Thursday, July 30, 2020

Keep washing your hands!

You're probably as sick of reading pandemic-related posts as I am of writing them, but here's another one!  Mark Rober, former NASA engineer and current friend of science, made this video back in March to demonstrate how easily germs spread and how hand washing helps prevent that.

Or if you just need a good laugh, watch this video about Mark's attempts to stop squirrels from emptying his bird feeders instead.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Historical resources

Interested in medical history?  Check out this annotated bibliography of articles on past pandemics.  When she no longer had access to the rare books room, New York Academy of Medicine Library volunteer Hannah Johnston compiled a list of digital materials.  We're living through some weird times, but history can help us make some sense of where we are now.

Masked Red Cross Volunteers in 1918
Photo from the Center for Disease Control's 1918 Historical Image Gallery

Friday, July 24, 2020

Flattened by the curve

Maybe you're already familiar with McSweeney's Internet Tendency.  I'm partial to their lists (although I did have to go to page nine, all the way back in February to find a funny one that WASN'T pandemic-related).

They do a lot of satire, but they have serious features as well.  Check out Flattened by the Curve, an essay series written by healthcare workers on the front lines of the pandemic.

Image of an Italian anesthesiologist after her shift
Annalisa Silvestri, Italian anesthesiologist
Photo by Alberto Giuliani

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Research on the current infodemic

Thanks to WHSLA member Jennifer Deal for sending me this article from Health Information and Libraries Journal.  The authors argue that inaccurate and misleading continues to be a problem, especially on social media.  They conclude that fake information does real damage to public health.

But don't despair!  They've also formulated strategies to combat the spread of false information.  And as information professionals, we can help in this fight.  Here are the authors' suggestions and some links to help you get started:

Friday, July 17, 2020

What the Health? Book Club

There were several recurring topics in my casual discussions with colleagues at the Midwest Chapter's annual meeting last October but two that I've been trying to learn more about are:  social determinants of health and diversity in medicine.  The panel discussion at the Midwest Chapter's annual meeting and conversations with some colleagues afterwards left me wondering how librarians could further provide opportunities for our patrons related to these issues.  I was happy to find a group leading very timely and engaging conversations along these lines.

The non-profit group Patients R Waiting works to eliminate these disparities by focusing on increasing diversity in medicine.  One of their initiatives is What the Health? a virtual book club that aims to raise awareness regarding health equity.  Last month, health care professionals, pre-med/pre-health students and community members from across the US engaged in a conversation about these topics as they discussed Michael Marmot's The Health Gap.  The group will be reading two more books this summer and there is still time for you to read the next book and attend their July meeting.  They will be discussing Just Medicine: A Cure for Racial Inequality in American Health Care by Dayna Bowen Matthew. 

The meeting event page and time details provided by the group are below. Please encourage any of your students, providers or fellow librarians to join the discussion.  

Consider attending the July meeting even if you don't get a chance to finish the book.  I plan on being there!

Dora Davis

WHSLA Professional Development Coordinator

If interested, please click "going" on our Facebook event, which you can find with the first link below.

-What the Health? Book Club- July 29th Meeting Event Page

-Link to book on: eBayAmazon

-Learn more about PRW here


Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Bridging the Gap: From Research to Policy [on the NLM Blog]

Bridging the Gap: From Research to Policy

"As a health services researcher, I have always been interested in how to bridge the divide between research and policy. I constantly ask myself, “Which of my research questions will inform today’s most pressing policy debates?” and “How can I teach the next generation of nurse scientists to conduct policy-relevant research?” I recently left my academic position and spent a year working on Capitol Hill as one of eight 2018 –2019 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Fellows. In this blog, I offer a few key lessons from my time as a fellow that influenced my scholarship."   Read the full guest post by Ellen T. Kurtzman, PhD, MPH, RN, FAAN, associate professor, School of Nursing, The George Washington University.

This article took on special meaning for me since I've rejoined our nurse practice council helping to set policies statewide.   The importance of translating research into practice and the current gap between the two is real.  Point-of-care tools like Nursing Reference Center Plus certainly help because their nursing skills / procedures are always current, and they offer the current state-of-the art in their evidence care sheets.  But it's still a challenge translating the evidence into practice.  Here's a road map for making that happen.  

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Kinsa Smart Thermometer Data Predicts New Covid-19 Spikes Weeks Before CDC

I've been interested in the Kinsa heat maps since I heard about them back in March.  In fact, I had a different (but similar) blog post in mind a while back.    Interesting back in March, but it also looked like the thermometers were not so widely available as they are now.

