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REDUCING HEALTH DISPARITIES THROUGH TECHNOLOGY | CREATED FOR STUDENTS BY STUDENTS

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Category: Health Literacy Articles

by Victor Ajewole

September 18, 2014

Summer Weight Loss

So after a rough semester with some extremely bad eating habits during finals, I have the summer to rest. Come to find out that my brother had lost 15 pounds! Of course being the supportive older brother I am I was really proud of him.  I’m not home for a week when my brother starts nitpicking my eating habits. At first I was a little offended, but we both knew what he was telling me the truth.

He instated the rule “Stop eating after 9”. At first I didn’t think much of it, until 8:30 hit. Though not 9, 8:30 is still too late to take in calories. After around 2 weeks I got the hang of it. Now it was time to step it up.

I started to watch a ton of YouTube videos, mainly the Hodge twins, about weight loss and lifting weights. After the videos and some extensive reading, I learned that to lose weight, I need to cut calories that I need to sustain my weight. I don’t know how many calories I regularly ate, but I did find out that I need more than 1500 calories a day after a day of light headedness.
To aid my calorie count, I downloaded a popular app myFitnesspal. This app is really useful for counting all the calories throughout your day. To start, you have to enter your current weight and then set your goal weight. It also inquires on how active you are during the day ranging from not very active to very active. It then gives you an estimate of how many calories you should be taking in. The most useful part of the app is the fact that you can scan foods using the barcode on the packaging. 

                                                                                    

So after around 2 straight weeks of meeting my caloric goals and going to the gym 2-3 times a week, I lost a total of 13 pounds. I also took creatine to help my gym performance. I would get more energy exercising while not putting on a lot of weight like taking protein. The days I didn’t go the gym, I would play basketball at my neighbor’s house.
I started to cook my own food, and since you can’t scan cooked food, my weight loss progression has slowed down. I currently stuck at 13 pounds loss, but I am still trying to lose more. Cooking your own food is much more enjoyable than scanning all of the prepackaged food that I was scanning, so I’m enjoying life a bit more. I’m still trying to find that right balance between overall healthy lifestyle while eating the food I want.

                                                                                                         

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by Julian Cobb

September 03, 2014

Apple HealthKit: Expectations and Concerns

I must admit… Apple has me hooked. Almost every year there is a new operating system update or “iOS” update that has me sitting on the edge of my seat. I always look forward to the new features that Apple plans to incorporate into its products. With this new iOS 8 update, Apple is adding HealthKit. The company states that “HealthKit allows apps that provide health and fitness services to share their data with the new Health app and with each other”. Any user who uses this application will be able to have their information stored in a secure place. This will allow the user to determine which health information they would like to disclose within the application.

Since the unveiling of this new application, some individuals believe that it has “tremendous potential”. The dashboard feature includes a series of graphs that depict things such as calories burned, average sleep time along with average heart rate within each day. The Health Data tab incorporates categories ranging from diagnostics and lab results to medications along with nutrition. This application has the potential to mobilize all of one’s medical history into one place. What allergies a person may have, blood pressure, heart rate and medications that an individual may be taking all have the possibility of being consolidated into HealthKit. The fact that all of this information can be made available via a smartphone could possibly eliminate the need for a fax machine, telephone calls or emails.

While these features are very impressive, HealthKit does raise a few concerns. Users are beginning to question the privacy of sharing medical information, which is often times confidential. Everybody may not want to share certain personal information with any physician. Also, this new tech-savvy era can take away from the doctor-patient relationship. Having all of a patient’s pertinent information on a smartphone would actually defeat the purpose of coming to the doctor. The New York Times also mentions that this application may “interfere with clinical practice”.

Yes- this does sound like a fantastic concept. From both sides of the spectrum, there are some positive and negative aspects. I’m looking forward to see how Apple will execute HealthKit and how successful the application is going to be. Who knows… at this day in age, there may not be a need to go to the doctor’s office anymore when you can do that on your iPhone.


 

Sources:

Dilger, D. (n.d.). Apple's WWDC unveiling of HealthKit in iOS 8 grabs the attention of doctors. Apple's WWDC unveiling of HealthKit in iOS 8 grabs the attention of doctors. Retrieved June 30, 2014, from http://appleinsider.com/articles/14/06/10/apples-wwdc-unveiling-of-healthkit-in-ios-8-grabs-the-attention-of-doctors-

Carroll, A. (2014, June 16). The Trouble With Apple’s Health App. The New York Times. Retrieved June 30, 2014, from http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/17/upshot/apples-healthkit-probably-wont-bring-a-new-age.html

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by Magaela Bethune

September 01, 2014

I’m in My Fourth Year… and Just Getting Started!

This month ushered in the start of my fourth year of graduate school. For the first time while in my Ph.D. program, I no longer felt like a young doe -- no tremor in my legs -- as I walked on campus to embark upon another school year. The confidence I now feel and clarity with which I view my objectives are undoubtedly attributable to the experience and knowledge I acquired over the summer. I was afforded the opportunity to work with executives at the Black Entertainment Television (BET) Networks on their youth initiatives during the BET Experience and BET Awards show weekend in Los Angeles. I also launched two web usability studies for the Graduate School at my university. Finally, I put the finishing touches on a thesis and am now shifting my focus to my comprehensive paper and dissertation.

These are exciting times now. Until recently, keeping up with coursework, dealing with a health issues (breast cancer survivor!), managing work/family/life balance, and conducting supervised research have all encompassed my graduate school experience. Now, I am able to craft and develop my own scholarly identity. My research interests focus on youth engagement with new media and digital technologies, the ways it impacts their health, and more specifically their sexual health, behaviors, and development. My incoming interest in the topic solidified through my work with the Pathways to African American Success (PAAS) project, a family-based intervention designed to reduce risk behaviors of rural African American youth.

           

Through my classes, I was able to explore the issue of HIV/STI infection and transmission among youth in the United States, and particularly among African American youth. HIV/ STI among American youth is a major public health problem. In 2010, youth ages 13 to 24 years old constituted one-fourth of all new HIV infections in the United States (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2014). Further, the CDC estimates that nearly 60% of HIV-infected youth are not aware of their HIV-status. Similarly, youth ages 15 to 24 years old, who make up 27% of the nation’s population, account for 50% of the 20 million new STIs in the U.S. each year (CDC, 2013). My research and dissertation will consider the ways that youth are formally and traditionally socialized regarding sexual health and risk, and the challenges, threats, and opportunities introduced by the recent rise in digital technology access, utilization, and digital media consumption. Congruent with these foci are the aims of MyHealthImpactNetwork, which involves leveraging technology to promote sexual, mental, and physical health. I look forward to engaging with @drfayonline and the #myHealthImpact organization (@myhealthimpact on Twitter), designed for – and by - college students interested in improving health and reducing health disparities. Fun times ahead… and I’m just getting started!

Magaela Bethune is a Ph.D. student at Vanderbilt University in the Community Research & Action program. Her website (www.magaelabethune.com) features curated content related to youth, technology, and health. Upon graduation, she plans to continue research informing the development of health interventions that leverage digital technology and media for youth.

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by Dr. Fay Cobb Payton

July 22, 2014

Black America’s Silent Epidemic – Outtake of @OWNTV @Lisaling – Our America

We watched the June 26, 2014 Our America series on OWN.  In this series, journalist Lisa Ling covered the HIV epidemic in Black America. Our team watched intently and followed the Twitter hashtag during the show.  What would be different about this coverage?  How would the Black community be portrayed? Would this be, yet, another depiction of all things wrong in and with the community?  How would it reach young people, the millennials?

Here are comments below from the research scholars (millennials) on the MyHealthImpact team and their thoughts on the series. Comments have been shorten for this blog post.

After watching the show, I realized that there are still more progress/action to be taken surrounding the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Especially, when it comes to church involvement, I was taken back when only “one” church had replied saying that they would allow the woman to speak/tell her story. I feel like the stigma and judgment still remains in the church. The fact that a church made an individual feel inferior baffled me. Also, from watching the episode, it’s important for people to get tested regular. Knowing you status, as well as, your partner’s status is important..  Overall, I enjoyed the episode and thought it was informative and did a great job of depicting several stories of people battling/dealing with HIV. I think we need more documentaries/programs like this, which educate and spread awareness on the issue.
 
I thought that HIV in the Black Community by Lisa Ling was a fantastic program. It was truly touching to hear African Americans open up to their personal battles with HIV. This goes to show that there is no one specific way that you can obtain the disease. Each person had their story, testimony proves that this is still a serious topic within our community. What really stuck out to me was the fact that people didn’t want to attend the free HIV testing event because of the stigma that the disease carries. This was very hurtful to hear because regardless to whatever [virus] any individual may have, it does not take away the face that they are still first and foremost a HUMAN. I can only imagine the stares, gossip and bickering that takes place when people find out that someone they know has HIV. This episode allowed me to see things from a different perspective. You never truly know what it feels like being in someone else’s shoes.


The program was really informative. The part that really stuck out the most to me was probably when one of the men stated he expects to only live to his mid-thirties. I was trying to think to how depressing that could be. Not only did he know he know that he is infected, but he has also gone untreated for a lengthy period of time. Also I’m not surprised that people didn’t show up to the free HIV event. No one wants their life to change; they want to be comfortable with their respective lifestyle without restrictions. This lifestyle is important to uphold, especially with your family. When one of the women shared with her family that she has HIV, I couldn’t imagine how her family felt. That’s like hearing if one of my siblings were infected. Of course they’re still going to be my siblings, but I would continually sympathize with them. Overall the program was good and the twitter response was very responsive as well.
 
This broadcast was really good and extremely informative. The broadcast was a good reminder of a lot of HIV facts and information that tend to get lost because we focus so much on the sexual transmission of the infection. We tend to overlook the fact that some people may be born with it or became infected through the use of needles. When I think about someone becoming infected, in my mind I automatically think about someone being promiscuous and not someone contracting it from her husband who she thought she could trust. The broadcast shed light on the situations that we fail to think about. I was completely tuned in locked on the screen. Sad to see the show end and really wishing that the broadcast was on a channel that could be seen by more of the masses because this was definitely one that everyone needed to see.

Follow us @myhealthimpact on Twitter.  See myhealthimpactnetwork.org for additional content and health information.

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by Julian Cobb

July 20, 2014

Snapchat and Technology Obsession Amoung Youth

When thinking about the word “technology”, I’m pretty sure the younger generation comes to mind. Nowadays, there is an “app”, short for the term application, for everything. In a world filled with iPhones, Androids, and all other types of smartphones, you can almost do anything you want on your mobile device. For some youth, this use of technology has become an obsession. When I begin to conceptualize that one piece of technology has the ability to preoccupy and intrude one’s mind for such a long period of time, it frightens me. I will admit- there are some pros and cons to technology usage in today’s society.

Youth are using technology more to complete homework assignments. A research paper or a group project may require some extensive outside research and the Internet is usually the “go-to” spot. Online encyclopedias and dictionaries come in handy and often times yield quick results. On the other hand, technology can be used for the wrong purposes and can be viewed as a hindrance versus an advantage. Some students are busy moving their fingers to reply to a text message during class rather than being actively engaged in the classroom. Being mindful that an assignment is upcoming, technology gives youth more of a reason to procrastinate. They would rather focus on tweeting, updating their status on Facebook or sending videos to their friends. By the way, this new Snapchat application is something serious.

         

For those who may not know, Snapchat is an application that allows you to send short video clips and/or pictures to contacts in your phone. The interesting concept is that you only have a certain amount of time to view the “snap”. The viewer has no more than ten seconds to view the picture or video that has been sent to them. Actually, that time can be shortened at the discretion of the sender. Snapchat also includes a component called “My Story”. At any time, you have the ability to allow other viewers into your world by posting pictures or videos to your story. Keep in mind; this information is made visible to those who are your friends on Snapchat. Users have the ability to keep adding to their story at any time they want. This means their own personal story can potentially be up to two minutes long, all composed of one to ten seconds pictures or video clips. Within twenty-four hours, the entire story disappears.
From my understanding, users enjoy the spontaneity of Snapchat. It allows them to capture a particular moment in time and send it to whoever is on their friends list. After the allotted time of one to ten seconds, the viewer is no longer able to open up that particular “snap” again. This keeps for constant communication between the two parties involved. Okay I will admit it- yes I do have a Snapchat. Am I obsessed with it? No. But, I do believe that the youth in this upcoming generation ARE becoming obsessed with it. You can always tell when someone is adjusting their phone, trying to get that perfect shot using their front camera on their iPhone. More than likely, this is because they are on Snapchat.

            

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by Keiara Morris

April 30, 2014

Empower Me and Health

Recently I started my own blog called ”Empower Me.”. My decision to start a blog came from having a need to just get it all out. Often times, I find it hard to verbalize what I need say but writing these things out seemed to be my way to vent. For the longest, I struggled with a blog name, the audience I wanted to reach, really even if I wanted to go forward with the whole thing, did I have time and would people really read what I have to say? I obviously put those things aside, stepped out on faith and onward I went. As my “about” states, “My goal is to empower and my purpose is to help. I’ve realized that as I pour myself into others, I’m doing nothing but helping myself. Empowering you as I empower myself; uplifting together”. If you can’t tell already, this blog is like my baby. Excuse me, as I get a little passionate. I’m still in the beginning phase of this and I haven’t written many posts but I believe this is the start of something great.

As of yet, I haven’t directly made a post about health and its importance but with my interest and own personal struggles with weight-loss, eating right etc., it isn’t far off. People tend to forget that mental health is a huge component of overall health. I’ve never really thought about it in this way, but I do believe that my blog caters to being mentally healthy; burden-free, honest, successful, stress-free, excited about life and happy. I’m promoting these behaviors because in my own personal opinion, it’s important to be this way. If you haven’t checked out my blog please do so and hopefully it will help you as much as it helps me. Uplifting together.

http://empoweredbykeiara.wordpress.com

 

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by Ebony Baldwin

April 17, 2014

Studying for the MCAT: The Road the Medical School

Since graduating in December, I find myself transitioning into the next phase of my academic career—Medical School. Though easier said than done, “I want to be doctor”, I find myself trying to find the balance between working and studying for the MCAT.  It was just a month ago I was blessed with the opportunity to be hired as a clerical/medical assistant.  Being able to gain a hand on experience as well as learning how healthcare is facilitated has been one of my best opportunities. Which in turns only motivates me more.  With that said, my road to Medical School continues to become easier and shorter, knowing that I possessed all the support and resources available to make my dream come true.  Whether I am going through my MCAT Flashcards or spending countless hours staring at MCAT books, I can’t help to think that every new concept or equation I learn, the closer I get to acing my MCAT in July.  In the meantime, I’m learning how to manage my time wisely and become more productive.  Every now and then, I make sure to take a personal day to reset and get rid of some stress.

This way I can maintain a healthy lifestyle as I prepare effectively. Overall, I feel like I am making improvements in my study habits and identifying things I need to work on.  With three more months to go, I have no time to waste or get behind.  At the end of the day, everything I am doing to prepare for this test is worth it. I can’t help to think, that one day “I” could be working as a physician. And it is that thought, that everyday I leave work I find the hidden strength to study. The road to Medical School can be hard and discouraging if you allow it to. However, I will not. As long as I have faith in my ability, I can do all things.

Follow @myhealthimpact on Twitter and myhealthimpact on Tumblr.

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by Keiara Morris

April 09, 2014

Newfound Love for Tumblr

Social media sites have steadily been on the rise. From Instagram, to Twitter and then to Tumblr; I have so many that I really can’t choose my favorite. MyHealthImpact has trickled its way into Tumblr. Make sure you check that out. My love for Tumblr is growing.  I find a lot of interesting and informative things searching and scrolling my Dashboard.

                

I follow a majority of what Tumblr bloggers call Fitblrs. Fitblrs are health-related blogs, focused on as the name suggests, being fit. The first blog that I recommend following is AJourneyFullOfHealth. I love this blog because it caters to those on the journey to a healthy life. This blogger doesn’t go out of their way to make themselves seem like a health guru but in fact caters to the real college student struggling with making the right food choices and/or the person battling compulsive eating habits. Another blog that I recommend following is JustWeight-OnIt. This blog is also a Fitblr. I like this blog because it shows many healthy food options and meals. Also included are a few encouraging quotes to keep you going and motivated.

This next blog that I advise following is ProudBlackWoman. The bio for this blog simply states, “A celebration of all it means to be a Black woman”. As I scroll and discover what this blog has to offer, I see the faces of Ida B. Wells Barnett, Dr. Mae Jemison and Coretta Scott King to name a few. I have a love for this blog because to me it is seeking to keep the amazing women in Black History yet alive and unforgotten.

The last and final blog that I recommend following is HeavenRants. I really like this blog because they’re just who they are which in my eyes is relatable, random, loving the skin that they are in, prideful in being Black and a college student. My no means is this blog shoving information down your throat or over the top in any way; just chill and laid back.

These are just my Tumblr suggestions. By all means please check them out, follow them and seek other pages that may catch your eye or interests.

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by Dr. Fay Cobb Payton

March 20, 2014

College-Age Generation and the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare)

In February 2014, @myhealthimpact and @medicalmentors held a Twitter chat (#MedTechImpact) to discuss the importance of the Affordable Care Act (#ACA)for the college-aged population.  The chat included experts from the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Howard University, Booz Allen Hamilton and the Maryland County Department of Health and Human Services.

          

Topics included: common misconceptions about the Affordable Care Act; finding #ACA online information; why should college students and the college-age population have health care coverage; advantages and disadvantages of the Act.  We also discussed how the Act encourages workforce development diversity among medical and health providers as well as information and computing technologists.

The infographic below can be found on the myhealthimpactnetwork.org site and/or here directly and lists some key facts regarding the #ACA.  The word cloud shows the keywords from the chat including students, health, college, join, patient and tech.  As discussed during the Twitter chat and shown in the infographic, the #ACA will:

  • Enable young people to stay on their parents’ health insurance until age 26.
  • Provide coverage for preventive care.
  • Provide preventive care and screenings for #HIV, #depression, #diabetes and many others.
  • Provide care even for those with pre-existing conditions.

The final day to register for health coverage is March 31, 2014.  #GetCovered. Check out the details for yourself.  Inform. Educate and empower yourself.  See https://www.healthcare.gov/young-adults/

 

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by Ebony Baldwin

March 06, 2014

The TURN UP: Spring Break Safety

With Spring Break literally around the corner, college students everywhere, and I mean EVERYWHERE are gearing up to travel to distance and tropical places to soak up some sun and jump in the water. While most students are only concentrating on getting that last minute workout in for washboards abs or purchasing their last minute wardrobe findings, I guarantee no one is thinking about STDs!

Instead, most college students are thinking about fun, alcohol and parties. Don’t get me wrong, nothing is wrong with having fun and of course making lifetime memories, BUT be SMART about it! Don’t forget about your morals and values, or should I say “home training”. Have “responsible” fun.  Yes, spring break is about having a good time and getting away from the books, but don’t be naive. 

Drink Responsibly

Personally, do yourself a favor and party smart. Pace yourself if you choose to drink, and avoid hard alcohol if you can or other drinks that are powerful and have fast effects—cause drunks make for “easy targets”. 

According to a study by the University of Wisconsin, 75 percent of college males and 43 percent of females reported being intoxicated on a daily basis during spring break. Which brings me to another point of discussion; don’t let alcohol blur the lines of love! There is no such thing as “I want to get to know you” or “love at first sight” during spring break! Just lust, deceitful lies, and sexual transmitted diseases! So, be smart and not STUPID!

Stay Safe: Safe Sex, Know Your Facts and Know Your Status

The only 100% sure way to prevent sexually transmitted diseases is by not having sex. If you choose to have sex with a stranger—which isn’t best idea—use something called   “condoms”. We are college students, so this should not be hard.  Stock up on protection before you leave home so you never find yourself in a compromised situation. If this isn’t enough for you, here are the facts:  Women are more likely to be victims of sexual violence than men. Women who experience both sexual and physical abuse are significantly more likely to have sexually transmitted diseases. Take precautions and avoid situations or persons that may place you at risk for harm. Decide before even going on spring break what you’re willing to do, and then get to work setting your boundaries early and often. If you meet someone and decide to shack up, be up front with him or her if sex isn’t in the plan. Maybe something like, “Hey good lookin’. I’ve had fun this evening, but no sex tonight.” But seriously, don’t ever let anyone talk you into doing something you’re uncomfortable with. 

Keep Safe and Hang With Your Friends

Lastly,  “if you go out with your friends, go home with your friends.” It’s one of those things that keeps you a whole lot safer, and eliminates the bad, ugly, and stupid drama. This way you can look out for one another, and get a friend home who is too intoxicated to be out. So this spring break, think a little bit before you act! I’m sure that one week of fun is not worth your life! Don’t turn up too much, so that you look like a fool!

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In Partnership with: Poole College of Management, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, National Science Foundation, Penn State

Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
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