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The Listening Project

May 2010 – Health Programming

The May survey featured a series of questions that polled respondents about their thoughts on recent ideastream health-related programming, including the special broadcasts “Fighting Fat” and “Facing Depression.”

Below are the May survey questions, and selected responses from the 135 respondents.

Question #1
This summer, ideastream will present a health special and related coverage about allergies. Do you have any personal experience or stories, information, or other comments you’d like to share with us in advance of the program? What questions would you most like answered in our coverage?

Here are some thoughts from respondents to this question.

“I would like to know if there has been an increase in lactose intolerance among infants, causing difficulty for moms to nurse. Why?”

“Why chemical companies have like the pharmaceuticals the right to be the EPA’s chemical watch dog? Contact Beyond Pesticides for some real stories.”

“Hay fever cures that are natural instead of shots and pills… anything?”

“Have we become more allergic as a nation, possibly from environmental factors?”

“How can I avoid contact with poison ivy and/or treat the rash? Can I get a shot in advance?”

“Can one be acclimated to allergens? Will gradual exposure to cats, for example, allow an allergic individual to build tolerance?”

“I am very interested in allergies and how they relate to asthma. I used to have allergies, then allergy-induced asthma. Now I have full blown asthma. I want to learn more about the pathology if that’s the right word for developing asthma later in life. In my case I did not really have it until my mid 20s.”

“Differentiating between allergies and sensitivity. Many people seem to associate symptoms with allergies, particularly when it comes to food.”

“Lots of experience with seasonal allergies. It seems to me that they come and go - some years I have them, but some years not at all. Why is that?”

“I never suffered from allergies until my junior year at University of Texas. Then I was afflicted with ‘Cedar Fever.’ My face blew up like a balloon! I never suffered from it again even though I lived in Austin for three more years. Why is that? Also, can someone please explain poison ivy? I am not in the least allergic, but have been told that I can become so when I least expect it! And, I don’t understand nut allergies. Seems to be way overblown! Is that the case?”

“Why do allergies change all of the sudden? I’ve never had problems before, but starting last October I started sneezing, and unless I take an allergy pill every day, it just doesn’t stop. I turned 49 last October, and never had problems with allergies before. So what causes that sudden change in a person?”

“About 3 years ago, my hands, including the palms, started to blister. Then the skin started peeling off. When local doctors couldn’t help, they suggested I go to a dermatologist at the Cleveland Clinic. They discovered I am allergic to ALL fragrance. I want people to understand there are many people like me and it is important women do not wear perfume at work. This needs to be taken seriously.”

Question #2
What health subject(s) would you like ideastream to focus on in the future?

Here are some thoughts from respondents to this question.

“The roll vitamins play in our health - A, B12 etc. and what they do in our bodies?”

“The remarkable skin that holds us together.”

“Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.”

“I thought the obesity coverage was great! As a sequel it would be great to follow up with recreation/activities which can help one stay healthy/reduce the risk of disease, etc.”

“I think the issue of obesity and lack of physical fitness should be covered periodically. Perhaps offer challenges to people - e.g. to walk instead of driving somewhere. I work with many people who will drive to a nearby store in the same shopping center - faster to walk, but they don’t even consider it.”

“How environmental factors such as pollution or global climate change affects allergies, asthma, and lung disease.”

“Exploring both the health and environmental effects of chemicals used in common toiletries such as soap, shampoo, lotion, deodorant, toothpaste, etc.”

“How to keep your mind active and able to learn.”

“Obsessive/Compulsive Disorder.”

“Chronic pain and how doctors are overly skeptical of it and try to avoid treating it properly for fear of prescribing narcotics (not a show debating the use and prescribing of pain meds!), or because they are not properly versed in what it really is and how it operates in the nervous system. The Cleveland Clinic has a world class Chronic Pain Rehabilitation Program run by Dr. Edward Covington that could shed a lot of light on the subject and help not only doctors but patients as well. I went through the program in 2009.”

“How Celiac disease (gluten intolerance) has such a high prevalence in Europe but is ignored and even denied to exist among much of the U.S. medical community. Obviously it is a disease the food industry recognizes because there are lots of gluten free products becoming available in grocery stores. Betty Crocker even offers gluten free mixes. Still doctors in the U.S. almost refuse to make this diagnosis because there is not a definitive test they can charge for. As a result they are on the verge of malpractice by doing multiple invasive procedures to do try to find another cause. In Europe the test is response to a strict gluten free diet while eliminating secondary GI irritants.”

“Exercise - What effects do different exercises have? For instance, swimming does not make one lose weight very much, but it has other health effects. Walking, I’ve found, is good for blood pressure.”

“Foot care - proper shoe fitting, how to trim your toenails (I know this sounds sort of gross but an ingrown toenail is no fun!). Care of the diabetic foot.”

