Thursday, February 19, 2015

University of Texas Center for Health Communication

I've written here before about the new Center for Health Communication at UT, but I don't think I had shared the new website as it gets up and running. For those interested in health communication at UT, you can learn more about the Center and what's going on at: http://moody.utexas.edu/healthcomm

The Center is going to be a great resource for those at UT doing work in this area, and it has tremendous potential to contribute broadly to the field. I couldn't be more excited about the Center and what it will do in the coming years.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Sharing Health Information and Influencing Behavioral Intentions: The Role of Health Literacy, Information Overload, and the Internet in the Diffusion of Healthy Heart Information

It's always an exciting moment when a new article comes out, especially at a journal like Health Communication. Today I got the e-mail that our article, Sharing Health Information and Influencing Behavioral Intentions: The Role of Health Literacy, Information Overload, and the Internet in the Diffusion of Healthy Heart Information, is now online. 

From the abstract: 
Low health literacy remains an extremely common and problematic issue, given that individuals with lower health literacy are more likely to experience health challenges and negative health outcomes. In this study, we use the first three stages of the innovation-decision process found in the theory of diffusion of innovations (Rogers, 2003). We incorporate health literacy into a model explaining how perceived health knowledge, information sharing, attitudes, and behavior are related. Results show that health information sharing explains 33% of the variance in behavioral intentions, indicating that the communicative practice of sharing information can positively impact health outcomes. Further, individuals with high health literacy tend to share less information about heart health than those with lower health literacy. Findings also reveal that perceived heart-health knowledge operates differently than health literacy to predict health outcomes.
Go check it out!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Vaccines, Vaccines, Vaccines... *sigh*

So unless you've been living under a rock for the last couple weeks, you've heard and seen a lot of media coverage about measles and vaccines in the U.S.

I couldn't believe a couple days ago when a few politicians were talking about this as a parent's right to choose. A reporter (on NPR or APM, I think) asked a guest whether vaccines might become a partisan issue. I can't even imagine how I'll cope with the concept of vaccination becoming a partisan issue.

Anyway, while there is an immediate problem to solve, I am also really excited for the field of health communication about research that is going to be emerging at NCA, ICA, etc. over the next year or so.  The Ebola outbreak and this new vaccine/measles news is bringing people to these areas who might otherwise not have done much in health communication, which strikes me as a good thing - fresh ideas come from new people thinking about these issues. I'm also sure that people who already work in health communication might come to this as a topic who otherwise might not have, with findings that might have much broader implications for health and risk communication.

I'm not planning any projects on these topics right now, but I am certainly excited to see what others will be sharing in the coming months.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Save the Date: 7th Annual Health Literacy Research Conference

This e-mail came in a while ago, but I wanted to spread the word to save the date for HARC on November 2-3, 2015. The deadline for submissions is February 13 for articles to be potentially included in the Journal of Health Communication. More info is available on the HARC website here.

I had the chance to go to this a few years ago and loved it. The timing didn't work out the last two years, but I'm hoping to hit HARC again this fall.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

E-Health Event in Lisbon

Just wanted to share something I'm excited about...  I'm doing work on an e-health project with colleagues here at UT-Austin but also at a university in Portugal.  One of my brilliant advisees, Allison Lazard, will be sharing our work at the event which leads this newsletter from the UT-Austin|Portugal International Collaboratory for Emerging Technologies. I was ecstatic to receive the funding support, this project is getting back to my e-health roots in an exciting way.


eHealth Researchers to Meet in Lisbon 
Several UT researchers specializing in health communication will fly to Lisbon this February to meet with their Portuguese colleagues and work on collaborative research projects first proposed last summer. The researchers include faculty members Jay Bernhardt, the Director of the Center for Health Communication; Keri Stephens of Communication Studies; Jacek Gwizdka of the School of Information; and Michael Mackert of the Stan Richards School of Advertising and Public Relations at UT, who is sending graduate student Allison Lazard as the team's representative. Sharon Strover of the UTA-Portugal Digital Media program, who organized the research meeting and grant process, will also attend. The Digital Media program is providing seed funding for the collaborative projects, which explore ways digital media can improve health communication. Topics include approaches to engaging men in prenatal communication, with principal investigators Mackert and Manuel José Damásio of the Lusophone University of Humanities and Technologies; using digital media to increase physical activity in dialysis patients, with PIs Stephens and Damásio; the use of smart watches to monitor health among users in the US and Portugal, led by PIs Bernhardt and Paulo Moreira of the New University of Lisbon School of Public Health; and improving understanding of how consumers search for and evaluate online health information, with PIs Gwizdka and Yan Zhang of UT Austin and Carla Teixeira Lopes of the University of Porto. 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

AHRQ Pharmacy Health Literacy Center

While I wasn't writing here this fall, I was flagging some things that I found to be interesting or potentially worth sharing here.  One of those was the AHRQ Pharmacy Health Literacy Center, which I first saw in an e-mail I received from AHRQ.

