Health With a Capital H
High Five for Health: June 2012
July 11, 2012
Contributed by Matt Grzeskiewicz, Digital Strategist
June was a scorcher in our Nation’s Capital, bringing us a heat wave with temperatures above 100 degrees in the month’s closing days. Along with this heat, we were treated to a rare and disruptive “derecho,” knocking out power and productivity for many parts of the DC metropolitan area for several days. Now that the power is back on, we’re going to highlight what was hot in the public health arena during June!
The Supreme Court’s decision on the Affordable Care Act was the major development of June, but there were some other trends in health that might not have shown up on your radar.
In This Month's Mix-up:
Stories this month include an increase in Internet use by those over 65, concerns about the way social media might affect teens’ mental and physical health, a new breed of tech-savvy doctors, a seemingly wild claim about mobile health, and an alarming spike in prescription drug abuse in the United States.
Older Americans and the Internet
For the first time since they began tracking the data, the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that more than half of U.S. adults over the age of 65 are actively using the Internet. The survey showed that 53 percent of seniors now use the Internet to surf the web, check their email, and access social networking sites. While this age group is still far below others when it comes to Internet use, there is good news: health communicators looking to reach this demographic can add the Internet as a viable option in their promotional plan.
>>>Read on: The full report from Pew Internet Research: Older Adults and Internet Use.
Social Media Use Leading to Eating Disorders?
During the last few decades, eating disorders have been increasing among children and adolescents in the United States. We recently highlighted the concern around the social media fad of “thinspiration,” and now an NBC news Health Check brings to light more about this unsettling movement and its effect on the mental health of younger girls. This trend, in which females post images and text that encourage unhealthy behaviors in order to be skinny, has been associated with eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia. How can this trend be halted? A 16-year-old student interviewed for the report has some advice for her peers.
>>>Read on: Learn more about anorexia via MedlinePlus; Read the American Academy of Pediatrics clinical report regarding eating disorders.
There’s a New Breed of Doctors Out There…
In last month’s roundup, we cited a survey showing the rapid adoption of tablets by primary care physicians across the United States. Now it seems there are some doctors who are taking medicine and new media to the next level. Whether checking in on patients, connecting with other doctors, tracking diseases, or simply communicating with patients, some MDs are now blending texting, blogging, Tweeting, and Facebook sharing into their daily practices. Although this behavior is scattered, one doctor claims it’s just a foreshadowing of things to come. “Colleagues look at me and kind of shake their heads when I tell them what I do. They don’t have an understanding of the tools. For the next generation that’s coming behind me, I think this will be much more common.”
>>>Read on: Take a look at the full CBS news report here.
Texting Campaigns More Impactful Than Penicillin… Crazy Claim, or Legitimate Possibility?
This next story comes straight from the power-statement department. When asked at a TED University presentation earlier in 2012, “How powerful is text messaging for reaching young people?” Nancy Lublin—CEO at DoSomething.org—answered, “I think it might be able to save more lives than penicillin.”
Ms. Lublin used this comparison to convey the extent to which text messaging provides comfortable communication for teens. The average teen, she contends, sends nearly 4,000 texts monthly, so it is not unreasonable to think that teens would be more likely to report a crisis such as bullying, dating abuse, cutting, or rape using a text message. In addition, she contends that SMS has a 100-percent open rate. For many in the health communication world, texting carries incredible opportunities. So perhaps her emphasis on the lifesaving capacity of a message delivered via smartphone is not as farfetched as it seems.
>>>Read on: An infographic via Mashable, “The Rise of Text Messaging”
Prescription Drug Abuse Skyrockets
A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed the number of people who abused prescription pain medicines for more than 200 days per year rose 75 percent between 2002–2003 and 2009–2010. Unsurprisingly, deaths from common pain killers such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methadone increased by 109 percent during this same time period. In the study, researchers utilized data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health regarding drug use for nonmedical reasons. The biggest increases in chronic prescription drug abuse were seen in men (105 percent) and people 35 to 49 years old (135 percent). Luckily, several government organizations like the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration are ahead of the curve when it comes to combating prescription drug abuse, but this study shows there is plenty of work to be done.
>>>Read on: Abstract of the actual study from the CDC; NIDAMED Screening Guidance for Medical & Health Professionals; PEERx Campaign from NIDA for Teens.
Catch anything we might have missed in June? Let us know below! See you at the end of July.