Donegal woman amongst winners at National Health Literacy Awards

Gweedore native, Louise O’Donnell, who works in Dublin Institute of Technology, Student Health Centre was amongst the winners at the recent Crystal Clear MSD Health Literacy Awards for her project, the ‘No Umbrella Campaign.’

Gweedore native, Louise O’Donnell, who works in Dublin Institute of Technology, Student Health Centre was amongst the winners at the recent Crystal Clear MSD Health Literacy Awards for her project, the ‘No Umbrella Campaign.’

The award comes for work by Louise and Deirdre Adamson to make students aware of a new Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) screening test for males which is simpler and easier than before.

At a ceremony in Dublin, Louise and the DIT Student Health Centre team won first place in the category, ‘Best Project in General Practice’.

14 other organisations were also recognised for their efforts to communicate more clearly and for making information more accessible to the public, with five entries taking home specially commissioned trophies.

The No Umbrella Campaign was developed by Louise and Deirdre Adamson to make students aware of a new Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) screening test for males which is simpler and easier than before. They also wanted to educate young males that, contrary to popular belief, STI screening no longer involves a painful and invasive test referred to as the ‘Umbrella Test’.

Research showed that there was an especially low uptake of STI testing amongst Northside Dublin males, who in turn became DIT’s communication target. Louise and Deirdre developed a simple poster to dispel the myth and remove any fear associated with the test and increase uptake. They evaluated the success of the campaign by comparing attendance at 16 STI clinics before and after the launch of the campaign. Post launch, they found an increase of 73% in the number of students attending their STI clinic from their target group and an increase of 18% in the total number of students attending the STI clinic.

Commenting on the awards, Inez Bailey, Director of the National Adult Literacy Agency (NALA), said, “The initiatives that have been recognised here today show what can be accomplished when clear communication is used in healthcare. Many of the projects could be easily replicated by GP clinics, hospitals and patient groups around the country. NALA offers free advice on how the healthcare community can better communicate with patients so please contact us if you would like help at www.nala.ie.”

The judging panel for the awards is represented by individuals from NALA, MSD, the Health Service Executive (HSE), the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA), the Irish Practice Nurses Association (IPNA), UCD, a General Practice, PracticeManager.ie, Trinity College Dublin and University College Cork.

The Crystal Clear Awards are sponsored by MSD and supported by the National Adult Literacy Agency (NALA).Further information on health literacy and the Crystal Clear MSD Health Literacy Awards can be found at www.healthliteracy.ie.