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HeLPURS community health study

Since May 2012, the Library’s Health Team and Institutional Research Team have been in discussions with Dr. Sam Zager.  Dr Zager is a physician at Maine Medical Partners –  Portland Family Medicine who has a deep affection and belief in the value of public libraries. He approached us in 2012 with an idea of doing a clinical study — called HeLPURS, The Health and Libraries of Public Use Retrospective Study — that would assess the relationship of public library use and individual health and wellness.  The study would use patient records from the Portland Family Medical Center (with patient assent) and correlate those records with library usage.

Recently a letter was sent to individual patients that asks permission to use information concerning their health and library records.  The letter spells out the safeguards and the lack of individual identification with any personal data. Be assured that PPL will not provide any information regarding what a person has borrowed. The data that PPL would share, and only in the case of those who give permission, would be limited to whether or not the individual has a PPL card, when the card was activated, the total number of items ever checked out, and the date of the most recent card activity. The data for the “total number of items checked out” is just the number of items — nothing specific regarding titles or type of materials. No medical information will be shared with the library.

What PPL hopes to gain from the study is an understanding of what the library can do to contribute to community health based on clinical study.

Please contact us with any questions at 207-871-1725.

Brian Damien, Institutional Research Team Leader

Linda Putnam, Health Team Leader




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