Looking back on 2020, this is certainly not the year we could have imagined around the Center for Health Communication (CHC). The importance of effectively communicating about health has seldom been so clear, and the CHC had many accomplishments to celebrate even amidst the uncertainty and challenges this year presented.
The topic we covered this month came from Robin Richardson of the Livestrong Institute at the Dell Medical School. The following post captures the recommendations that the Think Tank shared during our in-person deep dive discussion in September and a follow-up list serv circulation.
This month, we tackled the topic of managing uncertainty about the future COVID-19 vaccine and promoting the upcoming flu vaccine amidst the pandemic. We posed the following question to the Think Tank: “What are some ideas for promoting the flu vaccine for this upcoming cycle that could be applied to the eventual promotion of a COVID-19 vaccine?”
Dr. David Ring and Dr. Billy Table investigated health communication best practices at this past month’s CHC Think Tank deep dive discussion. Read their crowdsourced practice guide published on our blog – they tackle issues of communicating balance, providing feedback, and challenging viewpoints of colleagues.
Hosting a conference during the spread of COVID-19 posed unique challenges. With the determination of our staff this year, we were able to pivot from the usual three-day event on campus into one six-hour virtual conference. And you know what? We had fun doing it.
The Think Tank is a multi-disciplinary health communication collective with experience and subject-matter expertise to consult on real world communication issues in practice. This month, we tackled the topic of addressing and documenting patient frustration and distress.
Earlier this year, the CHC began a new project and partnership with the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso Department of Family and Community Medicine to develop messages for social media and text messages to promote HPV vaccination.
Patient satisfaction is an important indicator of healthcare improvement, and with the advent of healthcare delivery reform, patient satisfaction has become a powerful catalyst for change via financial incentive mechanisms.
As we enter the second year of our 2-year theme on mental health and health communication, we’re about to pursue several new projects including a whitepaper on communicating about mental health and developing education materials for health and communication professionals.
One of the things I most appreciate about the field of health communication is the chance to do work with colleagues from a variety of backgrounds on a range of health issues facing different populations. It means a lot of opportunities to explore different health communication problems, and often the lessons learned in one context have utility in another.
It’s been a couple of weeks since the Center for Health Communication (CHC) hosted its Mental Health & Health Communication Symposium. The symposium was part of a 2-year theme on mental health and health communication, which was intended to invite in new partners from around UT-Austin and the community to engage at the intersection of mental health and health communication.
The Center for Health Communication (CHC) is a full semester into a 2-year theme on Mental Health & Health Communication and as we look to the spring, we’re pursuing a new and ambitious event: a 1-day symposium on mental health and health communication on February 21 in HLB 1.111.
When the Center for Health Communication (CHC) began formal operation as a joint academic center between the Moody College of Communication and Dell Medical School, one of the main goals of the partnership was to find ways to facilitate interdisciplinary research. To meet that goal, the CHC launched its Communication for Health, Empathy, and Resilience (CHER) grant program in Fall 2017.
Holidays. They can be delightful and distracting and they can be hard. If change, loss, distance, conflict, loneliness, and high expectations cause heartache, here are some tips for joy, hope and holding on.
We’ve been working on a project related to the Texas Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) for over a year now. The project is part of Texas’s efforts to combat the opioid epidemic, and we’re specifically focused on promoting the use of the Texas PMP as a tool for prescribers to make appropriate prescribing decisions.
From the first moment I heard about Bridging Barriers, UT’s grand challenge initiative, I was excited. The UT Center for Health Communication is built on interdisciplinary partnerships across campus, and being part of a Bridging Barriers project would be another way to make important connections across the university for my own research and on behalf of our center.
So much of the talk on any college campus, I think, is about how everyone – faculty, staff, and students – could do a better job collaborating across departments, fields, etc. Health communication is a field that in many ways requires interdisciplinary partnerships, but that fact has been very top of mind lately.
Health literacy refers to the ability of people to “obtain, process, and act appropriately on health information. Many patients lack strong health literacy skills, and it can be more of a challenge to effectively “hand off” critical information to them.
Whenever I teach a new course, I feel like it takes three times to get it working the way I really want it to. It’s almost impossible to get everything right the first time through, from how assignments are structured to running in-class assignments. But the Center for Health Communication (CHC) pilot grant program (CHER: Communication for Health, Empathy, and Resilience) worked almost exactly as designed in its inaugural cycle for 2017-18.
As long as the Center for Health Communication (CHC) has existed, we’ve felt like every year has been a process of calculated but substantial experimentation. Last year we tripled our staff team, launched a variety of new projects, and it was a hectic and busy – but fun! – year.
We were inspired as new collaborations formed and interdisciplinary research projects took shape during our first year of the CHER grant program. These student-written articles document our impressive batch of inaugural grantees.
Since the Center for Health Communication (CHC) announced its 2-year theme on mental health and health communication, I’ve been contacted by a number of faculty and students across UT and organizations outside the university. If one goal of this theme was to invite new people to get engaged with the CHC, it has been a promising start.
