Friday, December 12, 2008

University of the Fraser Valley Nursing Students' Health Fair

Where do you turn if you have health-based question, but it’s not urgent enough to call your doctor? Nursing students at the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) know it’s sometimes hard to find up-to-date information and that’s one of the reasons why they organize an annual Health Fair.

Each fall, UFV’s fourth-year nursing students host a public health fair, where they provide face-to-face information about a number of common health issues. This year’s event took place at Sevenoaks Mall in Abbotsford on Friday, October 17. Topics covered by the nursing students include the newly introduced HPV vaccine, high blood pressure, Type II diabetes, arthritis, childhood asthma, and preventive dental care for pre-school-aged children.

UFV Nursing faculty member Sheila Edwards says it’s a great opportunity for the students to thoroughly research a health issue and then present material and resources to the public in a friendly, informative way.

With the HPV vaccine being introduced to all Grade 6 and Grade 9 girls in this school year, Edwards says her students decided it was the perfect time to openly discuss the vaccine, its benefits, and the risks of cervical cancer. Their goal is to provide health-based answers to parents, girls, and women between the ages of nine and 26 years of age, and the public in general.

The students also determined that many parents have questions about dental care for preschool children; so again, this was a topic they have researched and are hoping to share their information.

The public health fair is part of UFV’s community health course taken by fourth- year nursing students. Edwards says it is a great opportunity for the students to deal directly with the public, while learning about topical issues. UFV nursing students have hosted these public health fairs for about nine years now.

Mental Health Café

Mental Health café deals with real issues in Fraser Valley communities

Don’t try to tell University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) philosophy instructor Peter Raabe that talk is cheap.

Raabe is a true believer in the power of talking about problems large and small. The North Vancouver resident introduced a Philosophy Café-style open discussion group specifically focused on mental health issues, to that community more than eight years ago. Since then a similar café group has been established in Coquitlam and a one is just taking root in Chilliwack.

The philosophy café, he explains, is an open forum for people directly affected by mental health issues. Raabe is adamant it is not a “typical self-help group” but a positive discussion that helps participants come up with ideas and suggestions about how to cope with mental health concerns and the wellness of a community.

Philosophy cafés give people a chance to discuss mental health issues affecting them and the communities where they live. Raabe says the sessions are open, friendly, and led by trained UFV students who keep the topics on track and topical.

Raabe, who is a philosophical counsellor when not teaching at the university, decided to get the students involved when he realized the concept of mental health cafés was becoming popular and his time to coordinate them was limited. A good facilitator, he says, will lead the discussion, keep it on topic, and ensure it remains respectful even though some sessions can get heated. And that’s where his UFV students come in.

“I wanted to pass on the legacy, so to speak, so I put out a call to the Psychology department for students who might be interested in taking this on.”

Eight students came forward and Raabe drafted a six-week training schedule that taught them the strengths and the exact role of good facilitator. He explains that it is a skill; good facilitators don’t dictate, they ask questions, sometimes act as the devil’s advocate to keep the conservation flowing, keep the discussion on topic, and know how to end it on time. When the UFV students completed the training, they were rewarded with three course credits they could count towards their degree.

“The students are able to apply their philosophical skills in practice. It’s a real shifting of gears for students — we’re putting them into a position of mentor or advisor for adults of many different age groups,” adds Raabe. “The students see some positive opportunities, both for themselves and for the participants, and they are really happy to be doing this.”

Four of those students continue to facilitate the mental health cafés which take place monthly in Coquitlam and now in Chilliwack. Next week, the Chilliwack café takes on the topic of the pharmaceutical industry’s impact on the mental health community.

Scott Campbell, with Chilliwack’s Mood Disorders Group, says the mental health cafés are a great opportunity for all residents of a community to come together to discuss topical issues that generally affect the community as a whole.

Raabe likens the mental health café to a book club. The group meets regularly; topics for the next gathering are generally picked at the end of a session. Anybody can attend, anybody can suggest topics, and all voices are respected and listened to.

“There is no limit to what topics they choose,” he says. “And the important part of the facilitator is to empower the group to pick its own topics. Theses groups have jelled quickly and that might be because they are looking for information and they are looking for skills to deal with mental health issues. They can also look at possible solutions. But with a philosophical discussion there are sometimes three or four solutions. It’s never a simple case of what’s right or wrong.”

The next Chilliwack mental health café takes place Saturday, Dec 13, at 1 p.m. in the Minto Room at Evergreen Hall, at 9291 Corbould Street. It is hosted by the Chilliwack Mood Disorders Group. For more information, people can contact Scott Campbell at 604-793-4906.

The Coquitlam group also meets Saturday, Dec 13 at 1 p.m at the Pinetree Community Centre, 1260 Pinetree Way, Coquitlam. The topic for the December meeting is 'Holidays and Mental Health.' For more information about the Coquitlam group, people can contact Teresa Spurr at

Raabe expects the idea of the mental health philosophy cafés will continue to grow and is hoping other communities start similar groups. When the need arises, he will train more students who take on the role of facilitator.

“I know of nothing else like this in Canada,” adds Raabe. “There is not another café that deals with mental health issues on a continuing basis. Now we have people who are making suggestions and coming up with possible solutions or ideas to deal with mental health issues. That’s what it’s all about.”

UFV offers a minor in Applied Ethical and Political Philosophy as part of the Bachelor of Arts program. Students can also take a variety of philosophy courses for general interest. Applications for September 2009 are currently being accepted. To find out more, visit .

LATCH-ON Literacy Program

North Island College launched LATCH-ON Literacy this past September, a literacy program developed specifically for young adults with intellectual disabilities, including Down Syndrome.

LATCH-ON, which stands for Literacy and Technology Hands-On, was initiated in 1998 at the University of Queensland in Australia by Dr. Anne Jobling, a Down Syndrome researcher, with the help of Dr. Karen Moni, a lecturer in English curriculum and literacy education. LATCH-ON was developed with a socio-cultural approach to literacy that uses a combination of technology and more traditional methods of instruction to enhance literacy development.

The program’s objectives include providing opportunities for young adults with intellectual disabilities to continue their literacy development in a post-secondary environment, using computer technology to enhance literacy, and enhancing self-concept and life opportunities (work placement) through the expected positive outcomes of improved literacy development.

North Island College welcomed both Dr. Jobling and Dr. Moni in late August where they provided a week-long intensive training session for NIC instructors, as well as for project partners from the Down Syndrome Research Foundation in Burnaby. It is expected that the program will reach up to 30 students from the North Island region during its two-year trial, 10 at each of the regional campuses located at Campbell River, Comox Valley and Port Alberni.

“This is the first time the LATCH-ON program has been offered in Canada, and we are extremely pleased that North Island College was selected as the pilot site,” says program coordinator, Sheila Doncaster, who also serves as the Chair of the Department of Access for Students with Disabilities.

Funded by the Ministry of Advanced Education and Labour Market Development, LATCH-ON is a joint project of North Island College and the Down Syndrome Research Foundation. For further information about the LATCH-ON program, please contact Sheila Doncaster at (250) 334-5079 or

Survey: Network for Patient Education in Canada

The Working Group on Canadian Patient Education is conducting a survey to assess patient education networking needs.

Individuals working in a patient education program at a health care centre in Canada are asked to complete an online survey

For more information or with questions contact:

Tracy Hutchings
905-537-4322 x 46620


Farrah Schwartz
416-864-6060 x 3831

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A collection of health literacy curricula

Links to health literacy curricula collected after a discussion on the National Institute for Literacy Health and Literacy listserv.

"The curricula are organized by the following types: University courses, Medical School courses, Professional training programs, and Adult Basic Education/ESL/ENL program courses."

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Plain Language Tools

Photo: JDurham

Finding a reader-friendly alternative to jargon or more complex terminology can be a challenge. The following plain language resources may help.

