Exhausted by Bad KT

by Shannon Rasp November 12, 2012 05:23 PM

What do you do when you see an example of poor knowledge translation? I was recently faced with that dilemma when an online support group I belong to reported on a patient information sheet on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) published by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP).

The sheet, designed to be handed out to patients by their doctors, is not only woefully inadequate, but it contains information that is actually incorrect. The very first line reads, “CFS is a disorder that causes you to be very tired.” This isn’t true. Medical students are very tired. New parents are very tired. Give them some uninterrupted sleep and they’ll be just fine. People with CFS experience unrelenting, extreme exhaustion unalleviated by rest.

Another statement in the information sheet reads that “childhood trauma may raise the risk of getting CFS.” No research has definitively shown that, regardless of earlier examples of bad KT that reported a link. It’s an argument that some people who believe that CFS is a psychological disorder support, despite the fact that there is absolutely no proof. These are just two of the most egregious examples of misinformation present in the piece. There are many others, including two treatment options that are in direct conflict with what most CFS specialists recommend. Doctors, many of whom are still uneducated about this “invisible disease,” will read the sheet and believe what it reports. Patients will read it and wonder why their experience with the illness is so different. 

In the end, I wrote a strongly-worded letter to the editor of the AAFP’s publications. As I suspected, it did little good. The patient information sheet is still viewable on the AAFP website, and it still contains misinformation. I did receive a reply telling me that they have received other letters about this piece, which, to me, makes the AAFP’s refusal to take it off the website even more disconcerting.

Have you ever run into poor examples of KT? What did you do? Do you think KT practitioners should call others out when they see them? Please let me know in the comments!

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Successful RIA Case Study Posted

by Shannon Rasp August 20, 2012 11:39 AM

The Research Into Action team has just posted a new case study on KT Exchange covering our involvement in research into the non-auditory health effects of noise. Our efforts were utilized by the City of Houston to update noise laws in the fourth–largest city in the United States.

 

Houston is unique amongst large American cities in that there is very little zoning. Most Houstonians love the dynamic, mixed-use neighborhoods this creates, but there have been increasing calls for limits on encroaching noise from businesses located in areas that also feature residential housing.

 

The RIA staff, interested in the growing problem of noise pollution, conducted an extensive research review from literature published around the world and used the results to develop a technical paper summarizing the research, as well as a one-page handout suitable for both lay audiences and those specifically concerned with the non-auditory health effects of noise.

 

What we found surprised us. Exposure to environmental noise can cause a higher rate of cardiovascular disease, including myocardial infarctions, high blood pressure, and irregular heartbeats; it can raise cholesterol and triglyceride levels and quicken the pulse; noise-interrupted sleep can cause immunosuppression, which means that those who don’t get enough quality sleep get sick easier and for longer periods of time than those who do; children exposed to environmental noise have poorer performance in school and score lower in standardized tests; children who live or go to school near a loud noise source (such as an airport or train station or train line) also experience higher blood pressure levels, which continue into adulthood.

 

Clearly, loud environmental noise affects everyone. Our KT effort resulted in real changes and improved the quality of life for many Houstonians. Read all about it on our case study page here, and if you have completed similar KT efforts, let us know about them so we can include your work on KT Exchange, too!

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Obamacare, Reporters, and KT Failures

by Shannon Rasp June 28, 2012 02:05 PM

Today is an important and emotional day in the United States. A sharply divided Supreme Court ruled, in a 5-4 decision, that the federal government has the right to levy a tax on citizens who do not purchase health insurance.

 

Knowledge translation plays an important part in making sense of this convoluted, complicated, and far-reaching decision. When the decision was first released this morning, most news organizations immediately announced that the so-called “individual mandate,” the requirement that people buy insurance, had been struck down. Upon further review, however, that turned out to not be the case. The Supreme Court had ruled that the government could not mandate the purchase of insurance under interstate commerce laws, but that it could do so through a tax (a dirty word that the Obama administration has been trying to avoid using for months).

 

This resulted in backpedaling from news organizations, always desperate to be the first to report. That, in turn, created a lot of misunderstanding on the part of the American people (even Obama himself), who are already largely confused by and suspicious of the huge, unwieldy so-called “Obamacare” plan. Fully half of the American public is opposed to the plan. A misreading and misreporting of the decision today didn’t do anything to help the plan’s popularity.

 

As a former journalist, I understand the urgency in being the “first to report.” But if you are reporting the news incorrectly, you are doing both yourself and your viewers/readers a huge disservice. Reporters, either traditional or Internet, are usually how people get their information, and when they fail to report the news accurately, they not only fail as reporters, but as KT professionals, as well.

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Should Mosquitoes Be Given a Biting Chance?

by Shannon Rasp May 30, 2012 02:00 PM

Every once in a while, I like to skim though the articles on Mental Floss, “Where Knowledge Junkies Get Their Fix.” It has interesting articles filled with humor and facts that will hardly ever be of any importance in your life, but may help you win at Trivial Pursuit someday.

 

Today, however, I stumbled over an article that at first I thought had no business being written. “In Defense of the Mosquito: 10 Things to Know About Summer’s Biggest Annoyance” listed some little-known facts about the mosquito, including that they are excellent bad-weather flyers, they are great hunters, some types play important ecological roles, and (something I’ve always suspected) they are picky – they do actually prefer to bite some people over others.

 

To me, the most pertinent fact was #2: “Over 3,000 species of mosquitoes have been described around the world. At least 150 of those are found in the United States, and 85 of those call Texas home, which makes the Lone Star State the mosquito capital of the USA.”

 

Yeah, no kidding. And the epicenter is my backyard. The horrible little beasts are everywhere, all year, at any time of day. Yesterday I went out on my back deck with my dogs at around 6 pm, after it had cooled down a little. Within roughly a quarter of a second, every mosquito within a 10-mile radius had honed in on me. This, in spite of about a million birds and bats in my neighborhood.

 

So, what does all of this have to do with knowledge translation? Well, as far as I know, no one likes mosquitoes. But the article served to impart some knowledge – memorably and in an entertaining way – about a creature that is often thought of as no more than a pest and a disease-spreader. Like most things on earth, they have a role to play. And until I read that article, I thought it was only to make me miserable. Now I know better. But I’ll still kill every single one I can.

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Discussion Boards -- What Are You Looking For?

by Shannon Rasp May 17, 2012 11:48 AM

Here at Research Into Action, we want to make sure that KT Exchange members are getting everything they can out of our website. We aim to be a "one stop shop" for everything KT-related. One thing we have noticed, however, is that the discussion board is pretty quiet. We can practically hear crickets chirping over there.

So we wanted to ask you, the members, what would make the discussion board valuable to you? What topics are you interested in discussing with other KT practitioners? Do you have questions you'd like to post? Tips you want to share? Or are you just not interested in the discussion boards at all?

Let us know in the comments! We want your input!

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