Welcome to Week Six – Winding down and taking stock….

As you focus on catching up, and producing a powerful photovoice assignment, take a moment to reflect on the PUBH 209 course objectives outlined in the syllabus. Please review them.

Course Objectives Reflective Prompt – due PW Friday July 28 or LC Sunday July 30
By the LC deadline of next Sunday July 30 at 10pm, post a reflective statement about your progress in consumer health, how meaningful you believe it is for most public health students (or even others) to be able to do the things on the list, and other thoughts about the course objectives, especially as they relate to improving personal and societal health and other outcomes. Use your username and Course Objectives as tags and Reflection as the category. I’ve copied the course objectives here below for your convenience.

Course Objectives: By the end of the course, students will be able to:

  • describe the impact of recent health care legislation on consumers;
  • describe U.S. consumer protection laws, agencies, and strategies;
  • find and use credible information about health-related services & products;‎
  • describe industry influence, fraud, quackery & unscientific claims
  • collect and share qualitative data regarding consumer health
  • outline key historical events that affect people’s choices and outcomes in a given realm of consumer decisions
  • provide and analyze examples of credible, accessible consumer-relevant information and sources, with an emphasis on helping others to distinguish between sources that help and hinder healthy decision making.
  • compare health-related policy and societal decision making in the United States and other locations, as well as across regions of the United States; as a result of comparing these contexts, they will be able to emphasize any apparent links to health behavior, choices, and outcomes.

It is my hope that you find that, through the materials provided to you and the requirements for you to read, think, explore, and write about consumer health-relevant issues and strategies, you can do at least 5 of the listed items very well, at least one other on the list fairly well, and at least one other adequately.

(Keep in mind that at THIS point we still have 1/6 of the class to go, so if there is an item you believe you can not do at all or can only do marginally at best, you still have a week to work on that skill! You may perhaps decide to address that intention in your reflective statement….)

Photovoice Guidelines – pls review ASAP!

Hi all – I was just alerted by one of you that it may not have been obvious when the Photovoice guidelines were posted.

If you have NOT yet seen those, please DO review them here right away. The general gist:

  • Photovoice/digital storytelling helps people use images to discuss societal problems.
  • You decide on an consumer health issue area of interest to you, and take 3 to 5 photos (OR shoot a short video) that help you answer two questions from the following list:
    • How healthy IS it?”
    • “What choice/s do I have?”
    • “Do I really know what I need to to make a healthy choice?”
    • “Why is it so difficult to be healthy/easy to be unhealthy?”
    • “What’s depletion got to do with it?”
    • “TMI but not the right kind or layout to help me make a good decision?”
    • “Who has the upper hand and how?”
    • “Who’s selling me what?”
    • “What’s the typical discourse (what “most people” say?) about this & similar products/services?”
  • By Wednesday (July 19) I would like a brief post (with appropriate tags and category) telling me what direction you’re going in (topic/issue area and your chosen questions)
  • By Friday July 28*, please post a post with
    • 1) your photos or video (either by ppt file or simply as photos inserted in your post) and
    • 2) two brief narratives, each 250 to 500 words, the first
      • discussing how your photos or video help you think about and answer the questions you chose, and the second
      • discussing the experience of taking the photos or video.
  • For more details, again, visit the guidelines, bottom of Guidelines and Deadlines page, here

End of Week Four – Happy Friday, but let’s talk about death and dying a bit….

As you’ll hear if you head over to Canvas and listen to the recording of today’s conference/chat session, today I attended a memorial for the brother of close friends. It made me think about the individual choices we have – and CAN make – as consumers, and how difficult that decisionmaking and choosing IS for many of us.

As I noted in the recording, you have access to a Content Page on Illness and Mortality Matters, but I want to call out a couple of the resources included there.

First, take a look at the FAQ page of the Honoring Choices website. It’s a really good place to start for folks wanting to learn more about this important aspect of life and how best to make sure their own wishes are known and respected. Here comes a challenge….

CHALLENGE: After reviewing Honoring Choices information, have a conversation with someone you love (OR have an imaginary conversation with that person). How do you start the conversation? What do they say? What does it feel like to take this step as a consumer?

Post your reply by PW deadline of NEXT Friday July 21, or LC deadline of Sunday July 23. Use your username and Challenge as tags, and choose the Challenge category!