Plain Language Thesaurus for Health Communications
CDC National Center for Health Marketing

Reviewer's Guide to Evaluating Health Information Materials
by Sandra Smith, MPH, CHES
BeginningsGuides 2008

Plain English Lexicon: A Guide to Whether Your Words Will be Understood
Martin Cutts
Foreword by Christine Mowat, past Chair of Plain Language Association InterNational (plain)

Words to Watch Fact Sheet
Pfizer Clear Health Communication Initiative

Readability Toolkit
P R I SM [ Project to Review and Improve Study Materials]
Group Health Center for Health Studies
Direct link to the Toolkit:

Monday, December 08, 2008

Webcast: What is ABA and Why is it Important in the Treatment of Autism?

Presented by Suzanne Jacobsen, Ed.D., BCBA
Clinical Director, ABA Learning Centre

Webcast available from Monday, December 15, 2008
Advance registration now open.

In B.C., once parents receive a diagnosis of autism for their child, they are expected to set up a treatment program grounded on Applied Behavior Analysis. But what exactly is ABA and why is it so crucial in autism treatment? This presentation explains the differences and overlap between commonly used terms that frequently confuse parents including:

  • Discrete trial
  • Lovaas therapy
  • Verbal Behavior
  • Pivotal Response Training
  • Positive Behavior Support
  • Natural Environment Teaching
This workshop is illustrated by wonderful video of children engaged in ABA and having fun while learning communication, academic and social skills.

The Speaker: Dr. Suzanne Jacobsen is well known to professionals and parents across B.C. for her exceptional range of expertise as a diagnostician, educator, psychologist and behavior consultant. She has lectured across North America and in Asia on various aspects of autism treatment. A registered psychologist and certified teacher, Dr. Jacobsen is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and a member of ACT's Advisory Council.

Who Should View this Webcast? This presentation was developed for parents primarily, but community professionals have found it to be informative in broadening their understanding of the breadth of ABA. To see feedback from previous participants, see the webcast overview page.

What is a Webcast? ACT webcasts are video-taped presentations that can be viewed over the internet by anyone with a fairly new computer and a high-speed internet connection. The webcast is an edited version of the live event. Subscribers can download a copy of the same handbook available at the event. This webcast is available at the convenience of the viewer, 24/7, for the full duration of your subscription. For information on ACT's move toward webcasts, see our fall 08 newsletter, ACT on Autism (.pdf).

A brief webcast preview is available for viewing on the ACT website. This will also ensure that your computer can access the webcast successfully. For further information on webcasting, including minimum technical requirements, see our webcasts FAQ.

To register call ACT* at 604-205-5467 or 1-866-939-5188.
*Office hours are Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.

2008/9 subscription cost for What is ABA? (available from December 15, 2008 to December 31, 2009):

Category 1 - Individual family or para-professional or student – $35
Category 2 - Family & One-to-One Staff (focused on 1 child or siblings – 8 or fewer users) – $100
Category 3 - Individual Professional – $50
Category 4 - Small Organization (8 or fewer users) – $200
Category 5 - Large Organization (9 – 20 users) – $300
Special – Don’t find your circumstance on this list – Call or email ACT for advice!

Manual: For a preview of ACT's new Autism Manual for BC, see
Bursaries: If you are low income, ACT has some bursary funds available. Please apply for a bursary before registering. See for more information.

Support & Information: ACT’s team of Information Officers can provide support and information on a wide range of autism-related topics and can advise on whether a workshop or webcast is appropriate for your needs.
Contact ACT by email at
or by phone at 604-205-5467 or 1-866-939-5188.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

New article: "Literacy and Health: Implications for Active Living"

"Literacy and Health: Implications for Active Living"
by Irving Rootman and Joan Wharf-Higgins in
Alberta Centre for Active Living's WellSpring (October 2007 Vol 18, No. 4)

"What’s in this article for you? This article focuses on the following main topics:

  • What is literacy and health literacy?
  • Why should active living practitioners be interested in literacy and health literacy?
  • Do people understand communications about physical activity?
  • What can you do to address literacy or health literacy in your practice?"
Read more:

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Vocational and Rehabilitation Research Institute (VRRI) in Alberta is an excellent source of information for people with disabilities and people who work with them. Plain language booklets are available from the website on a range of health and life skills. Also available are short, practical publications for service providers to facilitate respectful and successful communication and support. The following recent item caught my eye:

Speaking Plain Language: How disability support workers can use plain language with clients who may have limited literacy or language comprehension skills by Aiofe Freeman. (FastFacts Vol 1, no. 2 March 2008)

While resources on plain language writing are happily fairly plentiful these days, information about how to communicate verbally in accessible language is more unusual. This brief guide with a reference list offers practical tips for conversing with people who have difficulty understanding because of literacy or language challenges. While these tips sound like common sense, consistently putting them into practice can be tricky.

Suggestions include:

  • Think about your audience
  • Be aware of your tone
  • Reduce the amount of information you provide at one time
  • Use short and everyday words
  • Find out if you are being understood--but recognize that your listener may be uncomfortable admitting that they don't know what you're talking about!

How to be a "pleasantly assertive" patient

Researchers at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill offer five ways to get more from your doctor.

These days, going to the doctor may seem more like speed dating than care giving. Patients get a few minutes with the clinician, and he or she does most of the talking. How can a person get the information they need and the outcome they desire in a 15-minute office visit? What if the treatment options don’t feel right? Is it too much for a patient to feel they are considered a partner in their own well-being?

Often, people leave their doctor’s office with more questions than answers, according to researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine who are looking at how patients can get more of what they need from the health-care system. They have found that patients (or their advocates) who talk to physicians about their beliefs, values, lifestyle and
concerns can get better results from their health-care experience.

“Research shows if you ask doctors what they think is important to patients, and then ask patients what’s important to them, there’s not a great match,” said Dr. Michael Pignone, chief of the UNC division of general internal medicine.

But, as smart as doctors are, they aren’t mind readers, Pignone and his colleagues note. “A common problem is patients thinking that their physician will know how they – the patient – feels about specific decisions” said Dr. Carmen Lewis, assistant professor of medicine of general internal medicine and clinical epidemiology. “Doctors don’t – you need to tell them. People feel the doctor is the expert, but the individual is the expert about his or her lifestyle and how he or she values options and outcomes.”

Pignone offered some tips for becoming what he calls a “pleasantly assertive” patient, so that patients’ health-care providers can better help them.

  1. Prepare for your visit. “It might seem silly, but it’s really helpful to write down your symptoms, complaint or problem, then summarize it into a couple of sentences,” Pignone said. “Bring your list and your summary with you to the visit. This allows the doctor to quickly review your condition and ask specific questions, instead of spending time focused on general issues. This one step can make visits 25 percent to 50 percent more effective.”
  2. Have an agenda. “Before your appointment, decide what you want from the visit,” Pignone recommends. “For instance, if you’re suffering back pain, you might want to know what is causing the pain as well as a treatment plan for getting better. Make sure you share that with your doctor at the very beginning of your visit. It might feel funny at first, but your doctor will appreciate it. Sharing this information will help you all make better decisions about treatment, make the visit more efficient, and improve the chance that your health-care needs will be met effectively.”
  3. Know your medical history and medications. “To help you get the treatment you need, doctors need to know what tests you’ve had – and when – as well as what medications you’re taking,” Pignone said. “Without that information, they might mistakenly re-order tests or prescribe medication that has a bad interaction with something you’re already taking. That can have adverse effects for your health and your wallet.”
  4. Tell your provider about your values or lifestyle preferences that could affect your treatment. “It doesn’t make sense to agree to a treatment plan you know you won’t follow – it won’t result in your feeling better,” Pignone cautioned. “For example, if a Wednesday night smoking cessation class conflicts with your book club, it’s not going to be an effective intervention for you. On a more serious level, if you don’t want to deal with the uncertainty of a possible recurrence of cancer, you might prefer a mastectomy to a lumpectomy. Similarly, if you can’t afford medication or to take off work for recurring visits, tell your provider even if you’re embarrassed. There are often ways to work around the challenges if your care team knows about them.”
  5. Clarify the decision to be made. “Sometimes you’re offered several options, so be sure you understand the alternatives and if you don’t, ask for clarification,” Pignone said. “Your doctor should be able to give you important details about each option either during the visit, or on a follow-up call. In addition to the details, ask them how good the medical information is.”
Pignone and Lewis acknowledged that this approach results in a very different doctor-patient relationship, but evidence shows that proactive patients tend to get more effective and efficient care.

