
  11. 11. Medical Reference Interactions
  12. 12. In Public Libraries…  NLM discovered during a pilot project that 6-20% of reference requests were health- related  Even when the number of reference requests was low, the health-related requests tended to be among the most time-intensive
  13. 13. Many Hospital Libraries…  Are not open to the public  Do not have information that is written for the general public – information is not at a level that the average consumer can understand  Many members of the general public do not know that there is such a thing as a hospital library
  14. 14. What are some of the issues for patrons who come to the library for health information?  No library or research skills  Expecting to find information that addresses their own unique problems  Come in with misinformation or inadequate information  Difficultly interpreting conflicting information  No skills in evaluating the quality of information
  15. 15. What are some of the issues for patrons who come to the library for health information?  Exhibiting intense emotion  Inability to present the problem clearly  Unreasonable expectations regarding the information that can be provided  Confusion about the library’s role  Others...
  16. 16. What are the issues for library staff in providing health information?  Not always familiar with resources that would best answer the question  Language/vocabulary in medical texts might be too difficult for patrons to read/understand  Time-consuming  Afraid of giving the wrong answer  Afraid of giving “medical advice”  Others…
  17. 17. The Reference Interview  Provide a “safe”, private place for your reference interviews  Use terms like “You must be worried,” or “This must be difficult”  Maintain confidentiality  Know the limits of your collection  Do not interpret medical information  Do not speak from personal experience or knowledge
  18. 18. 3 Little Words  I  Don’t  Know  Or, I can’t get that information for you  Don’t be afraid to refer the person back to his/her health care provider
  19. 19. Drugs, Supplements, and other fancy stuff  MedlinePlus.gov is a great starting place!
  20. 20. Drugs, Supplements, and other fancy stuff  www.eckerd.com FREE access to the Multimedia Gold Standard database Includes drug interactions Includes pill images Includes herbal supplements Go to the “Drug Advisor” section
  21. 21. Drugs, Supplements, and other fancy stuff  www.drugdigest.com Similar to Eckerd, but less “commercial” feeling Includes both drugs and herbs Has interactions and pill images Added feature – drug comparisons
  22. 22. Drugs, Supplements, and other fancy stuff  www.labtestsonline.com A slightly different angle Produced by a collaboration of professional societies in the lab community Peer-reviewed, non-commercial, patient- centered Search by test or by condition
  23. 23. What about those news stories your patrons are hearing and reading?
  24. 24. Be careful about reading health books. You might die of a misprint. --Mark Twain
  25. 25. Health Care Journalists Special thanks to Sanjay Bhatt, staff writer at the Seattle Times, for helping to provide information for this presentation!
  26. 26. The Challenges for Journalists  Understanding the clinical science and epidemiology  Dealing with powerful vested interests  Sometimes treatments are overplayed as “cures” or as better than older, less expensive medicines  Misleading with statistics – absolute risk vs. relative risk (we’ll talk about this later)  Reporting on a researcher announcing a breakthrough on a research project – find out later researcher is a paid consultant for a drug co.
  27. 27. The Challenges for Journalists  Have to rely solely on what the scientists are telling them or on a PR agency that is providing information (in a press release, for example)  Commercial pressures and deadlines that give little time to reflect on stories, many of which are written on the same day as a press release
  28. 28. Where Do Librarians Fit In?  At bigger newspapers and news agencies, there are librarians on staff Help with research to find resources to prove or disprove a theory Provide access to studies/articles that reporter may have heard about
  29. 29. There’s Hope!  Association of Health Care Journalists  www.ahcj.umn.edu  Serve as a training arm for reporters and editors  Advocate for greater access to information that will serve the public  Hold national conferences yearly – 2006 meeting will include a librarian on a panel!  Hold workshops and produce reporting guides throughout the year  Developing a starter’s guide for journalists new to health
  30. 30. The Scientist’s Point of View Derived from a lecture by Maynard Olson of the Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Center: “The Social Responsibility of Science” August 11, 2005
  31. 31. The Scientist’s Point of View  “Hype, Hope, and Money” – How do they interact? Our culture loves triumphs (hope) as well as controversy and scandal (hype) Most of science fall into neither of these categories However, the media will almost invariably crowbar stories about science into one of these worlds -- or better yet a combination of them
  32. 32. The Scientist’s Point of View  Show me the money! Public/private competition speeds things up, but one effect is that the public’s expectations about the short-term practical pay-off of basic research becomes distorted.
  33. 33. The Scientist’s Point of View  How do scientists communicate with the larger public? How to communicate a realistic message to society about the limitations -- maybe even the failures -- of science to alleviate problems about which people are deeply concerned. The business of science is to provide reliable, accurate descriptions of the natural world, not to deliver good or bad news.
  34. 34. The Scientist’s Point of View  On the other hand, “Scientists shouldn’t be jerks.”  One issue in reporting on science is that an entire interview gets boiled down to a few words.
  35. 35. Keeping All This In Mind… How can we “read between the lines?”
  36. 36. What to Watch For…  Headlines are intended to draw attention to an article, not to summarize conclusions  Look for the names and affiliation of the scientists responsible for research  Does the article mention where and when the study has been or will be published?  Who funded the study? (This is important!)  Are results from animal studies?
  37. 37. What to Watch For…  Reports from medical conferences – be cautious! “At conferences, researchers often present preliminary findings that can be quite tantalizing, but that may or may not pan out” Source: “How to Get Beyond Headlines and Hype to Find Answers You Can Use” Lifetime Fitness, November/December 2003
  38. 38. Go Back to the Source!  Many articles draw from mainstream medical journals such as JAMA New England Journal of Medicine Annals of Internal Medicine  Most of these are available through the databases many of you most likely subscribe to:  Health & Wellness Resource Center (Gale)  ProQuest  EBSCOhost
  39. 39. Health Stories in the Media  Accuracy Is there a discrepancy between the claim and the research? (ex: “Stem Cells Cure Arthritis!” vs. “Stem Cells Put Women’s Arthritis in Remission”) Are there footnotes, bibliographies, or references so that you can verify the information?
  40. 40. Health Stories in the Media  Accuracy Does the report give numbers and statistics in context so you can determine their relevance? Has this study been repeated by anyone else? Does the story state the evidence upon which the material is based? Are opinions or advice presented as “evidence based?”
  41. 41. Health Stories in the Media  Authority Was the article published in a peer-reviewed journal? If so, it has more credibility than when posted on a website or a brochure. Use PubMed to find other articles published by researchers being quoted – are they an expert?
  42. 42. Health Stories in the Media  Coverage How many people participated in the study? What kinds of people were in the study? How long was the study? Has there been time to determine possible side effects?
  43. 43. Health Stories in the Media  Types of articles: Case studies – Describe and discuss the clinical aspects of an individual with a disease. Such articles may also present unusual or unexpected cases.
  44. 44. Health Stories in the Media  Types of articles  Research articles– Discuss the effects in humans of various interventions that have been tested. May be about many different types of studies that are conducted on humans (or animals).  Review articles – Present the information known to date about a disease. Author has reviewed the literature and provides a summary article.
  45. 45. Go Back to the Source!  When you need to track down the full citation of an article, use PubMed! Single Citation Matcher is just the ticket!
  46. 46. Health Stories in the Media  Hot off the press! www.HealthNewsReview.org  Free and open to consumers.  Created by University of Minnesota journalism professor Gary Schwitzer.  Reviewers will monitor top newspapers, magazines and other media outlets, including The Associated Press, and rate their coverage of health issues.
  47. 47. Health Stories in the Media  To get more information go to: MedlinePlus – Health Topic “Understanding Medical Research” medlineplus.gov National Institute on Aging – “Understanding Risk: What do Those Headlines Really Mean?” www.niapublications.org/engagepages/risk.asp Glossary of Clinical Trials Terms www.clinicaltrials.gov/ct/info/glossary
  48. 48. Thank You! Gail Kouame gmarie@u.washington.edu (206)221-3449

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