Communicating When There Is a Wide Range of Worry (HLOL #185)

Emilie Johnson, MD, MPH, is a pediatric urologist and health services researcher in Chicago, IL. She cares for pediatric urology patients (and their families) at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital, and is an Assistant Professor of Urology at Northwestern University. In her practice, Dr. Johnson address the medical and surgical needs of children with a wide range of conditions involving the urinary and genital systems.

In this podcast, Dr. Johnson and Helen Osborne discuss:

  • Communication challenges when a specialist first meets with patients and families about conditions that may or may not be medically concerning.
  • Ways to set a tone of empathy, caring, and respect. One example is inviting patients to share their worries and fears at the beginning of appointments. And only after these are aired, then discussing treatment options and plans.
  • Tools and strategies to increase mutual understanding. These not only include the spoken word but also visuals, diagrams, and primers on terminology.

More Ways to Learn:

Health Literacy from A to Z: Practical Ways to Communicate Your Health Message, Second Edition (Updated 2018), by Helen Osborne. Relevant chapters include: 5, 8, 17, 24, 41.

Read the transcript of this podcast.

Communicating Clearly Takes More Than Simple Words (HLOL #181)

Lauren McCormack PhD, MPSH is Vice President of RTI International’s Public Health Research Division and Adjunct Associate Professor in the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. McCormack’s research bridges the fields of health communication and health policy. It involves developing, testing, and evaluating interventions to promote patient-centered care, patient engagement, and informed decision-making.  An overarching goal is to improve the public’s understanding and use of medical evidence.

In this podcast, Helen Osborne talks with Dr. McCormack about:

  • Helping patients and the public make decisions based on information and evidence. 
  • Targeting, narratives, tailoring, framing, expressing uncertainty, and other communication strategies.
  • Tips for using these strategies in your health related materials. 

More Ways to Learn:

Health Literacy from A to Z: Practical Ways to Communicate Your Health Message, Second Edition (Updated 2018), by Helen Osborne. Relevant chapters include: 6, 8, 11, 16, 21, 28.

Read the transcript of this podcast. 

The Opioid Crisis and Health Literacy (HLOL #180)

Alex Hogan is a multimedia journalist at STAT, which is a health and science news site from Boston Globe Media Partners. Hogan produces videos, illustrations and animations with the aim of making often complex topics accessible. In 2017, he produced the short documentary, “Runnin,'” which took an intimate look at the impact of the opioid crisis in his hometown of Somerville, MA.

In this podcast, Alex Hogan talks with Helen Osborne about:

  • The opioid crisis. How it got started, and why it has become such a problem now.
  • The intersection of the opioid crisis, health literacy, and health communication.
  • Ways listeners can help, such as by not using stigmatizing language.

More ways to learn:

Health Literacy from A to Z: Practical Ways to Communicate Your Health Message, Second Edition (Updated 2018), by Helen Osborne. Relevant chapters include: 13, 31, 36

Read the transcript of this podcast

Visual Metaphors: When Words Alone Are Not Enough (HLOL #178)

Alex Thomas MDand Gary Ashwal MA are co-founders of Booster Shot Media. Alex is a board-certified pediatric allergist/immunologist and a cartoonist/illustrator with more than 20 years’ experience. Gary is a health communication specialist and multimedia producer of healthcare content. With 15+ years of creative partnership, Alex and Gary apply their combined experience to produce comic books, animation, and other visual projects to teach people of all ages about complex health topics.

In this podcast, Helen Osborne talks with Alex Thomas and Gary Ashwal about:

  • Communicating in non-traditional ways as with comics, animation, and whiteboards
  • Examples of using visual metaphors to help explain complex medical concepts
  • Tips for creating and using visual teaching tools in your healthcare practice

More Ways to Learn:

Health Literacy from A to Z: Practical Ways to Communicate Your Health Message, Second Edition (Updated 2018), by Helen Osborne. Relevant chapters include: 14, 16, 25, 28, 31, 38, 42

Read this podcast transcript. 

Making Lab Test Results More Meaningful (HLOL #175)

Brian J. Zikmund-Fisher, Ph.D.is Associate Professor of Health Behavior and Health Education and Research Associate Professor of Internal Medicine at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. He also is Associate Director of University of Michigan’s Center for Bioethics and Social Sciences in Medicine. Trained in decision psychology and behavioral economics, Dr. Zikmund-Fisher designs and evaluates novel communication methods to make health data more intuitively meaningful, studies the effects of poor numeracy on the public’s use of health data, and explores the power of narratives in health communications. He developed and teaches graduate courses in health risk communication and designing memorable (“sticky”) health messages.

