MSUToday
Published: Oct. 15, 2010

MSU to educate health care providers on fish consumption

Contact(s): Jason Cody Media Communications office: (517) 432-0924 cell: (734) 755-0210 Jason.Cody@cabs.msu.edu, Kenneth Rosenman Occupational and Environmental Medicine office: (517) 353-1846 rosenman@msu.edu

EAST LANSING, Mich. — The Environmental Protection Agency has reached out to Michigan State University to inform the state's fish consumers about the harmful impact of environmental chemicals and help them access appropriate guidelines on eating fish.

Using a $1.5 million EPA grant, MSU researchers Ken Rosenman, Gary Ferenchick and David Solomon - all from the College of Human Medicine - and Kari Hortos from the College of Osteopathic Medicine will work with physicians and other health care providers in Michigan to provide them with the tools and information they need to identify at-risk patients and inform them of the benefits and potential dangers of eating fish.

While there have been advisories for years directed to people who fish and who are fish consumers, there is a concern these are not sufficient, said Rosenman, principal investigator on the grant and also director of MSU's Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

"We need to educate health care providers who can advise their patients on the benefits and hazards of fish consumption, particularly for those most at risk, including children and women of child-bearing age," he said. "Using trusted health care providers can have a huge impact: They can incorporate dietary questions into preventive medicine checkups and provide health fact sheets in their offices to spread this message."

As part of the project, the researchers will develop:

  • A comprehensive curriculum focusing on the benefits and dangers of eating fish and how to access websites with current advisories for fish consumption. The curriculum - to be presented to medical students, residents, practicing physicians and nurse practitioners - will include instructional objectives, a set of presentation slides and sample assessment questions.
  • A Web-based module based on the new curriculum that will include a digital lecture, interactive step-by-step directions on using fish advisories and other patient educational materials. Approval is being sought for continuing medical education credits to be awarded to those completing the module.
  • Three standardized patient cases for use in medical schools and medical residencies. The cases will be designed to evaluate a trainee's ability to assess a patient at risk for exposure to harmful levels of environmental chemicals from eating fish and counsel them on the fish consumption given their risk and location.

In addition, Rosenman said, the curriculum will be implemented at MSU's colleges of Human Medicine and Osteopathic Medicine, and annual presentations for health care providers will be conducted statewide.

The grant is part of the EPA's Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, a $475 million plan that calls for aggressive efforts to address the cleanup of toxins, combat invasive species, promote near-shore health and restore wetlands and other habitats. Overall, MSU researchers have been awarded more than $3 million for seven projects as part of the initiative. For more information on those projects, go to http://news.msu.edu/story/8352/. For more information on the EPA initiative, visit www.greatlakesrestoration.us.

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