Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Movie night

Public health education comes in many different shapes and sizes. Traditional forms of learning certainly serve an important role. (Lord knows you wouldn’t be here at APHA’s 138th Annual Meeting if it weren’t for the countless scientific sessions on today’s most pressing public health topics).

But multimedia use and visual media in public health practice is equally as important in reaching new audiences, and a Tuesday session of APHA's Film Festival showcased some very powerful documentaries and short videos on health topics such as the correlation between spirituality and health outcomes, the impact of the U.S. health system on the physician-patient relationship, lessons learned in hospice care, work with terminally ill patients and much, much more.

“Money-Driven Medicine” describes how modern health care is contributing to the erosion of the physician-patient relationship and is ultimately having a detrimental effect on health outcomes. The film, which incorporates a series of interviews with doctors across the country as well as leading health care experts, depicts medicine as something delivered through a production line. Similar to producing widgets, physicians are increasingly pressed to see a greater volume of patients, which leads to less time spent with each individual patient. The underlying question the filmmaker poses is: Can health care truly function as a public good or is it a business?

“Eating Alaska” was an interesting look at what happens when a vegetarian moves to Alaska and marries a commercial fisherman and deer hunter. It chronicles her search for sustainable, healthy eating and how it led her to question some of her personal preferences and food choices. The film delves into issues relating to the U.S. food system and addresses the fact that lifestyle choices and healthy eating are directly influenced by where one lives (and what we put into our mouths).

Check out these and other films previewed at the APHA Film Festival. I guarantee they’ll touch a chord.

— M.S.

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