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SHN 1640/2: IT, Graphics and Data Management Skills for Health Promotion


A case-control study on the effects of physical activity on blood lipids.

By Richard Gardner

The aim of this assessment was to produce a promotional health document relating to tests conducted on the blood level profiles of sedentary and active men. The final production of this brochure was achieved through three main stages: data analysis, research into blood lipids and finally production of the document.

Data analysis was performed using Microsoft Excel, a spreadsheet package that comes as part of Microsoft Office 2000. Firstly the results data, of the blood lipid profiles, was entered into a new worksheet (worksheet being the format that Excel uses to name documents). These results were entered into horizontal rows (alphabetical) and vertical columns (numerical) to form a data grid. Once all the data had been entered and formatted (making titles appear in bold type ect.), it was ready for analysis. Two calculations were performed, the mean and the standard deviation, for each column on the worksheet. The totals for these calculations were placed in a new row and entered in the formula bar with AVERAGE and STDEV representing the mean and standard deviation totals respectively. To perform calculations for the entire column it is necessary to stipulate the column and row numbers to be calculated (see figure 1).

Once the mean and standard deviation totals had been calculated it was time to represent this data graphically. Placing the data into a graph enables the ability to glance over the results quickly and Excel makes this simple through use of the chart wizard. First the individual cells to be represented in the graph are selected by holding down the CTRL key and clicking on each cell. Once this has been done, the chart wizard button is clicked and a range of different graph options are displayed. The format chosen for the graph used in the final document was a simple bar chart as this represented the data simply and effectively. Further alterations to the appearance of the chart (ie: changing the bar colours to red and blue) were achieved by selecting the area to be edited, right clicking with the mouse and selecting format data series in the pop up menu that appears.

Figure 1: Microsoft Excel Worksheet

Now the data had been analysed, the research stage began. All the information required for research into blood lipids and cholesterol was found online at the web site for the British Heart Foundation. On this site it is possible to download (store on disk) a copy of the British Heart Foundation booklet, ‘Reducing your blood cholesterol’. This was downloaded in PDF format (portable document format) and opened using Adobe Acrobat Reader 4.0. This program allows you to browse and read documents simply by flicking through pages, zooming and searching the text for words or phrases.

Finally, now that all necessary analysis and research had been performed it was time to produce the health promotional publication representing these findings. The first task was to take an appropriate photograph for the front cover. This was taken using a Sony Cyber-shot DSC-P50 digital camera, with a colleague jogging on a treadmill in the college fitness room. Once taken the photograph is stored on the cameras memory stick in JPG format (JPEG File Interchange Format) and transferred to the computer using a USB lead (universal serial bus). The image was then opened in Adobe Photoshop 7.0, a program that allows the user to adjust images through a wide range of special effects and digital enhancements. Initially the image appeared a bit dull and out of focus, this was altered by first adjusting the contrast and brightness and then applying an unsharp mask filter. This done it was decided to add a sense of motion to the scene. To ensure that the subject remained clear, a new layer was formed by selecting the subject with the polygonal lasso tool and using the paste via copy command from the layer menu. Now that the image of the subject was included on a separate layer it was safe to adjust the background. The motion was added using the radial blur effect from the filters menu, by doing this the image seems to zoom into the subject making them stand out more and adding the required sense of movement (see figure 2).

Figure 2: Before and after image adjustments made in Photoshop 7.0

With the cover image ready it was time to produce the final document. This was constructed using Microsoft Word, which comes as part of the Microsoft Office 2000 package. The page was set up to A4, standard, landscape. It was then formatted to make three columns appear on both pages, using the columns setting on the format menu. It was decided that the best format for promoting a health related issue would be to keep the research and analysis clear, of a healthy appearance and simple.

The text was kept clear by ensuring only the major points were noted. A description of blood lipids was needed by way of introduction to the subject; this was then followed by a description of the findings from the analysis and finally a summary covering ways of reducing cholesterol. The use of white space was initially used to correspond with similar health related issues and to give the document a crisp, clean feel. Two images were then added as a background to give the publication more depth. These were taken from the Microsoft Clip Gallery and altered in Adobe Photoshop 7.0 by adjusting the opacity to 30% for each image to give them a pastel-like texture. Final enhancements were made with the addition of an eye-catching title and the inclusion of the college emblem and address.

To conclude it is apparent that a wide range of skills were required to produce a simple health related document. From inputting and analysing data to digital imaging, graphic design and desktop publishing; a general grounding in information technology is essential to produce such literature in this information driven era.

Word count for essay: 1,021
Word count for brochure: 425

Have a look at the leaflet

(Microsoft Word Document)