Category: Uncategorized

Shortage of health workers prompts media messages by the Global Health Workforce Alliance

the globeLast month, leaders and innovators in global health from around the world gathered in Thailand to share experiences of and solutions to problems facing health workers. In addition to organizing the meeting, the Global Health Workforce Alliance (GHWA) used a variety of health communications strategies and methods to raise awareness about health workers, the critical shortage of health workers in many countries and potential solutions to the problem.

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Commentary: How does globalization shape health communication?

photo © alles_schlumpf, flickr

Have you ever reflected on how the field of interdisciplinary health communication is shaped by globalization?  Globalization comes with baggage: sometimes, it is perceived as ‘progress.’ Other times, as a oppressive force that keeps the rich, rich and the poor, poor.

Still I reflect on how the process, itself, shapes our research and practice.

Consider this 2003 definition of globalization from the International Labor Office:

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Ultrasounds available with the help of smartphones

Traditional ultrasounds can require big and expensive equipment, like that pictured above, but the new MobiUS requires a lot less. Photo credit: Redjar, from Flickr.

The FDA approved a smartphone-based portable medical ultrasound unit last week, according to an article in Time.

The system requires little equipment—just a wand, some gel and a Windows Mobile-enabled smartphone, according to the article.

Because of its small size, MobiUS could be helpful in remote or rural locations, and could provide opportunities for easy sharing of information with other doctors or with patients, according to the article and a statement by Mobisante, the creators of the unit.

The cost of the system is significantly less than that of traditional ultrasound units—it costs between $7,000 and $8,000 for the entire system, which includes the software and phone as well.

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Clown gets 16 percent more women pregnant

For many women struggling to get pregnant, in-vitro fertilization (IVF) has proven to be a viable yet not guaranteed effective option.  Researchers have worked to find ways to improve the success rate of IVF, which is currently at about 20 percent for most women.

A recent study of 229 Israeli women undergoing in-vitro fertilization published in Fertility and Sterility found that a 15 minute visit from a trained “medial clown” directly following embryo placement in the womb increased the chance of pregnancy by 16 percent, a strong statistically significant difference (p=.008).

It’s no secret that stress can affect infertility. 

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Public pronouncements, money might help you StickK to goals uses monetary incentives and public pledges to motivate people to lose weight, quit smoking, and even learn a foreign language. Would it motivate you to do what you've been putting off? Photo from

Lawyers know that a capital letter “K” stands for a contract. But users of the popular website StickK might see the “K” as a kick in the behind – a binding declaration of commitment that, when combined with a wager of a chunk of change or piece of pride, will help them reach their goals.

The New York Times reports that StickK users have put millions of dollars on the line, many for health-related goals;

There are more than 63,000 StickK contracts — and more than $5.9 million at stake (wagering is optional). Peruse the site and you’ll find perennial resolutions about exercise and money management, but also gems like “no more dating losers,” “quit Dr Pepper” and “speak more slowly to foreigners in New York City.”

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Surgical training goes online

The University of East Anglia is now offering an online course in breast cancer and breast reconstruction surgery.   Eighty percent of the course is taught through online videos and the other 20 percent involves in person practical skills instruction from local trainers. The course also encourages students to learn from one another in online chat sessions.

Providing such a course online means that students don’t have to spend time or money traveling to and from London to receive training. 

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A cheese by any other name…

Most Saturday mornings when I lived in Charlottesville, Virginia, I would head downtown to shop at the Farmer’s Market.  My first stop? “The Free Cheese Guy.”

John Coles could reliably be found at the first stall in the market, in front of a small white box truck that he drove in from his farm.  He was always wearing the same T-shirt, beside him a sign read: “Free Cheese.”  Coles’ T-shirt depicted federal agents charging in on a shocked farmer, whose hands were raised as they shouted, “Give us the milk!”

Coles gave away his goat cheese (often in return for a donation) because the government forbade him to sell it. It is unpasteurized, or raw, depending on which ideo-semantic camp you fall.

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Health communicators, meet OpenIDEO is a collaborative innovation platform for social good. Logo image from

How do you come up with a good idea? Where does innovation in communication and health promotion come from?  Do we strive for evidence-based practice? Or break all of the rules and start fresh?  How about some of both — from creative folks all over the world?

This week at Upstream, we were inspired by an optimistic, brilliant young project called OpenIDEO, brought to the globe by the design and innovation firm IDEO.

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Facebook and loneliness: Is the evidence really there?

Photo by Johan Larsson. From Flickr.

Time had an article last week that talked about a study out of Stanford that found that certain positive perceptions of others’ lives and experiences can “exacerbate feelings of loneliness, isolation and dissatisfaction.” The article linked such feelings to Facebook.

The Stanford study consisted of four studies and found that people can erroneously perceive the lives of others by underestimating others’ negative experiences and overestimating others’ positive experiences. According to the authors, “these errors are associated with loneliness, rumination, and reduced satisfaction with life…”

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Politics, business meet your mouth with front-of-package labels

Food makers and grocers, guided by the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the Food Marketing Institute, made a sprint to the finish and beat the Food and Drug Administration in a big race. The race was to make rules about front-of-package labels on packaged foods.

Nutrition Keys

The industry-designed voluntary labels are called "Nutrition Keys," and must include total calories, fat, sodium and sugar, but may also include one or two "positive" ingredients, such as calcium or fiber. Image provided by the Grocery Manufactures Association.

By preemptively striking before the federal government could take even more drastic measures, such as ban front-of-package labels (FOPs), some experts and policy makers fear consumers will only be more confused. I mean, who cares if a half-pint of ice cream has more than half a day’s recommendation for fat and sky-high amounts of sugar when it has calcium to strengthen your bones, right?

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