In this podcast, Brian J. Zikmund-Fisher talk with Helen Osborne about:

  • Why it is important that patients understand lab test results. And why this is so hard for many people to do.
  • How visual cues such as number lines, ranges of relevant values, colors, and harm anchors (with simple words) can help patients not only understand lab results but also figure out what, if any, actions to take.
  • Takeaways from this research that clinicians can use in everyday practice.

More Ways to Learn:

Health Literacy from A to Z: Practical Ways to Communicate Your Health Message, Second Edition (Updated 2018), by Helen Osborne. Relevant chapters include: 6, 8, 9, 12, 26, 37, 38

Read the transcript of this podcast.

Talking About Ticks and Other Environmental Health Concerns. (HLOL #173)

Aaron Frechette’s background is in journalism. Starting as a teenager, Frechette has worked in both radio and newspaper as a reporter and editor. He also is experienced in facilitating public forums about issues that affect the community. Frechette now brings this wide array of communication skills to his work at the Rhode Island Department of Health. In this podcast, Aaron Frechette speaks for himself and his views do not necessarily reflect those of his employer.

In this podcast, Aaron Frechette talks with Helen Osborne about:

  • Why it’s important to talk with the public about ticks and other environmental concerns. And reasons that doing so can be difficult.
  • Effective strategies to communicate environmental health messages–even when the science is hard to understand, issues may be controversial, and resources are limited.
  • Resources to share, build upon, and use in collaboration.

More Ways to Learn:

Health Literacy from A to Z: Practical Ways to Communicate Your Health Message, Second Edition (Updated 2018), by Helen Osborne. Relevant chapters include: 13, 27

Read the transcript of this podcast.

Wellness, Women, and Health Literacy (HLOL #170)

Ruth Parker MD, MACP is Professor of Medicine, Pediatrics and Public Health at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.  For over two decades, her work has focused on research, education, and policy efforts to advance our nation’s health literacy. Ruth Parker’s health literacy accomplishments are many including being an author of the Test of Functional Health Literacy in Adults (TOFHLA) and the widely used definition of health literacy included in numerous scholarly articles and national health policies. She is also a life-long athlete and has completed more than 25 marathons using the RunWalkRun® method. (Pictured in photo on the left)

Carmen Patrick Mohan MD FACP is an internal medicine physician, urban homesteader, and marathon runner who prescribes food and exercise as medicine. She works to foster change in healthcare delivery through internet technology, improved patient communication, and information access. Carmen Patrick Mohan specializes in cardiometabolic risk factor reduction with a focus on women. She is also a competitive runner and on a quest to complete marathons in 50 states and on 7 continents. (In photo on the right)

Dr. Ruth Parker and Dr. Carmen Patrick Mohan talk with Helen Osborne about:

  • The book they co-authored with Jeff Galloway, The Women’s Guide to Health: Run Walk Run, Eat Right, and Feel Better. What this book is about and why it was important to write.
  • How their practice as physicians, experience as marathon runners, and commitment to health literacy help women of all abilities achieve fundamental health.
  • Tips and strategies for podcast listeners–of all professions, genders, ages, and levels of activity—to help others and themselves become more fit and healthy.

More Ways to Learn:

The Women’s Guide to Health: Run Walk Run, Eat Right, and Feel Better, by Jeff Galloway, Ruth Parker, Carmen Patrick Mohan. Published by Meyer & Meyer Sport, 2018. Available on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Womens-Guide-Health-Right-Better/dp/1782551239

Author websites:

Health Literacy from A to Z: Practical Ways to Communicate Your Health Message, Second Edition (Updated 2018), by Helen Osborne. Relevant chapters include: 1, 13, 27

Read the written transcript.

Law Enforcement, Risk Management, and Health Literacy (HLOL #169)

Heather Schragg is Director of Patient Experience at Eaton Rapids Medical Center in Eaton Rapids, MI. She not only oversees the hospital’s Risk and Quality Management programs but also its initiatives to improve patient and employee experiences. Heather is committed to helping patients navigate and understand the complicated healthcare system.

Mitch Ross is a police officer in Milwaukee Wisconsin.

Over the years he has held many positions, including work in an Anti-Gang Unit Squad and on a Major Incident Response Team. He also is an adjunct instructor at the Milwaukee Police Training Academy. In addition, Mitch educates civilians about reporting suspicious activities and responding appropriately during active shooter events.

Helen Osborne talks with Heather Schragg and Mitch Ross about:

  • What law enforcement, hospital risk management, and health literacy have in common when it comes to health communication.
  • Effective ways to communicate when a calm situation escalates into a crisis. And ways to use words and body language to help calm a tense situation.
  • Communication tips that all of us, regardless of our profession or setting, can use to build trust and understanding.

