Get ready to 'SWAP' educational material

[This is the second part of a two-part series on electronic media resources. Last month we discussed the California STD/HIV Prevention Training Center's Youth Social Marketing Toolkit.]

Need a good online source of educational material? The California STD/HIV Prevention Training Center (CAPTC) has developed an online database containing more than 175 educational and promotional materials focusing on sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)/HIV and related issues. The site, known as SWAP, contains a collection of fact sheets, posters, palm cards, presentations, and public service announcements. (Visit the California STD/HIV Prevention Training Center web site, Click on "Resources" on the menu bar to access the SWAP link.)

All materials are free, downloadable, and reviewed for medical accuracy. The search function is user-friendly and categorizes materials by publication type, audience, specific disease, language, and other key words.

What led to the development of the web resource? SWAP evolved from the observation that many local health providers were developing excellent materials while others were reinventing the wheel or did not have the resources to do so, says Smith.

"The willingness of agencies to share materials exemplifies a public health ideal of cooperation," notes Amy Smith, MPH, health promotion and health education unit chief in the STD Control Branch of the California Department of Public Health and the CAPTC. "This resource is particularly useful during financially restricted times and in an environment with growing reliance on electronic communication."

From its Sept. 1, 2007, kickoff through Feb. 15, 2010, SWAP has elicited 15,154 unique page views and 38,673 downloads of materials, says Smith. The number has grown consistently over time; in the past 12 months, SWAP averaged more than 650 unique page views a month, she notes. After the first year of existence, a monthly feature was instituted. The feature focuses on a new campaign or an STD related issue and provides related resources. An announcement linking to the monthly feature keeps SWAP visible and timely, says Joyce Lisbin, EdD, health communication coordinator at the STD Control Branch and the CAPTC.

About 650 hours of staff time was recorded in developing the SWAP site, collecting its material, and promoting the site, says Lisbin. The ongoing maintenance of collecting and adding new materials to the database, as well as the time to develop and distribute the monthly feature, requires about one day a month, she says.