This past week was the Center for Health Communication’s fourth annual Health Communication Leadership Institute and this time around, HCLI has truly hit its stride. We had great sponsors this year (Pfizer, HCA Gulf Coast Division, MD Anderson Cancer Center, and the Truth Initiative) and participants from a diverse set of backgrounds.
When I was appointed director of the Center for Health Communication (CHC) a little over a year ago, one of my first orders of business was to connect with other center directors across campus. I wanted to know more about how they ran their organizations, ask for their advice on where I might want to take the CHC, and generally benefit from the wisdom of successful colleagues.
The University of Texas at Austin Center for Health (CHC) is proud to announce the launch of a new 2-year theme: Mental Health and Health Communication. The theme will begin in Fall 2018 and run throughout the 2018-19 and 2019-2020 academic years.
This week is the Center for Health Communication’s professional development event: the Health Communication Leadership Institute (HCLI). As our team prepares for the fourth annual HCLI, I’m struck by the evolution of this event.
One of the CHC’s ongoing projects has provided an opportunity not only to work with partners from different disciplines, but to work with colleagues from across the University of Texas System. The UT System Eliminate Tobacco Use Initiative is an effort of all 14 UT System institutions to eliminate tobacco use on their campuses through efforts related to prevention, cessation, and policy.
Exhale. On the tail end of a whirlwind of activity for the Center for Health Communication (CHC), the 2017-2018 year is coming to a close. With a moment to pause and reflect, I wanted to take some time to recognize our big successes in the last year and preview what is coming next.
In the fall it was announced that the Center for Health Communication (CHC) was awarded a contract with the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to develop a health communication campaign to support Texas’s response to the opioid epidemic. The CHC is currently deep into the execution phase and refining key messages and tactics.
Physicians, nurses, pharmacists, social workers, physical therapists and other health care professionals often interact with patients who are experiencing pain. What can make these conversations effective and satisfying?
Along with evidence-based health communication scholarship and education, community involvement and public health practice are key pieces of the mission of the Center for Health Communication. Last week, CHC postdoctoral scholar Laura Brown attended the first meeting of the working group meant to help inform the City of Austin LGBTQ Quality of Life Advisory Commission on strategic priorities for 2018 where attendees brought a variety of experiences, identities, and ideas to the table.
As the Center for Health Communication team is hard at work on the program for our Health Communication Leadership Institute (HCLI), Dr. Mackert has been thinking a lot about leadership lately. From streamlining agendas to more mutually satisfying negotiations, he is knee-deep in thought-provoking lessons on leadership.
As we look ahead to 2018, I’ve been thinking a lot about where the Center for Health Communication (CHC) is going, how we can best organize our team to get great work done, and how that organization can also keep the work fun and invigorating.
The Center for Health Communication (CHC) has spent this fall looking for ways to support the mission and operations of Dell Medical School. One initiative I am particularly excited about is the CHC Think Tank.
This fall marked the first full academic semester of the Center for Health Communication (CHC) as a joint academic center between the Moody College of Communication and Dell Medical School. Reflecting on what has happened since the summer, when we began to plan for this extremely busy fall, we’ve seen…
The CHC kicked off a project this fall working on the Texas Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) in conjunction with the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC). The Texas PMP can be a helpful tool in combating the opioid epidemic in Texas, however, currently only one third of prescribers use the system. The CHC was tasked with creating a health communication campaign to promote the Texas PMP to prescribers as one component of the state’s broader work to address the epidemic.
During this season, tips for wellness abound in psychological literature. The loss of loved ones, family conflict, unnamed sadness and loneliness impact many people. Tips can help but certain cultural experiences might help as well. So, rather than offer more wellness tips, Dr. Carrie Barron shares a story about 8-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon who in 1897, asked her father if there really was a Santa Claus.
Guided by a passion for persuasion and the art behind ads, Mary Beth Bennett was drawn to the creative advertising program at Southern Methodist University after high school. Events in her personal life caused Bennett to take a particular interest in women’s health issues and the skills needed to take on her dream role of a marketing director for a non-profit.
As you've probably heard, the CHC has recently been awarded funding to promote the web-based prescription monitoring program to health care providers and prescribers, but processes necessary for addressing the opioid crisis don’t end there. This semester we’re tackling the public health issue surrounding opioid abuse with the second year PharmD students in the Pharmacy Professional Communications course.
Though there are large number of treatments developed in academic settings, there is an equally large research to practice gap. Many of the populations studied in academic research trials don’t reflect the characteristics of children needing services in the real world.
Effect design for health communication messaging is important, but Mike Mackert discusses how applying a design thinking framework to his research, teaching, and practice has helped him better understand design and how a message is more than just the words in an ad.
The CHC recently finalized a major contract on a statewide health communication campaign related to the opioid epidemic. (More details on that coming soon.) One of the many exciting outcomes of this project is the fact that we’ll get to add two new members of the CHC team. I couldn’t be more proud of and excited about the team I get to work with every day.
