Category: Health Communication

A Need to Address Student Stress

For both collegiate and graduate students, stress is a commonplace experience. Research findings are showing that students are experiencing anxiety at troubling and increasing rates. Nearly one in five American college students is burned with an anxiety disorder. Stress – specifically financial stress – is expected to be one of the factors underwriting this epidemic.

Although stress is traditionally defined as “how the brain and body respond to any demand”, particularly those which are negative – such as traumatic events, major life changes, etc. However, with stress can come a range of unexpected physical side effects. This includes but is not limited to: headaches, low energy, aches and pains and insomnia. Over time, when someone endures prolonged stress, it can lead to more serious consequences, such as anxiety and mental health deficits.

Experiencing some stress is a normal and necessary part of everyone’s lives. However, as mentioned above, excess stress can yield serious adverse health consequences. It’s important to keep one’s stress in balance, and healthline.com has provided a short list of ways to help reduce stress:

  • Talk about your stress to a friend, or family member
  • Listen to music
  • Eat nutritious food
  • Exercise
  • Be mindful
  • Get better sleep

 

https://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/anxiety-epidemic-hits-american-college-students-at-campuses-nationwide/

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/stress/index.shtml

https://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/stress-symptoms-effects_of-stress-on-the-body#2

https://www.healthline.com/health/10-ways-to-relieve-stress

 

 

 

Lack of Diversity in Fashion: impacts on mental health

Today, when one looks through the catalogues and social media accounts of many well-known fashion brands, homogeneity can be expected. When focusing specifically on women’s fashion, there is a major issue of lack of representation in diversity of models. This applies to many fronts: lack of diversity in race, body size, body type, etc. Trans-women and women who don’t conform to gender “norms” are often excluded, and brands rarely depict models with visible health conditions and/or disabilities.

This lack of representation can have seriously negative impacts on the mental health of many people of different ages. Most often, models are skinny, tall, and white. When these are the only women being depicted in the media as desirable – it can weigh heavily on the shoulders of those who do not and cannot conform to these standards.

The good news: the tides seem to be changing. Certain brands have begun to combat these patterns in fashion branding. This is not in an attempt to tear current models down, but rather to lift women of all shapes, sizes, colors and statuses up. Aerie – a women’s clothing and lingerie brand – has taken on the frontline in this battle. In 2014, Aerie launched “AerieReal”, an admirable campaign to promote the beauty of all types of women in an untouched beauty campaign. Brands like Aerie serve as a beacon here and sets a positive example of how to better promote the physical and mental health of their customers.

https://www.entitymag.com/diversity-fashion-moves-slower-models-catwalk/

https://www.hercampus.com/school/western/fashion-and-mental-health

https://www.teenvogue.com/story/aerie-all-women-project-ad-diversity

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iVJDs9nVbsY

 

 

Fear vs Hope: Appeals & Climate Change Communication

Communicating the health consequences of climate change can be challenging, especially when the audience is full of climate-deniers. In the field of climate change communication, there is often much debate over the usage of fear appeals vs. hope appeals. In the past, many campaigns have leaned towards using fear as a persuasive tactic. However, now, the tides seem to be shifting away from this. Yale University has researched climate communication on many fronts and finds that fear may actually lead to further pushback and disbelief of global warming.

At the same time, messages which lack realism on the severity of climate change are not found to resonate either. These messages often fail to generate interest or understanding in the importance of the issue, and often fail to inspire audiences to believe and/or take action on the issue.

Instead, the right communication tactic requires a perfect “cocktail” of emotion.  Behavioral scientists believe that these messages cannot be over-simplified into “fear” or “hope” appeals. Instead, each message should be thoughtfully tailored to the desired audience. And through this, Yale University offers a couple of important points to keep in mind through message development:

  • Connect with audience
  • Provide information at beginning
  • Address the concept of “urgency”
  • Be persuasive
  • Use credible messengers
  • Use opportunities well
  • Connect with viewer’s values and beliefs
  • Create a sense of “uniting and conquering.”

 

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jan/04/climate-fear-or-hope-change-debate

https://www.yaleclimateconnections.org/2012/01/helping-the-cause-or-making-enemies/

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41558-017-0021-9?WT.feed_name=subjects_scientific-community-and-society

 

 

 

Which celebrities are using doulas?

Doulas are having a moment. While they’ve been around for centuries, their use decreased with advent of modern medicine and hospital birthing. Recently, though, as the benefits of peer-support and non-medical birthing professionals become more well known, doulas are again becoming popular in the delivery room. There are many types of doulas, and this week’s posts will explore the different types and what they do. First, though, let’s take a look at some familiar faces that you might not have known used a doula!

 

Jessica Biel.

Kristen Bell.

Mayim Bialik

Kelly Ripa.

Kimberly Van Der Beek.

January Jones.

Erykah Badu.

Nicole Kidman.

Idina Menzel.

Tia and Tamera Mowry.

Alanis Morissette.

Alyson Hannigan.

Heidi Klum.

Mila Kunis.

Meghan Markle?

The Duchess of Sussex is set to give birth any day now and rumors have been swirling that she has hired a doula to assist her with the birth.

Do you know of any other celebrities who have used doulas? Have you used one yourself?

Check in tomorrow for information on what, exactly, a doula does.

https://www.parents.com/pregnancy/giving-birth/doula/what-is-a-doula/https://thestir.cafemom.com/celebrity_moms/215020/celebrities-who-had-doulas/254688/heidi_klum/22https://www.sheknows.com/entertainment/slideshow/9962/celebrities-who-hired-a-doula/10/https://www.vanityfair.com/style/2019/02/meghan-markle-doula-rumors

Sweet Savings: The Impact of Added Sugar Labels

In 2016, The FDA announced that manufacturers were going to be required to share the amount of added sugar on nutrition labels. A new report from Tufts University indicates that the health related savings of this new regulation will be significant. Researchers used mathematical modeling to predict how much the labels would reduce sugar intake—and consequently, how much of a decrease in diabetes and heart disease the U.S would see.

Over the next 20 years, they predict that it will prevent more than 350,000 cases of heart disease and more than 600,000 cases of type-2 diabetes. The health impact is significant, but the economic impact is staggering. Following the implementation of these new nutrition labels, we can expect to see more than THIRTY ONE BILLION dollars in healthcare savings.

Further, this estimate is conservative. If, like when the FDA ruled that trans fats had to be better labeled, companies respond to the rule by reducing the added sugar content of their products, the impact will be even greater.

Sometimes, small changes can make a big impact. Health communication for the win!

What do you think about the change in nutrition labels? Should the government be doing more to limit the sugar intake of Americans? Leave us a comment!

https://nypost.com/2019/04/15/proposed-sugar-label-could-save-31b-in-health-care-costs-study/

“Goop” Brand and Fake Health Products

Valued at $250 million dollars in 2018, the “Goop” brand has taken commercial health and beauty market by storm. While many of this company’s products are harmless – such as lotions and accessories – there are a number of products which have generated a lot of negative feedback. In 2018, Goop was charged for false claims regarding two of their products. At this time, the brand was selling “vaginal eggs” (made of rose quartz).  Supposedly, following vaginal insertion, these eggs could help balance hormones, regulate menstrual cycles, and increase bladder control. None of these claims are backed by research, and even came under direct criticism from a renowned gynecologist and other medical professionals. Similarly, another one of their products – an essential oil – was criticized for false claims of preventing depression.

Despite this, Goop brand has continued to grow, gaining more revenue and customers. Although this brand has gained an exceptional amount of media attention, it only represents one of many brands falsifying health-related products. Companies like Goop often claim they provide “alternative treatments” to mainstream or pharmaceutical agents. But in reality, many of these fake products can be completely useless or even harmful. Many of these products are expensive, and wrongfully solicit money for worthless/harmful products. Additionally, products or methods which make claims to prevent serious diseases – such as depression or cancer – are providing false hope and might delay needed medical treatments. With internet culture in full-swing, it’s important to research the legitimacy of any alternative health products/claims, and to trust expert advice when necessary.

 

 

https://www.cnn.com/2018/09/05/health/goop-fine-california-gwyneth-paltrow/index.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/29/style/goop-gwyneth-paltrow-dr-jen-gunter.html

https://www.healthline.com/health-news/how-fake-health-news-may-be-influencing-you-to-make-dangerous-decisions

 

 

 

UNC Science Expo Preview: Gillings Project Management Course Presenting 4 booths

Each year, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Morehead Planetarium hosts the UNC science expo with over 100 hands-on activities that teach people of all ages about science.  This year’s event includes a curiosity classroom, tours of 11 different labs on campus, and many exhibitor booths.

For the eighth year in a row, Gillings School of Public Health’s project management course, instructed by Lori Evarts, will host booths at the expo.  They always seek to demonstrate the connections between public health, STEM, and everyday life through interactive projects, and this year is no different.  Keep reading for descriptions of each of the four booths.

  1. Vaccinate- Don’t Wait: If you’re a fan of The Price is Right, then you may like this team’s Plinko board to demonstrate the concept of herd immunity. They’re also covering how vaccines work and vaccine safety.
  2. The Distribution of Health: Live life in someone else’s shoes for a little while. This group has a board game to demonstrate the implications of poor access to healthcare.
  3. Mindfulness Meditation: Meditation can have positive impacts on your health and well-being. Come by this booth for a short, guided meditation to learn more.
  4. Water You Waiting For? This group covers emergency preparedness and water quality with a great diorama and twister game. Stop by and learn a lot.

The UNC science expo will be this Saturday, April 6 from 11am-4pm.  The event is free to all.  Expo booths will be set up along East Cameron Drive on UNC’s campus.

 

*disclosure statement: the author is currently taking the course featured in this post

 

 

http://moreheadplanetarium.org/uncsciexpo 

Media Misconceptions: Why Juicing is NOT a Healthy Trend

Misleading health trends are nothing new in the age of social media. Every week there seems to be a new diet to “cleanse” or lose weight. Amongst these things, “juice cleanses” are a trend which have been popularized multiple times. There is a common misconception that drinking only fruit juice is as good for you as eating whole fruits. Drinking fruit and vegetable juice can provide some health benefits in moderation. However, a recent Harvard study shows that juicing may cause more harm than good. Consuming whole fruits does bestow a number of health benefits and can actually reduce risk for type 2 diabetes. In comparison, drinking juice alone does not provide the same benefits and can actually increase risk for type 2 diabetes.

Much of this has to with nutrient loss in the juicing process. When fruits and vegetables are juiced down, the final product contains concentrated amounts of minerals, vitamins, and nutrients. However, important nutritious components – such as fiber and antioxidants – are left behind. This is problematic because it omits some of the key elements which make fruits and veggies so healthy. In addition to this, juice is very concentrated, and so there are relatively higher levels of sugar when drinking juice than when eating whole fruits. It is important to take everything in moderation, and to not jump on trends before understanding the issue.

 

 

 

https://tonic.vice.com/en_us/article/pa34n7/juice-diets-are-bullshit

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23990623

https://www.cnn.com/2019/03/21/health/juicing-fruit-vegetables-food-drayer/index.html

 

 

 

green plants spilling out of a mortar and pestle

Free, all-natural, non-pharmaceutical intervention named the “blockbuster drug of the century”

The “Blockbuster Drug of the Century,” is all natural, has no negative side effects and is not the least bit new.  However, it’s getting more and more attention.  It’s nothing as sexy as a cure for cancer.
This drug isn’t a drug at all- it’s patient engagement.  Studies have shown that patients who are engaged in their care have better outcomes and incur less healthcare costs.

Unfortunately, we’re still having difficulties engaging patients.  Part of the issue could be that most practicing clinicians don’t receive formal training to communicate effectively. Additionally, patients with limited health literacy are less likely to speak up and engage in their care.

In patient engagement, we’ve found a tool that costs nothing and saves lives, and most of its implementation centers around communication.  While it may feel like it takes longer to slow down and communicate effectively, it can help keep patients out of the hospital and save you time in the form of less follow-up calls and visits.  While overall, increased patient engagement will likely come over time with a culture shift from patients and clinicians, we can start by employing a few communication techniques to start:

  1. Use simple language
  2. Use the teach-back method to check for understanding
  3. Focus in the most important information

These three things can go a long way to blockbuster results.

 

 

 

https://www.healthaffairs.org/doi/full/10.1377/hlthaff.2013.0037

https://health.gov/communication/HLActionPlan/pdf/Health_Literacy_Action_Plan.pdf

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cGtTZ_vxjyA

Social Media is Encouraging Your Kids to Eat Junk Food

Social Media Influencers (SMIs): individuals who have broad audiences on social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube.

A new study published in Pediatrics has revealed that the impact of SMIs on children’s eating habits varies based on the type of food. Children who see SMIs endorse junk food, either openly or through brand placement, are more likely to eat more calories and more junk food. However, when these influencers endorse healthy foods, children show no difference in their eating habits.

Researchers think that this might be because junk foods are more likely to be eye-catching, and our bodies are already primed to crave sugars and fats.

Parents are often concerned about their children’s viewing habits. Platforms’ ability to control the content of videos is limited—just look at the recent outcry over children’s videos having suicide instructions in them—and the way that influencers market various brands is less regulated than other forms of marketing. For parents with children who are at risk of becoming overweight or obese, these videos present a threat that is hard to counter.

So what solutions are there? Is this a threat that we can counter? How? Leave us a comment with your solutions!

 

For more information, check out:

https://www.cnn.com/2019/03/04/health/social-media-influencers-junk-food-study/index.html

https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2019/02/28/peds.2018-2554