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Military Health podcasts provide resources for patients and providers

Hands holding a smartphone with the Living Beyond Pain podcast playing on the device. A Military Health System beneficiary listens to the Living Beyond Pain podcast. (Photo by William Wheeler, Connected Health Branch.)

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With the many challenges of COVID-19 over the past several months, podcasts have increased in popularity as a tool for many people to access educational content. Listeners can listen to them at their convenience and on their schedule.

The Defense Health Agency’s Connected Health Branch has leveraged the power of podcasting to provide resources and education to both providers and beneficiaries since 2017. And these efforts have paid off. DHA Connected Health podcast episodes have now been downloaded more than 100,000 times since their launch.

Much of that success is due to the value of the health content those podcasts provide, according to Julie Kinn, DHA Connected Health Education and Training lead, who also leads the podcast program.

Topics span various aspects of health care to include behavioral health, pain management, sleep issues, chronic pain, mindfulness and meditation the DHA Connected Health podcast series have become useful tools to Military Health System beneficiaries and the providers who serve them.

“One of the best things about podcasts is that they can be listened to at your convenience – anytime, anywhere,” Kinn said. “In our current pandemic environment, where time is so valuable, the ability to select the topic you want and be able to listen to on your schedule is a huge benefit.”

The Living Beyond Pain podcast, for example, provides resources, tools, and tips to help those coping with chronic pain. The podcast enlists providers from the MHS and Department of Veterans Affairs to provide insight into living with and improving chronic pain.

Living Beyond Pain gives people suffering with chronic pain more insight into what they are coping with and provides them actionable steps they can take to improve their condition,” Kinn said.

Another DHA Connected Health podcast is A Better Night’s Sleep. Leading experts from across the MHS provide education on common sleep disorders and proven treatments that listeners can employ to improve them. Service members and military family members may suffer from sleep issues such as insomnia, nightmares, and sleep apnea. They are sometimes reluctant to discuss these with a provider, which can prolong getting care or treatment. This podcast provides a convenient way for them to get specific information about their sleep issue and help open the door to pursuing treatment options with a provider.

A Better Night’s Sleep is a valuable tool to the MHS community, with an average of over 1,000 listens monthly. The value of this medium is clearly growing, as seen by the growing number of downloads of these series, Kinn said.

In response, DHA Connected Health is evaluating other topics that are of interest to both MHS beneficiaries and providers for development of new podcast series.

“We are excited to continue with the development of podcasts for our beneficiaries and providers to support learning and treatment of the health issues they cope with every day,” Kinn said.

Learn more about the DHA Connected Health podcasts and download episodes at: http://health.mil/podcasts.

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