Lisa Wehr's Public Health Blog

Lisa is originally from Sigourney, Iowa. She attended Iowa State University and received her bachelor’s degree in Music in 2010. She is currently a first year Master’s of Public Health (MPH) student in community and behavioral health (CBH). Lisa works on the medicine-psychiatry unit at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics (UIHC). Through this blog Lisa hopes to let people learn about the CBH department.

This student blog is unedited and does not necessarily reflect the views of the College of Public Health or the University of Iowa.

26 December 2011

Happy Holidays

Since I never get my snail mail cards out on time (as most of my family/friends will attest to)....why should anyone expect me to get blog cards out on time?

But here they are:

Courtesy of the CDC:
Deck Yourself for Flu
12 Ways to Health

14 December 2011

Correlation Does Not Equal Causation

I've been posting a lot recently...must be a finals week phenomenon.

But a few weeks ago I was watching an old Frontline episode about the conflict over vaccines and autism. (you can watch it here)

The biggest take home message is something most scholars are familiar with: "Correlation does not equal causation." And funnily enough, today I came across this from business week. It amused me. (click on the picture to see all six graphs in full size)

And in 14 hours I'll be starting my environmental health final! And in 16 hours I'll be done with the semester!


13 December 2011

Mobile Health

After writing my post about twitter I got to thinking about other ways mobile devices (namely a smartphone and ipad) had changed how I consume information...particularly in the realm of health.

A smartphone really was the turning point in my twitter usage. Following a significant number of feeds while only checking on it once or twice a day in a browser is not pleasant and I definitely don't have the attention span to read several hundred tweets (honestly, I don't even have the attention span to write an entire blog post). However, on my phone one touch, a couple swipes, and I've read my tweets. The time required is minimal and my phone is always with me so I check it multiple times a day.

But twitter isn't all that my phone/ipad have changed. I have become somewhat of a blog fanatic because now I no longer have to go to a zillion different blog sites, or even to google reader. I pull up the app on my phone and everything is right there whether I have time to read one post or twenty. (I think I will dedicate a different post to the public health blogs I watch)

And there are several dedicated apps that are amazing for public health. Harvard School of Public Health has an incredible app. It combines official news stories, tweets, videos, podcasts, pictures, an events calendar, a community section where app users can post and interact with each other, links, and more!

The apps have grown more slowly than twitter accounts or blogs, and are dominated by the medical field (although as I said before, don't rule out anything because it's not strictly public health). I'm sure much of this is because of the time and effort required to make a functional app. But there are a couple.

  • HealthMap: Outbreaks Near Me--the mobile extension of
  • Government Health News--news from U.S. government agencies related to health
  • This Is Public Health--just fun. Take photos with your phone and virtually add the "this is public health" sticker to them. 
Some that are in the medical realm but could easily be used with a public health bend are ones that illustrate surgical procedures, give vaccination schedules, provide disease/medication information, and assist with medical Spanish.

And there are countless apps for the health consumer. Ones for weight loss, exercise, medications, medical records, disease management.

Mobile devices could be the next rising face of public health.

11 December 2011


How do I keep up with public health news?  The number one way for me is through twitter. I have become increasingly more fascinated with twitter recently and particular it's role in health/medicine/public health.

Somewhat recently (as in October...time goes fast) Mayo Clinic in Rochester held their 3rd annual social media summit. Being a social media summit, the event was heavily tweeted and blogged. There is a catalog of blog posts from the event available on this blog. However, it also brought up many ideas of social media in health and questioned many commonly held notions. Shortly thereafter, was APHA. Perhaps because I had just "watched" the entire MayoRagan summit through twitter, I was a little disappointed in the number of tweets that came out of APHA. There wasn't much.

Some other things that have come up regarding health and social media is the use of Twitter to follow health trends (there is also a service on google that tracks this) and a more recent story from NPR about agencies using twitter to track health misconceptions. Both really interesting concepts that I'm sure will see growth and innovation in the near future.

So want to get your news watching up to speed?
Here are the list of health-related twitter users I follow:

  • APHA (@PublicHealth)
  • Iowa Department of Public Health (@IAPublicHealth)
  • Health Corps (@HealthCorps)
  • SAMHSA (@samhsagov)
  • Iowa Primary Care Association (@iowapca)
  • Wendy Swanson-an MD interested in social media use in health (@SeattleMamaDoc)
  • John Hopkins School of Public Health (@JohnsHopkinsSPH)
  • Harvard School of Public Health (@HarvardHSPH)
  • Robert Wood Johnson Foundation-Public Health (@RWJF_PubHealth)
  • UI Health Care (@uihealthcare)
  • APHA Annual Meeting (@APHAAnnualMtg)
  • American Academy of Family Physicians (@aafp)
  • American Medical Association (@AmerMedicalAssn)
  • Journal of the American Medical Association (@Jama_current)
  • Yale Medicine (@yalemedicine)
  • Virtual Mentor-a medical ethics journal (@VMethics)

One thing I can say is to not write off any one user because they are more medically related (like the American Medical Association). There is some really great research that comes through these organizations and is extremely applicable to public health.

A great way to start off your list simply googling a phrase like "public health twitter users." Here's a site to start you off: 50 Public Health twitter users to follow. As you continue to use twitter your list will continue to grow. I have added a lot of users because one of their tweets was retweeted by someone else I follow. It's like visible virtual networking :)

Give it a try!