A new partnership between Yale-New Haven Hospital and Channel 8 WTNH-TV, Connecticut’s number one news channel, aims to better educate women about their health.
The program consists of a “Healthy Woman” Web page, which includes an online forum on the Channel 8 Web site. Hospital professionals offer their advice in articles and online chats in which women can ask questions. The Web site covers a new health-related topic each month and will also offer archives of previous months.
“Fifty two percent of our audience is women, and we really wanted to speak to them with this partnership,” Channel 8 spokeswoman Tara Wexler said.
Channel 8 proposed the partnership, after other news stations began similar, though more specific, awareness programs.
“There’s just so much more women have to be concentrated on with regards to their health,” said Jan Taylor, hospital spokeswoman. “We felt the topics should be broader.”
The partnership is currently a pilot. Yale-New Haven has committed to six months and is waiting to see how effective the program is in reaching women.
“It’s going to take a while to get started — to get people to notice you,” hospital spokeswoman Jan Taylor said. “It’s not easy to see how people are responding. It’s hard to gauge if you have changed their behavior.”
The site features many links to hospital resources that will be monitored to see how many women are visiting the site. Featured hospital departments will monitor their calls and look for an increase or change in the types of questions.
Channel 8 is also running television news spots, advertising the online chats and the Web page.
“We have a series of promotional on-air spots that drive traffic to the Web with tips or warning signs, so that we reach the community on air,” Wexler said. “For instance, our breast-cancer spots mentioned some symptoms you may have or conditions you may have to be at higher risk and told people to look online.”
The forum began in September, focusing on ovarian cancer. October dealt with breast cancer, and November will cover diabetes.
“We try to pick topics overall, for the year, that are hitting every level and spectrum of women’s lives,” Taylor said. “It’s a good thing for a young woman to think about how she’s going to maintain her health early on. There’s a lot of things you can do as a young woman that will have a huge effect through your life.”
Though many of the issues are relevant to older women, the program will also cover issues that relate directly to younger women. December will feature stress, which is especially relevant to college students.
“A lot of the topics aren’t necessarily geared towards older women,” Wexler said. “Obviously breast cancer affects women over 40 in the majority, but ovarian cancer affects women of all ages, and next month is diabetes, which ties into heart health that affects women of all ages. We talk about a lot of preventative measures.”
Tish Knobf, professor and director of the oncology masters program in nursing at Yale, conducted an online chat in October, which is breast cancer awareness month. She discussed many aspects of breast cancer treatment and recovery, true to the partnership’s wide-lens approach.
“Right now, guidelines for nutrition and physical activity are aimed at reducing the risk,” Knobf said. “But once you have a diagnosis, you’re at higher risk of another breast cancer — the incidence does support that this is a logical thing for survivors to adhere to, as well as the general public.”