Reprinted from MLA News, May 2009
By Brenda R. Pfannenstiel, AHIP, Editor, Consumer Health Column
Web videos and podcasts provide an avenue for health education and awareness and can be used to answer specific consumer health questions, such as “what happens in a live donor kidney transplant?” Videos and podcasts also finesse the problem of literacy by pronouncing difficult medical terms and showing anatomical diagrams or unfamiliar equipment. These information sources can be evaluated in the same way that any printed or web-based resource is considered: Is the information accurate, authoritative, current, and clearly presented? Is there a bias? Who is the intended audience? In addition, consider the production quality. Sound should be clear enough to understand the speaker, without distracting background noise, and pictures should be properly lit and framed so that the viewer can clearly see what is being shown.
Some health care associations, medical schools, and hospitals offer videos or podcasts on their websites. These may be heavily branded and include, for example, a “why you should get your colonoscopy done at XXX hospital” advertising message along with general information about the procedure. Some videocasts are intended for a sophisticated public that wants to consider prospects for improvements in medical care for a particular disorder (Parkinson’s disease, lung cancer, etc.), while other videos explain procedures or healthy behaviors inDecember 21, 2011online video service from the website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), CDC.gov. Web visitors can now view or download videos on a variety of health, safety, and preparedness topics. Most videos are short, and all include closed-captioning. Link your consumer health library’s website to the CDC-TV site, or copy an individual video’s code to embed in your web page. These videos are professionally produced and cover general topics, such as influenza vaccination, healthy eating, or date rape. They can do a lot to update your website. A video on carbon monoxide poisoning featured at the beginning of winter, or a podcast on salmonella poisoning from peanuts, will make your website seem especially timely with very little work on your part.
“Online video is one of the best tools we have to reach a large number of people and help them make informed health decisions by providing accurate health information,” said Jay Bernhardt, director of CDC’s National Center for Health Marketing. “CDC-TV marks an exciting new chapter in our continuing efforts to provide CDC’s health information to the public when, where, and how they want it.”
Major news organizations (ABC, NBC, etc.) offer health videocasts on timely topics; these are simply health news reports. Watching the news sites may help you predict what questions you will get from consumers, as newscasts on new treatments for old diseases often leave patients wanting more information. MedlinePlus hosts surgery videos that may have been intended to be teaching tools for students but have proved to be of interest to many consumers. Healthy Roads Media offers short basic videos in a variety of languages to teach consumers about emergencies, injury prevention, chronic conditions such as diabetes or asthma, dental care, and more.
Videos and podcasts on the web can be another tool for consumer health education and a resource for answering consumer questions. To get a feel for the world of consumer health videos, explore these sites: