Newsletter of the Public Health/Health Administration Section
of the Medical Library Association
Editor: Barbara Nail-Chiwetalu, firstname.lastname@example.org
Column Editors: Marie Ascher (Grey Literature), Helena VonVille (GIS)
Barbara Nail-Chiwetalu, Editor/Chair of Newsletter Committee, PH/HA, email@example.com
I am very pleased to have been appointed the new Editor of PH/HA News. I thank Kris Alpi for her work as the previous Editor and wish her well in her role as Chair-Elect of the PH/HA Section. I also wish to thank Kathy Kerdolff who just stepped down from her role as Assistant Editor but will continue as Secretary/Treasurer of PH/HA.
Now, I would like to introduce you to the current members of the PH/HA Newsletter Committee. I am the Editor and a Health Librarian at the University of Maryland in College Park, MD. We are fortunate to have Marie Ascher, our current PH/HA Chair, continue in her role as Column Editor for Grey Literature. Marie is at the New York Medical College in Valhalla, NY. Helena VonVille, who recently took on the job of Column Editor for GIS, will continue as part of our team as well. Helena is from the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, TX. We also have three talented persons working with me as the newly-formed Newsletter Committee. Please welcome Richard Harris from Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, VA, Brad Long from Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, PA, and Linda Spitzer from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, MD.
We welcome your comments, suggestions, and particularly your contributions to the newsletter. The newsletter can only be as good as the content we receive or discover. We look forward to working with you! Watch your e-mail for announcements of upcoming deadlines for submissions to the fall newsletter.
Marie Ascher, PH/HA Chair
Hope you have all been enjoying a nice summer. I'd like to take this column to introduce some PH/HA members who have assumed new responsibilities. First of all I'd like to thank Barbara Nail-Chiwetalu, who is our new PH/HA News editor, for taking the post. Barbara is working on the newsletter with a Newsletter Committee which consists of Richard Harris, Brad Long, and Linda Spitzer.
Also, new to PH/HA is a Web Committee, to which Ammon Ripple has been appointed Chair. The committee consists of Carolyn Bridgewater, Christine Marton, and Lisa Wallis.
Thanks to all of you for volunteering. It is very pleasing to see all of the interest in involvement in the Section.
Submitted by Kristine Alpi, Chair-Elect, PH/HA, firstname.lastname@example.org
May 2004 may seem a long way off, but paper and poster proposals for the MLA Meeting will be due on November 3rd. We look forward to great contributed papers by PH/HA members. A list of programs being sponsored by PH/HA appears below. If you don't plan on submitting abstracts to a session, but want to be involved, please volunteer to be an abstract reviewer. We will definitely need reviewers for many of the sessions. If you are interested in reviewing, please contact me by October 1 and let me know what session(s) interest you. Early in January there will also be a call for session moderators. I look forward to working with you to provide great section programming on public health issues.
2004 Proposed Programs
Mining Data for Knowledge Generation: Collecting, Using and Promoting Data Sets
Lead Sponsor: PH/HA
Developing standards in public heath data collection allow national and international data sets to be mined by researchers and practitioners. This session will explore the value of standards in organizing data, efforts to identify and promote data repositories, and how data sets are processed to generate new knowledge. Contributed papers on roles for information professionals in supporting access to and use of data sets are sought.
The Power of National and International Health Initiatives
Lead Sponsor: PH/HA
Co-Sponsor: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered Health Science Librarians SIG
Significant initiatives have been undertaken to support the global public health infrastructure to more effectively meet the challenges to the public's health at the community, state, and national levels and to reduce disparities in health. National health initiatives, such as Healthy People (HP) and the Turning Point projects, provide opportunities for libraries to act as partners in health promotion and disease prevention efforts. This session will offer one invited perspective on the development of HP 2010 objectives; contributed papers are sought from information professionals playing a role in local, state, national or international health initiatives.
Eco-Power: Taking Back the Environment
Section Sponsor: Chiropractic Libraries
Co-Sponsors: PH/HA and NLM (Specialized Information Services)
The relationship between the environment and the health of individuals and communities is well-established. The most familiar aspects include the health of at-risk populations, environmental justice, and programs such as the CDC's ACES (Active Community Environments Initiative). But the relationship between a healthy environment and environmental health is also impacted by geo-political decisions, including the potential for eco-terrorism. Presenters will examine the role health information professionals play in the new environmentalism.
Format: Invited (NLM) and contributed papers.
Contact Person: Marcia Thomas, phone: 816-501-0142, email@example.com
Harness the Power of Zoonotic Diseases: Understanding Their Impact on Animal and Human Health
Lead sponsor: Veterinary Medical Libraries
Co-sponsors: PH/HA; Consumer and Patient Health Information Section
Zoonoses include diseases transmitted between vertebrate animals and man and represent one of the leading causes of illness and death from infectious disease. This invited speaker and contributed papers session will focus on zoonotic diseases and their global impact on public health and national economies. Note: Potential sources for invited speakers include the Pan American Health Organization, World Bank, National Agriculture Library, and USDA.
Emerging Infectious Diseases - the Power of Disease on Society
Lead Sponsor: History of the Health Sciences
Co-sponsors: PH/HA, International Cooperation, Health Association Libraries
As the media reports on existing or potential disease pandemics - smallpox, anthrax, plague, malaria, antibiotic-resistant pathogens, and influenza, for example - health information professionals are faced with the necessity of locating and disseminating information on their potential global effects. The diseases themselves may not be new but their effect on a more global society is a reality and sometimes pertinent information regarding a disease and its treatments are in historical materials. This program will examine the role of health professionals in libraries containing unique historical and current collections in gathering and disseminating pandemic disease information that has current implications.
Educating the 21st Century Health Professional
Lead Sponsor: Educational Media & Technologies Section, contact Gail Persily, firstname.lastname@example.org
Co-sponsors: PH/HA, Medical Informatics, International Cooperation
The digital library environment presents new challenges and opportunities for educating worldwide health professionals about locating and managing information. The clinician, researcher, public health worker, and student have access to a complex set of information resources in the digital library environment. By its nature, the digital library requires new technical strategies for delivering instruction. Papers will address strategies for providing instruction to users when and where they need it in the global digital library environment. Please submit your case studies, program descriptions, and outcomes research in the area of teaching and technology. (Contributed)
Ammon Ripple, Web Committee Chair, PH/HA, email@example.com
As the new chair of the PH/HA Web Committee, I am delighted to introduce the members of this newly formed committee. I am Ammon Ripple from the University of Pittsburgh and I will be working with Lisa Wallis from San Francisco State University, Carolyn Bridgewater from Louisiana State University and Christine Marton from the University of British Columbia to update, review, and redesign the PH/HA Web site. Our current site has served us well so far - our goal is to build on what is currently there and to take it to the next level.
We would like your feedback as we begin this endeavor. Please send an e-mail to Ammon Ripple (firstname.lastname@example.org) with your feedback and ideas on what features you think are most valuable on the current site, what you would like to see added to the site to make it more useful for you, or suggestions for changes to the existing content or design. We will do our best to address all feedback we receive.
One thing we would definitely like to do is link to any public health-related Web resources that our members maintain. If you maintain any online public health resource guides or other Web resources and want them linked from our PH/HA site, please let us know about them at the e-mail address above.
by Barbara Landreth, CDC National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) (http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/homepage.html) is the Federal agency responsible for conducting research and making recommendations for the prevention of work-related disease and injury. NIOSH research covers the full scope of occupational disease and injury, ranging from lung disease in miners to carpal tunnel syndrome in computer users. In addition to conducting research, NIOSH:
· makes recommendations and disseminates information on preventing workplace disease, injury, and disability; and
· provides training to occupational safety and health professionals.
To identify the results of NIOSH research, use NIOSHTIC-2 (http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/pubs.html), a searchable bibliographic database of over 32,000 articles and documents produced by NIOSH or supported by NIOSH funding. Recent NIOSH publications are available in full-text on the Web site, and may be accessed from the bibliographic records in NIOSHTIC-2 or from the chronological Publications List (http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/publistd.html).
Some recent Hot Topics for NIOSH research and recommendations:
The NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards (NPG) (http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/npg/npg.html), one of the most frequently requested publications, presents key information and data in abbreviated or tabular form for several hundred chemicals or substance groupings that are found in the work environment and is intended to help users recognize and control occupational chemical hazards. The NPG is available in full-text on the Internet and also may be requested in CD-ROM or print format from NIOSH.
For more information or to request free copies of NIOSH publications:
Submitted by Helena VonVille, GIS Column Editor, PH/HA, Helena.M.VonVille@uth.tmc.edu
Earlier this summer, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) made available to the public State Cancer Profiles (http://statecancerprofiles.cancer.gov/). Dr. Sue Bell, project coordinator of State Cancer Profiles, agreed to be interviewed about GIS in general and this site in particular. Dr. Bell has worked extensively with GIS, beginning in 1993 with a summer internship at the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), developing maps of neurodegenerative diseases. In the summer of 2000, Linda Pickle (Atlas of United States Mortality) contacted Dr. Bell about a project that was envisioned by Ben Hankey, Chief of the Cancer Statistics Branch of NCI's Surveillance Research Program. The goal was to create "dynamic views of cancer statistics for prioritizing cancer control efforts in the nation, states, and counties". This project became State Cancer Profiles.
Simply stated, State Cancer Profiles provides maps and tables of state and county level cancer data. Because the Federal government collects mortality data by county, it cannot provide more detailed data; cancer incidence data is also collected at the county level. Also, concerns of individual privacy and HIPAA impacted the degree of detail imparted in the maps. Unlike Cancer Mortality Maps & Graphs (http://www3.cancer.gov/atlasplus/index.html), this site maps only those cancers that can be prevented or controlled; bladder, breast, colon and rectum, lung and bronchus, melanoma, oral cavity and pharynx, and prostate cancers are included in this site.
This site also includes incidence data where available, however, which Cancer Mortality Maps & Graphs does not.
The data for State Cancer Profiles comes from several sources, including: SEER data (http://seer.cancer.gov/); data from the National Program of Cancer Registries (NPCR) (http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/npcr/); mortality statistics from NCHS (http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/about/major/dvs/mortdata.htm); and statistics from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/about/major/dvs/mortdata.htm). Currently, SEER covers approximately 14% of the US population, collecting data from 11 population-based cancer registries and three supplemental registries. Data gathered includes incidence and survival data. SEER is being expanded to include additional states, increasing coverage to approximately 26% of the US population. Since its authorization in 1992, the NPCR has provided financial and technical support to states in order to improve or enhance their central cancer registry.
Data gathering is further impacted in that 13 states did not meet the registry eligibility criteria to be included in the US Cancer Statistics: 1999 Incidence report (http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/npcr/uscs/report/). States in the southern half of the United States have been historically underrepresented; Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Virginia, and much of Georgia contributed no incidence data to the US Cancer Statistics: 1999 Incidence report. Fortunately, for the 2000 data year the number of states not certified has decreased to ten, with Alabama and the rest of Georgia becoming certified by the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries (NAACCR) (http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/npcr/naaccr.htm).
As the 2000 data is released, it will be incorporated into State Cancer Profiles as long as permission is granted by the state providing the information. In the past, some states opted out for fear of intruding on the privacy rights of individuals. However, these concerns appear to have been alleviated by aggregating across years for county statistics, by suppressing when there are few cases/deaths, and by including confidence bounds to show the potential variability in the rates. It is expected that states that had originally opted out as well as newly certified states will increase the robustness of State Cancer Profiles.
Let's take a quick tour of State Cancer Profiles (http://statecancerprofiles.cancer.gov/) so you have an opportunity to see how truly exciting this site is. From the home page, in the middle column click on Latest Rates, Percents, and Counts. For the Left Column Data, select the Area you want (choose your state with counties), Data Group (Cancer Statistics), Cancer Statistic (choose Mortality Rate for this example as not all states have incidence data), Cancer (e.g., Lung & Bronchus), Race (All Races), Sex (Both Sexes), and Age (All Ages). Do not complete the Right Column Data at this time. Scroll down and click on Draw. The resulting graph displays the counties in order of high to low (this can be reversed by clicking on the Rank triangle above the graph). Confidence intervals are indicated to provide the user with a cue on data stability or reliability. As you move your cursor over each county name, the mortality rate on the graph as well as its location in the state will flash. Healthy People 2010 goals are also indicated so you can how well each county is doing in meeting the goals.
In the left-hand column, scroll down a bit to click on the Overview button. An "S" distribution graph is drawn, allowing you to select a county to determine which counties fall below and which fall above. To see the county names in the S curve, click on the Zoom In button at the top. You can also roll your mouse over the image of the state to view individual county data; by clicking on a county in the map or a county name in the S curve, can change the selected county to which the others are compared.
In this column, I have focused a bit on the origin of State Cancer Profiles as well as some of the data collection issues that the developers have had to face. I have also given you a quick tour of one part of State Cancer Profiles. The next column will continue the GIS interview with Sue Bell, to whom I am extremely grateful. She was very generous sharing both her time and her expertise. Please let me know if you have any questions; I can be reached at Helena.M.VonVille@uth.tmc.edu.
Submitted by Kathel Dunn, New York University; Edited by Marie Ascher, Grey Literature Column Editor, PH/HA
While the interest in grey literature in public health/health administration is burgeoning, it's important to take a look at what is happening in related fields that also have a strong interest in grey literature. This issue of the grey literature column focuses on a recently published study on the impact of grey literature (its inclusion or exclusion) in meta-analyses in health care and reviews a bibliography of grey literature from the Science & Technology Section of the American Library Association.
While those of us in public health, health administration, or health policy are well aware of grey literature and its impact on our fields, grey literature can (and does) have an impact in the clinical medical world. A recent addition to the Cochrane Library from the Cochrane Methodology Review Group analyzed the impact of grey literature on meta-analyses of randomized trials of health care interventions. The authors searched the literature for meta-analyses that assessed the impact of excluding or including grey literature in the overall literature review an analysis. Eight studies were analyzed and the authors found that in seven of the eight studies, excluding grey literature had a positive impact on treatment effect. More simply put, the grey literature was more likely to report less-than-promising results; excluding grey literature and only including the published literature presented a more positive picture of the treatment being studied. The type of grey literature included (or excluded) were abstracts, unpublished studies, book chapters, reports, drug company information, in press, letters, theses, or 'other'. Confirming the long-known effect of publication bias, this study points out that for Cochrane reviewers, where there is a strong emphasis on methodology and inclusion of reviews no matter where published, the inclusion of grey literature is an important aspect for their studies.
Hopewell S, McDonald S, Clarke M, Egger M. Grey literature in meta-analyses of randomized trials of health care interventions (Cochrane Methodology Review). In: The Cochrane Library, Issue 3, 2003. Oxford: Update Software.
Our colleagues at the American Library Association's Science & Technology Section have compiled a bibliography of grey literature, current as of June 2003. Recent articles from library science, agricultural science, computer science and information science populate the fourteen page (printed) bibliography. The committee then provides links to selected grey literature science sites on the Web. The topics are agriculture, biology, biotechnology, chemistry, engineering, environment, energy and energy policy, general science, human genome project, medicine, meteorology, nutrition and diet, physics, wildlife and zoology. The two medicine sites selected: the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) and MEDLINEPlus, would not, I expect, strictly qualify in a bibliography/webliography of our own creation. Reviewing this bibliography - most particularly the webliography at the end - brings to mind how important it is to work with colleagues across other disciplines, or at least to be aware of their work. Our work should inform each other.
Grey Literature: an annotated bibliography (http://personal.ecu.edu/cooninb/Greyliterature.htm). Prepared by the STS Subject & Bibliographic Access Committee. June 2003.
The Medical Library Association (MLA) will be sponsoring a satellite teleconference entitled Reading Between the Lines: Focusing on Health Information Literacy (http://mlanet.org/education/telecon/healthlit/). To learn more about the goals and objectives for the program, to view the agenda, or to find teleconference sites near you, see the teleconference website (http://mlanet.org/education/telecon/healthlit/).
Submitted by Jan Cox, Chair, Rittenhouse Award Jury
Calling on all students enrolled in ALA-accredited library and information science programs and trainees in health sciences librarianship internships or medical informatics to seize the creative power of your mighty pen, pencil and/or keyboard. Submit your unpublished bibliographical, issue/topic based, or research results paper or Web-based project on health sciences librarianship or medical informatics for the 2004 Rittenhouse Award competition. Manuscript submission information and procedure links may be found on MLANET at <http://www.mlanet.org/awards/honors/index.html> or you may phone Lisa C. Fried, MLA Headquarters, 312-419-9094 ext. 28 or e-mail at email@example.com . To submit a paper contact: Professional Development Department, Medical Library Association, 65 E. Wacker Place, Suite 1900, Chicago, Illinois 60601-7298. Submission deadline is November 1, 2003.
The Rittenhouse Award, presented annually by the Medical Library Association, was established in 1967 and is sponsored by Rittenhouse Book Distributors, Inc., King of Prussia, PA. The cash award of $500 and a certificate will be presented to the winner during the 2004 MLA Annual Conference to be held in Washington, DC.
Submitted by Colette Hochstein, Technical Information Specialist, Division of Specialized Information Services, NLM
The Household Products Database (http://householdproducts.nlm.nih.gov/)
This new resource available from the National Library of Medicine (NLM) enables users to find out what is in the products under the kitchen sink, in the garage, in the bathroom, and on the laundry room shelves, as well as about the potential health effects of these items.
Released in June 2003, Household Products Database links over 4,000 consumer brands to health effects from Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS), which are designed to provide workers and emergency personnel with the proper procedures for handling or working with a particular substance. The Household Products Database allows scientists and consumers to research products based on chemical ingredients. It is designed to help answer questions like these:
· What chemicals are contained in specific brands and in what percentage?
· Which products contain specified chemicals?
· Who manufactures a specific brand? How can the manufacturer be contacted?
· What are the potential health effects (acute and chronic) of the chemical ingredients in a specific brand?
· What other information is available about such chemicals in the toxicology-related databases of the National Library of Medicine?
As the world's largest library of the health sciences, the NLM (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/) has provided an important set of databases for toxicologists and other scientists for many years, TOXNET (http://tox.nlm.nih.gov/) . The target audience of the Household Products Database, however, is both scientists and the general public. The Household Products Database allows users to browse a product category, such as Pesticides or Personal Care, by alphabetical listing or by brand name. Products can also be searched by type or by manufacturer. Information on chemicals can be obtained by browsing an alphabetical listing of product ingredients or chemical names. The user can also search on a chemical's unique identifier. The Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for a product can be searched for health effects via text words. For more information, users can launch a search for a product or ingredient in TOXNET from the product's record in the database.
For example, a homeowner interested in learning about what algaecide she might use in the swimming pool could select the "Landscape/Yard/Swimming Pool" category in Household Products and "algaecide" as the type. She could then choose several brands to explore. The record for each product would show her the ingredients from the MSDS/Label, as well as health effects and toxicity information.
NLM plans to expand the products covered in the Household Products Database and to routinely update product information, including the MSDS, for the product brands currently in the database.
For information about this and other databases from NLM's Division of Specialized Information Services, please contact: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tox Town City Scene
The National Library of Medicine's Tox Town (http://toxtown.nlm.nih.gov/) now has a City scene that features environmental health concerns in such locations as a hospital, construction zone, and airplane, as well as those associated with cell phones and brownfields. Tox Town helps users take a look at an ordinary town to identify its common environmental hazards. Specific locations (like the school, home and office building) can be selected for cutaway views and for more detailed information about the toxic chemicals that might be found, as well as for links to selected Internet resources. Tox Town also has some resources available in Spanish (http://toxtown.nlm.nih.gov/espanol/index.html).
NLM-Tox-Enviro-Health-L List Serv
The National Library of Medicine's Division of Specialized Information Services (http://sis.nlm.nih.gov/) launched "NLM-TOX-ENVIRO-HEALTH-L" (NLM Toxicology/Environmental Health Update), an SIS email announcement list, in June. The purpose of the list is to provide current updates regarding SIS's resources, services and outreach in toxicology and environmental health.
You can join the list and search its archives via http://list.nih.gov/archives/nlm-tox-enviro-health-l.html.
The Toxicology and Environmental Health Information Program is the focus of this listserv and includes information about the Toxicology and Environmental Health Information Program, which includes TOXNETdatabases (e.g., Hazardous Substances Data Bank (HSDB), TOXLINE, Toxics Release Inventory (TRI), ChemIDplus, our newer products (e.g., Tox Town, Household Products Database, Haz-Map) and assorted Internet guides and tutorials. Information about Environmental Health outreach projects will also be shared via the listserv.
Obtained from: Irene Sandvold, HRSA, Isandvold@HRSA.GOV
Do you and your patients feel inundated with information about prevention and medical screening tests? From mammograms to prostate cancer screenings to cholesterol and blood pressure tests, it can be confusing to figure out which tests are needed and when. Two brand-new pamphlets from the AHRQ-sponsored U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, "Women: Stay Healthy at Any Age: Checklist for Your Next Checkup" and "Men: Stay Healthy at Any Age: Checklist for Your Next Checkup" tell you exactly what you need to know about the most important screening tests. As always, the recommendations from the Task Force are based on scientific evidence. The pamphlets also include information about how to stay healthy and allow patients to record which screening tests they have received, when, and when they should be tested again.
Print copies of the checklists can be mailed to you. Copies can be ordered from the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse by calling (800) 358-9295 or sending an e-mail to email@example.com.
Simple Steps to Better Dental Health (http://www.simplestepsdental.com/SS/ihtSS/r.WSIHW000/st.31819/pr.3.html) [Macromedia Flash Player]
The Scout Report, Vol. 9, No. 27,
Simple Steps to Better Dental Health is a joint project of the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine and the health insurance company, Aetna. The site serves as "an independent consumer dental portal," offering loads of nicely presented Web pages on just about anything you'd ever want to know about dental health. The content falls into three main sections: Prevent Problems, Understanding Conditions, and Explore Treatments. The site is bursting with interactive tools and easy-to-understand diagrams, and also includes a section just for kids. From head and neck anatomy to cosmetic dentistry to your basic cavity, this Web site is a fantastically comprehensive resource that would be worth bookmarking for future reference. [RS]
Amnesty International-Report 2003 (http://web.amnesty.org/report2003/index-eng) [pdf]
The Scout Report, Vol. 9, No. 27,
Amnesty International recently released its 2003 Report, which "documents human rights abuses in 151 countries and territories during 2002" and "is a contribution to the work of human rights defenders struggling to achieve a safer world, a world where human rights take priority over political, military or economic interests." Those interested will find summaries of human rights situations around the world and Amnesty International's specific concerns in each. Although the full report must be ordered for a small charge, the Web site contains a significant amount of information including a message from the Secretary General, a 2002 "in focus" section, a description of Amnesty's activities, news stories, multimedia products, regional summaries, and information on each nation's specific activities. [JAB]
Public Health Image Library at CDC (http://phil.cdc.gov/phil/default.asp)
The Public Health Image Library at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides online material for reference, teaching, presentation, and public health messages. The content is organized into hierarchical categories of people, places, and science, and is presented as single images, image sets, and multimedia files.
Obtained from: Alan Carr, UCLA, firstname.lastname@example.org
Updates have been made to the Web site for the HIV/AIDS Information Summit (http://nnlm.gov/psr/aids_summit.html), which was held on March 19, 2003 at UCLA. The site now includes links to graphic recordings ('road maps') of the event; viewable Webcasts of the keynote addresses, panel presentations, and group reports/recommendations sessions; and links to documentation for PowerPoint slide presentations, handouts used by speakers, the meeting agenda, the program, and a final report summarizing the event. For more information, contact: Alan Carr (email@example.com), Health Information Services Coordinator, NN/LM Pacific Southwest Region, UCLA L. Darling Biomedical Library. Phone: 301-825-7263.
American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) 2003 Spring Congress Summary (http://www.bis.med.jhmi.edu/content/amia_report.html) [Ed note: Updated link 3/17/04]
The AMIA Spring Congress was held in Philadelphia, PA on May 28-30, 2003. The Spring Congress focuses on a specific theme, which this Spring was Informatics and Vulnerable Populations. The purpose of the conference was to 'develop a framework for a national agenda in information and communication technology that will enhance the health care and thereby the health of underserved populations with the tangible goal of the creation of a series of white papers for publication in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association (JAMIA)'.
Guide to Community Preventive Services (http://www.thecommunityguide.org/partners/steps.htm)
The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has launched an initiative called "Steps to a Healthier US". This five-year cooperative agreement, administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is designed to enable communities to reduce the burden of chronic disease. The "Guide to Community Preventive Services" is an important resource for all applicants. The Community Guide Web site also provides specific information on how findings from the Community Guide facilitate the "Steps" initiative.
Online Community-Based Research Information (http://www.incommunityresearch.org/)
The Institute for Community Research (ICR) recently launched "ICR Abstracts", an online list that will be made available to its subscribers. Approximately every three weeks, ICR will post the latest abstract and bibliographic information on the emerging field of community-based research to the list. Practitioners from community organizations, universities, public and private funding agencies, decision-makers at the local and national levels, and other national organizations are encouraged to subscribe at http://www.incommunityresearch.org/.
IOM Report on Reorganizing the NIH (http://www.nap.edu/catalog/10779.html?onpi_newsdoc072903)
The National Research Council's IOM Committee on the Organizational Structure of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) released its report entitled, "Enhancing the Vitality of the National Institutes of Health: Organizational Change to Meet New Challenges." The full report, addressing areas of reorganization at NIH can be accesses or ordered from http://www.nap.edu/catalog/10779.html?onpi_newsdoc072903.
Webcasts from the 2003 National HIV Prevention Conference (http://www.kaisernetwork.org/cdc2003), held on July 27-30, 2003 in Atlanta, GA, are now available. Sessions that can be viewed include "The Current Status of the HIV/AIDS Epidemic in America", "Keeping Youth Healthy: Investing in the Future", and an interview with Dr. Harold Jaffe, Director of the National Center for HIV, STD, and TB Prevention.
Submitted by Laura Larsson, firstname.lastname@example.org
Seminar By Gerry McGovern,
The notes for this Workshop were taken by Laura Larsson, Cedar Collaboration. This article is the first of three that will describe Gerry's advice for creating great Web content.
Introduction of the Speaker
Gerry McGovern, well-known content and Web guru, gave a day-long workshop titled, 'Content First: Technology Second. How to Create Great Web Content' at Children's ospital in Seattle on July 16, 2003. Gerry has his own website (http://www.gerrymcgovern.com/) and is an author of two books (note 1) and numerous articles, and writes a weekly newsletter called, 'New Thinking' that comes out every Sunday night (note 2).
His 'New Thinking' newsletter discusses the importance of content and writing. Recent issues have dealt with the 'Seven Deadly Sins of Web Writing,' and 'What's Important to Measure on Your Website.' 'New Thinking' is a definite must-subscribe if you are interested in writing for the Web.
The Hippy Period of the Web is Over
The bad news is that the hippy period of the Web is over. The free-for-all '90s are over. The good news is that by now we have had 10 years experience with the Web. The Web is now a function of the world. It is part of business and is becoming formalized.
10 Steps to Success on the Web
Here are ten of the most important considerations to keep in mind when developing and maintaining content for your Web site.
1. Plan and Manage
It is important to have a 5-year plan because you do not change an organization very fast. Businesses should be looking for long-term solutions; 3-6 months advance planning is not adequate in today's world.
There is a substantial difference between writing for the Web and writing for print publications. The reward system in businesses will be changing to reflect rewarding those who can write. This skill will become part of each person's job profile. Learn to write well.
He recommends establishing an Editorial Board composed of senior management that meets 4 times a year. They are the ultimate decision makers with respect to your Web site. You must have buy-in from senior management.
He discussed how knowledge management is reflected in the value of a business. Working capital is worth 10% to 20% of a business whereas intangible assets account for 80% of the value of a business. Thus, knowing more about your assets is critically important. Web content is part of your assets. You must know how much your content costs to create. A few reports cost more than $5,000 to write, edit and mount on the Web. Gerry asked his audience, 'What is the value to an enterprise of a report that no one reads'? You must be able to differentiate between content that is read and that which is not read.
He went on to say that measurement is a fundamental aspect of management. If you do not measure, you cannot manage. So, knowing what content costs to create and maintain is critical for those managing the Web site.