NOTE: If thinking about death and dying is hard for you, I understand. It’s hard for all of us, and in my family we tend NOT to discuss it (or our options) at all. It’s simply TOO difficult for some of my family members. I really wish it wasn’t that way, because I know there’s going to be a time when I will simply have to deal with the dying and deaths of my parents. And I know that would be just a little easier if we’d shared our thinking and wishes in advance. Btw, I intend to take myself up on this challenge. I think I’ll be doing the imaginary version. But that will help prepare me to push again to hold a REAL conversation and become an active, healthy consumer in this area of life….

 

Glossary Building posts clarification!

Just had a good question: “Our own words or copy and paste?”

Short answer – Either is fine. You will of course also want to cite (and list) your sources either way.

Longer answer – Make your post meaningful by sharing some context; tell us why you find the terms important, where you ran across them, and where you looked to find a useful definition.

Looking forward to more good thinking in consumer health!  –DrP

The Monday July 3 Summary/Digest. Read here!

Hello and happy odd holiday weekend, right?

Rather than posting two separate posts leading you to responsibilities and opportunities, here’s a single post with information you should have right now.

First, if you have NOT yet been using the slides, please start. Although I haven’t specifically required you to include info from them as part of your posts, you’ll learn a great deal from them about consumer health as an area of public health. AND – bonus! – there’s a “Challenge” in one of them. Scavenger hunt!!!!! You know you want to…..

You’ll also find a third “Thinking and Discourse Prompt” up, and it specifically does invite you to make use of slides information. I look forward to seeing some of you posting to that prompt. Visit it here!

Glossary Building Posts – here’s how!

A total of five* Glossary Building posts are due by the end of the quarter. Try to post GBs every week, when new terms are hitting you, rather than rushing to post all five and having to search for terms to include. (*Note: Because I’m just getting the guidelines to you and there are only four weeks left officially, you may opt to replace one with a “challenge” or other “extra learning” post.)

Click here to see the GB guidelines at the Guidelines and Deadlines page, or keep reading.

A glossary is a specialized list of terms and definitions. You may find regular words, just like in a dictionary, but with an additional meaning or a “twist” for the context. You may find some acronyms or even concocted terms or phrases very specific to a given field, industry, or organization.

Each of your GB posts should include at least three terms that you believe are important for a glossary in consumer health, particularly if consumer health content is a chance to empower others to make the healthiest choices they want to make.

Posting on time, with attention to detail, correct citing of sources, and a readable, user-friendly approach – AND using your username as a tag and glossary as the category – will earn you the possibility of a High Pass (5/A) for your GB post.

Glossary 4

Socioeconomic Gradient–A phenomenon describing the hierarchical differences in health outcomes among a population based on the value that society places on certain characteristics, whether it be income, job, educational attainment, etc. This can be viewed as a ladder in that moving down the social ladder, more ill health and shorter life expectancy are experienced at each rung.

Feedback Loops–In systems analysis, the impact of changes in one influence or factor on other influences or factors in a positive or negative direction.

Health Disparity–a type of difference in health that is closely linked with social or economic disadvantage. Health disparities negatively affect groups of people who have systematically experienced greater social or economic obstacles to health. These obstacles stem from characteristics historically linked to discrimination or exclusion, such as race or ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic status, gender, mental health, sexual orientation, or geographical location. Other characteristics include cognitive, sensory, or physical disability.

In every course I have taken, I see how poverty is a major factor in the quality of mental and physical health of individuals. Sure, there can be people who have more than enough money, and they can be abused, abuse, have cancer that runs in their families, etc.. But the rates of mental and physical illness are higher with those who live in poverty, and I would argue the rates of mental illness are much greater as well. We know that poverty is a public health crisis in Seattle and all over the world. And secondary to poverty are toxic living environments, lack of health care esp. mental health care, and a general lack of information regarding financial security, vaccines, and other public health community initiatives. I guess, my point is that in all my studying, I see that poverty needs to be addressed, so we can move on, otherwise we will continue to Band-Aid issues, and create new generations who live ill and ill-informed.  I see poverty as a primary issue, and health as secondary, and off of each of those branches tertiary issues, but I believe that poverty and health go hand in had–and they have for all of human history!

