Sunday, July 19, 2015

Slate: Are GMOs Safe? Yes.

So there's quite an article at Slate right now about GM foods. You can check it out here. I initially clicked on the story expecting to find a short little article, instead it's an incredibly lengthy dive into GM foods and some of the arguments for and against them.

I was really impressed with the ability of the article to weave together some useful narratives, a ton of external references and links, and try to be as even-handed as possible.

On the plus side, I love any kind of thorough journalistic dive into a complex topic.

On the down side, I'm not sure if it will really change many minds. It's hard to imagine anyone who was against GM foods really "flipping" as the result of this kind of article.

Anyway, it's a well-written piece that is worth the time to read. And I'm sure folks doing health comm work in journalism or related to GM foods will be particularly interested.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Results From a National Survey of Health Communication Master's Degree Recipients: An Exploration of Training, Placement, Satisfaction, and Success

I've been working on some stuff related to health communication education, so this article (Results From a National Survey of Health Communication Master's Degree Recipients: An Exploration of Training, Placement, Satisfaction, and Success) has been a huge help.

The abstract is:
The field of health communication has seen substantial growth in recent years, but existing health communication research literature contains little information on individuals who practice health communication in applied settings. This study reports the results of a national survey that targeted the alumni of 5 institutions that offer a master's degree in health communication. Of the 522 total graduates to whom the survey was sent, 398 responded. Survey results provided information in a number of areas including undergraduate education background; criteria used to determine what type of master's degree in health communication to pursue; strategies used to gain employment; employment sector of first job after graduation; salaries received after completion of a master's degree in health communication; satisfaction with career choice after completion of master's degree; satisfaction with type of master's degree in health communication received; satisfaction with career choice after completion of master's degree; and the degree to which respondents felt their master's program in health communication prepared them to meet core competencies in the field. These findings have significant implications for the health communication field and the programs that prepare individuals for a career as a health communication practitioner.
If you're interested in the field, and specifically how we're training health communication professionals, it's definitely worth your time to read. Go check it out at JOHC!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

The Coach in the Operating Room

There is a recent article in the New Yorker (The Coach in the Operating Room) which I absolutely loved for any number of reasons.

The short version: It's about how Atul Gawande realized that he had plateaued as a surgeon and wanted to figure out how he could keep improving. He decided to embrace coaching.

As for the reasons I loved this...

  • I think Atul Gawande is an amazing writer. His Checklist Manifesto is a wonderful book. He was involved with FRONTLINE's Being Mortal. In this case, I love the fact that he was interested enough and self-aware enough of his own potential and performance to be so interested in continual improvement. 
  • I played hockey and roller hockey from the time I was 5 up through finishing up at Michigan State, and I had coaches all along the way. (I still play, but men's leagues teams don't have coaches.)  One of my very best ice hockey coaches was the reason I went to MSU, actually. Great coaches can have a tremendous impact on performance and life, I know this.
  • I'm really interested in peer observation for faculty at UT, to help improve performance - both for faculty professional development and to improve student learning.
Anyway, go check out the New Yorker article - it's well worth your time.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Thoughts on the UT Health Communication Leadership Institute

Last week from Wednesday to Friday was a simply amazing event from the UT Center for Health Communication - its first Health Communication Leadership Institute.  It was a tremendous series of speakers and sessions, and I had the good fortune to lead the case study that wrapped up the first and second afternoon.

If you're interested in seeing what people were tweeting about during the event, you can search the Twitter hashtag from the conference: #UTHCLI

While the entire event was great, I think my favorite part was the conclusion where each participant talked about what they got out of it. The 40+ participants had a range of things to share, from knowledge gained to new connections with colleagues to a renewed sense of passion for working in health communication.

Go check that Twitter feed, and then plan on coming next summer!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

UT Center for Health Communication: Health Communication Leadership Institute

Starting this evening with a reception and for the rest of the week I'll be pretty busy with the UT Center for Health Communication's Health Communication Leadership Institute. It's a great mix of presenters and a really awesome audience. I can't wait to be part of this event. If you're interested in following along on Twitter, the hashtag is going to be: #UTHCLI.  

I'll likely post some content here about what we do during the HCLI, too. Here we go...!

Wednesday, June 10, 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

A new article I'm a co-author on is out at Health Communication. The article is Sharing Health Information and Influencing Behavioral Intentions: The Role of Health Literacy, Information Overload, and the Internet in the Diffusion of Healthy Heart Information. I love this project, because it was a great partnership among faculty and grad students from different departments and a local partner.

The abstract is:
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.
So excited to see this out!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Public Health Translation Gone Wrong

I've had this in my email for a bit, but I was busy with the end of the semester, the start of a new summer session, and work on a couple grants.

Anyway, a colleague sent me a great blog post about the CDC missing the mark on a translation. The post is here.

Having examples like this is always good for teaching, especially since the CDC fixed the problem.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

A Big Study Retraction

So remember just recently when I wrote about This American Life doing part of a show on how you can get people to change their minds?  It was two weeks ago here.

Well, I saw the news this morning that the study that story was based on has been retracted due to fabricated data. There are stories about it here and here.


Wednesday, May 20, 2015


For those reading this blog from Texas, you should check out the IT'S TIME TEXAS summit. It's June 15-16 in Austin. You can learn more about the summit at:

If you use the discount code UTAUSTIN, you can get 25% off the registration fee, too. Come join us!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Cancer Grand Rounds at MD Anderson

I had an awesome opportunity yesterday to give a Cancer Grand Rounds presentation at MD Anderson. The entire trip to MD Anderson for this - dinner the night before with faculty and then meetings before and after the talk with faculty, staff, and trainees - was fantastic.

This was my first chance to visit MD Anderson, so before this my awareness and knowledge of what they do was by news reports and general reputation. This is especially the case since I haven't done much work (yet) related to cancer.

I was incredibly impressed with the thoughtfulness with which everyone I talked to puts into constantly improving care for MD Anderson patients and research into how to prevent and treat cancer. I was asked to talk about health literacy, so a lot of the conversations centered on the awareness that while they're already doing a great job, improved communication is essential for improving care - and that comes on both the provider and the patient side of things.

My actual talk focused partly on health literacy and clear communication, since that was what I was technically originally asked to talk about. But then I also took the chance to talk about building effective messages - a simple message doesn't do much good if people aren't engaged with it and it doesn't promote behavior change. This has been one of the greatest benefits to me of landing in a School of Advertising & Public Relations, helping me balance that importance of persuasion and engagement with health education.

It was a great trip to MD Anderson, and I'm hoping it leads to a lot of great research and new projects down the road.