Health Literacy from A to Z: Practical Ways to Communicate Your Health Message, Second Edition (Updated 2018), by Helen Osborne. Relevant chapters include: 13, 24, 27, 41

Read the transcript of this podcast.

Advance Care Planning: Communicating Clearly Before There Is a Crisis (HLOL #168)

Aretha Delight Davis MD, JD, and Angelo Volandes MD, MPH, are an amazing team. They not only are married to each another but also created, run, research, and otherwise make possible ACP Decisions — an ever-growing collection of video support tools designed to help patients and families make informed decisions about advance care planning and end-of-life care. They both are physicians. Dr. Davis is also a lawyer. Their accomplishments are many and build on a deep and unwavering commitment to empowering patients.

In this podcast Dr. Davis and Dr. Volandes talk with Helen Osborne about:

  • Advance Care Planning (ACP). What it includes and why this topic is important to patients, caregivers, and healthcare professionals.
  • “Death illiteracy” and other reasons it can be hard to discuss advance care planning.
  • Tips, strategies, and tools to help make advance care planning conversations easier. These include using videos and excellent consumer-facing websites.

More ways to learn:

Health Literacy from A to Z: Practical Ways to Communicate Your Health Message, Second Edition (Updated 2018), by Helen Osborne. Relevant chapters include: 5, 8, 13, 22, 30, 41

Read the transcript of this podcast.

Best Case/Worst Case: A Strategy to Manage Uncertainty in Shared Decision-Making (HLOL #164)

Gretchen Schwarze MD, MPP, is an Associate Professor in the Departments of Surgery and Medical History and Bioethics at the University of Wisconsin. Dr. Schwarze is a practicing vascular surgeon and health services researcher who also directs the clinical ethics curriculum for the UW School of Medicine and Public Health.  Her research interests are in patient-doctor decision making for high-risk operations and end-of-life care for surgical patients.

In this podcast, Dr. Schwarze talks with Helen Osborne about:

  • Best Case/Worst Case. A decision-making strategy that uses narrative, a graphic aid, and simplicity to communicate with families about complex treatment options.
  • Examples, stories, and research about using Best Case/Worst Case in practice.
  • Ways that patients and non-physicians can build on these lessons learned.

More ways to learn:

Health Literacy from A to Z: Practical Ways to Communicate Your Health Message, Second Edition (Updated 2018), by Helen Osborne. Relevant chapters include: 5, 8, 12, 13, 19, 26, 32, 38, 41

Read a transcript of this podcast.

Health Literacy & Consumer Health Librarians (HLOL #161)

Amy Six-Means, MLIS, is on the librarian team at Children’s Health in Dallas, Texas. She worked at two other consumer health libraries prior to that. Six-Means started as an elementary school teacher, later going back to school for a degree in library science. Along the way, she discovered the connection between medical librarianship and health literacy and has been a passionate advocate ever since.

In this podcast, Amy Six-Means talks with Helen Osborne about:

  • What consumer health librarians do, where they work, and how they help patients, caregivers, and the public better understand about illness, treatment, and health.
  • How consumer health librarians can make a difference whether working in hospitals, communities, or healthcare systems.
  • Collaborating with consumer health librarians for better health literacy.

More Ways to Learn:

Examples of collaborative partnerships with medical/consumer health librarians and community members, public health initiatives, or health care organizations to further health literacy and support patients, loved ones, and the community.

Health Literacy from A to Z: Practical Ways to Communicate Your Health Message, Second Edition (Updated 2018), by Helen Osborne. Relevant chapters include: 1, 13, 27, 29, 32

Read the transcript of this podcast.

Ethics to Consider When Communicating About Health (HLOL #150)

mbsiegel_largeDr. Michael Siegel is a Professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences at the Boston University School of Public Health. He is a long-time researcher in tobacco control, publishing extensively on topics that include secondhand smoke, tobacco policy, and national strategies to reduce tobacco use. Dr. Siegel is a leader in the anti-tobacco movement, testifying in support of smoke-free workplace laws and serving as an expert witness in lawsuits against tobacco companies.

In this podcast, Dr. Michael Siegel talks with Helen Osborne about:

  • Hard choices to make when conveying information to the public. For instance, is the intent of your message to inform or persuade? How to communicate risk?
  • Examples of how to be honest, transparent, and clear when informing others about health.
  • Building a trusted relationship with the audience and maintain credibility over time.

More Ways to Learn:

  • Osborne H, Health Literacy from A to Z: Practical Ways to Communicate Your Health Message, Second Edition. 2011, Jones & Bartlett Learning. Includes the chapter, “Ethics of Simplicity.”
  • Osborne H, “In other words: The ethics of simplicity,” On Call magazine, 2004. At http://healthliteracy.com/2004/03/01/ethics-of-simplicity-3/

Health Literacy from A to Z: Practical Ways to Communicate Your Health Message, Second Edition (Updated 2018), by Helen Osborne. Relevant chapters include: 1, 11, 13, 41.

Read the podcast transcript.

Research to Practice: How Much Patient Teaching is Enough? (HLOL #144)

Mike Pignone headshotMichael Pignone, MD, MPH, is professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina Department of Medicine and chief of the university’s Division of General Internal Medicine. In addition to his numerous clinical and teaching responsibilities, Dr. Pignone researches chronic disease prevention and treatment, physician-patient communication, and decision-making in primary care settings. Health literacy is a thread woven throughout all his work.

In this podcast, Dr. Pignone talks with Helen Osborne about:

  • Recognizing the challenge of treating patients who have chronic illnesses, complex medical regimens, and a range of interests and abilities.
  • Teaching in ways patients can learn. This starts with knowing each patient and continues with a team over time.
  • Valuing the intersection of research and practice to help patients reach their goals.

More Ways to Learn:

Health Literacy from A to Z: Practical Ways to Communicate Your Health Message, Second Edition (Updated 2018), by Helen Osborne. Relevant chapters include: 1, 6, 11, 27.

Read the written transcript of this podcast

Presenting Data in Ways that Work for Most People, Most of the Time (HLOL #113)

Pictures of Sally 2013Sally Bigwood lives in the United Kingdom and has worked in a number of fields including publishing, sales, government, and the UK’s National Health Service. These fields all need to communicate data in ways that everyday folks can understand. To help, Sally Bigwood along with her sister Melissa Spore, founded Plain Figures and co-authored the book, A Designers Guide to Presenting Numbers, Figures, and Charts.

In this podcast, Sally Bigwood talks with Helen Osborne about:

  • Presenting data as simply and clearly as possible.
  • Putting figures into a logical order.
  • Keeping comparisons close.
  • Rounding figures so they are easier to understand, compare, and recall.

More Ways to Learn:

  • Plain Figures. At http://www.plainfigures.com
  • Bigwood S, Spore M, The Designer’s Guide to Presenting Numbers, Figures, and Charts. The Allworth Press (2013).
  • Freeman JV, Walters SJ, Campbell MJ, How to Display Data. BMJ Books (2008).
  • “When Communicating Risk, Consider What Patients Need and Want to Know (HLOL #102).” Health Literacy Out Loud podcast interview with Dr. Brian Zikmund-Fisher. At http://www.healthliteracy.com/hlol-risk
  • “Clearly Communicating Scientific Information (HLOL #83).” Health Literacy Out Loud podcast interview with Dr. David Nelson. Athttp://healthliteracy.com/hlol-scientific-information

Health Literacy from A to Z: Practical Ways to Communicate Your Health Message, Second Edition (Updated 2018), by Helen Osborne. Relevant chapters include: 12, 26, 38.

Read a transcript of this podcast.

When Communicating Risk, Consider What Patients Need and Want to Know (HLOL #102)

BZF Donaghue headshotBrian J. Zikmund-Fisher, PhD is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education at University of Michigan’s School of Public Health. He also is a Research Assistant Professor in their Internal Medicine Department and affiliated with several other University of Michigan’s programs. With a background in decision psychology and behavioral economics, Dr. Zikmund-Fisher teaches, researches, and writes about meaningful ways to communicate risk and other number-based health messages.

In this podcast, Dr. Zikmund-Fisher talks with Helen Osborne about:

  • How all risk communications are not the same.
  • The responsibility of the communicator to consider the spectrum of patient’s needs before deciding what to provide.
  • How to align the format of risk information to its purpose. In other words, how to know when we want numbers and when we might not.
  • The pros and cons of different formats for discussing risk including icon arrays and other visual ways of showing probabilities, labels that group numbers into categories, and narratives that recount lived experience but ignore probability.
  • Thoughts about the history and future of risk communication.

More Ways to Learn:

  • Zikmund-Fisher BJ, “The Right Tool is What They Need, Not What We Have: A Taxonomy of Appropriate Levels of Precision in Patient Risk Communication,” Medical Care Research and Review. Published online September 6, 2012. Full text available at http://hdl.handle.net/2027.42/98434
  • Icon Array, a free online tool to communicate your risk information in a matrix, http://www.iconarray.com

Health Literacy from A to Z: Practical Ways to Communicate Your Health Message, Second Edition (Updated 2018), by Helen Osborne. Relevant chapters include: 8, 9, 11, 13, 26, 38.

Read a transcript of this podcast.

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