On the upside, I love their efforts to aggregate and disseminate tools to help pharmacies and pharmacists do a better job helping lower health literate patients. I did a project with UT's on campus clinic years ago related to health literacy, and one of the student teams really focused on the pharmacy as a place to make a real impact. The pharmacist who was there as part of the audience/client team really liked it and agreed the pharmacy was a place they could do a better job and providers would be excited to learn some of this information.

On the downside, they define "pharmacy health literacy" as: Pharmacy health literacy is the degree to which individuals are able to obtain, process, and understand basic health and medication information and pharmacy services needed to make appropriate health decisions.

I don't get quite why health information in a pharmacy is so different from other kinds of health information that it needs its own specific kind of health literacy. Is looking up information online about a drug (for example) very different from looking up information about a chronic condition?  In both cases you need to search for information, judge quality of the source, understand what it's saying, etc.

I've talked about this at conferences and with colleagues, and I have an article coming out on this topic, too.  (I'll write more on the topic when that comes out in press, don't want to spoil the surprise...)  So for now I'll just say that I think putting every single context, population, of health condition in front of the term health literacy is a problematic trend for the field.

That concern aside, the AHRQ Pharmacy Health Literacy Center looks like a great tool - go check it out!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Back to Finish 2014

I didn't write here much in the last few months, as this past semester was occupied by a couple big grant proposal submissions and the arrival of a new baby boy. (One of those was a lot more fun than the others. All involved less sleep than I'd prefer.)

Anyway, I had a couple articles come out recently that I wanted to point people to...

Street Crossing: Observational Research and Developing Health Communication Strategies: This is an article at Communication Teacher which describes a project I use with advertising students to teach research methods, audience segmentation, and health promotion message design. It's a teaching-oriented piece which I really enjoyed working on, in part because I love that project when I do it with students.

The Role of Implied Motion in Engaging Audiences for Health Promotion: Encouraging Naps on a College Campus: This article is an investigation of the role of implied motion as a technique for engaging audiences in health promotion messages. One of my favorite parts of this project is how we managed to merge a campus health promotion need with an interesting communication research question.

I'll be back much more frequently as 2015 gets going!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Perceptions of Substance Abuse on College Campuses: Proximity to the Problem, Stigma, and Health Promotion

A recent study I conducted is out at the Journal of Social Work Practice in the Addictions, which grew from a partnership with the UT Center for Students in Recovery.  The study, Perceptions of Substance Abuse on College Campuses: Proximity to the Problem, Stigma, and Health Promotion, looks at college students' perceptions of stigma around substance abuse and recovery.

The abstract is:
For college students recovering from substance addiction, the path to sobriety is fraught with challenges. Many campuses offer recovery support resources, but students indicate stigma associated with recovery prevents them from using these services. This problem could be ameliorated through communication campaigns addressing misperceptions of substance abuse and recovery. The purpose of this study was to understand how students’ perceptions of addiction and recovery vary based on their experience and background. A quantitative survey was employed to examine stigma beliefs among 2 subpopulations of college students at a large Southwestern university. Findings indicate students with exposure to issues surrounding substance abuse and recovery held fewer stigmatized beliefs, emphasizing the importance of identifying and researching a target audience before developing a health promotion campaign.
This was a really rewarding project, and I'm excited to keep doing more work in this area in the coming years.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Health Comm Job Hunters: Sign up for CRTNET!

For anyone out there looking for academic health communication jobs that aren't already signed up for CRTNET, head there now!  It's the time of year for position announcements, and there have been plenty of interesting looking health comm jobs out there. Just a tip, if you aren't already on that e-mail list.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Health Communication Professional Association Survey

There's a survey being administered by the Center for Health Communication at the University of Texas at Austin to assess the state of the field of health communication and the need for a professional society or organization. If you're interested in sharing your thoughts, please take it here.