Content is not about volume. More is not necessarily better. Gerry said that we must be able to manage our Web content. If we cannot manage it, we will have too much and should cut back. Setting objectives for our content is critical. It leads to better communications, proved processes, sharing best practices, and improved efficiency. It also reduces paperwork, avoids duplication, and leads to real-time sharing and cost savings.
In the past organizations were composed of information silos and that there was little or no sharing of information. The Web has changed this and has had a major impact on collaboration, especially in the realm of academic publishing. Prior to 1998 there were approximately 1.9 authors on a research paper; after 1998 the number of authors rose to an average of 4.0 authors.
2. Run your Website Like a Publication
The Web is publishing. HTML is a publishing tool. Tim Berners-Lee was fixing a publishing problem when he developed hyperlinking.
The technology in publishing is standardized. It is well-known that how you create a heading or the summary of a document is critical to its being read.
Knowing your audience is absolutely critical. The example he used described how the Novartis Pharmacy Co. developed their Website for physicians thinking that physicians would be the primary audience for their content. They were not; physicians formed only 7% of the users of their site whereas 60% were patients or caregivers. When Novartis did the research and finally figured this out, Web staff began shifting to writing in plain English on topics of interest to the 60% of their audience who were visiting their site.
Think about content reengineering if the content on your site is not appropriate for the current audience. The audience may change over time and your content must reflect this change.
You need both writers and editors on your team and you must have both to succeed. Editors have got to be able to say 'no' and in fact are trained to say 'no' to potential authors. For every page printed today, 30K are not published - except on the Web where anything goes. Gerry joked and said, 'Have gigabytes, must fill'. It's really important to get away from the concept, 'more'. In general, authors have a natural desire to overwrite whereas a writer's real model should be 'less is more.'
A Web site should have a tight focus. What is on the front page is critical to getting your message out. He discussed the concept of 'rotten fruit' [content that is dead and is now rotting] and he reminded us to ask how much rotten fruit is on our Web sites. He pointed out that 'dead content may not smell, but sure does stink'.
Content must be managed for its entire life cycle. No one wants to take content down but content, especially news, must be kept up-to-date otherwise people may get a negative impression of your site. If news is more than a week old it is very easy for your audience to lose trust in your content. He gave the example of the New York Times. The Times fired the editors who let the plagiarism continue to prevent the loss of trust on the part of their readers.
Do not use your Web site for content storage. It is for active published content only. He reminded us that only a fraction of a Web site is ever visited and gave the example of Microsoft where 99% of the visitors go to 1% of the content. He later praised Microsoft for the quality of its site.
3. Identify Useful Software Tools
Software tools should enhance the experience of the reader. He talked about the staff directory and a site's search engine in particular. One of a site's critical tools is an up-to-date staff directory. It must be kept up-to-date all the time. You don't want to say, "It may be wrong, but we made the effort." A current, easily-accessed, staff directory equals success.
Ask yourself how long it takes to find someone in your organization. How long does it take one staff member to find another staff member? How long does it take visitors to find someone? A directory allows visitors to access content in a faster, more efficient manner and allows them to collaborate. Over time, being able to find others in your organization will improve productivity because there's no wasted time.
Look at your search engine. Does it work? Do not have tools up on your site that do not work. On most Web sites, the search feature is usually very poorly done. He discussed how some employees use Google to find documents on their own Web sites because Google works and the site search feature does not.
4. Information Architecture
In this section, McGovern discussed the four pillars of information architecture:
· metadata and classification
· layout & design
Metadata is content about content. People hate to do metadata yet it's very important. Gerry feels that the critical elements to include in your metadata are:
· geographical classification
· subject classification
· publication date
Searches depend on metadata. Metadata helps you, the searcher, find critical information. The heading and description are important especially important. He reminded us that it is just as important for staff to find content as visitors to your site. If staff can find content quickly they are more productive. They can answer the critical questions that cross their desks every day.
How we organize and structure our content is important. The title is a critical element for the search engines. It's also what is displayed when the search engine presents your page.
Content should be action-oriented. You want people to do something when they finish reading your content. Content should be a call to action!!!!! Content should drive an action. What do people want to do when they read your content? The desire to click should be at the end point of reading.
Web content must have links. Links in the middle of a paragraph stop people from finishing reading the article. He recommends putting the links along the side rather than part of the body text.
Who should be in charge?
Communications is king. The Web has moved from the IT dept to those creating content. Today you need a managing editor who has the overall responsibility for the site. The managing editor is in charge.
When asked who should maintain the metadata, McGovern replied, "the author." He reminded us that the author knows more about his/her content than anyone else and should thus have the responsibility. [Author's comment: Perhaps we need to be thinking about training sessions for authors to create and use metadata].
5. Centralize the Architecture
Good web projects focus on simplification and on creating unified navigation and user-interface design across multiple business units or department. Good information architecture is boring. It is intended to be boring. Look at newspapers. They have a standard architecture regardless of the newspaper. They will have one feature article with a large picture enhancing the article. Other important articles often start on the top of the page, 'above the fold'. Lesser articles appear below the fold. Most front page articles continue overleaf to other pages. This is a standard developed over time and is followed by most newspapers.
