Computer software to aid teaching efforts

Selections designed to produce various outcomes

The computer is becoming an effective education tool, and many companies are developing products that take advantage of the technology. There are products that help patients make treatment decisions, prompt healthy behavior changes, provide in-depth information, and assist patients in learning how to cope with a chronic illness.

Following are a few examples of computer products that might be suitable for your facility:

· Body Awareness Resource Network.

This six-module computer system by Santa Monica, CA-based Pyramid Media was designed to teach health education and risk-prevention skills to adolescents in grades six through 12. The interactive program allows young teens to make decisions, ask questions, role-play, and test ideas as they learn to avoid risky behaviors and discover the impact of bad choices.

Module topics include AIDS, alcohol, and other drugs, body management, human sexuality, smoking, and stress management. The cost is $120 per module. For more information, contact: Pyramid Media, P.O. Box 1048, Santa Monica, CA 90406-1048. Telephone: (800) 421-2304 or (310) 828-7577. E-mail: World Wide Web:

· CancerHelp.

CancerHelp is an easy-to-use cancer patient education database of current information on all aspects of living with cancer. It was developed and is maintained by the CancerHelp institute, a non-profit organization in Wilmette, IL. Each annual subscription to CancerHelp includes 12 CD-ROM updates distributed monthly and user statistics. The cost is $2,300 per annual subscription and includes hardware and software. For more information, contact: The CancerHelp Institute, 1000 Skokie Blvd., Suite 150, Wilmette, IL 60091. Telephone: (847) 256-3093. Fax: (847) 256-4985. E-mail: Web site: http://www.

· Comprehensive Health Enhancement Support System (CHESS).

This computer-based support system was designed by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison to remove or reduce barriers to the information and support needed by people facing health related crises or concerns. Topics covered include AIDS/HIV infection, breast cancer, heart disease, parents, and partners of alcohol abusers, adult children of alcoholics, sexual assault, academic crisis, and stress management.

CHESS currently operates on IBM-compatible personal computers, which can be placed in users' homes or in community sites. Communications are transmitted via modem to a host computer with multiple modem connections.

The system contains a wide range of information, communication, and analysis services, including:

- a compilation of answers to many common questions people have on the topic;

- a database of articles, brochures, and pamphlets;

- a database of national resources and services that offer information, support, and referrals;

- a private electronic mail service that allows users to ask experts anonymous questions and receive confidential responses within 24 hours;

- an on-line support group that allows anonymous, non-threatening communication among people facing similar crises or concerns;

- a series of programs that help users assess their lifestyle risks and patterns of behavior and give them feedback on dealing with the issues;

- a program that helps people think through difficult decisions. Users learn about their options, clarify their values, the consequences of their actions, and any misconceptions they have;

- a program that helps users implement new decisions;

- a dictionary of health-related terms;

- a program that allows patients to record their health history, track changes in their well-being, and link to material in CHESS that might help address specific concerns.

CHESS costs $1,295 for the first copy for multiple users on one computer and $1,095 for additional copies for other workstations. Take-home modules are $995 for the first copy, with additional copies up to 10 at $795 each.

For more information, contact: Eric W. Boberg, PhD, Center for Health Systems Research and Analysis, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Room 1122 WARF Building, 610 Walnut St., Madison, WI 53705. Telephone: (608) 262-8758. Fax: (608) 263-4523. E-mail: Web site:

· Choices.

This CD-ROM on breast cancer treatment options was developed by the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Several women with breast cancer tell how they selected a treatment option and why they made the choice. The cost is $39.95 plus $12.95 shipping and handling. For more information, contact: University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Information Center, 1515 Holcombe Blvd., Houston, TX 77030. Telephone: (800) 392-1611 or (713) 792-6161. Fax: (713) 745-3762. World Wide Web:

· H+a Medical Series.

This series of eight interactive patient education programs marketed by H+a in Toronto, Ontario, Canada include the following titles: The amputee, breastfeeding, cancer, child care, child well-being, epilepsy, first-aid and CPR, and immune system. The software is designed for Windows and Macintosh computers and sells for $39 or $49, depending on the title. For more information, contact: David Falconer, Vice President, H+a, 34 Ross St., Toronto, Ontario M5T 1Z9 Canada. Telephone: (888) 464-5652 or (416) 977-6732. E-mail: World Wide Web:

· 1998 Interactive Healthcare Directory.

This CD-ROM has an extensive listing of health-related multimedia titles for education and reference. These programs cover professional and consumer subject matter. The cost for a single workstation is $149, plus $5.00 shipping and handling. For more information, contact: Stewart Publishing, 4708 Autumn Cove Court, Alexandria, VA 22312-1445. Telephone: (703) 354-8155. Fax: (703) 354-2177. E-mail: World Wide Web: