PubMed Commons: New comment forum on PubMed

go-public-iconFrom the PubMed Commons Blog:

If you are one of the millions of people who visit PubMed today, be on the look-out for something different. On each abstract page, there’s now a section called PubMed Commons. It’s a forum for scientific discussion on publications open to any authors in the world’s largest biomedical literature database.

Several hundred comments have been made during a closed pilot in the last few months. But there are over 23 million articles in PubMed, with thousands more pouring in every day, from Tuesday to Saturday. So the chance of coming across an article with comments is still very low.

We’ll show you some interesting ones shortly, though – and you can learn how to look for articles with comments and set up alerts in one of last week’s blog posts. Or you can check out the stream of selected new comments – as well as articles that are trending in PubMed – at the PubMed Commons home page.

If you happen onto an article that has comments, the first sign will be in your search results. There will be a little icon letting you know an article has comments, and how many there are – like this:

Comment icon with number 7

Anyone can read the comments. Members may also have rated their helpfulness, which looks like this on the comment:

8 out of 8 found this helpful

Read more about PubMed Commons here.

Dangers of distracted walking

From the Well blog at the New York Times:

Driving a car while talking or texting on a cellphone is a widely recognized risk factor for accidents. Now a new study reports that a growing number of people who walk while talking or texting are ending up in the emergency room.

Using data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, which collects detailed case information from a sample of emergency rooms across the country, researchers estimated the number of pedestrians nationwide who were injured seriously enough while using cellphones to be treated in an emergency room from 2004 to 2010.

They found that the number of injuries increased yearly during that time,  to 1,506 in 2010 from 559 in 2004. The damage ranged from minor to serious — abrasions, sprains, concussions, seizures and fractures. Over the six years, about two-thirds of those injured were younger than 25. The findings appeared in the August issue of Accident Analysis & Prevention.

“I think parents need to teach their children safe texting,” said the lead author, Jack L. Nasar, a professor of city and regional planning at Ohio State. “Just like they say, ‘Look both ways before crossing,’ they should say, ‘Stop and stand off to the side when you text or talk.’”

There’s a fly in my tweets: How social media can help catch food-poisoning outbreaks

From the Gray Matter blog at the New York Times:

Many important public health questions are difficult and costly to answer. What kind of risks do highly localized sources of pollution, like dry cleaners that use volatile chemicals, pose to the health of nearby residents? Are people with many friends healthier, or do those friendships increase the likelihood of infectious disease? Do frequent visits to public spaces like bars, gyms and restaurants affect a person’s health?

Researchers have been striving for generations to answer such questions, using health surveys of samples of individuals and computational studies of simulated populations. Now, however, the rise of social media and the burgeoning field of data science provide powerful tools to find high-precision, real-world answers with little cost or effort.

The millions of people posting to sites like Twitter and Facebook can be viewed as a vast organic sensor network, providing a real-time stream of data about the social, biological and physical worlds. While people use social media to build and maintain their social ties, the “data exhaust” of their postings can be analyzed to provide an enormous range of information at a population scale.

For example, my research group at the University of Rochester has analyzed Twitter postings from millions of cellphone users in New York City to develop a system to monitor food-poisoning outbreaks at restaurants.

To read the complete post, click here.

CDC Director’s Hepatitis C Twitter Chat 5/30

Join CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden and experts Dr. John Ward, Director of CDC’s Division of Viral Hepatitis, and Dr. Hazel Dean, Deputy Director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention for a live Twitter chat on Thursday, May 30th about the importance of life-saving Hepatitis C testing. Hepatitis C is a silent epidemic in the United States. More than 3 million adults are infected with the Hepatitis C virus and most are baby boomers, people born 1945-1965. CDC wants all baby boomers to get a blood test for Hepatitis C since many are unaware of their infection. 

Earlier this month, CDC issued updated guidance for doctors and other health care providers about how to test for Hepatitis C, emphasizing the importance of identifying current infection. Join Dr. Frieden & CDC Hepatitis experts for a discussion with baby boomers, health care providers and partners about why testing is critical to reduce the increasing disease burden from Hepatitis C in the U.S.

When:  Thursday, May 30, 2:00-3:00PM EDT

Join the conversation:  Follow Dr. Frieden on Twitter @DrFriedenCDC  and use the hashtag #CDCchat.


Should you consider prescribing Facebook to older patients?

From iMedicalApps and the University of Arizona:

A graduate student from the University of Arizona, Janelle Wohltmann, is studying whether Facebook use can improve older adult cognitive performance and make them feel more socially connected.

Her preliminary findings show that after using Facebook, older adults performed about 25 percent better on tasks designed to measure their ability to continuously monitor and to quickly add or delete the contents of their working memory, also known as “updating”.

The interesting thing about the study is one of the comparison group did perform tasks testing their cognitive functions.  The comparison group was taught to use an online diary site — but it did not have a social function. Another group did not use Facebook or use the online diary.

Read the complete iMedicalApps post here.  Read the story from the University of Arizona here.

CDC Twitter chat on global health threats – February 28

CDCsomedia_logoJoin CDC Director Dr. Frieden for a live Twitter chat about CDC’s 24/7 work around the globe to protect people from health threats.

CDC works to help build capacity and strengthen a country’s ability to improve global health security. A memorable example of global health security in action is CDC’s work with the Haitian Ministry of Public Health and Population and our partners to rebuild and strengthen the country’s public health systems following the devastating January 2010 earthquake. Almost 300 CDCscientists and other staff have deployed to Haiti to assist with disease and injury surveillance, strengthen Haiti’s laboratory capacity, develop and implement clinical and community health training, and respond to the cholera outbreak in Haiti.

Dr. Frieden will be joined by an expert from CDC’s Center for Global Health to discuss the public health achievements in Haiti over the past three years, and answer your questions about how CDC’s work around the world protects the American people from health threats, wherever they arise.

Join the conversation:

Follow Dr. Frieden on Twitter@DrFriedenCDC and use the hashtag #CDCchat to participate, 1-2:00pm EDT.


Twitter chat 1/16 on binge drinking


Join CDC Director, Dr. Tom Frieden for a live Twitter chat about CDC’s new Vital Signs issue on binge drinking. This report shows that binge drinking is a serious, under-recognized problem among women and girls. 1 in 8 women and 1 in 5 high school girls binge drink, increasing their risk of breast cancer, heart disease, STDs, and unintended pregnancy.

Dr. Frieden will be joined by Dr. Bob Brewer, of CDC’s Alcohol Program, to discuss how states, communities, individuals and health providers can work together to implement effective measures, support women in making wise choices and reduce binge drinking and the many harms associated with it. 

 WhenWednesday, January 16, 2:00-3:00PM EST

Join the conversation:  Follow Dr. Frieden on Twitter @DrFriedenCDC  and use the hashtag #CDCchat to participate. 

CareZone – Social media for health

From the New York Times:

Social media is about sharing ever more information about ourselves with an ever-larger crowd. But some of the most valuable information, about things like health and children, needs to be kept close. Now there is a social site for that, too, and it comes from a well-known name in technology.

Jonathan Schwartz, the former chief executive of Sun Microsystems, is cofounder of CareZone, a service that enables families to organize care of their loved ones. CareZone provides secure storage of patient information like medical records and prescriptions, plus critical phone numbers and digitized documents associated with care, like insurance information. There is also a journal feature, for keeping notes on things patent conditions and future appointments.

“It’s a biological reality that we are all going to take care of somebody,” says Mr. Schwartz, who oversaw the sale of Sun to Oracle in 2009. “You need a safe place to keep information about things like doctors, care and medicines. You need to be able to share that with your spouse, your immediate family and trusted neighbors.”

Read the complete story here.

New edition of health Communication Digest available


  • Seth Noar introduces an Audience-Channel-Message-Evaluation (ACME) framework for health communication campaigns.
  • Three studies highlight the negative impact of unhealthy mass media messages. Smoking is the focus of all three studies. Glantz et al. observe a substantial increase in onscreen smoking in youth-rated movies. Shandel et al. find that exposure to prosmoking messages is associated with acute changes in future smoking risk among emerging adults. Yuan et al. suggest that lay health influencers may be an important channel for tobacco cessation interventions.
  • The importance of understanding target audiences is illustrated in five studies. Cook-Craig et al. find, for instance, that interpersonal social networks are preferred by health information seekers in low-income urban neighborhoods. Concurrent evidence is provided by Divecha et al. who report that young urban parents prefer private forms of communication, rather than new media technologies, for conversations about sexual health. Yanez et al. emphasize the importance of patient-physician communication among Latinas. On the other hand, Weidman et al. observe that socially anxious individuals use the internet as a compensatory social media (i.e., minimizing face-to-face communication); a strategy that may result in poorer well-being. Johnson et al. outline communication strategies to effectively promote adoption of best practices.
  • Advanced approaches to message design in health communication endeavors are the focus of several studies. Bergkirst et al. suggest that including headlines can benefit short messages with pictorial metaphors. Both Chatterjee and Voorveld et al. examine media mix strategies to enhance cross-media campaign synergies. Both Hendriks et al. and Ledford report that health campaign message design variables can impact subsequent health conversations. Gainforth & Latimer, Hwang et al., and Rolison et al. exploremessage effects on health risk perceptions. And, Teten Tharp et al. discuss communication strategies forglobal dating violence prevention.
  • The effectiveness of health communication and social marketing interventions is demonstrated in severalstudies. Chervin et al. report that a health literacy intervention increased adults’ knowledge about health issues and self-efficacy. Howlett et al. illustrate how state-sponsored agricultural marketing programs increased adult fruit and vegetable consumption. Morrongiello et al. find that an interactive computer game can improve young children’s fire safety knowledge and behavior. Morrongiello et al. also report positive effects from a RCT evaluating the Supervising for Home Safety program.
  • Two studies examined new media behaviors. San José-Cabezudo & Camarero-Izquierdo examinedeterminants of opening and forwarding e-mail messages. van Noort et al. explore social connections and the persuasiveness of viral campaigns in digital social networking.

Read the complete issue here.



On the Horizon: Libraries and Social Media

opensourceway on

And without further ado, I bring you the last in our On the Horizon series…social media and social networking.  Now that libraries are on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogging, etc., what’s next?  Is social media being overhyped?  Well, their success seems to vary somewhat depending upon the setting and their intended purpose.

For us librarians, it can be rather tricky to figure out how exactly to use these tools, especially considering that the library’s primary function in not a social one.

At the 2012 Medical Library Association conference (yes, even more good stuff from the conference!), Jamie Peacock presented a paper on her use of social media to connect with a traditionally under-served population.  She found that social media allows us librarians to listen to, speak with, respond to, and share with library users in new and different ways.

So, the value of social media seems to be in the ways it lets us connect more easily to you, dear reader, wherever you may be.  See our previous post on marketing the library for more along these lines.