Speaking Together: National Language Services Network, a project funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), is helping 10 hospitals nationwide identify, test and assess strategies to effectively provide language services to patients with limited English proficiency (LEP). The project description document is available on the RWJF website.
New Project to Study how Hospitals Provide Language Services
New Report of Racial/Ethnic Disparities in US Children
A study published earlier this month in Pediatrics highlights disparities in medical and oral health among children in the United States.
“Certain disparities are particularly marked for specific minority groups, and appreciation of these noteworthy disparities may be useful for clinicians, health systems, and policy makers addressing the needs of diverse populations. More than one third of Latino children had suboptimal (not excellent or very good) health status, and more than one half had suboptimal condition of the teeth, the highest proportions of any group, and Latino children had approximately double the adjusted odds of white children of suboptimal health status and teeth condition. As has been documented in several other studies over 3 decades, Latino children had the highest prevalence of being uninsured, at 21%, and double the adjusted odds of uninsurance compared with white children. Approximately one third of Latino children had no usual source of medical care and one-third encountered a problem getting specialty care, and Latino children had significantly greater adjusted odds than white children of no usual source of medical care, not getting all of their needed prescription medications, and having problems getting specialty care.”
New Research on Dental Fillings and Children
This month, the Journal of the American Dental Association published an article, “Neurological outcomes in children with and without amalgam-related mercury exposure: Seven years of longitudinal observations in a randomized trial” which adds to the growing body of evidence that shows mercury-containing dental fillings do not cause harm to children’s brains.
Lauterbach M, Martins IP, Castro-Caldas A, Bernardo M, Luis H, Amaral H, Leitão J, Martin MD, Townes B, Rosenbaum G, Woods JS, Derouen T. J Am Dent Assoc. 2008 Feb; 139(2): 138-45.
New Research on Public Health Educator Competencies
In the October 2008 issue of Preventing Chronic Disease new research on the competentices of public health educator competencies was released. The research article, Assessing the Professional Development Needs of Public Health Educators in Light of Changing Competencies, “compared the self-identified training needs of public health educators with the updated competencies and assessed employer support for continuing education.” The study identified three areas of training topics for public health educators: organization development, evaluation, and management.
Preventing Chronic Disease is a free peer-reviewed journal from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The October issue is focused on The Brownsville-Matamoros Sister City Project for Women’s Health.
Demers AR, Mamary E. Assessing the professional development needs of public health educators in light of changing competencies. Prev Chronic Dis 2008;5(4). http://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2008/
Parent/family-centered interventions and Hispanic youth risk behavior
A recent Science Update from the National Institute of Mental Health highlights a new study that appears in the Dec 2007 issue of the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. The study suggests that interventions focused on strengthening the family system, including interventions with parents to encourage involvement and improved communication, may be more effective in reducing Hispanic teen risk behaviors than interventions that target those behaviors specifically. University of Miami researchers randomly assigned Hispanic eighth-graders and their primary caregivers to one of three combined interventions for a period of one year:
- Familias Unidas plus Parent-Preadolescent Training for HIV Prevention (PATH)
- English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) plus PATH
- ESOL plus HeartPower for Hispanics, an American Heart Association program
“Familias Unidas plus PATH was designed to promote positive adolescent development by increasing parental involvement and teaching more effective parental communication techniques. The program was designed to be more consistent with Hispanic cultural expectations, in which life is family-centered and vital to an individual’s emotional support. PATH is designed to specifically increase parent-adolescent communication about sexual behavior and HIV risks, but it does not target family dynamics specifically. HeartPower for Hispanics is designed to encourage healthier behaviors among Hispanic youth to reduce obesity and heart disease risks.”
Assessments at midway through the intervention year, at the end of the intervention year, and one and two years afterwards showed that the Familias Unidas + PATH intervention was:
- more effective than either of the other two in reducing cigarette use,
- more effective than ESOL + HeartPower in reducing illicit drug use, and
- more effective than ESOL + PATH in reducing unsafe sexual behavior.
The researchers caution that Mexican-Americans, which represent the majority of Hispanic residents of the US, were not well-represented in their study, so they encourage further study of the effectiveness of family-centered interventions among Mexican-Americans before generalizing the results to the wider US Hispanic population — certainly an opportunity for researchers here in South Texas.
Prado G, Pantin H, Briones E, Schwartz SJ, Feaster D, Huang S, Sullivan S, Tapia MI, Sabillon E, Lopez B, Szapocznik J. A randomized controlled trial of a parent-centered intervention in prevention substance use and HIV risk behavior in Hispanic adolescents. J Consult Clin Psychol. 2007 Dec; 75(6): 914-926. doi: 10.1037/0022-006X.75.6.914 PubMed link
Partnering for a Difference in Nueces County
The UT Health Science Center-San Antonio, in conjunction with the South Texas Colonia Initiative, is training a group of Nueces County colonias residents about health risks and resources, in hope they will spread the information with others. Health concerns being addressed through the program include hypertension, obesity, renal failure and early detection of different forms of cancer. Similar programs along the Texas-Mexico border have helped decrease cardiovascular disease and complications from diabetes.
Dr. Thelma Hurd, a surgical oncologist with the UT Health Science Center, is involved in training the community volunteers, who will hopefully be able to spread the information on the resources and assistance avaible to those in need. In Dr. Hurd’s words….”We educate the community and give them the skills to educate the rest of the community”.
School librarians at Med High in Mercedes, Texas have led a project sponsored by the National Library of Medicine to promote the role of high school students as “peer tutors.” This model program relies on students to promote better access to health information in their communities. An article about an earlier, related collaboration with the UT Health Science Center is available free online.
Personal electronic health records
Recent news headlines have given us a foretaste of what may prove to be a major healthcare issue in coming years: personal electronic health records. Many eyes have been on the developing Google Health project for months now, but earlier this month Microsoft managed to jump out to an apparent lead over Google when it introduced Microsoft HealthVault (coverage from AFP and from IHT).
Obviously, there’s quite a bit of potential here — both for good and for problems. As librarians and information professionals, we need to get involved in helping our patrons — doctors and the patients who trust them — to understand the risks and benefits, particularly in terms of the privacy implications. Lauren Weinstein wrote a recent blog post looking at those issues, and Jon Udell specifically proposes the idea of “translucent” medical records — which would be stored online but encrypted using public key cryptography, so that even if a 3rd party could compel a service provider to release those records, they could not be opened and viewed without the patient’s participation.
Keep an eye out for more news as this issue grows, is debated and developed further!
Racial Categories in Medical Practice
Two thought-provoking articles in the September 2007 PLoS Medicine take a look at the problematic use of “racial profiling” in medical treatment and discuss whether racial categories still have a useful place in medical treatment decisions or not.
- Braun L, Fausto-Sterling A, Fullwiley D, Hammonds EM, Nelson A, et al. Racial categories in medical practice: how useful are they? PLoS Medicine [Internet]. 2007 Sep; 4(9):e271. Available from: http://tinyurl.com/2geaw7 DOI:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040271
- Ellison GTH, Smart A, Tutton R, Outram SM, Ashcroft R, et al. Racial categories in medicine: a failure of evidence-based practice? PLoS Medicine [Internet]. 2007 Sep; 4(9):e287. Available from: http://tinyurl.com/3c8f9f DOI:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040287
Thanks to Siobhan for pointing out these articles.
Report of skin cancer awareness and risk behaviors among Hispanic youth
From the August 2007 issue of the Archives of Dermatology: