Category: Interpersonal Communication

Help make Mother’s Day healthy

Mother’s Day kicks off “Women’s Health Week” (May 8 – 14). The CDC and other public health agencies want everyone to remember that the health of America’s 83 Million moms is a crucial component of the nation’s health, and has a list of activities that will help;

Regular physical activity, healthful eating, healthy weight maintenance, quitting tobacco use, managing stress, protecting themselves from injury, and periodic check-ups are a few of the many actions that can lead to safer and healthier lives.

Still need to get mom a present? Here are the CDC’s suggestions for healthy Mother’s Day gifts:

  • Offer to change the batteries in the smoke detector if they haven’t been changed recently.
  • Help her get prepared for spring and summer storms.
  • Get her a fabulous spring hat for sun protection against skin cancer.
  • If she’s a senior, help reduce her risk for falls by making her home safer. Falls can lead to injuries, such as hip fractures and head traumas.  Falls are also the leading cause of non-fatal injuries for all children ages 0 to 19.
  • Learn together the common symptoms of a heart attack and what to do in case of one. Make the Call. Don’t Miss a Beat.
  • If she is pregnant or a new mom, sign her up for free text messages from text4baby.

You can even send Mom a healthy e-card from the CDC’s website. What healthy activities will you be doing with your moms this week? Also, don’t forget, the Monday after Mother’s Day is always National Women’s Check-up Day, so consider calling your doc and making an appointment.

Questionnaire may provide earlier autism diagnoses

The New York Times recently ran a story on how a questionnaire administered at a child’s 1-year check up can detect autism and other developmental delays. However, the test has a high rate of false positives.

Photo at left: Although the brain of a person with autism sometimes uses different areas, looking at the brain isn’t the only way to see if a child might be autistic.

Researchers examining the effectiveness of the questionnaire had pediatricians in San Diego use the tool and then followed the babies that had been identified as potentially having autism or other developmental issues. Out of the nearly 190 children they followed, 25 percent did not end up having autism or another developmental issue, according to the article.

Previous research has shown that early intervention can be more effective,  so it seems that getting a diagnosis early could be useful and helpful to the child and the parents.

However, with a quarter of diagnoses being wrong, it seems like communication could play a very big role. What do you see as the role of communication? How does one communicate that a test may provide false positives and make this understandable?


friends at the beach

NPR asks: “Do our friends make us fatter?”

Are your friends sabatoging your summer beach bod? Many research results say it’s possible, if not plausible. NPR’s Robert Krulwich asks in his blog “Krulwich Wonders…” if our friends make us fatter.

Re-reporting, from a blog by Jonah Lehrer, Krulwich discusses the stunning results of some correlational research by Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler, who analyzed 32 years of data for trends related to obesity:

Christakis and Fowler reported that when two people are friends for a long while, if one of them becomes obese, the chances that the friend will do the same increased by 57 percent. That’s a big number, far more predictive than if those two people shared genes associated with obesity, says Jonah.

Many health behavior theories note that at least somewhere in the process, peers and social factors can have some sort of influence on attitudes and actions (e.g. Social Cognitive Theory, the Transtheoretical Model, the Health Belief Model, just to name a few).

What sort of communication campaigns could we produce to target social aspects of obesity? What public policies would help attack obesity from this important angle? Do the news media give enough coverage to this component of the causes of obesity, or do they focus too much on just individual or larger societal/policy levels?

Captain America wants you to call for help

On the brink of defeat by a giant green monster machine, Captain America is saved by the heroic efforts of a nearby boy. Ends up that Captain America saves the boy, though.

Captain America

The Captain America comic titled "A Little Help" by Marvel Comics uses no dialogue to tell a story of a boy who just needs a little help. Will it make a difference with its intended audience? Photo from Marvel Comics and SAMHSA.

He does this not with his strength or fancy shield and cape, but by giving the kid a phone number: 800-273-TALK (8255).

That is the number of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. John Draper, director of the Lifeline, wrote in a post on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association (SAMHSA) website that the idea for a popular comic book hero to promote suicide prevention and awareness came from the industry, not from the government;

“When I was a kid, I loved Marvel comic books.  As much as I indulged my imagination in the workings of superheroes back then, I never could have imagined that, decades later, Captain America would be an ally of mine in promoting SAMHSA’s National Suicide Prevention Lifeline!”

But how exactly will a comic book help prevent suicide?

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“Tanorexia” problems may begin with mom

tanning bed

Are moms helping their daughters get more than a bronzed complexion?

Teen girls use tan beds. They tan before prom. College girls tan. They tan year-round, but mostly right before spring break. This is no breaking news.

What a recent study has revealed, though, is that the phenomenon all too jokingly called “tanorexia,” meaning when people (usually females but not always) tan way too much and increase their chances of skin cancer way too much, can be highly influenced by mothers.

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