So today I ran across a survey on the CDC website while I was doing some research for my food policy final project (on how maybe health at every size is a better goal than weight loss, or obesity prevention, weight control, “healthy eating” or any other euphemism for making ourselves miserable about being irresponsible, fat, unhealthy failures at life, despite the fact that life, y’know, is not always easy, and there’s plenty of reasons we might be unwell besides the stuff we can try to control if we have the means, which not everybody does). I had a surprising amount of fun with that survey, and I copied some of the questions and my answers to prove it (there were questions about whether I might blog about what I was finding on the websites, and then I knew for sure I would have to go all meta). But before I get to that, today’s Thank You:
Dear CDC and USDA Economic Research Service and other awesome organizations doing public policy research and putting it online where I can geek out over it,
Thank you. Keep up the good work, and please give me a job someday.
And now, on to the survey silliness. My responses are italicized and/or in blockquotes when I had the option of writing an answer instead of just clicking a multiple choice button.
16: Which of the following best describes the reason for your visit today?
- Health information for myself
- Health information for someone else (loved one, family, friend)
- Health information for a patient or client
- Health information for my work
- Other, please specify:
Student, doing research. Maybe that counts as “for my work” but I’m so not getting paid.
17: Which of the following best describes the type of information you were looking for?
- Long list of items, including but not limited to: Data and statistics, Disease prevention, Diseases and conditions, Swine Influenza (Flu) / H1N1 Influenza (Flu), Birth defects, Sexually transmitted diseases,
Healthy lifestyles / health promotion…
- Other, please specify:
Mostly data and statistics, but this question really needs the option of checking multiple boxes.
18: Were you able to find what you were looking for?
- Still looking
- No, please specify:
For that one I maybe should have answered “Health at every size!” but really, “still looking” is always my answer where information is concerned, until I’ve gotten to the point of total cognitive saturation (and even then sometimes I keep looking).
19: I would like to find health information on CDC.gov that is tailored to my individual health needs (i.e., vaccinations for my age, preventive screening test recommendations for my age, fitness benchmarks for getting started by age, etc):
- Strongly agree
- Strongly disagree
I didn’t strongly disagree because I like the recognition that health is a moving target that is different for every individual, but (as my answer to the next question should make clear) there’s some problems with the hyper-individual approach to health, too.
20: Based on your experience with the CDC Web site today, how likely are you to do anything different to improve your health? For example, reduce risky sexual behavior, get vaccinations, change your eating and exercising habits, be more cautious, reduce smoking, wash your hands more frequently, etc.
- 1=Very Unlikely
- 4=Very Likely
20.1: If not, please explain:
Well firstly, I’m pretty healthy, and secondly, some of my research happens to be on social determinants of health, so I’m in extra-bonus skeptical mode about the effects of individual lifestyle choices. Not blaming myself for everything that goes wrong today, thanks.
21: After using the CDC website today, how likely are you to do one of the following activities: [Please select all that apply]
- Talk to a friend or family member about the topic
- Email the information to a friend or family member
- Print the information and share it
- Bookmark this page for later use
- Do additional research online
- Order a publication from CDC.gov
- Make an appointment with a doctor or healthcare provider
- Join a support group
- Join a health program, such as an exercise, weight loss or smoking cessation program
- Watch an online video about this topic
- Download content to a portable device, like a mobile phone, PDA, or ipod
- Send an eCard
- Post CDC content on your social networking profile, such as Facebook or MySpace
- Write in an online diary or blog
- Other, please specify:
Just wanted to point out that this question is poorly phrased, since I can only indicate which of these activities I am likely to do, rather than how likely I am to do any of them.
Then there was a question about various information and communication technologies, mostly Internetty, to which I answered “yes” to 13 of 18 options, one of which was “none of the above.” I wonder how my answers compare to the rest of their data, what they’re going to do with this information, and I like to think it’s a good thing that I’m now writing about their website to my 20-odd regular blog readers (hi party people! You rock!)
Then there was a question about internetty information communication specific to their website, stuff like blogs, RSS feeds, podcasts, e-Cards (really?), and Del.icio.us or other social bookmarking, and of course that last is the only one I use but now I’m sort of curious about what kind of CDC RSS feeds I might add to my blog reading and/or podcast overload. So good job planting that idea in my brain, survey!
34: What other Web sites do you use to find health information? What do you like about other Web sites that you would like to see on CDC.gov?
Do library websites count? PubMed is great, as are (free) online academic journals, some blogs, the USDA ERS website (<3 <3 <3 I am such a nerd)
I was getting a little tired of the survey at that point, and eager to write this blog post, or I maybe would have put my thank you in this response. But I wrote this big silly thing instead. Epilogue: Boy howdy is it ever seriously heartening to spend time exploring government-sponsored efforts to increase and disseminate knowledge, and know some of our tax dollars still go towards the public good and not just killing people and breaking things. Now here’s hoping the latest numbers on household food security light a fire under some people to get more good things done.