“The sicker you are, the more this matters,” Pignone said. “But it’s harder to do. If you’re not comfortable interacting this way, involve other people who support you in your life to come with you and play this role.”

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

FDA education program for over-the-counter medications

The US Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER), in cooperation with the National Council on Patient Information and Education (NCPIE) and Maryland's Montgomery County Public Schools, has launched "Medicines in My Home," an interactive educational program about the safe and effective use of over-the-counter medicines, located at The website includes a "Teachers Room," featuring a PowerPoint presentation, pre- and post test, in class lesson materials, and materials and activities for use in the home with family members. Key concepts students will learn from the program are:

  1. The Drug Facts label tells you what a medicine treats, if it is right for you and your problem, and how to use the medicine;
  2. Read the label and follow the directions carefully and correctly;
  3. Two medicines with the same active ingredient shouldn't be used at the same time; and,
  4. Measure medicines correctly with measuring tools made for medicines.
The program emphasizes that medicines should be used only with permission from an adult and that if there are questions about medicine use, ask a pharmacist or doctor. Materials are provided to encourage students to share what they learn with their families so that all family members can learn to use over-the-counter medicines more safely.

Research: Neutral HIV presentations more likely to be considered inviting

A recent study by University of Illinois professor of psychology Dolores Albarracín and her colleagues at the University of Florida and the Alachua County Health Department in Florida found a method to increase enrollment among high-risk individuals in HIV prevention programs.

The study, which appeared in the September 2008 issue of Health Psychology, found that by offering an experimental introduction to a counseling session, public health institutions could increase enrollment by a significant amount.

Previous research by Albarracín found that those most likely to engage in behaviour that puts them at a high risk for HIV are also the least likely to enroll and stay in HIV intervention programs.

Therefore the researchers studied the effects of delivering different messages to participants screened for high-risk behavior as an invitation to a counseling program delivered at the Alachua County Health Department in Gainesville, Fla. They found one message that increased enrollment among participants.

All the messages informed participants who had signed up for a generic health study that they could speak to an HIV-prevention counselor. In the experimental condition, they were also told that the counseling session was not intended to change their behaviour, only to provide them with the most current information. Compared with a message that indicated that the counseling increased condom use, recipients of the experimental message enrolled at a rate higher by 15 percent. This effect was particularly strong when participants had no intention of using condoms at the beginning of the study.

“Public health experts around the world are regularly in search of the most effective methods for curbing preventable health problems,” Albarracín said. “HIV is a disease caused by a number of risky behaviors like unsafe sex and unsafe needle sharing, but health information is often disseminated without complete knowledge of how it will be received by audiences,” she said.

“The research indicates that people will be more receptive to information when they don't believe they are trying to be influenced,” she said. “This approach will be helpful in giving public health professionals effective ways to introduce the public to information without repulsing those they are trying to help most.”

Other researchers involved in the study were Marta R. Durantini, Allison Earl, and Josh Leeper, of the University of Florida, and Joann B. Gunnoe of the Alachua County Health Department.


Beyond the most willing audiences: A meta-intervention to increase exposure to HIV-prevention programs by vulnerable populations.
Albarracín, Dolores; Durantini, Marta R.; Earl, Allison; Gunnoe, Joanne B.; Leeper, Josh
Health Psychology. Vol 27(5), Sep 2008, 638-644.

Read the abstract at

US health education in barbershops and beauty salons

As part of its mission to train the next generation of physicians and scientists, the Mayo Clinic Center for Translational Science Activities (CTSA) offers the Health Disparities Field Experience, a unique course through Mayo Graduate School. For this year's fieldwork, course scholars and faculty are joining with the Center for Minority Health (CMH) at the University of Pittsburgh's Graduate School of Public Health in its innovative program called 'Take a Health Professional to the People Day' on Sept. 18, 2008. This event has been recognized nationally with a feature on the Web site of the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NCMHD), National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Health disparities — the gaps in health care access and outcomes among different populations — lead to higher rates of chronic illness, disability and death from preventable causes for minorities. Now in its seventh year, Take a Health Professional to the People Day deploys teams of physicians, nurses, pharmacists, dentists and public health educators to 10 barbershops and beauty salons in inner-city Pittsburgh to deliver health information and health screenings to customers. In 2007, 150 health professionals screened more than 556 African-Americans in these neighborhood settings.

Why take health education efforts to barbershops and beauty salons?

These settings are effective because they are familiar community assets and trusted institutions in African-American neighborhoods where people gather to connect and exchange information. "Far too many African-Americans have no 'medical home' to access health care services, so government programs that promote 'taking a loved one to the doctor' are not as effective for this community," explains Stephen B. Thomas, Ph.D., director of CMH and the Philip Hallen Professor of Community Health and Social Justice. "Therefore, CMH created Take a Health Professional to the People Day. By focusing our efforts on a single day, we believe we can help generate a greater understanding of the importance of regular health screenings while at the same time reaching people who tend to have the least access to health care." In addition, the program serves as an excellent training opportunity for health professionals, who benefit from engaging minority populations outside of the clinical environment.

For more information about Take A Health Professional to the People Day, the NIH-NCMHD Research Center for Excellence in Minority Health Disparities, and other activities of the University of Pittsburgh Center for Minority Health, visit the University of Pittsburg Center for Minority Health Web site.

Radio stories of living with HIV reduces stigma in Ethiopia

Betengna, a radio program in Ethiopia that showcases the diaries of ordinary people living with HIV, may contribute to reducing HIV-related stigma, according to the results of a research study disseminated September 24, 2008 in Addis Ababa. Results of the research indicate that listeners of Betengna were found to have lower stigma toward people living with HIV and had greater knowledge about HIV transmission, prevention and management.

The program has aired on Ethiopian radio stations over the past two years, and it boasts an exposure of 29% in Addis Ababa and SNNPR, according to the study. It is also available for downloading on the National AIDS Resource Center’s website (

The radio diaries narrate the everyday experiences and challenges of living with HIV in Ethiopia and are broadcast weekly on five radio stations in Amharic, Tigrigna, and Oromoiffa languages. Betengna aims to decrease the stigma and discrimination that HIV positive people face in Ethiopia by exposing the human face of living with the disease and providing a platform for creating discussion on these issues among the general public. Over time, diarists cover a broad range of their everyday life experiences such as teen pregnancy, relationships with partners, family, friends and their communities, health issues, emotional and physical stress and living positively.

The research findings come from a household study conducted in November 2007 in four regions – Amhara, Tigray, Addis Ababa and SNNPR - in order to determine exposure to Betengna and the extent to which changes could be linked with exposure to the broadcast. Data was collected by a local research organization, Addis Continental Institute of Public Health.

Study results indicated that listening to Betengna was associated with increased empathy and affinity for the diarists and a better understanding of the challenges of leading an HIV positive life. Other indicators of decreased stigma were a greater perceived identification with people living with HIV and a stronger belief that HIV positive persons should be treated with respect. Caller feedback from listeners supports that Betengna is increasing empathy and reaching listeners on a more emotional level than just promoting rational thinking.

