Posted by Laura Offutt MD (@lauraoffutt) · Fri, Aug 8 at 8:54pm CST
Laura Offutt MD - Patient/Caregiver Scholarship 2014
I am an Internal Medicine physician with experience in patient care, research and consulting. Currently, I spend my time using Social Media to reach teens about health topics in the place that they spend so much of their time. My experiences seeing adult patients, many of whom had medical problems which resulted from life-long behaviors starting in adolescence, served as a major inspiration for this project, as does being a mother who wants to make sure (like all parents) that my children make healthy choices to help insure a healthy life.
A year and a half ago, I decided to start a teen health blog (http://drlauraoffutt.blogspot.com). After figuring out how to blog, I branched into other platforms including Twitter, Tumblr, Pheed, Instagram as “Real Talk with Dr. Offutt”. The content is not monetized; there is no advertising, and there is no revenue. I cover all aspects of teen health from self-esteem, to alcohol poisoning, to the HPV vaccine, and so on. The learning curve is steep with regards to how to best adapt content to the different sites, as well as how to use the media to catch, and more importantly, hold teen eyes. I have been interacting with students informally and through an advisory group to learn what health topics interest them, and how to improve the way I am using social media for teen health education. I have been blessed by their (often painful) candor which has been instrumental in the continued development of this resource.
By participating, I can share what I have learned directly from teens about how they want to see health information communicated via social media and the internet, as well as how they use the internet to seek answers to health questions. I strongly believe that social media is a powerful place for health education, and that health providers should have a loud voice on-line to counter the mis-information that is so prevalent.
I hope to learn from the patient perspective about their use of social media for health information and support, as well as to better understand the legal environment around this rapidly growing area in health care.
Ultimately, I hope that this resource I am developing will empower adolescents to take an active role in their health by providing unbiased, clear information in an appealing way so that they are receptive to it. Additionally, I hope that I provide others passionate about the health of young adults, a free resource that supports and echoes their efforts, especially given the gaps in adolescent care resulting from inconsistent school health education requirements across states, thin school budgets resulting in fewer nurses and health educators, lack of access to care, and simply that many teens and parents do not recognize the importance of regular health care through the teen years. Lastly, I hope that sharing my experiences will help others interested in using social media for improving the health of others.
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