“How about some alternative/preventative focused programs, such as on the effectiveness of herbs, tai chi, meditation, etc., in enhancing, preserving health?”

“Women and heart health, I have several friends with kidney cancer and breast cancer would appreciate a program regarding both cancers. Your recent obesity effort was helpful particularly with the Plain Dealer and WVIZ coverage. Please keep that effort up. Focus on preventative measures to keep ourselves healthy. I would appreciate even more programming about the benefits of eating local food, the dangers of chemicals like pesticides and with our food coming from all over the world how can we be certain of what was used to grow the food. More people want to grow their own food and community gardens are flourishing so tap into that interest and interview master gardeners at the Ben Franklin School in Cleveland were 4th graders continue to lean about growing vegetables. The Gates Mills Plant a Row garden were all the vegetables are donated to Magnolia House might inspire a few of these new gardeners to donate a row of fresh vegetables to the food bank.”

“Build on a constant message of how to eat more sensibly because I really think we’ve lost sense of that. It’s not just about eating more fruits and vegetables because we all know that, but it’s about how to eat the stuff we love in the right amounts and in proportion to our total diet.”

Question #3
Did you watch, listen, or read any of ideastream’s recent health coverage? Please choose all that apply.

May Question 3

Here are some thoughts from respondents to this question.

“The coverage on depression was fascinating. I read about it quite a bit, but your programs enabled me to learn more.”

“Might you also include childhood depression - that continues to the grave.”

“Great program. I was surprised when I came upon it while going from channel to channel.”

“Great series! Obesity is related to so many illnesses. The more we can educate people about the food and health options that can help reduce obesity, the better!”

“Good coverage, enjoyed the format and presentation.”

“Very comprehensive and the program did a lot to remove some of the stigma associated with mental illness.”

“I really loved the Fighting Fat TV program. I teach nutrition at Notre Dame College and had my students watch the program online or in class (their choice) and answer a questionnaire I made based on that program. It was a very good production; factual, yet user-friendly. It was (and will be) a valuable teaching tool for me in the college classroom.”

“I think I listened to some of the report while I was driving. But there has been so much media coverage about Fighting Fat, it gets repetitive after a while.”

“Definitely problems that must be addressed, but coverage is almost over-saturated.”

“Haven’t watched these. Undoubtedly, these are important topics, but I am pretty healthy and am more interested in maintaining health rather than dealing with specific health problems.”

“After looking at this page, Mental Health is as important as physical, therefore this is good programming. I do watch some of these programs episodically.”

Question #4
Has ideastream’s “Facing Depression” coverage led you to… (choose all that apply)

May Question 4

Here are some thoughts from respondents to this question.

“A friend struggles with “The Big D” as he calls it, and I talk with him more about it now.”

“It helped me gain a better understanding of Depression, its causes and treatments.”

“I am a mental health professional, and don’t generally listen to or watch programs on topics I deal with everyday. Enough is enough.”

“It was comforting to know other people have these issues.”

“I’m not sure the programming was as balanced as is the case with depression regarding medicine. The many side effects of anti-depressants are a major block for many people and this needs more examination. Anti-depressants are not a magic bullet and in today’s world this seems to be the thinking. Thank you for the focus on depression. As more and more people are affected by this and now taking medicine to amplify the effects of the medicine, where are we headed? Just another question to ask in your very good coverage.”

“I have suffered depression and understand it somewhat. It has affected members of my family, both close and distant. The thing about it for me, and for my brother as well is that once we got through it, we never wanted to speak of it again, as though speaking of it will invite it back.”

“I’m a student at Oberlin College, and grew up in Northeast Ohio. I feel that depression, and mental health issues are really highly and negatively stigmatized in the culture here, so it was nice to hear a source that didn’t.”

“Will be visiting my family doctor soon about depression as it relates to a family member.”

“I have not seen the programming on depression but have had it in the past and appreciate your efforts at educating people we can’t seem to convince our mother, who is suffering from depression and has for years, that it’s not the same as ‘being crazy’ as she says she does not have all the facts and we cannot motivate her so seek medical help.”

“Any health information that is directly related to me or my family is usually brought up during the next annual physical.”

Question #5
Did the “Facing Depression” coverage give you a better understanding of the illness? What particularly stood out?

Here are some thoughts from respondents to this question.

“Some say there are hundreds of causes of depression to think about.”

“I already had a pretty good understanding about depression but was glad for the discussion taking place in a public forum.”

“What stood out for me was the overwhelming positive support of some experts concerning antidepressants even though they’ve basically been proven to be no better at treating depression than placebo. The coverage seemed a little shallow taking into account how ‘deep’ the issue is. Why don’t antidepressants work? Why are depression rates rising? What socio/political issues contribute to depression? What familial issues lead to depression? Yes, it’s widespread. Yes, lots of people take pills for it. There must be more to the story than that.”

“Different treatments can be helpful, but often it’s like hitting a moving target; what works for now won’t necessarily later. Basics are good. Diet. Exercise. Therapy. Good stuff.”

“It was full of important points and information to help one better understand the illness. However, the truth of the matter, the real tragedy of the matter lies in the fact that none of it will mean anything if the person watching is already depressed. They can’t help it; they have no hope that things can get better. They’re only sitting there staring at the TV because they are too depressed to do anything else.”

“A close friend has depression and I didn’t realize it until hearing some things on the show. After some gentle prodding from me, he is now seeing a counselor and hopefully facing his issues.”

Question #6
Has ideastream’s “Fighting Fat” coverage led you to… (choose all that apply)

May Question 6

Here are some thoughts from respondents to this question.

“None of the above. I am a fairly healthy, active person (with a normal BMI). The series helped me gain a better understanding the problems associated with obesity, and gave me a better understanding of the causes of obesity. Education and providing healthy food options is extremely important!”

“I am currently enrolled in weight loss class.”

“Trying to ‘clean up my act,’ stay on track.”

“I was already doing some of these things, but the information is always good to hear again and again!”

“I have knee problems and am enrolling at our local YMCA for access to a pool.”

“Generally encouraged me to seek out and prepare fresh foods, avoid prepared “stuff,” and take any opportunity to exercise that I can.”

“Again, I’ve had all the information I need about fat. I know what causes it, how to fight it, etc. On the other hand, I know myself all too well, and while I might make a few changes here and there, get my cholesterol to within normal limits, I know I would never stick to a complete change in my life-style. I’ve lost over 50 lbs. that needed to be gone, but an unwanted divorce and then the deaths of several loved ones in a short period of time was responsible for that weight loss. And although I’ve kept it off over the last few years with a few, simple diet changes, I don’t recommend the program for anyone. I’ve never been a person who joins groups; I prefer to be alone, and to stay at home, so you won’t see me out running or jogging. I do have a treadmill I use once in a while. Most of the “fat” people I’ve known in my life are not willing to make the necessary changes in their lives in order to lose weight, even though they know they’d be healthier.”

Question #7
Did the “Fighting Fat” coverage give you a better understanding of how and why so many people become overweight? What particularly stood out?

Here are some thoughts from respondents to this question.

“I inherited fat genes, there is not much to do but not eat much.”

“The ‘food desserts’ in our inner city and the rampant fast food chains are negatively affecting our residents. We need healthy affordable options! The NPI Re-imagining Cleveland initiative bringing green space and neighborhood gardens into the city is a great start!”

“Honestly I did not get to hear as much as I would have liked, so I missed a lot that I probably would have learned from.”

“Yes. The culture we live in gives us bad food choices constantly so it’s not surprising people make bad choices. We need to work hard to convince people that cooking real food simply is not difficult, tastes great and helps people feel better.”

“I should have been paying more attention. I’m not sure how people get to be so overweight besides the usual lack of exercise and poor diet. I seem to remember someone on the morning show suggesting that food additives may play a part, though I can’t help thinking it’s less that and more an issue of self-control.”

“Coverage on TV, the PD and radio was coordinated and informative. The importance of the topic was reinforced by all different media and it was fun to gather all the varied topics from the different places.”

“To many conveniences in our lives - cars, computers, fast food, vending machines - make staying healthy a constant challenge. We must be vigilant!”

“My depressed daughter is now exercising regularly! It helps her mentally and physically.”

“Not really. I do not think enough emphasis was put on the role of highly processed foods and high fructose corn syrup sweetened drinks.”

“Sedentary lifestyle. Our cities are not designed to be walked anymore. We need to have been infrastructure and other social motivations to walk instead of jumping in our cars after sitting behind our desks for 8-10 hours a day. Also, things like fried chicken wrapped in bacon should have more than a warning label; they should be banned from being sold at major chains.”

“A friend just returned from a trip to Paris she said if she needed to contact an American while out, at a tourist destination, etc, all she had to do was look for a fat person. Inevitably, they were Americans. It’s a sad state of affairs follow the money, from school lunches, on up.”

Question #8
Have you responded to any of these prior Listening Project surveys? (choose all that apply)

May Question 8

Here are some thoughts from respondents to this question.

“Radio is pretty much all I use now. Too expensive to buy machine to save TV programs and I’m often busy and do go to bed early.”

“It’s great that you continue to engage the public, which is what Public broadcasting and Public radio is all about. Keep up the good work.”

“Can’t remember exactly, but always respond to any I know about.”

“First time I’ve done this - please keep sending them to me.”

“Easy & quick, why not respond?”

“No, but would always respond to a PBS request for anything.”

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