The Web, too, is becoming standardized. Pages are beginning to have the same look and feel. You will find the logo on the left top with the navigation bar under the logo. The search engine is on the top right with the content below. Gerry recommends you be unique with your content, not with the architecture. Keep the architecture boring and standard so that people are not surprised by it. Readers do not like to be surprised.
6. Consider a Content Management System
Gerry described the benefits and drawbacks of a content management system.
The benefits are that it:
1. Is easier for non-technical editors and authors to create, edit and publish content on a Web site ? and contribution is critical.
2. Is easier for you to manage who creates, edits and publishes content.
3. Reduces the need for training.
4. Reduces the time-to-publish.
5. Allows for the design and evolution of the site and its content.
6. Facilitates publishing to multiple channels.
7. Facilitates better content security.
8. Allows you to more easily measure the success of your content.
The drawbacks are:
1. The system may be difficult to install.
2. Final cost.
3. System may be over-complex and convoluted.
4. If you do not have a clear specification at the beginning you may buy the wrong system.
5. Return on investment may not be there.
6. Motivate and reward.
It's a well-known fact that people work because they get paid. What are the real drivers of the knowledge organization? There are two key drivers: money and ego. Organizations must address these two issues in order to continue to have good content. 'Publish or perish' drives academia. This concept arose from the need to keep academics productive (and working). They must be motivated to publish.
In your enterprise, you must encourage people to write well and you must reward them for their writing. McGovern said that bad content is worse than no content at all. He reminded us that people who are not getting paid for their writing do not see it as important and reiterated how important the reward system is. Reward your authors for writing well.
8. Headings Drive Revenue
Headings become titles for the page is most cases. Thus, headings must stand on their own and make sense. He gave us the example of Fortune magazine. The editors, after many years, changed the heading on an annual issue dealing with retirement to a two-word heading: 'retire rich'. It increased sales more than 51% for that issue. We should plan on using snappy, relevant headings to increase visits to our sites.
Getting feedback on headings and content from your readers is critical. Feedback is essential in all publishing. He asked the audience, "How often do you talk to your readers?". He went on to say that it is important to talk to at least one reader each week and the more readers you talk to the better.
Good editors love crowds. He stated that Web teams often exist in caves. Conversations are critical. Authors and editors must constantly ask questions of their audiences, questions that most Web teams do not ask.
10. Promote Like Hell
Promotion is an ongoing effort. We are all part of the 'attention economy'. We live in an 'attention deficit world' but must get information in front of our readers for our sites to be successful. He gave the example of Hollywood spending $31 million promoting each film to gain our attention. How do we promote our pages?
In this section of the workshop Gerry described ten of the most important considerations to keep in mind when developing and maintaining content for your Web site. In subsequent articles we will describe more about publishing processes and how to write for the Web.
Note 1: Gerry's books are listed below and are worth reading cover to cover. McGovern, Gerry and Rob Norton. Content Critical: Gaining Competitive Advantage Through Hi-Quality Web Content. New York: Prentice-Hall, 2002. Amazon | McGovern
McGovern, Gerry, Rob Norton, and Catherine O'Dowd. The Web Content Style Guide: An Essential Reference for Online Writers, Editors and Managers. New York: Prentice Hall, 2001. Amazon | McGovern
Note 2: Subscribe to Gerry's "New Thinking" newsletter (http://www.gerrymcgovern.com/new_thinking.htm).
CDC's 2003 Cancer Conference (http://www.cancerconference.net/)
Comprehensive Approaches to Cancer Control ? The Public Health Role
5th International Conference on the Scientific Basis of Health Services (http://www.icsbhs.org/)
Global Evidence for Local Decisions
Hosted by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and Academy Health
September 20-23, 2003
Capital Hilton, Washington, D.C.
International Child Health Services Research Meeting (http://www.icsbhs.org/affiliate.htm)
International Child Health Services Research: Advancing Knowledge, Informing Action, Improving Child Health
Hosted by Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
Capital Hilton, Washington, D.C.
American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) 2003 Symposium (http://www.amia.org/)
November 8-12, 2003
Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, Washington, D.C.
Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE) 54th Annual Meeting (http://www.sophe.org/)
Leadership and Diversity: Bridges to a Golden Health Education Era
American Public Health Association (APHA) 131st Annual Meeting and Exposition (http://www.apha.org/meetings/)
Behavior, Lifestyle, and Social Determinants of Health
Copyright Internet Scout Project, 1994-2001. http://scout.cs.wisc.edu/ Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of the Scout Report provided the copyright notice and this paragraph is preserved on all copies. The InterNIC provides information about the Internet to the US research and education community under a cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation: NCR-9218742. The Government has certain rights in this material.