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Ryan over at the Brewing Culture blog, wrote some thoughts on a recent news item regarding the amount of media that will be user generated in 5 years. With the pace of websites like YouTube and Myspace creating online celebrities, it sort of makes sense!

Here’s a thought along those lines:

  1. Not too long ago, the people in control of media and what we saw, heard and read, were sitting high and pretty because they were the ones producing all the content.
  2. Today, the consumer is now creating content that people can see, hear and read all over the world. User-generated content is quickly becoming an important part of all entertainment and media.
  3. Public health/health education aims to prevent disease and encourage the ongoing health and well being of all (stay with me now…)
  4. Physicians and hospitals are the people in control of treating illness and curing disease. When you are sick and suffering, the patient heads to the hospital to be (more or less) cured – because, they have the answer to why you are feeling the way you do.
  5. Today, the consumer is able to visit websites such as WebMD, to gain knowledge on a condition or disease. There are also blogs popping up on the radar that address health concerns such as DiabetesMine, The Health Wisdom Blog, and one of my new favorites The Health 2.0 blog.

How is this all connected you ask? Well, we are living in a time where the traditional “head honchos” are no longer completely running the show. And I’m not exactly pumping my fist in the air and screaming how much we should fight the power, I’m just realizing that there is potential in the public health and health education sphere for spreading knowledge on living well and increasing healthy behaviors. Now more than ever, we can begin to stop complaining when we think to ourselves “shouldn’t they know better?” I plan on doing something about it.

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Doing good things should be high on everyone’s list. Now of course, we all can’t start a foundation to increase the literacy of children across America or better the science and technology skills of the underprivileged – but simple things we can do.

A few days ago, I was reading through Beth’s blog and came across this online game that she was playing with her children. It sounded pretty interesting, so I bookmarked it in plans to check it out. Yesterday, I finally got around to checking out Free Rice, the English language trivia game that not only increases your knowledge of words but sends rice to the hungry through the UN.

Now, I did pretty decently on my verbal SAT but wow, there are some serious words going on here! One of my favorite words, basilisk [a legendary reptile] popped up last night but the word blazon – definitely wasn’t in my vocabulary. It means “coat of arms“. And now that I think of it, the world emblazoned is in my vocabulary and I was upset that I missed the opportunity to add 20 more grains of rice to the bowl. Anyhow, the website also includes a history of rice donated from when the website began. It’s really interesting to see how interest in the game has exploded and I’m pretty sure it’s due to word of mouth (WOM).

With the advent of social media and the importance of creating community amongst peers, it’s no wonder that word of mouth is one of the most effective ways of marketing a product or in this case, a worthy cause. Heck, there is even a whole association based around it! Global hunger is a public health issue – inadvertently, the creation of the Web 2.0 phenomenon has made a way to connect people to many great causes. The potential is seemingly endless and I want to tap into it and make some changes.

It’s an exciting time now people!!

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http://www.publichealththankyouday.org/

I wish I had known about this event much earlier! This is exactly the kind of resource we need to promote and get on the news in FRONT of the latest high blood pressure drug that will eventually cause you to get high cholesterol…

Prevention is better than cure folks – our parents told us this but oh how aptly it applies to health.

I’ll be all over Public Health Thank You Day next year!

Did you catch the latest E! True Hollywood Story this past weekend on health education and public health in America? …no? Okay well yeah it didn’t happen BUT wouldn’t that have been interesting? Among all the scandals, celebrities gone wild and famous crimes that get profiled on that show and on television in general – what do you think would happen if topics in health were shown?

Mainstream media is a powerful (albeit, changing due to the Web) force in the minds of the general population. Despite the often sensationalized news and recycled excitement of reality shows, people still tune into the television and get a “network sponsored education”. And we can’t forget about those people who still don’t log onto the Internet! Obviously the main reason people turn on the tube is to get entertained but every now and then, there are nuggets of value. How can the genuine health industry relay credible and helpful information to the general public through this venue?

In recent news, Oprah Winfrey revealed her battle with a thyroid condition that has caused her to gain weight and have problems with sleeping. Now, anyone who has heard of Oprah knows the amount of power that she wields in informing her niche demographic (91% women, average age of 45 – according to website viewers) and the great amount of attention to anything that appears on her show. Thanks to her public announcement, thyroid conditions have gained immeasurable publicity. According to Amy over at Diabetes Mine, thyroid disorders occur commonly in people with diabetes and especially with women (great for the target audience!).

I think there’s still merit in health promotion on television, stay tuned as I explore this topic some more…

High profile celebrities + television + health education/promotion = worthy cause?

—Helpful Links—

http://www.concernedjournalists.org/node/72
http://health.discovery.com/
http://www.oprah.com/adsales/audience.html
http://www.oprah.com/health/yourbody/slide/20071016/slide_yourbody_northrup_101.jhtml
http://www.eifoundation.org/

Well after much ballyhoo and hard work, I am VERY proud to say that the University of Maryland at College Park, my alma mater, has opened their very own School of Public Health! You can read more about the School here. This is especially cool since I graduated from the former College of Health and Human Performance, 2 years ago. According to President Mote:

“The new School of Public Health will be built on the considerable strengths of its predecessor, the College of Health and Human Performance, with a core mission of translating public health research and learning into healthy public policy. “No other public research university in the region has an accredited school of public health whose mission is focused on research and the applications of knowledge that directly benefits citizens in that area.”

The faculty at the school were exceptionally encouraging and a necessary component to my interest in health education, promotion and the field of public health. I can’t wait to see what great things the School will accomplish in the coming years. This is perfect timing as the American Public Health Association (APHA) and the Society of Public Health Education (SOPHE) are having their annual meetings in Washington DC in November. I’m sure they’ll find a way to promote that.

The Dean of the School, Dr. Bob Gold, is one of the smartest people I’ve met in the public health arena. He’s pretty cool because he is definitely one of those people who want to merge health education and technology together. Hopefully I’ll get to catch up with him soon! Here’s a picture of us at the 2004 SOPHE conference in DC (click to enlarge).

Me and Dr. Gold @ 2004 SOPHE Conference in DC

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