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REDUCING HEALTH DISPARITIES THROUGH TECHNOLOGY | CREATED FOR STUDENTS BY STUDENTS

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Category: Health Articles

by Marcel Souffrant

January 22, 2015

Breaking the Silence

With the new sense of hypervigilance, particularly in relation to domestic violence, I hope that we as a community can come together in active support of survivors of abuse.  It must be clear that violence towards others in any form should not to be accepted, regardless of profession.  I hope to see advancements with the NO MORE PSA campaigns, Purple Purse, and the NFL, realizing their goals of decreased rates of domestic violence and increased support of the victims.

                     

In recent months there has been significant media coverage concerning the lives, specifically the legal matters, of professional athletes.  The abuse perpetrated by Ray Rice was seen by many outside of the sports world, and was the first of many noteworthy incidents involving his colleagues of the National Football League.  Since Rice’s arrest, Greg Hardy, Ray McDonald, and Adrian Peterson have been in the news for their respective criminal acts.  Athletes breaking the law is nothing new.  In the past, fans have often been aware of the personal lives of athletes, even with minimal media coverage, but there seems to be a shift regarding the awareness.  It is no longer solely fans who hear about the incidents, the coverage by major news outlets has increased the audience.


USA Today compiled a database of all NFL player arrests since 2000, citing 85 of the 713 arrests were made regarding situations of domestic violence.  Being that domestic violence is the one of the most underreported crimes, it is reasonable to assume that these numbers are not completely representative of the truth.  The difficulty to speak about domestic violence is highlighted in the “Speechless” series of NO MORE PSA.  The commercials have aired in recent weeks showing celebrities, as well as current and former NFL players sitting in silence as they attempt to speak on domestic violence. Allstate Foundation Purple Purse is another group bringing domestic violence, and financial abuse in particular, to the forefront.  Allstate Foundation reports that financial abuse occurs in 98% of domestic violence cases.  This staggering number has prompted Purple Purse to make it “fashionable” to speak about domestic violence through fundraising to support survivors.


As we have seen, the issues faced by athletes are mirroring the societal issues we are facing today.  The question of corporal punishment, the prevalence of substance abuse, the charges of domestic violence, and even the statements of solidarity displayed following the killings in Ferguson and Staten Island, in relation to the athletes of the NFL, have all led to further questions addressing all people, instead of athletes exclusively. We must continue to recognize that as contributing members of society we have a responsibility to treat ourselves, and each other, with respect and dignity at all times.

Continue to follow @myhealthimpact on the latest news regarding domestic violence and your health!

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by KaMar Galloway

November 13, 2014

Giving Gladly But Cautiously Doing So

The Set-up:
A few weeks ago I opened my corporate inbox and saw an email asking to donate blood. I wasn’t really up to do it but I read the entire email anyway. Although the actual event was put on by the American Red Cross, the idea of walking onto a decorated bus dubbed the “Bloodmobile” and giving blood didn’t quite jive with me. After getting over my initial fear, I signed up and received my confirmation email.

        

The Build-Up:
Like any other email, it slipped my mind and I went through the days as my usual self. Not once did I think about the “Bloodmobile” coming onsite. Then, a few days before the actual event I received an email with the subject line “Blood Drive Reminder (Next Week)”. I didn’t even open the email before I could feel my heart pulsate slightly faster.

                        

The Event:
The day had arrived when the Bloodmobile and I would meet face-to-face. I was a bit cautious because I couldn’t picture the actual environment. Once on the Bloodmobile I was greeted by a lovely lady who briefed me on the pre and post process. It didn’t seem too bad beside the fact that giving blood would take nearly 45 MINUTES! After answering a nearly 100 question survey about my entire life, I started to second guess whether or not I really wanted to give blood.

  • What if something is wrong with me?
  • What if the physician can’t find a good vein?
  • What if the needle is infected?

Every scenario ran through my mind as I was trying to remain calm among my coworkers (who were also giving blood). When it was my turn, I sat in the left recliner (your choice based on the hand giving blood), formed a fist to activate my veins and closed my eyes. Forty-five minutes later and I had successfully donated blood. I was so relieved that it was all over. I grabbed a snack on the way out and made my way back to work.

              

The Analysis:
Now that it’s all set and done, I am so happy I followed my gut and donated blood to the American Red Cross. I will admit that it was scary at first but the onboard physicians made it a pleasant experience. I even received my blood type following the blood drive so now I can prevent the risk of receiving an incompatible blood type surgery.

Now it’s your turn to donate blood! Download the American Red Cross Blood App (App Store / Google Play) and continue to follow @myhealthimpact for more personal health stories!

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by Victor Ajewole

October 29, 2014

Killing Two Birds with One Pebble, Wearable Technology

Do you need a smartwatch? Probably not, but at the same time, we don’t really need cell phones either. Now what does a smart watch have that my cell phone can’t give me? Well, to be honest, nothing. I’m not here to give a sales pitch, but to give you a better visual on how I use my Pebble watch. Pebble watch you say?, the thing that came out last year? Yes. You mean that thing that only displays in black and white? Yes. You mean that watch that doesn’t even have a touch screen? YES!!!

         

Now the Pebble watch is not the latest tech in wearables but its still great. The biggest problems with wearable technology now, is the never ending questions, “why would someone want to wear this?” I can tell that the people who had to test the usability of this device knew what they were looking for. There are some key features that I truly love about this watch. Heres some key features:

Key Features

  • Read text
  • Haptic Feedback
  • Event reminders
  • Pedometer
  • Controls music (Soundcloud)
  • Battery Life (5-7 days)

           

Follow us at @myHealthImpact as we continue to discuss important topics around technology and your physical health.

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by Julian Cobb

October 15, 2014

More Than Just Intercourse

For some people, the word sexuality only means intercourse between two individuals. To others, it may be a term that refers to just sexual orientation. Regardless to any interpretation of the word, sexuality is more than just intercourse. According to the World Health Organization, sexuality is a “central aspect of being human throughout life, which encompasses sex, gender identity and role, sexual orientation, eroticism, pleasure, intimacy and reproduction” (Source: WHO, 2010, p. 10).

      

Sexuality can be experienced in more than just one way. Not always is the attention geared towards the physical. Having strong mental and intellectual capabilities have to potential to stimulate and foster one’s interest. There is no particular “right way” to fully encompass and express all of the dimensions that play into sexuality. The Sexuality Wheel also suggests that sexuality is widespread, consisting of many components. These components include: personality, values, communication, self-image, gender, socialization, physical expression, and body image. Examining this from the @myHealthImpact perspective, we encourage individuals to look at themselves from a holistic mindset. If these components of sexuality are not properly managed, it could lead to physical and mental issues. We help spread awareness so that our community has the intellectual capacity to go and inform others. Look outside of the box and you will see sexuality is definitely more than just intercourse.

Follow us at @myHealthImpact as we continue to discuss important topics relating to sexual, physical and emotional health.

 

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by Denae Ford

October 13, 2014

Identity Crisis

Though I am half way into my first semester as a PhD student. I am still trying to figure out out my new identity. I was told before I started this journey that I will lose friends and my relationships will disintegrate but I never thought it would ever happen to me.

         

The biggest struggle for me would have to be that I am at the same institution that I was at for undergrad. There were so many activities and organizations that I was apart of that contributed to my identity but now all that has changed. The largest one would have to be running track. Since I have been a freshman in high school track has always been a major deal in my life. Between practicing, having injuries, traveling, bonding with my teammates, and learning life lessons from my coaches, track was something that enticed me. 

Track was an anchored structure in my life. All activities I did were based on my track schedule. There were times I would stay up late to do homework and the fear that I would miss practice if i went to sleep too late encouraged me to pull all-nighters. Times when I would not go out to a party with my “normie(non-athletes)” friends because I knew I would have a hard practice the next morning.  Track encouraged so many positive things in my life. It got me to be more mindful about my diet since it reflects my performance, teaching me that I could push my body to new limits beyond my wildest dreams.

        

Being apart of something that you actually enjoy for 8 years is an amazing commitment. The hardest part is letting it go; but here’s the kicker, you don’t have to! I’m learning how to redefine what running is to me. I would relate this transition to moving to the other side of the country, away from your best friend.  No, you won’t be able to see each other every day nor call every other week like you used to. However, it’s a mutual understanding; you can pick up the phone and talk for hours like the old days.  That’s the type of relationship that I am learning to be okay with.  It’s definitely a struggle at first, but it’s comforting to know that it’s always there for you when you need it.

I suppose redefining what these things mean in your life is a large part of this PhD journey. With new goals, come new commitments and with new commitments, come new relationships.

Follow us at @myhealthimpact as we continue to discuss important topics relating to heath and tech.

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by Victor Ajewole

October 07, 2014

Ignorance to Domestic Violence

Growing up I never actually seen a woman beaten in front of me or even wondered if domestic violence was even a growing issue. If anything, my life has never been directly affected by it and that plays a role on my views on this issue. In no way shape or form am I saying it’s not a problem, but I didn't know it was as big as a problem as it really is. The only instance that I heard of,  was in high school when a guy threw his girlfriend on a table. At the time I thought to myself, “who throws people on tables” not “Oh my gosh he is physically abusing his partner”. Looking back, I was foolish not to take the situation more seriously. We all knew something was wrong with that dude before the occurrence happened, but the person (female) didn’t give off signs of abuse.

                               

With the sudden headlines of athletes admitting and accusations of domestic violence, male and female, we, as honest folk ,really have to start asking ourselves “How often does this happen?” Maybe I’ve been oblivious to this because I am a male. Maybe its because I just didn’t get out much in my teenage years. One of my friends even called it taboo. It never came up in conversation, and I don’t think people would publicly bring it up. I’ve heard gossip, but none of it was ever confirmed.

To segway back to the athletes, specifically NFL athletes, I do not agree with the current domestic violence punishments issued to players. We live in a world where an athlete smoking weed or even dog fighting holds harsher punishments than domestic violence. Player punishment should not be the main source to shed light on this issue. What happens when the abuser isn’t famous, rich, or even well known? Honestly, I feel like some people just wouldn’t care as much.

                    

Domestic violence is also a health issue.  There is the mental health...physical health...sexual health.  Follow @myhealthimpact on Twitter and Tumblr as we discuss current social and cultural issues impacting health.

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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 Keiara Morris

August 27, 2014

Graduate School Life

The program that I’m involved in is a year. So when (not if) I finish, I will have a master’s degree and a teaching license. I knew that this experience was going to be a little more difficult and different but nothing really could have prepared me for what I was about to endure. I absolutely love my program and new school…although it’s a lot of purple and gold and not red, I’m managing. I enjoy the subject matter, I look forward to going to class, meeting with my professors and working with my cohort. Please believe me when I tell you that graduate school is not undergrad. It’s definitely an adjustment. It’s a lot of reading and when I say a lot I mean just that. Everything is much more so application based. The professors want to make sure that we really know and understand the things taught. Being able to memorize and regurgitate concepts on a piece of paper? Yep, those days are over.

My program is set up in a cohort, which is basically like a family of everyone in your program in which you take all of the same classes at the same time. This has been so helpful. Use your resources. You could take option one and just wander away from the group and struggle on your own or take option two and realize that you aren’t in this by yourself and struggle together. I’ll take option two for $200 Alex! I see it as strength in numbers situation. It really feels like that we’re leaning on one another in this rough 5-week summer session. I honestly don’t know what I would do without them.

I’ve had many sleepless nights, where food wasn’t even thought about, sticky notes everywhere and my planner looks like a bunch of hieroglyphics but I don’t mind. I’m assuming this is the feeling you get when you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe.

My advice although limited in nature would be to find interesting ways to relieve stress and give yourself a break. As much as catching up on sleep would be the ideal thing to do, just taking a moment to breathe and enjoy your accomplishments thus far, re-organize and prioritize is a little more rewarding to me.

I’m still here. I’m making it. You can too!

 

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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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