I think it's fascinating to watch how Kinsa tracks the data and can predict a surge in real time before the health care system and the CDC can do the testing, collect, analyze and report the data.  They are always one step behind.  Think of the power these Kinsa heat maps offer in terms of being able to marshal resources and prepare for the Covid hot spots.  This technology allows us to see it coming.

Initially, I had concerns about privacy, but when I heard the maker talk about why he created the company, I felt much better -- They were not trying to get rich, but had a true public health interest in providing the technology and collecting the data to predict and respond to outbreaks.  In short, they wanted to use it for the public good.  

The company’s website,, shows fever levels across the country.

Kinsa’s data has also proved the effectiveness of social distancing and is now pinpointing new spikes around the country.

After states shut down their economies, [Kinsa CEO Inder] Singh says Kinsa data noticed declining levels of fever within three to seven days due to social distancing. Suddenly, the Kinsa thermometer became one of the first real-time data sources at the beginning of the pandemic to prove social distancing was effective.

“This is the whole reason we started the company is to detect, predict and help respond to outbreaks,” [Singh] says. “And this is an opportunity for us to use the data to have a really massive public health impact.” 

Monday, July 6, 2020

A Toast to Information Professionals Contributions in the Covid-19 Infodemic

This article does a nice job of summing up the collective work Health Science Librarians have been doing since the pandemic began. Cheers, Everyone!

Naeem SB, Bhatti R. The Covid-19 'infodemic': a new front for information professionals. Health Info Libr J. 2020 Jun 13:10.1111/hir.12311. doi: 10.1111/hir.12311. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 32533803; PMCID: PMC7323420. [Free article]

Abstract: The virus, commonly known as COVID-19 which emerged in Wuhan, China, in December 2019, has spread in 213 countries, areas or territories around the globe, with nearly 144 683 deaths worldwide on 18 April 2020. In the wake of this pandemic, we have witnessed a massive infodemic with the public being bombarded with vast quantities of information, much of which is not scientifically correct. Fighting fake news is now the new front in the COVID-19 battle. This regular feature comments on the role of health sciences librarians and information professionals in combating the COVID-19 infodemic. To support their work, it draws attention to the myth busters, fact-checkers and credible sources relating to COVID-19. It also documents the guides that libraries have put together to help the general public, students and faculty recognise fake news.

Keywords: global health; information literacy; information professionals.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

How to Fight an Infodemic: Let them Eat Cake

Information "Cake" Model from the article here.  

 How to Fight an Infodemic: The Four Pillars of Infodemic Management.
 Eysenbach G         J Med Internet Res. 2020 Jun 26.    PMID  32589147

Newly published editorial on Infodemiology,   I don't know about you, but this term brings to mind Ghost Busters suited up for battle. ;-)  The issue editor gives us the larger picture in this introduction to the topic, one that he's been studying for more than 20 years as it has evolved over time.  Eysenbach is poised to share his expert opinion on the nuances and challenges of this phenomenon where facts are in motion and best evidence is really just best-evidence-at-the-time (BETs).  He offers the Information Wedding Cake Model above as a way to explain how the layers interact and how proper translation between levels might improve problems with misinformation.  This entire issue of Journal of Internet Research focuses on Infodemiology in the wake of Covid-19 misinformation, and is worth checking out ...

From the article's abstract:
  In this issue of the Journal of Medical Internet Research, the
  World Health Organization (WHO) is presenting a framework for managing the
  coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infodemic. Infodemiology is now acknowledged
  by public health organizations and the WHO as an important emerging
  scientific field and critical area of practice during a pandemic. From the
  perspective of being the first "infodemiolgist" who originally coined the
  term almost two decades ago, I am positing four pillars of infodemic

(1) information monitoring (infoveillance); 
(2) building eHealth Literacy and science literacy capacity; 
(3) encouraging knowledge refinement and quality improvement processes such as fact checking and peer-review;
(4) accurate and timely knowledge translation, minimizing distorting factors
  such as political or commercial influences. 

In the current COVID-19 pandemic, the United Nations has advocated that facts and science should be promoted and that these constitute the antidote to the current infodemic.    This is in stark contrast to the realities of infodemic mismanagement and  misguided upstream filtering, where social media platforms such as Twitter have advertising policies that sideline science organizations and science publishers, treating peer-reviewed science as "inappropriate content."