“Many people go to test after they become very sick. Sirak’s story motivated me to get tested and I found out that I’m HIV+,” indicated a male listener. “I live in South Africa, Cape Town. I always listen to Hiwot Mamo’s program and it really amazes me; she really is a wonderful woman. I just wanna tell her be strong and to always look after her self. Stay blessed,” commented a web listener.

The Radio Diaries are produced by the National AIDS Resource Center (ARC) and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health/Center or Communication Programs (CCP). The program's design is based on and builds on similar projects run by CCP in Nigeria and Malawi. Betengna is produced in collaboration with the National HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Office (HAPCO) with technical assistance from Internews Network-Ethiopia. Funding is provided by the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Vulnerable Populations & Global Public Health Presentation Oct 31/08

Time sensitive

Vulnerable populations and global public health

UBC-School of Population and Public Health (SPPH) Grand Rounds
Presentation for Friday, October 31, 2008

Presented by: Katia Mohindra, Post Doctoral Fellow, Global Health Research Program, SPPH, UBC

Topic: Vulnerable populations and global public health: perspectives from some 'egalitarian' societies***

Date: Friday October 31, 2008
Time: 9:00 AM TO 10:00 AM
James Mather Building
Room: #253 - 5804 Fairview Avenue
Vancouver, BC

Please join us for the Grand Rounds. If you are unable to attend in person, please join us remotely through our website and simultaneously via conference call.

Dial in: 1-866-596-5278
Conference ID: 7347312#

If you do join us via conference call, it is very much appreciated if you put your phone on mute to enhance the listening ability of all remote listeners.

**Presentations are the property of the presenter(s) and permission must be obtained before copying or distribution of presentation occurs. Presentations for rounds from the website are for viewing purposes only.**

Should you have any questions, please contact Sylvia at or 604-822-7646

[Posted on: Women-Health eNews - an electronic mailing list for activists, researchers, and policy makers, both nationally and internationally, who are working to improve women's health. The list was created and is managed by the BC Centre of Excellence for Women's Health ]

Community Health Discusssions

CHNET-Works! a project from Community Health Research Unit, University of Ottawa is hosting a series of Fireside Chats (FREE pan-Canadian discussions for community health professionals - via telephone/internet conferences). October, November and December 'chats' are focusing on: Climate Change and Health, Healthy Aging and Food Insecurity. Discussions need to include perspectives re: social ceterminants of health.

Info and registration: and click on Fireside Chats

[posted on the Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) listserv October 29, 2008 by Dot Bonnenfant, CHNET-Works! Animateur]

Upcoming topics:
Climate Change and Health: shedding light November 20/08

Canadian Falls Prevention Curriculum - an UPdate February 5/09

Climate Change and Health: newHealth Canada Report November 13/08

Children Vulnerable to Environmental Contaminants December 10/08

Health Care: Preparation for Age of Scarce Oil October 30/08

Climate Change and Health: A Breath of Fresh Air November 7/08

Healthy Aging: Housing, Support Service and Health November 26/08

Food Insecurity: The Cost of Living - a tool December 5/08

Info Tech and Health Promotion.... December 4/08

Healthy Aging #2 - Aging with Dignity February 12/09

Skateboarding and Youth: What's working? December 3/08

Friday, October 24, 2008

Scientific Cafe: Is menopause a disease? [Vancouver]

Time sensitive

Is menopause a disease?
We will discuss different perspectives from around the world on gendered aging with input by women doctors from Eastern Europe and India. How does the emergence and popularity of menopause-specific products, pills, and supplements reflect how we view menopause as a society? Hormone Therapy controversies - do women's hormones need replacing? "Bioidentical" vs. "synthetic" hormones: Is one better then the other, and what are the risks of ovarian hormone therapy? Hot flashes and night sweats - is estrogen the only option? Is osteoporosis inevitable?

Expert Panel:
Dr. Jerilynn Prior, UBC Professor of Endocrinology, Scientific Director of CeMCOR
Ms. Karen Coulson, Executive Director with Osteoporosis Canada (BC Division)
Dr. Sheela Mistry, foreign trained OB/GYN and Research Coordinator
Dr. Vesna Stajic, foreign trained MD and Research Coordinator

Date: Tuesday Oct 28th, 2008
Time: 7:00-9:00pm, doors at 6:30pm
Venue: Little Nest (,
1716 Charles St, Vancouver (Commercial Drive)

Cost: Admission is free but space is limited - be sure to arrive on time! For more information see:

Monday, August 25, 2008

Health Information for Seniors

NIHSeniorHealth is an "easy-to-use website [which] features health and wellness information for older adults from the [US] National Institutes of Health." Health information is organized alphabetically by name or in categories such as:
* Bones and Joints
* Cancer
* Diseases and Conditions
* Healthy Aging
* Heart and Lungs
* Memory and Mental Health
* Treatments and Therapies
* Vision and Hearing

Also available: "Exercise stories" with seniors sharing their experiences with various activities, a collection of health videos (with the option of reading the transcripts), and a training module called: Helping Older Adults Search for Health Information Online: A Toolkit for Trainers.

Iceberg Newsletter on FASD

Iceberg is a quarterly international educational newsletter on FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders) from FASIS (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Information Service), a parent/professional partnership based in Seattle, WA. Visit the website for events, resources and the current and back issues of this excellent newsletter.

"Because the problems we readily see are only the tip of the iceberg."
--Iceberg website

Study Explores Value of Recording Medical Visits for Cancer Patients

Patients can find it hard to absorb what their doctors tell them during stressful moments. Recordings or transcripts of office visits could help people with cancer—or their family members—recall medical information they might otherwise have missed, a new review suggests.

“It is important to consider anything that can improve the cancer patient’s experience, especially interventions that can be easily accommodated within the normal office visit,” said lead author Marie Pitkethly, co-coordinator of the Scottish Primary Care Research Network in Dundee.

The review included 16 studies of 2,318 adults who either had cancer themselves or were dealing with a close relative with cancer. The researchers looked at the effects of providing recordings or summaries of doctor-patient interactions on information recall and understanding, participation in follow-up visits, satisfaction and other concerns.

The review appears in the latest issue of The Cochrane Library, a publication of The Cochrane Collaboration, an international organization that evaluates medical research. Systematic reviews like this one draw evidence-based conclusions about medical practice after considering both the content and quality of existing medical trials on a topic.

Richard Frankel Ph.D., a professor of medicine and geriatrics at the Indiana University School of Medicine, said many people who receive cancer information at the doctor’s office do not accurately remember what the physician said.

“Anything that can be done to increase their potential for retaining information is worth trying,” he said. “This review shows that the use of audio or videotapes can be very useful in some patients, but not all patients. The primary lesson this review teaches us that there needs to be an individualized approach to having difficult conversations with patients.”

For more on this study:
Pitkethly M, et al. Recordings or summaries of consultations for people with cancer. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. Issue 3, 2008.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

"Doctor and Patient, Now at Odds"--New York Times blog

Doctor and Patient, Now at Odds

Published: July 29, 2008
New York Times Health blog: Well

“By the time you’re done with your training, you feel, in many ways, that you are as far as you could possibly be from the very people you’ve set out to help,” said Dr. Pauline Chen, most recently a liver transplant surgeon at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the author of Final Exam: A Surgeon’s Reflections on Mortality (Knopf, 2007). “We don’t even talk the same language anymore.”


Caregiver Workshops--September & October

Time sensitive

Vancouver Coastal Health Caregiver Workshops

September Workshop:

Four-week educational workshop series for family caregivers running from Sept. 3 - Sept. 24, 2008

Learn strategies for coping, connect with other caregivers, and find out about valuable resources and information to assist in decision-making. Participants are strongly encouraged to attend all four workshops in the series.

Presenter/Facilitator: Sarah Galuska, MSW, RSW

Location: Evergreen Community Health Centre
3425 Crowley Drive, Vancouver, BC
Begins: September 3, 2008
Time: 6:30-8:30 pm
Registration deadline: September 2, 2008
Phone: Vancouver Coastal Health Central Intake Line--604-263-7377
Cost: Free - pre-registration is required

October-December Workshop
Six-week educational workshop series for family caregivers running from Oct. 21 - Dec. 2, 2008(no session Nov. 11th). Learn strategies for coping, connect with other caregivers, and find out about valuable resources and information to assist in decision-making. Participants are strongly encouraged to attend all six workshop sessions. Pre-resgistration is required, but late registration may be possible.

Location: Pacific Spirit Community Health Centre
2110 West 43rd Avenue, Vancouver, BC
Begins: October 21, 2008
Tim: 6:30-8:30 pm
Registration deadline: October 20, 2008
Phone: Vancouver Coastal Health Central Intake Line--604-263-7377
Cost: Free - pre-registration is required. Participants are strongly encouraged to attend all six workshop sessions.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Call for Articles: Breast Cancer & Women with Disabilities

The Canadian Breast Cancer Network is hoping to publish the Fall 2008 issue of our quarterly newsletter, Network News, on the topic of living with disabilities and breast cancer. We are looking for articles of up to 2,000 words plus a short bio of the author(s) (100 words or less) and hopefully a photo. Articles can be about research conducted on the issue, including barriers to diagnosis, treatment or supportive care.

We are also looking for articles by women living with breast cancer and a disability or disabilities. It may be that you were living with a disability before being diagnosed with breast cancer, whether a physical disability or mental illness. How did a breast cancer diagnosis affect your life? What challenges have you faced? Or perhaps your breast cancer treatments or surgeries left you with a disability. Consider sharing your experience and how you have learned, or are learning, how to adapt.

We are unable to pay contributors, but will send you as many copies of Network News as you like.

To check out a recent issue of Network News, go to

For information or to submit an article, contact:
Jackie Manthorne
Executive Director/Directrice générale
Canadian Breast Cancer Network
613-230-3044 ext. 222

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Patient-physician Communication: Research

With their waiting rooms crowded and exam rooms full, many physicians say they are too busy to be good communicators. Those who study physician time-management think otherwise. Certain communication skills can foster efficiency and effectiveness during an office visit without sacrificing rapport with patients, according to researchers at the University of Washington (UW) and the University of Rochester.

Their guide to a smoother flow of communication between doctors and patients appears in the July 14, 2008 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine. Their model is based on the authors' observation: "Effective communication in primary care must include skills that enhance the quality of care while helping patients and physicians use time wisely… Making the best use of available time is important for visits of any duration."

A few of the lessons the researchers presented in the resulting article, "Relationship, Communication, and Efficiency in the Medical Encounter: Creating a Clinical Model from a Literature Review" include:

  • focus the purpose of the visit with the patient: Instead of addressing each issue as it surfaces, creating a list at the start enables the doctor to confirm which problem is most medically urgent or most important to the patient. This approach also reduces the "Oh, by the way" issues brought up at the end of the visit.
  • understand the patient's perspective: Exploring the patient's viewpoint is useful for promoting self-management, suggesting healthy changes, assessing motivation, learning the patient's family and cultural beliefs, understanding the social and psychological problems that are diminishing the patient's ability to function, or getting to the root of medically unexplained symptoms.
  • reach a mutual agreement on a plan: The physician and patient decide on approaches the patient is willing to follow to manage or prevent the health concerns explored during the visit.
Throughout the office visit, it's helpful for physicians to:
  • establish rapport and maintain the relationship: Some ways doctors do this are by eye contact, recognizing others in the room, or a brief warm greeting, such as, "Nice to see you." On the other hand, too much small talk steals away time from considering the patient's problems.
  • practice mindfully: This occurs when physicians pay close attention to their own beliefs and reduce distractions in order to observe their patients' response to what is being said and done, and adjust accordingly. For example, a doctor lecturing on excess weight might notice the patient withdrawing. The doctor stops and asks about the patient's views. A physician who doesn't continuously monitor the interaction or doesn't check in with the patient may cover areas of little interest to the patient, and miss significant issues.
  • track topics: Sometimes an interview veers off course, particularly when there are multiple topics and no clear agenda. Unless the conversation is redirected, it's likely that no clear decisions will be made on some problems before the end of the visit. Sharing an impression of what has and hasn't been covered and realigning by agreeing on what to talk about next can keep the discussion organized.
  • acknowledge cues: When a physician responds with empathy to a patient's cues, a patient may reveal beliefs and preferences that can shape a successful treatment plan. Also, once their concerns are taken into account, most patients don't keep restating them. This saves time.

Researcher Larry Mauksch said, "Visits with the doctor that contain these fundamental elements lead to greater patient satisfaction, better adherence to medical regimes, increased self-management, better health outcomes, lower costs, and fewer malpractice claims. These skills enable physicians to do it right the first time, so they don't have to do it over."

The researchers are Larry Mauksch, a UW behavioral scientist in family medicine who studies and teaches doctor/patient communications; David C. Dugdale, an internal medicine physician and director of the UW Hall Health Primary Care Center; Sherry Dodson, UW clinical medical librarian; and Ronald Epstein, professor of family medicine, psychiatry, and oncology at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry and its Center to Improve Communication and Health Care.

To read more about the project:

Youth Violence Prevention Workshop: Fort St. John

Time sensitive

Free Youth Violence Prevention Toolkit Training Workshop
Fort St. John workshop on August 19-20, 2008

This 'train the trainer' workshop provides training on how to conduct a workshop from the Native Women's Association of Canada Toolkit. Participants will learn the best ways to engage with youth on five main topics:

  1. Domestic/Relationship Violence
  2. Date Violence
  3. Sexual Assault
  4. Emotional/Psychological Violence, and
  5. Bullying
To see a copy of the Toolkit, visit and look under Youth Projects. Workshops cover ideas such safety tips, early warning signs and ways to deal with it in the community.

Registration form:
Tel: 613-722-3033 ext 247

Friday, July 18, 2008

Consumer Health Tip Sheets

The US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) offers many consumer health resources, including:

20 Tips to Help Prevent Medical Errors
Patient Fact Sheet

20 Tips to Help Prevent Medical Errors in Children
Patient Fact Sheet

Quick Tips—When Getting Medical Tests

Quick Tips—When Talking with Your Doctor

Accessible Recreation/Exercise Facilities for People with Disabilities

The Alberta Centre for Active Living's newsletter, WellSpring (June 2008) features an article about ensuring full participation of people with disabilities at community facilities. While aimed at recreational facilities, this article includes excellent tips for service providers of all types and for people with disabilities. Topics covered include:

  • Barriers in the physical environment
  • Barriers in the social environment
  • Psychological barriers experienced by people with disabilities.
"Are We Ready? Full Participation of People with Disabilities at Community Facilities" by Karen Robinson, Program Director, The Steadward Centre for Personal & Physical Achievement.
WellSpring June 2008 Volume 19, Number 3

Thursday, July 17, 2008

"Patient Power" radio and blog

"Patient Power" is a radio show featuring University of Washington Faculty of Medicine physicians.

Every Sunday morning, Andrew Schorr's independently produced Patient Power radio show connects listeners with leading medical experts who talk about topics of interest to patients.

To listen on your radio:
8 a.m. to 9 a.m. PDT
570 AM KVI Seattle

To listen on your computer:
Webcast around the world:
E-mail your questions:
Call in live at 206-421-5757 or 888-312-5757

Visit the website:

Read Patient Power blog

Bringing Companions to Medical Visits: US Study

According to a survey of 12,018 US Medicare beneficiaries 65 years or older, bringing a family member or friend to medical visits improves patient satisfaction with medical care. Researchers found that:

  • 38.6 percent of participants reported regularly being accompanied to medical visits
  • Companions included spouses (53.3 percent); adult children (31.9 percent); other relatives (6.8 percent); roommates, friends or neighbours (5.2 percent); non-relatives (2.8 percent); or nurses, nurse aides or legal or financial officers (less than 1 percent)
  • 63.8 percent of companions helped with communication, including 44.1 percent who recorded physician comments and instructions, 41.5 percent who communicated information about the patient’s medical condition to the physician, 41 percent who asked questions, 29.7 percent who explained physician’s instructions and 3.3 percent who translated the English language
  • 28.4 percent of companions were reported to be present for company and moral support, 52.3 percent to assist with transportation, 16.6 percent to help schedule appointments and 8.4 percent to provide physical assistance.
Beneficiaries with regular companions were more highly satisfied with their physician’s technical skills, information-giving and interpersonal skills. Those whose companions more actively helped with communication rated their physicians’ information-giving and interpersonal skills more favourably. This relationship was stronger among patients who reported themselves to be in worse health.

Jennifer L. Wolff; Debra L. Roter
Hidden in Plain Sight: Medical Visit Companions as a Resource for Vulnerable Older Adults
Arch Intern Med. 2008;168(13):1409-1415.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Online/telephone courses from PLAN

NEW!! Home is Where the Heart is - ONLINE COURSE
Available online
PLAN's new interactive and engaging online course explores the different home options available for your relative with a disability. Videos and stories showcase inspiring living situations, checklists and interactive forms help you think about everything you need to consider when thinking about creating a home for your relative with a disability. This course comes with a downloadable practical guide and lots of inspiring ideas to help you start dreaming.

PLEASE NOTE: This workshop takes approx. 3 - 5 hours to complete. You may work at your own pace throughout the month and the facilitator will be available during the entire month.

July 8 - July 31, 2008
Register online:
Register by phone: 604.439.9566
Register by email:

Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP)
Available anywhere by telephone
In planning for the future, you need the most current and relevant information. The Disability Savings Plan will become available in 2008. It will provide another tool for you to plan with. Join us in this FREE telelearning seminar to learn about the details, its implementation and how it will work for your family.

Wed. July 23 - 12:00pm - 1:00pm (PST)
Register online:

Wed. August 13 - 12:00pm - 1:00pm (PST)
Register online:

Wed. August 27 - 4:00pm - 5:00pm (PST)
Register online:

Register by phone: 604.439.9566
Register by email:

2008 International Conference on Communication in Healthcare

Time sensitive

2008 International Conference on Communication in Healthcare
2-5 September 2008
Oslo, Norway
Earlybird rate available until July 18th

Program includes:

  • Teaching communication skills
  • Shared decision making
  • Disclosure of medical errors to patients
  • Analyzing clinical communication behaviour
  • Emotion and nonverbal communication
  • Communication in cancer care
  • Communication in different clinical settings
  • Family issues and communication with children
  • Gender issues in communication
  • Patient and provider perspectives
  • Cultural perspectives
  • Web-based interventions and information technology
  • Patient education
Plus posters and exhibition area.

Dr. Enid Wolf-Schein: Structured Methods in Language Education workshop

Time sensitive

Enid Wolf-Schein, Ed.D., CCC-SLP; Adjunct Professor University of Alberta
SMILE: Structured Methods in Language Education
August 14 & 15, 2008, Vancouver

Enid Wolf-Schein

Enid Wolf-Schein

What is SMILE? SMILE jump-starts literacy and encourages the development of functional language. A systematic, multisensory communication development program, SMILE engages children as they progress through basic attending, phonemic awareness and sound–letter knowledge to the use of language in a descriptive and conversational manner. SMILE is a method of teaching speech, reading and writing to children with severe language and communication delays. It begins with phonemes (the building blocks of speech) and progresses to the development of short stories. It also incorporates development of attention, specific and consistent teaching methodology, use of structure, routine and immediate reinforcement. Ongoing attention to generalization ensures that the pupil does not end up with a series of splinter skills that are not functional. SMILE is based on the Association Method, which uses a combination of visual, auditory, tactile and kinesthetic associations.

Who Should Attend this Workshop? ACT has brought Dr. Wolf-Schein back to BC because of the very positive response to her previous workshops. Teachers, SLPs, educational assistants and parents have reported that SMILE is an effective low-tech, multisensory methodology that can be individualized for students who are speaking or reading very little or not at all. It can be easily adapted for students who are using an ABA approach in their early intervention program. While it has been used extensively for pre-schoolers, it is also useful as an approach to teaching reading for students who need a more individualized approach.

For Which Students is this Method Appropriate? This method can be used successfully with any pupil who has a severe language-learning disability who is still struggling despite intensive efforts to encourage speech and language. Generally these children do not imitate easily or generalize readily. They often seem to have problems with auditory memory, and they may lack expressive speech in the presence or absence of language comprehension.

Children with an inability to express or to understand language symbols are a diverse group with respect to their disorder. They may be classified as aphasic, or have ASD, Down Syndrome, central auditory dysfunction, impaired hearing, or a mental handicap.

The Workshop The program is taught in five language modules. Module 1 begins with attention-getting exercises, goes on to the teaching of single sounds and letters, and then consonant–vowel combinations. As the program progresses, pupils develop increased phonemic awareness, sound–letter knowledge, auditory and visual discrimination, sound and letter sequencing skills, word recognition, picture–word association, short sentences, and finally, concept stories using speech, reading and writing. The workshop will cover the manuals and materials and include simulations. Extensive videos of students with both autism and other challenging conditions will be utilized.

The Presenter Enid Wolf-Schein, Ed.D., CCC-SLP, has her Doctorate in Special Education and is a certified Speech Language Pathologist. An ASHA Fellow, Dr. Wolf-Schein has published extensively in academic journals and provides training internationally. One of her current efforts is consulting to programs for special populations in Broward County, Florida, where she is in private practice.

Full Registration Brochures: see or see contact information below.
Online Registration: Go to
Bursaries: If you are low income and / or traveling to attend a workshop, ACT has some bursary funds available. Please apply for a bursary before registering. See website for more information.
Support & Information: ACT’s team of Information Officers can provide support and information on a wide range of autism-related topics and can advise on whether a workshop is appropriate for your needs. Contact ACT by email at, or by phone at
604-205-5467 or 866-939-5188.

Survey: Complementary/Alternative Medicines for Menopause Symptoms

Time sensitive

My name is Carole Lunny and I am now conducting a study, Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicines for Menopause Symptoms in Women With or Without HIV, that looks at how women use complementary and alternative medicine for menopause symptoms.

The study is located online and only takes ten minutes to complete. The study can be accessed by copying and pasting this link:

This study has been approved by the Athabasca University Ethics Board. I am looking for women between the ages of 40 to 60 to participate.

If you know of any women HIV-positive or HIV-negative who might qualify please forward this email to them. I would like to disseminate this study as widely as possible since there has been very little research conducted to date on this topic.

Please contact me at with any comments or questions.

Thanks very much,

Carole Lunny

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD): Theory, Research and Treatment

Time sensitve

Mood Disorders Association of BC (MDA) Education Evening
Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD): Theory, Research and Treatment
with Dr. Alex Chapman, Assist Prof Psychology, SFU
Thursday, July 17, 2008
7:00 pm
Sunrise Hall
1950 Windermere Street (at East 4th Ave.)
Vancouver, BC

Contact MDA for more information:

Borderline Personality Disorder is one of the most misunderstood psychiatric disorders, yet one of the most serious. 75% people with BPD attempt suicide; 8-10% die by suicide. Often people with BPD are not aware of what causes their ongoing instability of emotions that affect their relationships, their behaviour and their identity. They not only experience stigma from society, but also from health providers. Dr. Chapman’s goal is to present accurate, up-to-date information about the latest research, possible causes and treatments of BPD. He will challenge some common myths and explain why BPD is an understandable and treatable psychiatric disorder.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Studies on hearing loss looking for participants

Studies on hearing loss looking for participants
UBC’s School of Audiology and Speech Sciences is recruiting for participants for two studies on hearing loss.