 

 

Riegelman, R., & Kirkwood, B. (2015). Public Health 101: Healthy People–Healthy Populations. Second edition. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Course Reflection

I feel very fortunate to have taken this class both as a public health major and as someone living in a western society actively participating as a consumer. Before taking this course I took things at face value and never really did the research necessary to understand what I was really buying, nor did I stop to consider why I was buying (into) it. Through the required readings, the prompts we wrote, and reading my classmates work I was able to really practice these course objectives and gain a new perspective on consumer health. Health care legislation, consumer protection laws and agencies, some historical events, health policy, and finding consumer-relevant information were all things I felt I achieved very well during the duration of this course. Industry influence and unscientific claims are something I felt I was fairly well at dealing with beforehand, but this course helped teach me the importance of being thorough when it comes to what we are consuming, and I will therefore continue to practice this as I continue beyond this course. As far as collecting and sharing qualitative data, I am adequate. This course has certainly helped me, but it is definitely something I will continue to master through my other public health courses and in my future career. There is still so much to learn, health is constantly changing and progressing, and keeping up with it is something I love to do. Being a public health major, I have learned the importance of mental, physical, social, sexual health etc. but I never considered the importance of consumer health. This course was a great introduction into an aspect of public health that I really didn’t know or think much about, and I feel very grateful to have been able to expand my learning here on this blog.

Another Glossary Post

quackery:
dishonest practices and claims to have special knowledge and skill in some field, typically medicine.

health policy:

health policy can be defined as the “decisions, plans, and actions that are undertaken to achieve specific healthcare goals within a society. … They may cover topics of financing and delivery of healthcare, access to care, quality of care, and health equity.

health behavior:

combination of knowledge, practices, and attitudes that together contribute to motivate the actions we takeregarding health.

I took Intro. to Policy concurrently with this course and I feel that understanding policy, especially the health policies in our state and country, are an integral part of understanding consumer health. I also think it is important to acknowledge that our health behavior has a large impact on what we are consuming both as individuals and as a society. I also chose to define quackery, mainly because it was the first word that caught my interest in this course. Before Summer quarter had begun I was reading through different course descriptions to decide what to sign up for, and the description for this course used the word “quackery”. It is such a silly word to me but the more I learned in this course, the more I realized the quackery that occurs in the life of an every day consumer, and how destructive it is to our learning and decision making.

 

 

Photovoice- Birth Control

Bedsider-Birth-Control-Effectiveness-Poster01-IUDChart-final.nocrop.w710.h2147483647Screen Shot 2017-07-30 at 3.21.03 PMScreen Shot 2017-07-30 at 3.25.10 PM

For this photo series I decided to discuss something that is very important to me both as a female and as a young adult in college. Sexual health is not only something very important to be educated on, but also to keep up with on a personal level. While sexual health is a natural part of our lives, it is also a large consumer market. Birth control methods are great money-makers in the modern world, but for most people, these methods are also a necessity. I took the time to do some research about what information this “market” is giving us, as well as whether the information is helpful to the consumer or not.

Choosing a birth control method can be very overwhelming today, with its myriad of options, but there is actually a ton of very simple and helpful resources that make the decision much easier. For my first photo I chose to insert a chart from Bedsider which lays out all of one’s birth control options, as well as their ranked effectiveness and how likely pregnancy is to occur. Though extremely simple, as a consumer I really appreciated how they chose to lay out the information. Although it is not a complete picture of each method, a chart like this is a great first step in showing consumers their options. I also loved their emphasis on condom use along with all forms of birth control for STI prevention. Upon using the chart, it became clear that intra-uterine devices were the most effective form of birth control on the market and decided to further research the options within this category. The second chart listed all available IUDs on the market along with the hormones they use and how much, as well as the length of time each brand is effective for. The asterisks (*) provided the information that further studies have found that some of these devices last longer than originally marketed for. I felt this chart was a great resource for consumers to decide what brand they could further research to best suite their needs, as well as a provided a platform to research levonorgestrel and its affects. I decided to look into the two most common brands, Mirena and Paraguard.

Each brand had its own website with features such as cost, who it works best for, frequently asked questions, side effects, etc. I decided to screen grab the side effects page from each brand because I felt as a consumer I would want to compare and contrast these important issues. Overall, I had a great experience in the so-called birth control market. It is rare, as a consumer, to feel that the products and the information they provide are truly after your best interest; however, it truly seemed to me that these brands wanted to provide all possible information for their consumers to make an informed decision for their sexual health. This market lays out all the choices for the consumer and provides substantial information for each one. Though it did seem that specific brands within one category may have tried to compete in price, all brands provided necessary information and made it clear that their brand may not be the best option for some people. All areas that I researched within this market also emphasized the importance of speaking to one’s healthcare provider to discuss your best options.

I thoroughly enjoyed using photos to discuss a consumer market in the world of health, or sexual health more specifically. As someone who is an active consumer in this particular marketplace, I had never actually done this much research. Sexual health is something that I believe to be extremely important and I was surprised at how much I had learned after doing research and finding these photos. Reading about all the different methods on the market and seeing birth control from a consumer’s perspective really broadened my knowledge of the options I have as well as the importance of being educated. I had never before thought to read about a hormone and the effects of each dosage of it, nor had I considered the effectiveness of different forms of prevention. In every day life, I often get frustrated by all of the different brands and options that we are given every day. Is Mr. Clean better than Scrubbing Bubbles? Is Ben and Jerry’s cheaper than Tillamook? Why can’t their just be one great brand for everything that we need? But thoroughly reviewing each IUD brand, I realized the importance of options. No two people are the same and what works for some may not work for others. I became more appreciative of the options we have today, and my faith in humanity was slightly restored as I read about brands that truly want the best for their consumers. Using these photos provided a glimpse into the great experience I had with researching this market, and I think visual displays are a great learning tool. A picture is worth a thousand words, right?

Course Reflective Essay Prompt

This Public Health class offered me a lot since I had never taken an actual public health class. I would say I learned a lot especially from my Photovoice Project.

Through this class, I was able to understand the objectives that I have gained over the course of the class. Since I am a writer I found it very effective by blogging and writing about it as well to retain information well.

When it comes to consumer health laws and regulations, I am fairly well with confidentially being able to talk about it and discuss what is do be done in certain situations. I isn’t my strongest suit but I feel more confident in the concept.

Since health care legislation and laws for that are a bit iffy and it is a bit of a confusing topic, I struggle with that concept mostly compared to the rest because I was not super familiar with I then. After this class, I would say I am adequately familiar with it but only because I learned more through this class.

I already knew how to look at products and services for reliable and credible information, because my major is so big on being credible and finding sources that are reliable and getting the facts straight so I have a really good grasp on researching that.

I also have to analyze information for credibility in order to help others makes good decisions when it comes to consumer health choices and options. This is the reason journalists exists which is to benefit our communities and communicate, so my grasp on that is really well done to.

It is very interesting to learn in class how to make societal decisions in the U.S. and compare them to other countries and what there policies are on certain things as well. I learned this about my Photovioce as well when it comes to the pressure on having Football whereas some other countries don’t allow it. I think I grasped this concept well as well.

When it comes to looking at history and seeing elements that effect our consumer health choices today and the impacts, I think that goes along with the analyzing information as well since in order to analyze things we sometimes have to look at history. I feel pretty comfortable about collecting data as well since my major also requires me how to look at data and analyze it and then write about it to amp things up.

Overall, I feel like I took a lot out of this class especially with my writing skills. It helped me in both ends of the spectrum and I am very proud of my Photovoice work. I think the topic and the situation goes great with the class and the idea of consumer health and what is healthy.

Reflection

I absolutely love Public Health–the application of sociological philosophies! If I do make it into a graduate program, I’ll be considering public health in addition to clinical psychology! I learned a lot of why the ACA is so important; making it illegal to discriminate against pre-existing conditions when applying for medical insurance, the expansion of mental health services through Medicare, and I recently learned about this website: https://openpaymentsdata.cms.gov. I also discovered a lot of information about 401k fees, and my personal finances. I learned that public health has been the driving force behind many consumer protection laws, like; seatbelts, the distracted driver laws, baby back to bed, making lead and asbestos in consumer products illegal, and of course regulations for our food, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics. I have learned that even with all of these laws, we still need more. And to reiterate yet again, information and regulation brings autonomy. Thank you so much, I have learned a lot about public health this quarter!

