Staying Well. Connected.
Celebra La Vida Con Salud
National Next of Kin Registry
The National Next of Kin Registry (http://www.nokr.org) is a free emergency contact system to help if you or a family member is missing, injured, or dies. NOKR provides the public a free proactive service to store emergency contacts, next of kin, and vital medical information that would be critical to emergency response agencies. The information is made available securely to registered emergency agencies during times of urgent need.
Clinical Research Facility Dedicated
A gathering of UT Health Science Center at San Antonio officials, legislators, and state and local leaders gathered in Harlingen on Thursday, Nov. 29 for the dedication ceremony at the Regional Academic Health Center’s Academic and Clinical Research Building. The facility, which encompasses 80,000 square feet, will house a clinical research facility and veterans clinic.
Initial research being conducted at the facility will include a major diabetes study, and data gathering for the National Children’s Study. In addition, the South Texas Veterans Health Care System will lease space for an outpatient clinic.
Officials have stated that the facilities “will help bring more medical residents to programs at the RAHC and set the stage for more doctors to practice here”. It is truly a beneficial element of both the research and patient community.
CDC Epidemiological Statistics Online: WONDER
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) WONDER (Wide-ranging Online Data for Epidemiologic Research) website is a menu-driven system that makes the information resources of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) available to public health professionals and the public at large.
WONDER provides access to statistical research data published by CDC, as well as reference materials, reports and guidelines on health-related topics. It also can query numeric data sets on CDC’s computers, using “fill-in-the blank” web pages. Public-use data sets include mortality, cancer incidence, HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis, vaccinations, births, census data and many other topics are available for query. Data are then readily summarized and analyzed, with dynamically calculated statistics, charts and maps.
Your Diabetes Is My Diabetes
Don’t miss this great story (also available in Spanish) from the DHHS Office of Minority Health about Manuel Hernández and the social networks he created for Latinos with diabetes — tudiabetes.com (in English) and estudiabetes.com (in Spanish). Both of those sites were created using a free online tool called Ning that provides a platform, infrastructure and hosting for user-created social networks. The story of tudiabetes.com (only eight months old and a vibrant community of over 1400 members) and estudiabetes.com (six months old, 178 members) shows the power of using Web 2.0 tools like Ning to create new kinds of online communities connecting people with common interests — like those who have been affected by a particular health condition — in all corners of the globe.
Funding Alerts from Texas DSHS
Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) sends weekly alerts about new funding opportunities, with a focus on support for public health projects: “Our mission is to help organizations in Texas pursue public health funding opportunities by disseminating funding information through the Funding Alert and our website. Our services are limited to clients living in Texas.”
Hunger in South Texas
The State of Hunger in South Texas 2007, which was released last week, includes data based on the population served by the South Texas Food Bank. The study includes statistics provided by federal Census data, by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission and information from charitable food providers. The counties covered in the report are Webb, Zapata, Jim Hogg, Dimmit, Maverick, Kinney, and Val Verde.
According to this report, residents who live in this area net an income of less than $9,000 a year on average. The residents of these counties suffer from a poverty rate that is triple the national average. The Food Bank helps more than 35,000 people a month and doles out about 7 million pounds of food every year. The report also found that 90% of the population served by the Food Bank suffers from chronic hunger – which is defined as needing charitable food more than four times in a single year.
The South Texas Food Bank is based in Laredo and it serves more than 35,655 persons per month, out of which 14,619 are children. One of the efforts of the group is to make hunger a public policy issue. According to their director, J.C. Dwyer, with the right amount of public investment and attention, hunger may be eliminated in these areas. Sen. Judith Zaffirini from Laredo hopes to educate Texans and find a way to prevent hunger in the first place.
HOPE exhibit in Laredo
On Wednesday, November 14, Julie and Linda, librarians at the UT Health Science Center exhibited at the 10th Annual Health Occupations Planning Exposition (HOPE) in Laredo, TX. They talked to over 100 high school and middle school students about medical librarianship and MedlinePlus™.
EpiLink on Stress Among Latino Adolescents
The Texas Department of Health published the semimonthly Disease Prevention News for many years, but publication stopped abruptly back in 2003 in the middle of Volume 63. Under the auspices of the new Texas Department of State Health Services’ Infectious Disease Control Unit (ICDU), publication resumed with Volume 64 Issue 1 in January 2007 and continuing on a roughly monthly publication schedule with a new name: EpiLink Online Bulletin.
An article from the November issue of EpiLink has received some attention in the Spanish-language press after coverage by the Mexican news agency Notimex. The paper in question, “Current perspectives on stress among Latino adolescents” [PDF full text] was prepared by Richard C Cervantes and colleagues for the Annual Conference of the National Hispanic Network on Drug Abuse which took place in September. The paper is a review of research into the stressful living conditions that disproportionately affect Latino youth — including poverty, lack of health insurance, high school drop-out rates, increasing health problems (e.g., obesity), high teenage pregnancy rates, sexually transmitted diseases, increasing rates of HIV infections, substance abuse, and violence — and the present and future effects of that increasing stress on the health of an entire generation of Latinos.
According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) (Freid et al., 2003), … the highest rates of suicide consideration (26.5%) were for female Latinas. Latino and Latina youth from 9th to 12th grade overall had higher rates of attempted suicide than any other group; the male students were at 8.0% while, again, the female Latina rates (15.9%) were much higher. In an older survey, injurious suicide attempt rates were higher for Latina females 4.2%, followed by Latino males (2.5%), and then African Americans (DHHS, 1990). A study conducted by Rew et al. (2001) revealed that Latina adolescents had the highest rate of suicide attempts compared to other ethnic-gender groups. In addition, Latinas in the study also had relatively high reports of sexual abuse and suicide attempts by family members and friends. Latinas also have alarmingly higher rates of depression (27%). Latinas were the second highest ethnic group to report depressive symptoms. Acculturation stress due to conflictive gender roles in adolescent Latinas is believed to be the driving force of their higher rates of stress, depression and suicidality (National Coalition of Hispanic Health and Human Services Organization, 1999).
Although the reference list for the review article is impressive and very helpful, it also lays out a compelling case for a more comprehensive research agenda for studying issues such as intergenerational differences in acculturation and their effect on intrafamilial stress, differences between the mental and physical health of “acculturated” vs. “bicultural” Latino adolescents, and the relationship of gender differences in Latino adolescents to stressors, coping skills, resiliency, and mental and physical health.
Here’s an example of the Notimex coverage in Spanish: “Adolescentes hispanos afectados por el estrés” from MetroLatinoUSA, 2007-11-21; and here’s a blog post that reprints English-language coverage of the report from the 2007-11-09 issue of the Rio Grande Guardian (unfortunately, the original article does not appear on the Guardian‘s site now).
A drug by any other name
A recent issue of Journal of General Internal Medicine includes an article with important findings for anyone who needs to know what medications their patients are taking: 40% of patients couldn’t remember what blood-pressure medication they were taking. Among people with lower health literacy, as many as 60% of patients weren’t sure what they were taking.
The full article is available online but requires a subscription. A recent article on Reuters Health News summarizes the findings and some of their implications.