The Adult Hearing Loss Study is looking for people between 19 – 69 years who have bilateral hearing loss. The study requires participants to sleep or quietly relax for a few hours while their brain waves are recorded. This is to help develop a new technique of hearing test, where brainwaves register hearing sensitivity. Participants will receive a $20 honorarium.

The second study looks at the auditory system of infants. One baby in every 1,000 is born with permanent hearing impairment. As the baby generally looks healthy, the hearing loss will not be suspected. Hearing screening can be done as early as the first 48 hours of life using a painless, safe, fast and ear-specific test while the baby sleeps, making early intervention possible.

The study involves recording the brainwaves of babies from 0 – 4 months old while the baby sleeps, along with a hearing screening. A copy will be given to the parents of those who participate in the study, along with a $20 honorarium.

Both studies are conducted by Prof. David. Stapells and audiologist and Post-doctoral Fellow Ieda Ishida of the School of Audiology and Speech Sciences. For more information, contact the Ishida at the HAPLAB at 604-822-7424 or

From: UBC This Week Jun. 5, 2008

1st World Conference of Women's Shelters--September 8-11, 2008

1st World Conference of Women's Shelters
Discovering the Common Core: Practical Frameworks for Change
Shaw Conference Centre,
Edmonton, Alberta Canada
Sept 8-11, 2008

In 2008, the Alberta Council of Women's Shelters (ACWS) will host the 1st World Conference of Women's Shelters. This event will present a new opportunity for family violence workers in Alberta and around the world to learn from international experts and each other.

Too often, women's shelter work is overlooked in discussions on family violence, when in reality they are at the forefront of dealing with this issue. This will increase the capacity of shelters in Alberta, across Canada, and around the world to affect change in their organizations and their communities to better meet the needs of ethnocultural, multicultural and racial communities when dealing with family violence.

This will be a unique opportunity for individuals at the forefront of dealing with violence against women, to network, share and support one and other.

Help us extend an invitation to shelters around the world!

For more information:

Monday, June 23, 2008

Options for Sexual Health summer 2008 newsletter

Options for Sexual Health's summer 2008 newsletter, Facts of Life, is now available and is filled with great articles. In this issue:
Dating and the Single Parent
Raising Gender-healthy Children
Supporting Queer Youth, and
Talking to Your Daughter about Pregnancy Options

To subscribe to Facts of Life and for a wealth of additional information, visit the website:

Canadian Women's Health Network magazine Spring/Summer issue available

The Spring/Summer 2008 issue of the Canadian Women's Health Network magazine Network is available online. Articles include:

Editor's Note

Feeling the heat: Women's health in a changing climate

Evidence for caution: Women and statin use

The HPV vaccine, one year later

Charter challenge on drugs ads: A challenge in the wrong direction

Labels, laws and access to health care: How history affects health-care access for First Nations and Métis women

Cherchez la femme in minority francophone communities

Barbara Seaman (1935-2008): Pioneer in the women's health movement

Status positive: Supporting women immigrants and refugees with HIV/AIDS

'Women CARE' in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside

Highs & lows: Canadian perspectives on women and substance use

To read individual article or to download the complete issue in PDF format, visit:

Friday, May 30, 2008

Health & Literacy: Constructing Curriculum for Health Care Providers--A Learning Institute

Health & Literacy: Constructing Curriculum for Health Care Providers
A Learning Institute
October 16-18, 2008
Calgary, AB

"This Institute will invite health-care providers from every branch of health-care service, curriculum developers in health-care and adult basic education and literacy, ESL providers, administrators, policy makers and anyone with an interest or expertise. You will share promising practices, models, consider the challenges and propose new directions for grounded curriculum in health literacy for health-care providers."

See brochure for details.

New book: Dissonant Disabilities: Women with Chronic Illnesses Explore their Lives

Whether it is fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, bipolar disorder, arthritis or many other chronic illnesses, most women are aware of at least one female friend, family member or acquaintance who has faced these illnesses.

Anecdotally, women's stories have always circulated, but now, for the first time, Diane Driedger and Michelle Owen have compiled experiences of women with chronic illnesses from all over the world shedding light on the discrimination, stigma, power struggles, misunderstanding by medical professionals and relationship challenges that women face.

Driedger and Owen, themselves women with chronic illnesses, launched their book, Dissonant Disabilities: Women with Chronic Illnesses Explore their Lives at Ryerson University on May 30th, 2008.

"Chronic illnesses are definitely a women's issue. Many illnesses such as depression, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome and multiple sclerosis affect women more than men. And it goes without saying that since it is mostly women who occupy the lowest rungs of the hierarchy, it is they who become sick trying to 'do it all' and it is women who are not believed and discounted when they get sick," says Diane Driedger, one of the book's editors.

Professors, students, professionals, psychologists, writers...women with chronic illnesses come together to understand their place in a society which more and more values work and productivity, and devalues sickness and fatigue.

Certain to ring a bell with those familiar with women facing these illnesses, the anthology uses personal experiences and academic research to put women's chronic illness in a social perspective.

"Because of shame, ignorance or fear of repercussions personally and professionally, women with these illnesses often do not disclose and struggle in silence instead. Unlike some physical disabilities which are visible, the needs of women with chronic illnesses are often discounted or overlooked completely," says Bonnie Brayton, National Executive Director of the DisAbled Women's Network of Canada, "This book is important as it creates an opportunity for open dialogue on an issue faced by thousands of women in Canada. This is the first step towards understanding and finally properly accommodating the needs of women with chronic illnesses in our society.

Diane Driedger is a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba and author of The Last civil Rights Movement: Disabled Peoples' International. A published poet, she is the co-editor of two anthologies by women with disabilities.

Michelle Owen is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Winnipeg. Her primary research interests and publications include gender, sexuality, family and disability. Most recently, Owen worked on two projects involving women with disabilities: a longitudinal study of intimate partner violence, and a participatory action research on violence in the lives of girls and young women.

Publisher: Canadian Scholar's Press Inc, Women's Press
ISBN: 978-0-88961-464-2
Price: $36.95
Format: 200pp PB 6x9

Monday, May 26, 2008

Healthcare providers who discuss intimate piercings earn patients' trust

Patients with genital and nipple piercings, also known as “intimate piercings,” are best served by healthcare providers who initiate positive discussions about them, according to a new article in the journal Nursing for Women’s Health.

Yet, too often, such discussions do not occur, even when treating infections and other conditions related to the piercings, due to healthcare providers’ uneasiness over this increasingly common form of body art. An estimated 30 to 50% of youth ages 18 to 23 have piercings in places other than in their ear lobes, so it is highly likely that healthcare will encounter such piercings in their patients.

An article by Cathy Young, DNSc, APRN, BC, Associate Professor at Texas Tech University’s School of Nursing and Myrna L. Armstrong, EdD, RN, FAAN, Professor at Texas Tech University’s School of Nursing offers a comprehensive, practical overview of the clinical issues healthcare providers are likely to encounter related to intimate piercings. Issues range from why individuals seek and obtain such piercings to which medical procedures require such piercings to have been removed.

This study is published in the April/May 2008 issue of Nursing for Women’s Health.
Article abstract available.

New Aboriginal youth and suicide prevention website

Health Canada and the National Aboriginal Health Organization recently unveiled a new web site to help combat suicide among Aboriginal youth. Called the Honouring Life Network, the site is targeted at both Aboriginal youth and suicide prevention workers in First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities.

Health Canada provided funding for the Honouring Life Network Web site under the National Aboriginal Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy, a five-year $65 million strategy that seeks to increase protective factors and reduce risk factors associated with suicide through community-based programming.

Available in English, French and Inuktitut, the site contains resources for youth and youth workers, including a Youth Worker's Forum where youth workers from across the country can connect to discuss and share suicide prevention resources and strategies. Personal stories and fact sheets are also available for youth to read about specific issues that they, or their friends, might be facing. The site’s comprehensive directory of suicide prevention resources is updated regularly to help youth workers in Aboriginal communities find the most relevant and up-to-date information and material.

Visit the website at:

Web resource features 100 examples of health care innovations and tools

A new Web resource that allows users to learn, share, and adopt innovations in the delivery of health services was launched today by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). The resource—called the Health Care Innovations Exchange—is available at

AHRQ's Health Care Innovations Exchange is the US federal government's repository for successful health care innovations. It also includes useful descriptions of attempts at innovation that failed. The web site is a tool for health care leaders, physicians, nurses, and other health professionals who seek to reduce health care disparities and improve health care overall.

Wipe Out: New documentary on traumatic brain injury and extreme sports

A new documentary asks if risk-taking is worth risking your life. Wipe Out premieres Wednesday, June 11 at 8 pm on Knowledge Network

Wipe Out tells the story of three young BC men who suffered traumatic brain injuries while pursuing extreme sports. The documentary is narrated by Olympic Gold Medalist Ross Rebagliati.

Chris Dufficy, a professional snowboarder from North Vancouver, is only now coming to terms with his ongoing memory problems – the result of multiple concussions and a traumatic brain injury he suffered when he crashed after landing a monstrous jump for a film shoot. Jon Gocer is a talented snowboarder who was looking to turn thrill seeking into a career, until a wipe out on a skateboard almost ended his life.

On Vancouver Island, Chris Tutin is defying doctors who said he would never walk again after his cerebellum was crushed in a dirt bike accident five years ago. Like Chris Dufficy and Jon Gocer, he shares his story with the hope that it will encourage kids to wear helmets, and avoid reckless risk-taking.

Wipe Out offers viewers unprecedented insight into the lives of people who are part of what doctors call the “invisible epidemic” – brain injury, the leading cause of death and disability among men under the age of 35.

Information and preview available

Tools For Decreasing Health Care Barriers

Tools For Decreasing Health Care Barriers: Accessible Health Care Briefs

The Center for Disabilities and the Health Professions Accessible Health Care series is designed to educate health care professionals, community organizations, advocates, and people with disabilities.

This series includes discussions, examples, illustrations, and resource information for improving access to health care services, programs, and products. Subjects include:

  • Introduction: Tools For Decreasing Health Care Barriers
  • Importance of Accessible Examination Tables
  • Importance of Accessible Weight Scales
  • Health Care Facilities Access
  • Choosing and Negotiating an Accessible Business Location
  • Barrier Removal: Improving Accessibility with Limited Resources
  • Providing Information in Alternative Formats
  • Accessible Web Site Design (provided by the University of Washington's Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology Center)
  • ADA Resources
  • Tax Incentives for Improving Accessibility
Available at:

Making Preventive Health Care Work for You

Making Preventive Health Care Work for You—A Resource Guide for People with Physical Disabilities (110 pages)

Ways to make preventive screening work for you
Can you have a disability and still be healthy?
How can you increase your odds for a healthy life?
What are your risk factors?
What is routine health screening?
Will your doctor tell you what you need?
Why is routine screening especially important for people with disabilities
Why are checkups important?
What about vaccines?
What is healthy lifestyle counselling?
How can you create your own routine screening and immunization plan?
Why is it important to have good relationships with your providers?
Should you speak up?
Why is it important to plan ahead?
How can you improve your communication with your health care providers?
The DES script: A tool for improving communication
How can you understand and remember information from visits with health care providers?
How can you be sure to get your test results?
What else should you know about routine screenings and vaccines?
Organizations and web sites
Routine preventive screening for people with disabilities: Tips for health care providers
Various tools and checklists

Available from the Center for Disability Issues and the Health Professions (CDIHP) in the following versions:
Braille Ready File
Large Print version Microsoft Word
Microsoft Word Document Version
Portable Document Format (PDF) Version

Emergency Health Information

Emergency Health Information [for people with disabilities]
the first in the Savvy Health Care Consumer Series
by June Isaacson Kailes

Emergency Health Information
Why You Should Carry Emergency Health Information
Tips on Completing Emergency Health Information
Sample Emergency Health Information
Emergency Health Information [Blank form]

Available from the Center for Disability Issues and the Health Professions (CDIHP)

Friday, April 04, 2008

May 17th is International Day Against Homophobia

"There is still time to order posters and pamphlets for the 2008 Annual Campaign to Fight Homophobia. You can order this material free of charge via the website for the International Day Against Homophobia. Simply download the form (Word or PDF), fill it out, and then send it to Fondation Émergence (, fax: 514-866-8157)."

"Entitled 'Homosexuality is NOT a sickness!', the campaign is geared toward the public at large and specifically to various people who still perceive homosexuality as an illness. We request that all groups aware of LGBT issues participate to gain their support for distributing material to the general public with the aim to contribute to the fight against homophobia."--from Fondation Émergence announcement

Friday, March 28, 2008

"Recipe Analyzer" -- Dietitians of Canada

Canadians now have a new tool to help them make healthy eating choices. Dietitians of Canada is pleased to announce the launch of Recipe Analyzer.

Recipe Analyzer is a unique interactive on-line tool that offers consumers a quick and easy way to assess the nutritional value of their favourite recipes. To use the tool, visit the Dietitians of Canada website: and click on Recipe Analyzer.

Recipe Analyzer lets you enter the list of ingredients of any recipe and then get:

  • A full nutrient profile for a serving of that recipe
  • The number of Food Guide servings the recipe provides
  • Tips on how to change the recipe to make it more nutritious.
Users can create an on-line recipe binder and save their recipes, and they can also do comparisons of two different recipes to see how they measure up nutritionally.

Study shows the importance of support networks

A new study published in the February 2008 issue of the Journal of the American College of Surgeons shows that patients with a large support network of family and friends report feeling less pain and anxiety prior to having a surgical procedure, which can have a substantially positive impact on their postoperative recovery.

“Strong social connectedness can have a tremendous impact on patient recovery by helping blunt the effect of stress caused by postoperative pain, as well as ease concerns about health, finances and separation from family members,” said Allison R. Mitchinson, MPH, NCTMB, research health science specialist, Department of Veterans Affairs, Ann Arbor (MI) Healthcare System.

Social network size and social connectedness have long been known to affect health and well-being. Stressful events such as having an operation can further increase the need for social support.

To read the press release, visit

Daily reading linked with higher levels of health literacy

The single best predictor of higher levels of health literacy is the act of reading every day—even more so than someone’s education—says a new report released in February by the Canadian Council on Learning (CCL).

The report, Health Literacy in Canada: A Healthy Understanding, reveals that daily reading outside of work is associated with higher health-literacy scores—one-third higher than the average for those aged 16 to 65 and more than 50% higher for those 66 and older.

In 2007, CCL released initial results from an international literacy survey that showed 60% of Canadians lacked the necessary skills to manage their health and health-care needs adequately.

A Healthy Understanding builds on these results and provides new, in-depth analysis examining the relationship between levels of health literacy and the reported health of Canadians.

The report found:

  • Those with the lowest levels of health literacy are more than 2.5 times as likely to report being in poor or fair health as those with the highest levels.
  • Across Canada, the prevalence of diabetes increases significantly as health literacy decreases. A similar link—though not as strong—is found with high blood pressure.
  • The three most vulnerable populations for low levels of health literacy are seniors, the unemployed, and immigrants (especially those who don't speak French or English).
  • Health literacy is more complex than previously thought; requiring prose, document and numeracy skills, often in combination for the same task.
To view the full report and CCL’s new interactive online map, which offers health-literacy profiles for more than 49,000 communities and neighbourhoods across Canada, visit