Pharmaceutical Prompt 1

Direct to consumer adds are particularly troubling when they are for products that require expert knowledge—like pharmaceutical drugs. When DTC ads are reinforced with pharmaceutical payments to doctors who are pushing them, I believe this is a question of ethics. Unapproved drugs continue to be marketed to consumers, including OTC, and even H1N1 products that have no efficacy whatsoever. These three talking points do demonstrate why we should think about changing DTC ads, or any type of aggressive marketing of pharmaceuticals. All drugs should be approved prior to marketing, and full-disclosure should be made to physician, and consumer alike. I do disagree with ‘off label’ uses, as I think this is a source of ethical compromise. Instead, if there is a legitimate ‘off label’ use, then the drug should be put through the same testing as it was for the primary use of the drug. I was able to visit https://openpaymentsdata.cms.gov and I found out that one of my Grandmother’s doctors has been receiving over 10k every year, except last year, when he received over 17k. This is contrasted to one of my doctors, who received $24.01 for the year of 2016. I would highly recommend everyone use this website to search for their doctor. Getting rid of the ACA would also remove this resource in addition to many others, and this website provides accountability for our doctors. Accountability and information are the first steps we can take as a public health solution. Perhaps in addition to this website, doctors must post how much they have received from pharmaceutical companies right next to their diploma. Finally, I don’t think DTC pharmaceutical ads should be legal, especially when many aren’t approved.

Reflection Post

Taking a class on Consumer Health has expanded my abilities to evaluate different services and products. As you pointed out in my snagit grading, I tend to put a lot of thought into things that interest me and little into things that do not. This is not only something that has effected my school work negatively, but my life as well in some cases. I put plenty of time into researching things I plan on purchasing for fun, but completely skip over researching many of the things that effect my health directly. I have also learned that I need to focus more on doing things in a timely manner, I let summer get the best of me and didn’t realize how close we were to the end of the quarter. Due to these realizations, I purchased a planner to keep track of deadlines, and I’ve started researching better dietary habits.

I believe the list to be filled with highly important topics, but I think that my politically focused mind is part of that opinion. I’m not too familiar with the public health major, but this list of topics seems like the type one in the field should focus on. For those outside of the field, I think it would be best to get them focused on things which more directly effect them (although all of the topics do). This concern will help people learn more on research and evaluation abilities, so they can continue to apply those skills when needed. I say this because that is exactly what the class has done for me, someone who is not a public health major.

 

 

Photovoice Project

I wanted to reflect on some of my dietary/health choices and how some of the choices effect my Crohn’s Disease. The things I chose to focus on were: Dairy products like ice cream sandwiches or milk, alcohol, Coca-Cola, and use of tobacco products. The questions I chose to focus on were “How healthy is it” and “Do I really know what I need to to make a healthy choice?” In most of the pictures, I focused on the nutritional information because this is the most important part of the decision making. Personally, I tend to ignore the nutrition facts because my metabolism hasn’t caught up to me yet. But I’m aware of the dietary changes that my mom has made, and how well they worked, so that isn’t the best excuse either. I have the ability to know whatever I need to know, I just don’t take advantage of that ability. I think this indifference is the cause of many consumer problems we see today, either because we aren’t motivated to learn the information, or because we don’t care about the consequences. Subjects like obesity and hard drug use come to mind.

Most of these choices I focused on are unhealthy in a general sense, or unhealthy specifically for me. Dairy is the only food product in my project that most people can consume without negative consequences in my list, but Crohn’s ruins that for me. Not only does dairy cause acne, but it messes with my stomach quite a bit. Alcohol, soda, and tobacco products are bad choices for my health with or without Crohn’s.

Alcohol has negatively effected my family in the past on multiple occasions, so I try to be careful with the prevalence of my consumption. Not only do I have a high risk of addiction, but my liver isn’t a fan of my choices either.

Soda (or my preference, Coca-Cola) has plenty of acidity and 39 grams of sugar. I know that it will bother my stomach and erode the enamel on my teeth over time. I quit a few years ago, but I always get it while out for food.

Tobacco products aren’t even a health question. Even though I’m only a social smoker, the negative effects are not going to disappear. You don’t need to smoke on a daily basis to experience the problems associated with nicotine and other chemicals.

Taking the pictures helped me to reflect upon the bad choices I’m making as a consumer. Not only is the information widely available on the internet, but there are clear labels in front of my face as I consume the products I’m speaking of. The prevalence of information does not correlate with the consumer actually having knowledge of the information. Although economists operate under the assumption that consumers have full market knowledge, we acknowledge this is not true. My generation and the generations after us will be blessed with the ability to learn about anything we please. As different services become more technologically advanced and complicated, it will be our responsibility to improve upon our understanding and help others do the same. Although we will continue to use the internet primarily for social interaction, I hope that more of the population can learn to evaluate the things they consume like we have in this class. Add this to the list of classes that high-schoolers should take before going out into the real world, because consumer health… matters.

*unable to upload pictures or powerpoint, emailed instead.