Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Harvard & Portugal's Effort

The Harvard Medical School’s “Portugal Program” awards grants to help deliver and assess the impact that the availability of health information has on the people of Portugal. The Harvard Medical School is working with the Portuguese Ministry of Science and Technology to produce educational material for the general public concerning health, medicine, and biomedical sciences, as well as produce information for students and professionals in the field.

For example, one of the grants will help Portugal deal with chronic diseases of the airway. There is a need to provide health information to patients, the general public, physicians, and health students on this topic in order to share decision-making and self management for these chronic diseases.

Actions have been taken to further address the problem. Internationally, The World Health Organization recognizing the impact that chronic respiratory diseases have on populations, created the “Global Alliance against Chronic Respiratory Diseases”. Also, Portugal very concerned about this issue, has instituted a “National Program for Asthma Control” and also a program for the “Prevention and Control of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases”.

Grant funding supports the Portugal research team that is working on chronic respiratory diseases. The researchers have backgrounds in allergy and asthma, pulmonary medicine, psychiatry, and primary care medicine, and expertise in patient education, behavioral change, ehealth, production of online health contents, patient-centered care, and training of health professionals.

This specific project led by Joao Almeida Lopes Fonseca, will develop the content and tools needed to develop a web platform that will cover several aspects of the chronic disease. The objective is to create different versions of the web platform for physicians, students, patients, the public, and for audiences with limited literacy.

The research team is working to develop the tools needed to promote shared medical decisions and to support disease assessments and monitoring. Standard web 2.0 technologies will be applied to enable users to be both consumers and producers of health information.

Grants will also be awarded to help in other areas of concern in Portugal. Research will be undertaken to develop effective ways to deliver health information on hereditary breast and colorectal cancer, address childhood obesity, evaluate the state of public knowledge on health and health information in Portugal, and study information that is available on how the population perceives quality and accessibility to health information sources in the country.