Literature review proves: web2.0+public health=public health 2.0

Being true to the main focus of this blog on Public Health Sciences Communication 2.0 it is almost obligatory that I recommend this great and extensive literature review headlined “Public Health 2.0”. The comprehensive list of 109 articles has been put together by Dean Giustini and D. Westbrook from University of British Colombia in Canada and covers in the broadest sense articles on a large range of initiatives, research studies and phenomnoners of social media and other web2.0 elements directly applied to different areas of public health. If someone doubted that there was a connection between web2.0 and public health this should make them think otherwise. And no doubt this list is only the tip of the iceberg.

The list includes articles focusing generally on web2.0 technologies and its influence on public health, but also articles with examples of the concrete use or role of different kinds of social media in public health. This includes for example articles on the use of Twitter in epidemiological studies of H1NI, the Analysis of the use of Facebook for seeking support on breast cancer and YouTube as Source of Prostate Cancer Information. The majority of the articles are focused on the analysis of the content on different platforms, thus a focus on the population generated data as sources of information, but there are also a few articles looking at how social media can be used directly by researchers and policy makers to communicate health messages and on how social media can be used as a tool for researchers and policy makers in public health to communicate with each other. The number of articles on the later is however still limited.

Dean Giustini, is a reference librarian at the Biomedical Branch Library of University of British Colombia and leads a Master’s-level course on Social Media in Health and Medicine which I have previously written about here on this blog.

For a smaller and more digestible list of articles about social media and public health Youth Health 2.0 have put together a list of 9 cool public health and social media articles.

#hcsm #hcsmeu #hcsmca etc. – Twitter discussions on health and social media

A few months ago, the meaning of this: #hcsm, #hcsmeu of #hcsmca would have been the greatest mystery to me. I now know of course that they are hashtags(#) for Twitter discussions on topics under the umbrella of health care and social media.

The concept is similar to that of the Twitter Journal Clubs. Once a week at a given time a discussion on an before hand agreed topic takes place. All who are interested are welcome to participate. All they have to do is be online, have a Twitter account and through tweets equiped with the appropriate hashtag share their views, opionons, articles etc. These kinds of discussions exits on a million topics I am sure. In this blog, I will write about a few of the most likely many health related Twitter discussions.

#hcsm is as mentioned above a discussion forum for health care and social media. it is focused on a global conversation, but there are several subgroups each focused on for example a specific geographical area such as Europe: #hcsmeu, Latin America: #hcsmla, Canada: #hcsmca and more.

I admit, that I have not yet been an active contributor to the scheduled discussions, but do enjoy the amazing thing about Twitter discussion: the open format and that everyone can follow it, also after it has taken place. In order to get myself a better overview of the #hcsm’s I have come across until now I thought I’d just list them here. Mostly as a help to myself, but perhaps it would also be useful to others too. Therefore the blog format.

#hcsm – Healthcare Communications & Social Media

#hcsm seems to have been the ‘original’ hcsm. It is a weekly chat on Twitter held every Sunday night at 8pm Central Time. It was established in January 2009 as a way to bring individuals together to discuss health care and communications and social media – including doctors, patients, lawyers, communicators, for-profits, non-profits, hospitals, health systems, insurers, and many more. The topic for each chat is decided by a moderator but based on suggestions from the participants which can be tweeted to @HealthSocMed. On the website it is possible to watch past live #hcsm streams (eg. October 23). The questions/topics cover a quite wide arrange of issues. Sometimes it is broad questions like “Which disease/condition is receiving the most resources/attention/support via SM? Why? How can we reach more patients? But others are much more narrow: “Advanced speech recognition (ie Siri for iPhones) is here – should automated health Q&As be monitored?”. The relevance to Public Health Science Communication varies a lot of course. The main focus is health care and the role of patients. But sometimes the discussion topics s are indeed very Public Health relevant, eg. “How do you prevent spread of misinformation during crises? How do you educate public to know who/what to trust online?”

#hcsm has a website/blog and Twitter hashtag.

#hcsmeu – Healthcare Social Media in Europe

#hcsmeu is a community of EU healthcare blogger, twitterers and social media users. They describe themselves as a space for all healthcare enthusiasts to meet and converse, to  post and share events, projects and initiatives within social media healthcare.The main focus is patient centered. The mission is to help drive forward the adaptation of social media can improve quality, access, value and effectiveness of health care delivery to patients. The hope is to increase the empowerment of patients in health prevention and disease recovery. #hcsmeu convene at noon UK time / 1pm central European time every Friday for a Twitter discussion of health care and social media.

#hcsmeu has a website/blog, a Twitter hashtag, are on Facebook and LinkedIn.

In addition to the general hcsm for Europe, a number of countries have their own #hcsm discussions. These include France (#hcsmeufr in French), Spain (#hcsmeues in Spanish), Austria (only own website, uses #hcsmeu) and UK (#hcsmuk also has a daily collection of links)



#hcsmca – Healthcare Social Media in Canada

I thought I’d also just list #hcsmca, since Canadian Universities seem to be very much one of the frontrunners in linking public health and social media. Health Care Social Media Canada a was inspired by the success of #hcsm and #hcsmeu. Like the bigger #hcsm, Healthcare Social Media Canada also hosts a weekly tweet chat which takes place on Wednesdays at 1pm EST. Again, the focus is primarily on the patient and relation between patient and health care provider. Transcripts of past chats in can be found in a Transcripts Collection where the content of  is searchable. The #hcsmca also has monthly meetups across Canada where the participants can meet in person.

#hcsmca have website/blog and can be found on Facebook and LinkedIn.

#hcsmanz – Health Care Social Media Australia and New Zealand [added to this blog 27. October 2011]

#hcsmanz is Australia and New Zealand’s version of #hcsm discussion groups. It is of course primarily aimed at interested professionals working with health related issues in Australia and New Zealand. The concept is the same with a weekly discussion on Twitter using the hashtag #hcsmanz. The discussion takes place every Sunday evening on Twitter at 22:00NZ, 20:00AEDT, 19:00AEST, 19:30ACDT, 17:00AWST. Transcripts from the discussion are available here. See the below comment to this blog post to read more about the #hcsmanz’s discussions and the main areas of focus which is influenced by the large distances and geographically layout of e.g. Australia, why rural health and equity is a common theme for the discussions.

#hcsmanz can be found on Facebook and there is a The #hcsmanz Daily collecting the relevant links shared via the hashtag.

#hcsmla – Health Care Social Media Latin America [added to this blog 27. October 2011]

#hcsmla covers Latin America and is naturally a discussion conducted in Spanish mainly. It started with a beta version in November 2010 and is therefore approaching its one year anniversary. As my Spanish skills are still not strong enough to read and follow discussions I encourage you to visit The concept is the same with a weekly discussion on Twitter using the hashtag #hcsmla. The discussions take place every Tuesday evening (for the specific time check the website). Transcripts from the discussion are available from there website.

#hcsmla can be found on Facebook and on their website/blog.

#hcsmasia – Health Care Social Media Asia [added to this blog 27. October 2011]

Also Asia have their geographic twitter discussion on health care and social media under the #hcsmasia. It is used for people interested in following news, blogs, and tweets regarding  healthcare information in Asia and  the use of the internet and Social Media. The concept is the same with a weekly discussion on Twitter using the hashtag #hcsmasia. #hcsmasia has a monthly twitter chat every first Tuesday of the month at 9 pm JPT. Based on a quick view tt does not seem to be as actively used as many of the other #hcsms, but is also one of the most recent having been establish in February 2011.

#hcsmasia can be found on Facebook and on their website.

#hcsmglobal – Health Care Social Media Global [added to this blog 27. October 2011]

In addition to regional hcsms there is a discussion group that calls itself #hcsmglobal. They tweet under the hashtag #hcsmglobal and aim to bring together people from different chapters health care social media discussions happening to discuss once a month. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find out exactly when these monthly discussions take place, so follow the hashtag.

#hcsmglobal can be found on Facebook, their website and there is a The #hcsmglobal Daily collecting the relevant links shared via the hashtag.

#hcsmse Health Care Social Media Sweden [added to this blog 21. November 2011]

A brand new hcsm in Europe had its first pilot chat this month. #hcsmse from Sweden is know facilitating discussions in Swedish on Fridays from 12-1pm. A transcript from the first #hcsmse discussion is available online. Also a Wikimap of the discussion can be found. The first discussion was in Swedish (and Danish), and the questions up for discussion are posed in Swedish. Comments in English are however also welcomed by the moderators. So don’t hold back in joining the discussion.

@hcsmse do not yet have a facebook presence or seperate website, but news about it is posted on

Lots of other social media and Twitter based discussion groups out there

There are lots and lots of other hashtags, discussion forums out there. It is really quite a jungle. For me it is a little bit trial and error to find out which ones are relevant for me to follow. #hitsm (Health IT Social Media) is for example sometimes interesting to follow, but also quite heavily IT focused. I have earlier blogged about the Twitter Journal Clubs which are also examples of Twitter forums for discussions of public health related issues in a virtual discussion group. As mentioned earlier, LinkedIn also have many groups for linking and raising discussions on public health issues. The possibilities are enormous, so I guess it is mostly a question of trying it out and find out which groups suits one’s needs.

Why use #hcsm, #hcsmeu or #hcsmca when you are on Twitter?

Apart from the scheduled discussions which many of these Twitter discussions groups have, it is also possible to use the hashtags outside the discussions when you are writing about something relevant to the topic health care communication & social media. So why should you do that? Well #hcsmca have listed some of the reasons, which I take the liberty of sharing with the rest of you in a slightly moderated version

  • Share and inform: Tell others about the great stuff you’ve read or are doing.
  • Broadcast good stuff: Don’t be shy. If you’ve got something you want to get out there, leverage the #hcsm/#hcsmca/#hcsmeu communities and the get the word out about your new initiative, your latest blog post or an upcoming conference or event.
  • Ask questions: Adding #hcsm/#hcsmca/#hcsmeu to your question lets you tap into the collective intelligence of a community that is further reaching than any single set of followers.
  • Request participation: If you’re looking for people to contribute comments, opinions or ideas, the Twitter discussion groups gives easy access to a broad range of people
  • Expand your network: Participate in #hcsm/#hcsmca/#hcsmeu conversations any time and find people you want to follow and be found by others. This could be a way to connect with people you would normally not have access to
  • Twitter filter: Use it as a Twitter filter to make sure that tweets are relevant to your area of interest
  • Stay current: Get to know of new articles, initiative, projects, news quickly

I am trying to find the balance of which to follow and it is in the beginning a little time-consuming, but interesting indeed and a world one should be aware of. There are lots of people and insights to be found.

Public health interest in a correct and elaborate wikipedia?

I just thought I’d share with you a short follow-up to my previous post about a Wikipedia training session at McMaster University’s Faculty of Health Sciences. In an article in the online local newspaper the session, which approximately 30 people attended, is mentioned.

There are some interesting statistics and an insight into how one can almost get hooked on sharing knowledge via Wikipedia. I particular find the reflections by Dr. James Heilman (president of Wikimedia Canada) on public health responsibility in making sure that health and medicine related information on Wikipedia is correct, very interesting:

“Whether we like it or not, the world is going to Wikipedia as its primary source of information … so I see it as a public health measure for physicians to make sure the health-care content is accurately covered.”

According to Dr. Christopher Mackie, assistant professor in the Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, it is the hope that the faculty will incorporate Wikipedia in their class assignments. He points out that it would be:

“a huge missed opportunity when you have these very intelligent people doing research papers and learning all about an issue just to have the paper sit on a shelf … we can leverage the knowledge to improve everyone’s knowledge about health-care subjects. We all have an interest in making sure good information is available.”

For Dr James Heilman the project of making researchers and universities explore and contribute to Wikipedia was to continue at University of British Columbia. I believe it was in connection with this event Wikipedia and Higher Education.

I wonder if a similar training session would be something that could be introduced at the University of Copenhagen?

Wikipedia trainings at a faculty of health sciences

There really does seem to be something about Canada + public health + social media. Constantly do I come across initiatives, programmes and conferences from Canadian universities that are exploring the use of social media in health research and communication.

WikipediaMy latest discovery comes from the Faculty of Health Sciences at McMaster University in Ontario. This time it is Wikipedia that is at the focus of attention. A workshop for new Wikipedia writers took place on October 4th this year with the objective to encourage students, faculty researchers and staff to contribute to Wikipedia’s medical and health pages.

The rationale for the workshop was the following:

“Ensuring that high-quality health information is available to help people make informed decisions related to their health can be an important strategy to achieve the social objective of a healthy community. Wikipedia is a major source of health information for the general public and also for professionals in the health field.”

And it continues:

“Knowledge translation is a mandate shared by many organizations and granting bodies. Wikipedia can be part of a knowledge translation strategy. The volume of student work on health and related subjects each term is enormous. In many cases, rather than being publicly available and widely disseminated, high quality work sits on professors shelves or worse. Providing students with the tools to contribute to Wikipedia may make assignments more meaningful.”

The initiative came from the president of Wikimedia Canada, James Heilman, who has also been a contributor to the Wiki Project Medicine.

According to James Heilman, Wikipedia is one of the major sources for health and medical information worldwide. Its medical articles get between 150-200 million page views a month (in English alone) with up to 70 per cent of physicians using it in their clinical practice. The reason for reaching out to universities is according to James Heilman:

“Right now, Wikipedia is a good source of information but it could be better. To improve Wikipedia we need the input of the academic community.”

The workshop was offered free of charge to the participants but was partly sponsored by the university itself  through its Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics.

The workshop naturally has a wiki-entry where the objective and programme details are available.

I have not yet been able to find information on how the workshop went or how many participated, but as an initiative in itself I find it very interesting. Having the last couple of days interviewed researchers at the Institute of Public Health at University of Copenhagen, I must say that I find it extremely relevant also in a Danish context. Many people I have talked to do use Wikipedia, but have never reflected on the fact that they themselves can contribute to Wiki-pages. Or know how to do it. Offering the course to students also makes complete sense as using social media technologies, such a Wikipedia, is very much a question of creating a culture around it and train students and researchers to view it as an additional communication channel for research findings.

“Social Media in Health and Medicine” at UBC followed from the sideline

As I have previously written about on this blog, the School of Population and Public Health at University of British Colombia is now offering a course on Social Media in Health and Medicine.

The course is led by Dean Giustini who shares his presentation materials online. Since I am unfortunately not in Canada and can’t participate in the class, it is great to be able to follow it from the side. The presentation from the third week of the course was recently posted and focuses on Consumer (& public) health in social media.

The main topic for the session is on the citizens/consumers information gathering behavior when they are sick or need health information and the importance of not only literacy skills, but also media and social media literacy skills. Although primarily aimed at giving a quick overview, the presentation has good examples of where consumers seek information, how literacy skills become essential and examples of the continuum of new places to get health information online.

Public Health 2.0 Conference in Toronto

It seems like Canada is the place to be when it comes to public health 2.0 at universities these days. University of British Colombia offers graduate classes on Social Media in Health and Medicine and University of Toronto is 23. September hosting a one-day conference on Public Health 2.0. The conference is led by graduate students from at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health as part of an annual student led conference event.

According to the conference website Public Health 2.0 will examine the use and implications of participatory technologies in public health. The conference will create a forum for students, community members and organizations, academics, and public health professionals to share their knowledge and concerns about the role of participatory technologies in public health and the practical skills required to effectively use these technologies.

Being a one-day conference it is of course limited how inclusive the programme can be, but also challenged by the fact that Public Health 2.0 is a broad topic – primarily because Public Health in itself covers so many disciplines and areas of work. The programme illustrates this very well by touching upon many different areas of public health 2.0.

The conference website has a lot of good preparational stuff. There a nice list of examples of Public Health 2.0 activities from around the world and informative background information on the different speakers.

I myself will unfortunately not be able to join, but hope that there will be some Twittering going on. Is there an assigned hashtag?

You can also follow the conference on Facebook and Twitter

A true School of Public Health 2.0: “Social Media in Health and Medicine” at University of British Colombia

Although it has been a while since I finalised the last courses of my Public Health Sciences Masters degree and although I wouldn’t give up any of the classes I followed, I must admit that I felt like going back to school when I by coincidence (well, actually through Twitter) became aware of what sounds like an awesome course at the School of Population and Public Health at University of British Colombia.

The course, entitled “Social Media in Health and Medicine“, is the first university course I have come across that focuses specifically on Social media and health. It aims to bring the participants attention to technologies and research associated with social media usage in health and medicine. The basis for offering the course is the acknowledgement that social media is changing how health practitioners, researchers and consumers find, share and discuss health information, contribute their understanding to health and manage information in the digital age. (For more see the detailed course outline)

The course is led by Dean Giustini, who is a reference librarian at the Biomedical Branch Library and from its description the course is laid out to be very much a hands‐on course where students will work directly with social media and decide how new communication practices can fit into their future work. This choice of methodology seems only natural since social media is all about being social and actively communicate, discuss and share – and you learn that much easier if you actually practice it and get your fingers into it. The students are to both microblog, blog, use wikipedia and the course is being refined collaboratively on the HLWIKI Canada SPPH 581H – Social media in health & medicine page.

Being a class on social media it is, even when not a student in the class, possible to follow it online. Using the using the hashtag #spph581h it can be followed on Twitter and through the blog of Dean Giustini, the presentations are made available on slideshare (see the presentation from first session here).

A School of Public Health 2.0?

Although not flashed on the website of the School of Population and Public Health, the University of British Colombia does seem to be a University taking advantage of the offers of web 2.0. The university has its own blog central where both teachers and students are encouraged to create groups, stay in touch and discuss. Although there are lots of half empty blogs etc it seems a good forum and starting point for getting experience with social media in relation to academic life. Offering the class of Social Media in Health and Medicine definitely qualifies the School of Population and Public Health at University of British Colombia to call themselves a School of Public Health 2.0 in my book.

I myself look forward to learning more of the course and research a bit on the background for offering the course, selecting the topics and inviting speakers. The world, or perhaps one should say the universe, of social media is so broad and diverse also when it comes to health and deciding on where to focus, which examples to highlight is a BIG job.

I hope to be able to follow it on Twitter and perhaps some of the student blogs if they are public. Until then, I hope that this can serve as inspiration to other schools of Public Health. There may be a lot we still don’t know or can predict about social media, but one thing we do know is that it can not be disregarded in general or in relation to public health!