Preconference B-1 From Beyond our Borders: Providing Health Information to Foreign-Born Populations

U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Regina Benjamin has stated: “… what we say does not matter unless [our] patients are able to understand the information we give them well enough to use it to make good health-care decisions. Otherwise, we didn't reach them, and that is the same as if we didn't treat them.” (“Surgeon General’s Perspective for Improving Health by Improving Health Literacy,” Public Health Reports, 2010 Nov-Dec.)

Access to quality health information is vital for the well-being of the refugee and immigrant communities in the U.S. Locating websites which provide quality information, as well as address the specific health information needs of refugee and immigrant populations can prove challenging. Not only are many of these individuals lacking in English proficiency, they are often not fully literate in their native languages. Healthcare providers, community workers, patient educators, and others who work with these groups may be called upon to provide assistance to individuals who need health information in appropriate languages.

The National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NN/LM), consists of a network of more than 5000 libraries, community based organizations, and public health department which works with its membership to increase nationwide access to health information. The NN/LM South Central Region (SCR) office works directly with the states of Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas from its location in The Texas Medical Center Library in Houston, TX. Texas has received the most or second most number of refugees (after California) in recent years (U.S. Department of HHS, Office of Refugee Resettlement, Administration for Children & Families,) and all states in the Region receive large numbers of immigrants from many countries around the world.

As part of NN/LM’s goal to enhance access to health information for health professionals and the public, training sessions and classes are developed to address specific needs. In the fall of 2011, South Central Region staff began teaching a class developed by SCR staff entitled, “From Beyond our Borders: Providing Health Information to Foreign-Born Populations” in face-to-face as well as webinar and virtual settings. To date, versions of the material in this class have been presented to more than 350 individuals who work with refugee and immigrant populations, including members of state, county, and local public health departments, health science librarians, public librarians, healthcare providers, and others.

This presentation will incorporate relevant segments of this class including an overview of organizations and web-based resource portals that provide health information to non-English speakers. Some organizations create translations, while others both create and make translations available. Still other organizations specialize in gathering translations from multiple sources to make them easily accessible in one location. Special emphasis will be given to resources which provide relevant cultural information.

During this session, participants will:

  • Gain understanding of the definitions of “refugee,” “immigrant,” and “asylee” and particular health issues these groups face.
  • Be able to identify selected key websites which provide health information in multiple languages.
  • Locate health information on specific topics relevant to refugee or immigrant communities using specific Internet sites.
  • Gain understanding of the importance of culture to patient health.
  • Review principles of evaluation for Internet health information sites using criteria including: accuracy, authority, bias, currency, and coverage.

Participants will learn about new and well-established websites that feature resource databases, multimedia tools, online courses, translated materials, and opportunities for networking and peer education. Examples include MedlinePlus, Healthy Roads Media, EthnoMed, the Refugee Health Information Network, and others. Participants will be encouraged to share experiences of providing health information in different cultures and languages. Attendees will leave empowered with resources to assist work with diverse populations and raising levels of health literacy, particularly with refugee and immigrant populations.

Monday, March 11, 2013: 1:30 PM-4:30 PM