L is for Link to health information

Searching for health information? 

Here’s some tips and tools to evaluate your way through the information jungle and link to better information


Are you looking for health information for your child? Perhaps you are creating a service for children or young people or even finding information on how to involve them? Whatever the reason, finding reliable information is important. The internet can be a “jungle” and searching for online information is often time consuming and confusing. The information age and deluge of data, means it is becoming harder to separate facts from pseudo-facts. Knowledgeable consumers evaluate information to make good decisions for their health and quality counts.

Daintree rainforest, north east Queensland


Families and sharing information

As consumers and healthcare professionals partner in care, health information is shared. Families living with chronic illness, complex health conditions and rare diseases are often experts in their child’s condition. Sharing helpful information and professional-consumer communication is the focus of our blog “K is for knowledge + patient”.
 

Consumer health information in Australia

Australians search for free, reliable information at HealthDirect (supported by state and Federal governments). The focus is on safe, practical information, including an A-Z of health topics, medicines, symptom checker and service finder. Facts or fiction? has consumer tips on seeking trustworthy online information. Don’t want to read… there’s a helpline to speak to a registered nurse, 24/7 and healthdirect app, which is also free. 


Two other resources with “user-friendly” health information are Health information and health products by BetterHealth channel and Raising Children Network.  At Raising Children Network find “My neighbourhood”, parents/carers enter their postcode to link to local services and link to intercultural health information.


Evaluating health information – USA

Go to MedlinePlus, (the world’s largest medical library), or view a video tutorial (from USA National Library of Medicine) for more information. See also, Finding and evaluating online resources, 5 quick questions on social media resources (USA National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health).

Do you want to Trust it or Trash it? This quality assessment toolbox was created by Access To Credible Genetics (ATCG) Resource Network. There is also a developer toolbox for creating educational resources. MLA, the Medical Library Association, offers find good health information and top health websites.


Evaluating health information – United Nations and Europe

Health on the Net Foundation (HON), created the HON code, search, tools and topics for reliable information. The code provides a stamp of approval, good websites can approach HON to see if they are up to scratch. Now 20 years old, this NGO is accredited to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. Look for the HON code on Australian websites too, Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy.

A useful website? European Commission has a quick checklist for useful websites, with pointers about whether a site is user focused.

Communication between families and health professionals

Access to reliable information should help families and healthcare professionals communicate and make decisions. The ability to ask questions about suggested treatments and procedures is important. Choose Wisely Australia, is an initiative from NPS MedicineWise. Look for 5 questions to ask your doctor.

Questioning quality of  information 

When searching for information, ask questions about information quality and avoid making assumptions. For example, an “expert” author may write about a topic they know well and also about other topics they know less about. Are we likely to rely on both equally, the topic the “expert” knows less about may not be as reliable.  Look beyond, politics, fashion etc. and at strengths and weaknesses of information.

The Knowledgeable patient: communication and participation in health. Edited by Sophie Hill available at AWCH library 613 HIL 1

Infographics

Infographics are now used more often because combining images together with health information can be very powerful. Complex health messages are shared more easily and quickly. Health information is communicated across cultures, age groups and literacy levels.


Organisations and government bodies create infographics, apps and digital technology to promote health information. Reliable information, based on children, young people and family needs, must under-pin any user-friendly format. How can children and young people be involved in creating something that makes sense to them? Investing in Children is one organisation that created films to celebrate their work on child rights and services based on the needs of children and young people.



Linking people + digital information

Whether searching via google scholar, government websites or databases (via libraries or health portals), journeying through the “information jungle” is challenging. Healthcare professionals and consumers link in the lookout for helpful information for healthier lives.

Health literacy
Health literacy refers to the ability individuals and communities have to engage with information and services. Visit the OpHeLia project, Deakin University, for information on health literacy.

Meaningful information is not just something we locate. Useful information is developed when individuals and community are involved and real needs are identified.

The Australian Digital Health Agency has conducted a survey to find out how Australians engage with digital services and access information to improve their health and wellbeing. The National Digital Health Strategy is underway. Emphasis is placed on families and individuals, with the slogan “Your health. Your say.” 

Consumer Health Forum highlights the value of health literacy in their submission on the National Digital Health Strategy. People need to find, understand and use health-related information and services, to make good decisions about their health. Find out more in their “response to questions for healthcare consumers, carers and families”, p 6.

Join the Australian digital health access conversation!

Jillian Rattray
AWCH librarian
Email: Jillian@awch.com.au
AWCH Library

The Internet is like a puddle

Five Mile Press, Victoria, 2014
ISBN 9781760064167


For children aged 3-6 yrs








A cautionary tale

Don’t let the wide-eyed animals in “The internet is like a puddle” lull you into thinking all is calm. Expect a serious message. There are loads of fun things to do and games to play on the internet. Look out for a crocodile with plenty of teeth idling in the puddle but don’t be deceived. This book will help adults communicate a cautionary approach to internet time and start conversations with young children about safe internet play.

The internet can be a bit tricky

There’s lots of games and splashing fun to be had in a puddle, the water may appear to be shallow but can be deep and mirky underneath. In this picture book koala is absorbed stepping out with his mobile phone, rabbit and bear are on a lap top, ipad or ‘device’, mouse looks on holding a red polka-dot ball. The first inkling of difficulty comes when frog jumps head first into the pond, the internet can be “a bit tricky”. 
The first inkling of difficulty comes when frog jumps head first into the pond

Child-friendly story about online safety

Young children in many Australian families may not ask “what’s the internet?” Going online is just part of daily life. This little gem of a book is going to be helpful for adults wanting to create awareness about internet safety from a child’s perspective. 
Shona Innes, the author, uses words like “deep’, ‘stuck’, ‘trouble’ and ‘tricky’. Awareness is raised about safety and chatting to strangers, also health and wellbeing. Bears eyes droop from playing too long.
Feelings and reactions are explored, the internet is fun to play with and because of this it can be hard to say ‘no’. This validates feelings children may have if they are asked to say ‘no’ to the chance to dip into the ‘internet puddle’. It might seem unfair when ‘everyone else gets to play’.

Role of a parent or carer

Big bear holds Little bears paw at the edge of a pond. Duck is happily floating in the “puddle”. Then something doesn’t look right, a large crocodile with lots of teeth and a menacing smile waits in the pond with an inflatable purple floaty ring. The message is clear, a safe person needs to be there to make sure children don’t go in too deep and if this happens, they know what to do next. Notes for parents and teachers about technology use, setting limits and being internet safe are at the back of the book. Shona Innes, is a qualified clinical and forensic psychologist.
This book has engaging illustrations with thoughtful text and provides a wonderful means for communicating with children in a child-friendly way. It is one of several books from the Big hug series featuring expressive and warm animal illustrations and sharing emotional challenges.

Please get in touch if you would like to read The Internet is like a puddle, You are like you or Worries are like clouds. I purchased copies from The Children’s Bookshop they can also be purchased online. Recommended retail price is $14.95.

Crocodile, Freshwater Station, Cairns

More on internet, cyber or online safety?

World issues: Staying safe online is a recent book for primary students, with plenty of photos and accessible text.  Parents can link to Australian Government’s Office of the Children’s eSafety Commission, for guidance and strategies in the home, including managing technology. The publication A parent’s guide to online safety is available 5 languages. Life Education, visits schools to empower children and young people to make safer and healthier resources through education. Parents can find out about how to start conversations with their children.
Your feedback is valuable. Do you have any children’s 
resources that have helped explain internet safety?

Jillian Rattray

AWCH librarian
Email: Jillian@awch.com.au
November 2016

K – is for Knowledge + patient

How do families and young people use knowledge to manage their health?

This is part one of two blogs on knowledge and patients. We now live in a “collaborative and social era”. Part one, hones in on some positives and drawbacks of online health information today. The way we gather knowledge effects communication with health professionals.  Could there be new opportunities for families and health professionals to collaborate? Part two is about finding reliable health information online, people are more aware quality and accuracy count.

Online health information and “e-health communication”
are on trend but do they help?

Health information, how do we get it?
Millennium generation children are amongst the first to turn to digital and social media to get information. This could be a “positive”, when healthcare goes online for young people, with services such as Headspace.  Young people also need to be connected in healthcare settings. Digital access helps meet social, emotional and educational needs.

For preschool children an App with a game may be both educational and fun. Okee medical imaging, is engaging, builds skills and prepares for a medical encounter, taking away the fear factor.

Most Australians go to their GP, to find health information.  Even if we rank health professionals advice highly, families and individuals are increasingly turning to the Internet, Dr Google and digital resources. Here’s the drawback, could all this information at our fingertips, leave us more confused and lost in the “information noise”? Are people exposed to unsolicited health information and does this affect what happens between health professional and patient?

Not “just a patient”

Karen Price in her GP blog on health literacy and patients, says GPs have a complex job and a big part of what they do is teach patients. The word doctor is derived from the Latin “to teach”. Price points out, doctors and patients work together in an “increasingly educative partnership”.

GPs are aware they need to respond by providing patient held health information. This includes online information and help on ‘surfing’ the web.

Consumers of health care
Effective communication between consumers and health professionals is critical to better health in Australia. Consumer experience, understanding and knowledge are particularly relevant in an era of complex healthcare, chronic illness and rare disease.

The Knowledgeable patient: Communication and participation in health edited by Sophie Hill (Cochrane review) 2011, spotlights communication between health professionals and consumers. It encompasses people with complex health needs and the rare disease community.

A knowledgeable patient is someone who asks questions about medical information, provides insight into experiences and uses technology to find health information. As contributors, they add quality to healthcare benefitting everyone.

Learning to communicate, chapter 11, introduces steps health professionals, consumers and consumer groups can take to improve communication skills and “interaction”. Involvement and communication skills of patients and health professionals is crucial to improved health systems and outcomes.

Children as consumers
Children are frequent consumer health service users. Little was written on “enhancing the health-related communication skills of the child as a patient, the parents or siblings, or the health professionals involved” [p. 137].

Online social support and wellbeing
Online support can be both informative and empowering. A recent article found families within the rare disease community value e-health communication for social and emotional support.

What is supportive comes from evidence, research, from practice, personal stories and community, including peer support. Genetic Alliance Australia is an umbrella group for rare genetic conditions/disease. Conditions may be so rare there is no support group.

AWCH Facebook is a “heads-up” on Australian child wellbeing and healthcare initiatives with a focus on social and emotional issues of children and young people in healthcare. Find Australian health promotion events, child or family health surveys, research, reports and education. AWCH shares like-minded parent and professional posts, with emphasis on NSW and national. Visual content is also shared through pinterest.

Tracking and managing health

Families face pressures keeping up with health programs, appointments and health insurance.

Health organisations recognise people are using innovations to manage and cope with health and illness.


A knowledgeable patient is also someone who uses technology to track and manage personalised health data. People may wear connected devices and this information can be shared with health professionals. Consumers now receive screening information and test kits in the mail. Busy parents/carers turn to Apps to manage family health appointments, Save the date to vaccinate. Healthcare is delivered to the door, on the streets, community hub, over the phone or via the internet.

Access for all?
A recent report, Looking the other way: young people and self-harm, by Orygen, found adolescents and young people who self-harm received poor community response. Young people didn’t feel supported in the Emergency department and felt GPs didn’t know how to treat them.

Report findings concluded a need for youth and family resources and National standards for health professionals treating those who self-harm. Youth with lived experience of self-harm should be involved in developing resources including Apps, web-based online and peer support.

Access to reliable health information is a public health dilemma. Young people ask for their opinions to be valued in a collaborative approach.

Links
Many of us use search engines for health information and are disappointed with the results. Part 2 of this blog links to organisations helping consumers hunt for reliable information.


Jillian Rattray

AWCH Librarian
http://library.awch.org.au
March 2016

Family focus – talking together about parental depression & anxiety


Children of Parents with a Mental Illness (COPMI) and Beyondblue, DVD

Family focusis a DVD divided into two sections: adults and children. The children’s section has a video featuring two young women who have parents living with mental illness and helpful resources including the Koolta helpmusic video.

Photo: copmi.net.au
For adults, there are two short films to view,the first one is entitled Karl’s storyand the second Christina’s story. Both look at the impact of a parent’s mental illness on families and on children.
Karl’s Story shows how prevalent depression is for men in a rural setting. An important message is to identify and encourage people to get help and not dismiss what they are experiencing.  This film is valuable because it shows families as a unit and the benefit of supporting parents for the health and wellbeing of children.
The second film Christina’s story, is about anxiety. Christina, a mother of two primary school children Ella and Jason, is overwhelmed living with anxiety. What this film makes clear, is that children need to be included in discussions and understandings about their parent’s mental illness and know it is not their fault.
The Children’s section features Amy and Jess, who are young women who have parents with a mental illness. They emphasise facts about mental illness and messages such as, we all have days when we are sad but when people are so sad it is “hard to do everyday things, this kind of worry is called anxiety”.  Kids need to know that when parents live with anxiety or depression, it is not their fault. The “most important thing to do is to keep on being a kid” with time to do enjoyable things. It is tough for the person who is unwell but also for their children. Talking about it as a family can be really helpful.  Also in the children’s section of the DVD is Koolta’s rapping about parent’s mental health to help kids remember key messages.  This V-Clip can be viewed on youtube.
Find more fun youtube clips with key messages on what kids need to know on the COPMI website, under the kids, teens and young adults page. Plenty of other useful resources for families and health professionals are found on the COPMI website, including participation strategies on how to involve both youth and adults in mental health.
The AWCH library also holds books for health professionals such as Children caring for parents with mental illness: perspectives of young carers, parents and professionals and Children of parents with mental illness edited by Vicki Cowling.

 


Review by: Jillian Rattray
AWCH Librarian – http://library.awch.org.au
November 2014