Evaluation of new multimedia formats for cancer communications. (1/17)

BACKGROUND: Providing quality, current cancer information to cancer patients and their families is a key function of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Web site. This information is now provided in predominantly-text format, but could be provided in formats using multimedia, including animation and sound. Since users have many choices about where to get their information, it is important to provide the information in a format that is helpful and that they prefer. OBJECTIVE: To pilot and evaluate multimedia strategies for future cancer-information program formats for lay users, the National Cancer Institute created new multimedia versions of existing text programs. We sought to evaluate user performance and preference on these 3 new formats and on the 2 existing text formats. METHODS: The National Cancer Institute's "What You Need to Know About Lung Cancer" program was the test vehicle. There were 5 testing sessions, 1 dedicated to each format. Each session lasted about 1 hour, with 9 participants per session and 45 users overall. Users were exposed to the assigned cancer program from beginning to end in 1 of 5 formats: text paperback booklet, paperback booklet formatted in HTML on the Web, spoken audio alone, spoken audio synchronized with a text Web page, and Flash multimedia (animation, spoken audio, and text). Immediately thereafter, the features and design of the 4 alternative formats were demonstrated in detail. A multiple-choice pre-test and post-test quiz on the cancer content was used to assess user learning (performance) before and after experiencing the assigned program. The quiz was administered using an Authorware software interface writing to an Access database. Users were asked to rank from 1 to 5 their preference for the 5 program formats, and provide structured and open-ended comments about usability of the 5 formats. RESULTS: Significant improvement in scores from pre-test to post-test was seen for the total study population. Average scores for users in each of the 5 format groups improved significantly. Increments in improvement, however, were not statistically different between any of the format groups. Significant improvements in quiz scores were seen irrespective of age group or education level. Of the users, 71.1% ranked the Flash program first among the 5 formats, and 84.4% rated Flash as their first or second choice. Audio was the least-preferred format, ranking fifth among 46.7% of users and first among none. Flash was ranked first among users regardless of education level, age group, or format group to which the user was assigned. CONCLUSIONS: Under the pilot study conditions, users overwhelmingly preferred the Flash format to the other 4 formats. Learning occurred equally in all formats. Use of multimedia should be considered as communication strategies are developed for updating cancer content and attracting new users.  (+info)

Melanin-based plumage coloration and flight displays in plovers and allies. (2/17)

Plovers and their allies exhibit an impressive diversity of melanin-based plumage patterns ranging from non-melanized to completely melanized species. We use phylogenetic comparative methods to test whether melanization has evolved in relation to sexual selection for attracting mates, to selection for signalling territory defence, or to natural selection for camouflage. First, according to sexual-selection theory, melanized plumage has evolved to amplify the courtship displays of males. As predicted by this hypothesis, we found that males with aerial displays had more melanized plumage than males of ground-displaying species. In addition, sexual dimorphism in melanization was greater in species with display flights than in species with ground displays. Second, melanization may have evolved through social interactions to signal competitive ability in territory defence. We did not find evidence for this hypothesis, since breeding density was unrelated to the melanization of either sex. Finally, melanized plumage may camouflage the incubating parent. The latter hypothesis was not supported, since melanization was unrelated either to the darkness of nest substrate or the extent of vegetation cover. Taken together, our results are most consistent with the sexual-selection hypothesis, and suggest that melanized plumage has evolved to enhance the aerial displays of male plovers.  (+info)

Designing an illustrated patient satisfaction instrument for low-literacy populations. (3/17)

Up to 25% of adults in the United States have difficulty with everyday reading tasks. As patients, adults with low literacy may not be able to complete many self-administered written questionnaires, which often are used to obtain information from patients and to gauge their satisfaction with care. We developed an illustrated version of a patient satisfaction instrument used by the Veterans Health Administration. This paper describes the extensive design process used to develop, pilot-test, and revise this 63-item illustrated instrument. A total of 438 patients were interviewed over a 1-year period to obtain feedback on illustrations, with at least 15 people viewing and commenting on each picture and revision. All pictures were revised, with the majority revised at least 4 times. We report on this iterative design process as well as on lessons we learned in illustrating questions for low-literacy populations.  (+info)

The effects of a systematically developed photo-novella on knowledge, attitudes, communication and behavioural intentions with respect to sexually transmitted infections among secondary school learners in South Africa. (4/17)

A pre-post test follow-up design was used to test the effects of a systematically developed photo-novella (Laduma) on knowledge, attitudes, communication and behavioural intentions with respect to sexually transmitted infections, after a single reading by 1168 secondary school learners in South Africa. The reading resulted in an increase in knowledge on the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), change in attitude to condom use and towards people with STIs and/or HIV/AIDS, as well as increased intention to practice safe sex. Laduma did not influence communication about sexually transmitted infections and reported sexual behaviour and condom use. While print media proved to be an effective strategy to reach large numbers of youth and prepare them for adequate preventive behaviours, the study also identified the need to combine print media with other planned theory-based interventions that build confidence and skills to initiate the preventive behaviour.  (+info)

Maize in pre-Columbian China. (5/17)

A certain Chinese herbal book presented to the emperor in 1505 shows a drawing of maize under the caption of Yiyi-ren (Job's Tears). Also, a Chinese poem written around 1368 contains a term yumi, which indicates maize. These new findings offer clear evidence that maize existed in China in the pre-Columbian era, or before 1492. Details of this evidence are discussed here.  (+info)

First known image of Cucurbita in Europe, 1503-1508. (6/17)

BACKGROUND: The genus Cucurbita (pumpkin, squash, gourd) is native to the Americas and diffused to other continents subsequent to the European contact in 1492. For many years, the earliest images of this genus in Europe that were known to cucurbit specialists were the two illustrations of C. pepo pumpkins that were published in Fuchs' De Historia Stirpium, 1542. Images of fruits of two Cucurbita species, drawn between 1515 and 1518, were recently discovered in the Villa Farnesina in Rome. FINDINGS: An even earlier image of Cucurbita exists in the prayer book, Grandes Heures d'Anne de Bretagne, illustrated by Jean Bourdichon in Touraine, France, between 1503 and 1508. This image, which shows a living branch bearing flowers and fruits, had not been examined and analysed by cucurbit specialists until now. The image is identified as depicting Cucurbita pepo subsp. texana. Unlike some of the fruits of Cucurbita depicted in the Villa Farnesina a decade later, this image does not depict an esculent and does not constitute evidence of early European contact with New World agriculture. Based on the descriptive, ecological and geographical accounts of C. pepo subsp. texana in the wild, the idea is considered that the image was based on an offspring of a plant found growing along the Gulf Coast of what is now the United States.  (+info)

First illustrations of female "Neurosurgeons" in the fifteenth century by Serefeddin Sabuncuoglu. (7/17)

Males have dominated medicine for many centuries. Females could not appear in the medical history equally till the end of the 18th century; although they always have been in medicine as healers. It is worth mentioning that first illustrations indicating female surgeons were found in the book written in Turkish by Serefeddin Sabuncuoglu in the 15th century; while Europe was newly waking up from its dark ages and Middle East was under the influence of strict rules of Arabic and Islamic culture. Serefeddin Sabuncuoglu (1385-1470) was the author of the first illustrated surgical textbook Cerrahiyyetu'l-Haniyye (Imperial surgery) in Turkish Literature. Inside miniatures drawn by Serefeddin Sabuncuoglu indicated that the female surgeons, acknowledged "Tabibe", had been allowed to practice alone in Anatolia. Tabibes are illustrated in the miniatures practicing on the management of dead foetus with foetal hydrocephalus and macrocephalus which were the first clues by means of Turkish women in Neurosurgery.  (+info)

Predicting adult health and mortality from adolescent facial characteristics in yearbook photographs. (8/17)

Several important longitudinal studies in the social sciences have omitted biomarkers that are routinely recorded today, including height and weight. To account for this shortcoming in the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study (WLS), an 11-point scale was developed to code high school senior class yearbook photographs of WLS participants for relative body mass (RBM). Our analyses show that although imperfect, the RBM scale is reliable (alpha = .91) and meets several criteria of validity as a measure of body mass. Measured at ages 17-18, the standardized relative body mass index (SRBMI) was moderately correlated (r = .31) with body mass index (BMI) at ages 53-54 and with maximum BMI reported between ages 16 and 30 (r = .48). Overweight adolescents (> or = 90th percentile of SRBMI) were about three times more likely than healthy-weight adolescents (10th-80th percentile of SRBMI) to be obese in adulthood and, as a likely consequence, significantly more likely to report health problems such as chest pain and diabetes. Overweight adolescents also suffered a twofold risk of premature death from all nonaccidental causes as well as a fourfold risk of heart disease mortality. The RBM scale has removed a serious obstacle to obesity research and lifelong analyses of health in the WLS. We suggest that other longitudinal studies may also be able to obtain photos of participants at younger ages and thus gain a prospectively useful substitute for direct measures of body mass.  (+info)