There are many things that make Mike Mackert appreciate working in health communication as a field, but near the top of his list is the fact that his own personal interests – related to health literacy and message design – make it possible to explore different health issues, populations, and generally just always be on the hunt for interesting communication problems to try and solve. This can lead in unexpected and exciting directions.
At a recent Dell Med meeting of the Department of Population Health, chair Bill Tierney made an important point that highlighted what director Mike Mackert actually does enjoy about writing grants: it can be a fun and creative exercise!
One of the things that Mike Mackert most values and appreciates about The University of Texas at Austin is the degree to which the institution and its leadership emphasize the importance of both research and teaching for faculty. He's been to the last few orientations for new faculty on campus, and every time the message is clear on the value of bringing research into the classroom and the benefits that can come from students working on research. This is why “teacher-scholar” is a popular term on our campus.
One of the most unique and gratifying parts of health communication research and practice is the opportunity – requirement, almost – for interdisciplinary collaboration. This is one reasons Mike Mackert is excited about two Center for Health Communication programs and the kind of work they will fund and support in the coming years.
What makes someone a good tourist? What makes a clinical rotation a good clerkship? How do I act like I belong when I have no idea what I’m doing? These questions were addressed by CHC Affiliates, Shana Merlin and Dr. Rob Milman at Milestone 0, a program helping UT Dell medical students transition from their year of preclinical study into their clinical clerkships.
Mike Mackert has certainly internalized the “Research is risky business” mantra, and passes it along to all of his advisees. Anyone who is exploring new ideas has to be willing to find out they’re wrong, especially important for graduate students – who are preparing for careers of pursuing answers to original research questions – to understand.
A communication task that pharmacists perform daily is translating complex information about treatment regimens into language that patients can understand. During new student orientation, the Center kicked off its educational collaboration with the College of Pharmacy with a Communication Bootcamp. The bootcamp included an introduction to the Center, an overview of the importance of communication, and plenty of high-energy improvisational activities, one of which gave future Longhorn pharmacists a new technique to consider—using metaphors to translate that complex information.
Individual experiences can serve as inspiration or illustrate the importance of health communication in improving people's health and wellness. As an example, I became interested in the role of men in prenatal health when my family was expecting our first child. There wasn't anything really targeted to expectant fathers and our specific information needs. That led to a stream of intervention development and research.
Mike Mackert reflects on the CHC becoming a joint operation between Moody and Dell Med, which was announced this spring, and how it presents exciting new opportunities for pursuing their mission of advancing evidence-based health communication in scholarship, education, and community involvement.
Working in any field that requires creativity – whether it be advertising or health communication – it can be hard for students to realize that every single thing they do doesn’t have to be entirely original to be successful. Indeed, that will rarely be the case.
One of the things that I most enjoy about working in health communication are those opportunities that allow for the translation of evidence-based research into actual practice. As an example, the CHC has been working for several years with Texas WIC regarding how to better engage and retain WIC clients.
One of the traditions of the Health Communication Leadership Institute (HCLI) is that on the last day each participant talks about what they will take from their time with us back to their home organization. Mike Mackert, PhD and Director of the Center for Health Communication, shares the value of "finding your tribe."
This week is the CHC’s Third Annual Health Communication Leadership Institute (HCLI), which is one of my favorite weeks of the year. This institute is a chance for health communication experts to come together for professional networking and leadership development.
I've taught an online health communication campaigns class in the summer for the last six or seven years. One of the things that makes this class so fun every single summer is the way students have their eyes opened to new ideas and career options related to health communication. Students from Moody often start to realize that while their training has been in one context (e.g., advertising students learning how to sell products and services), their skills could be transferred to health communication very effectively.
In this Dell Medical School blog post, Mike Mackert, PhD and Director of the Center for Health Communication, explains how an advertising perspective can effectively influence health communication messaging.
Tuesday afternoon a CHC team hosted a pre-conference workshop on health communication for the American College Health Association. I was joined by three fantastic CHC co-presenters: Jessica Hughes Wagner (to bring the campus health promotion perspective), Elizabeth Glowacki (to talk about tailoring and mobile health messaging), and Mackenzie Greenwell (to talk about interpersonal health communication).
A person comes to a doctor for help with a symptom or concern that feels like it might be untenable. What if there is no procedure to offer? Or a procedure carries more risk than reward? This can be difficult to impart. It may elicit disappointment. How does one deliver hope when all hope is pinned on a “fix”?
While breastfeeding is not for everyone, it remains the “gold standard” for infant nutrition. Politicians have been calling for improved accommodation for breastfeeding moms in airports, schools and the workplace. Women have the legal right to breastfeed in public in most states (including Texas). Even so, mothers continue to be harassed, shamed, and admonished for doing so.
An ER Doc attempted suicide after a young patient he cared for died. It seems that he followed protocol but the hospital relieved him of his duties. He was, as any feeling person would be, deeply tormented and saddened by her death. But the thing that seems to have put him over the edge was being blamed and punished.