Last week, the National Cancer Institute (NCI, a part of the National Institutes of Health) released Cancer Communication: Health Information National Trends Survey 2003 and 2005 [full text PDF], a report based on data from the Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS), a survey done every other year by NCI. Findings showed that among Americans seeking health information in general or information about cancer specifically, the Internet remains a frequent first source — however, trust in online health information has declined, while trust in information received from healthcare professionals has increased. Major findings are summarized in this press release.
Staying Well. Connected.
Health Information National Trends Survey
A pair of resources for patients
Two recent articles highlighted some resources that may provide helpful support for patients going through difficult illness experiences. The first was a post on an knowledge management blog I follow that recommended a new blog called In Sickness and In Health, “a place for couples going though an illness experience – to find resources and advice, hear stories, and discover support. Whether the illness is chronic or acute, the result of disease or accident, couples can learn strategies for coping with the changes illness brings into our relationships and our worlds.” Blog host Barbara Kivowitz brings her personal experiences as a psychotherapist and as a patient with chronic pain syndrome to her writing.
The second was an article in today’s McAllen Monitor that describes the McAllen chapter of Us Too, a support group and resource for men with prostate cancer and their families. The article indicates the McAllen chapter meets monthly and now has about 50 members, including founder Bob Wright of the South Texas Health System and McAllen mayor Richard Cortez, both prostate cancer survivors.
More on traveling to Mexico for health care
As a follow up on my earlier post about Texans traveling to Mexico for health care, here are two additional recent articles: one from KENS-5 San Antonio (15 August), another from the Washington Post (18 June). Although both focus on dental care, the Washington Post article refers to a couple of interesting-sounding studies that deal with health care and border residents:
In a recent University of Texas study, 86 percent of low-income El Paso residents surveyed — half of whom were illegal immigrants — said they receive medical care or buy prescription drugs from Mexico. Similarly, a study published in the Pan-American Journal of Health [sic] found that more than 37 percent of uninsured New Mexico border residents get medical care in Mexico.
The second study referred to there appears to be the following:
Escobedo LG, Cardenas VM. Utilization and purchase of medical care services in Mexico by residents in the United States of America, 1998-1999 [Utilización y compra de servicios médicos en México por personas que viven en los Estados Unidos de América, 1998-1999]. Pan American Journal of Public Health May 2006;19(5):300-305.
I have not yet identified the University of Texas study referred to in the Washington Post article.
Texas has highest percentage of uninsured: Census Bureau
Today the US Census Bureau released the Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2006 report [PDF]. As shown in Table 8 on page 25 of that report (page 32 of the PDF), Texas has the highest percentage of uninsured people of any US state, using a three-year average of 2004-2006 data — 24.1%, or over 5.5 million Texans. Census Bureau press release here.
NINDS Announces Effort to Promote Stroke Awareness in the Hispanic Community
From the press release: “The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), announced the launch of a new community education program, which broadens the Institute’s national stroke education campaign Know Stroke. Know the Signs. Act in Time. to promote stroke awareness among Hispanics in the United States. The program’s key component is a toolkit, Ataque cerebral: conozca los síntomas y actúe a tiempo, that can be used by promotores de salud (lay health educators) in charlas (health talks) to educate their communities about the signs of stroke and the importance of calling 911 promptly to receive appropriate medical treatment.”
Contraband toys as a public health risk
The recent recall of Mattel toys due to high lead content has garnered a lot of public attention, to be sure — but recalls are impossible in cases where the toys themselves are smuggled, pirated or contraband. A recent article from Inter Press News Service cites business estimates and studies suggesting that over half of the toys on the market in Mexico are contraband or illegal copies, a figure the article sets at 25% for Brazil and in a similar range for other countries across Latin America. Even as Latin American countries try to set higher standards for quality and safety for imported products such as toys, they acknowledge that the possible safety threat posed by contraband items is difficult for them to address. Read the story from Tierramérica in English or in Spanish.
Web tools to analyze & track diet, exercise
The Learning 2.1 blog from the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County introduces two online tools that can be used to look up and/or keep track of calories (and nutrients) consumed, calories burned, and progress toward a personal target weight. Both tools — FitDay and Nutridiary — are web-based, and both require you to create a free account associated with a profile of your height, weight, and lifestyle activity level that are used to help create estimates of daily metabolic and lifestyle calories burned. Then you can add information about your daily activities and food consumption to find out how many calories (and essential nutrients) you took in and how many calories you burned in activity. You can use these tools as quick occasional references, or you can actually chart your progress over time if you maintain the information on an ongoing basis. Librarian Joy Moll has also reviewed Nutridiary and reviewed FitDay on her blog. In addition, you might also want to consider the US government’s contribution to the effort — MyPyramidTracker is a free online tool from the USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion.
Nueces County Medical Society and Alliance Health Fair
The 42nd Annual Health Fair, sponsored by the Nueces County Medical Society and Alliance, will be held on Saturday, August 25, 2007, 8 am – 3 pm, at the American Bank Center Exhibit Hall, 1901 N Shoreline Blvd in Corpus Christi. Over 180 booths will be available for the public to visit: parents can sign kids up for Medicaid and CHIP, students can receive free school physicals, the American Heart Association will offer CPR training, and the public has the opportunity to receive a variety of free tests including glucose, cholesterol, vision, hearing, glaucoma, EKGs, skin cancer, and breast screens.
Obesity: is the answer a return to traditional foods?
A recent story in the McAllen Monitor explains how the Latino Nutrition Coalition is advocating the return to traditional cultural foods as a method to combat the obesity epidemic in the United States. The supermarket guide produced by the Latino Nutrition Coalition, Camino Mágico, is a visual guide that can help consumers make healthier choices while shopping. In Spanish, it explains how to read nutrition labels as well as providing ideas for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.
Study finds VA needs to expand specialty care in Lower Valley
Veterans in the lower Rio Grande Valley have long advocated for a VA hospital to be built in that area to alleviate the need for them to travel hours to San Antonio’s Audie Murphy VA Hospital for services. However, a new comprehensive study, presented at the Regional Academic Health Center (RAHC) in Harlingen yesterday, indicates that 98 percent of Lower Valley veterans’ trips to Audie Murphy Hospital are for specialty care — such as cancer treatment, endocrinology, neurology, obstetrics and outpatient surgery — instead of inpatient care. Based on that study, the VA is recommending that the the 34,000 square-foot South Texas VA Health Center, due to be completed in December 2007 adjacent to the RAHC, be expanded to a facility nearly four-and-a-half times that size by 2010, with a focus on specialized services. The recommendations also include contracting with local hospitals for inpatient care and health screenings, and expansion of specialty-care services at the VA outpatient clinic in McAllen. This article from Harlingen’s Valley Morning Star covers the announcement and some of the initial reactions it has received.