May 24, 2012
Stephen I. Katz M.D. Ph.D.
Stephen I. Katz M.D. Ph.D.

The NIH and NIAMS have a long-standing commitment to address disparities in the development and dissemination of science-based health information. As part of this commitment, the NIAMS is reaching out to underserved populations through a variety of methods, including the National Multicultural Outreach Initiative, publications, special events, and, most recently, social media.

Our foray into the "Twittersphere" has produced terrific results: Since the launch of the NIAMS Twitter project in January 2011, the reach of NIAMS Twitter messages has grown to over 1,300 followers. Tweets highlight NIAMS announcements, press releases, Spotlight on Research stories, and health information resources on the NIAMS website. We have found that tweets tailored to a specific audience have been highly successful—a recent tweet featuring our fact sheet for Asian American women, Bone Health and Osteoporosis: A Guide for Asian Women Aged 50 and Older, garnered over 500 hits. In an effort to connect with Latino/Hispanic individuals, we have now begun tweeting in Spanish—this allows us to send tweets in Spanish simultaneously with English messages.

We recognize that materials must be developed in a culturally appropriate way to be relevant to the target audience. The Institute has a number of publications in Chinese and Spanish, and we have recently added a new publication to our collection of Spanish materials. Ana’s Story: How she and her family learned about sports injuries teaches middle school children how to avoid sports injuries, and is a must-read publication for active kids, parents and coaches. It follows the success of our first fotonovela, Isabel’s Story, which focuses on osteoporosis. These bilingual (English and Spanish) fotonovelas use an easy-to-read, comic-book style format to engage audiences and deliver important health messages.

To raise awareness in multicultural communities about the availability of NIAMS and NIH resources to help people with conditions of the bones, joints, muscles and skin, the Institute provides health information and staffs exhibit booths at community events, health fairs and conferences. In 2011, the NIAMS participated in nearly 160 outreach events. This fall, the NIAMS will take part in the 2012 Summit on the Science of Eliminating Health Disparities, which is organized around the core principle of integrating science, policy and practice, and offers a forum to advance scholarship and translate new knowledge into action. The meeting will be hosted by the NIH, in coordination with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health and the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities.

For more information about our multicultural efforts, please visit the NIAMS Multicultural Outreach and Information Page.

We appreciate your efforts to share these resources with interested colleagues.

Stephen I. Katz, M.D., Ph.D.
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
National Institutes of Health

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