Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Drugs From Nature, Then and Now – Medicines By Design

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From the article at the US National Institutes of Health,  last reviewed on October 27, 2011

Chapter 3: Drugs From Nature, Then and Now – Medicines By Design – Science Education – National Institute of General Medical Sciences

Long before the first towns were built, before written language was invented, and even before plants were cultivated for food, the basic human desires to relieve pain and prolong life fueled the search for medicines. No one knows for sure what the earliest humans did to treat their ailments, but they probably sought cures in the plants, animals, and minerals around them.

[The table of contents]

He found that the ingredient, called parthenolide, appears to disable a key process that gets inflammation going. In the case of feverfew, a handful of controlled scientific studies in people have hinted that the herb, also known by its plant name “bachelor’s button,” is effective in combating migraine headaches, but further studies are needed to confirm these preliminary findings….

July 2, 2014 Posted by | Educational Resources (Elementary School/High School), Educational Resources (Health Professionals), Educational Resources (High School/Early College( | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Global Health and Human Rights Database

Global Health and Human Rights Database.

  • A free online database of law from around the world relating to health and human rights.Offers an interactive, searchable, and fully indexed website of case law, national constitutions and international instruments
  • Features case law and other legal documents from more than 80 countries and in 25 languages.
  • Provides 500 plain-language summaries and 200 original translations of case law previously unavailable in English.
  • Developed by Lawyers Collective and the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University, in collaboration with over 100 partners from civil society, academic, and legal practice worldwide.
  • Links to Additional Resources

 

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June 28, 2014 Posted by | Educational Resources (Health Professionals), Educational Resources (High School/Early College( | , , , | Leave a comment

[Tedx Talk] Truth That Lasts: David Newman at TEDxColumbiaEngineering

Good points about the limits of observational studies and how NNT (number needed to treat) is a good indicator of the efficacy of an intervention. Also good point of how a good preventive diet can often trump medications/surgery. 
Well worth the 18 minutes of viewing.

From the Web site

Published on Sep 29, 2012

Dr. Newman is the Director of Clinical Research in the Emergency Department at the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, and an Iraq war veteran. In addition to being widely published in medical journals he has written health care articles for the New York Times and is the author of Hippocrates’ Shadow: Secrets From the House of Medicine. For the past ten years he has concentrated his work in medical evidence translation and appraisal. He is also the editor-in-chief for two online publications, TheNNT.com, a resource for health care evidence summaries, and SMART-EM, a monthly audio review. He lives in New York City with his wife and teaches at both Mount Sinai School of Medicine and at Columbia University.

 

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April 29, 2014 Posted by | Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Health Statistics | , , , | Leave a comment

[Educational Resource] Science Literacy Resources

This resource is a bit off topic. It is an educational resource basically for junior high and high school teachers. However, I find it fascinating on how it shows the interrelationship among science and mathematical concepts. Here’s a few that are health/medical related

Here’s a sample Screen Shot 2014-03-29 at 6.03.42 AM

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March 29, 2014 Posted by | Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Health Education (General Public) | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Press release] In search of a few good apps

In search of a few good apps.

New JAMA article suggests review and certification process for mHealth apps

BOSTON–While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released guidelines for the regulation of mobile health (mHealth) apps that act as medical devices or as accessories to medical devices, the vast majority of mHealth apps remain unregulated and unevaluated. In a Viewpoint article, “In Search of a Few Good Apps”, published in JAMA on March 24, 214, co-authors, David Bates, MD and Adam Landman, MD of Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) and Adam Powell, PhD, president of Payer+Provider Syndicate, call for the creation of mHealth (mobile health) app review and certification organizations to evaluate apps that are not regulated by the government.

“This article gives health care providers, patients, policymakers and mHealth app developers a perspective on how the issue of determining which apps are most useful might be addressed,” said Bates, who is Chief Quality Officer at BWH and chaired the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act (FDASIA) Workgroup that made recommendations to the government about regulation of HIT and mobile apps. “Establishing an unbiased review and certification process is a key step in helping mHealth apps achieve their potential.”

The concept for this Viewpoint article was conceived by Landman and Powell after discussing their mutual concern about the lack of oversight over the accuracy, quality, and security of mHealth apps at the BWH Hackathon, an event sponsored by BWH’s Innovation Hub (iHub).

“Dr. Powell and I examined numerous mHealth apps and it was difficult to assess app credibility,” said Landman, Chief Medical Information Officer for Health Information Innovation and Integration and an emergency medicine physician at BWH. “The currently available reviews of mHealth apps have largely focused on personal impressions, rather than evidence-based, unbiased assessments of clinical performance and data security. With more rigorous certification criteria and unbiased accrediting bodies, both clinicians and consumers could be more confident in their selection and use of mHealth apps.”

In the article, authors describe the potential for multiple organizations to be created that could review and objectively certify mHealth apps for quality, accuracy, security and safety, similar to the role that Health On the Net Foundation (HON), a non-profit, non-governmental organization, plays in evaluating the quality of online medical content.

“People are increasingly turning to their smartphones for assistance in improving their health, but are having difficulty determining which apps are the securest and most effective. We hope that our article will instigate action that will enable clinicians and patients to make more effective use of mHealth apps,” said Powell, lead author of the article. “We foresee a potential future in which physicians will be able to confidently prescribe apps to their patient, and will have the tools that they need to interpret the resulting data. The establishment of an unbiased app certification and review process will play a key role in getting us there.”

 

Related articles

Wellocracy aims to help trackers choose and use health apps and devices

 

Related Resources

Free and low cost Health Apps sources include

And these may be helpful when selecting health apps

Set realistic expectations
Avoid apps that promise too much
Research the developers
Choose apps that use techniques you’ve heard of
See what other users say
Test apps before committing
iMedical apps has mobile medical app reviews and commentary by medical professionals. Most apps are about apps geared toward professionals and are not free.
The iMedical app forum now includes a medical librarian corner, with some patient/consumer apps

  • iMedical apps has mobile medical app reviews and commentary by medical professionals. Most apps are about apps geared toward professionals and are not free.

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March 28, 2014 Posted by | Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Health Education (General Public) | , , | Leave a comment

Interactive USDA Food Environment Atlas

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The USDA has published online an interactive map including food security issues by county.

Topics include”store/restaurant proximity, food prices, food and nutrition assistance programs, and how community characteristics—interact to influence food choices and diet quality.”

Options for printouts and exports (JPG and NPG).

A little tricky to use. Found by trial and error (I have a MacBook Pro) that the arrows on the lower right  of my keyboard re-center the map.

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March 19, 2014 Posted by | Consumer Health, Educational Resources (High School/Early College( | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health

Screen Shot 2014-01-18 at 4.50.36 AM From the Office of the Surgeon General Website

January 11, 2014 marked the 50th anniversary of the first Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health. The 1964 landmark report, released by Surgeon General Dr. Luther Terry, was the first federal government report linking smoking and ill health, including lung cancer and heart disease. This scientifically rigorous report laid the foundation for tobacco control efforts in the United States. In the last 50 years, 31 Surgeon General’s Reports have been released, increasing our understanding of the devastating health and financial burdens caused by tobacco use. We now know that smoking causes a host of cancers and other illnesses and is still the leading preventable cause of death in the United States, killing 443,000 people each year. In 2014, we highlight half a century of progress in tobacco control and prevention, present new data on the health consequences of tobacco use, and introduce initiatives that can potentially end the tobacco use epidemic in the United States in the 32rd Surgeon General’s Report on smoking and health, The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress.

                  Below is an image of a widget at the Surgeon General site
Click here to go to the widget, then click on the links as About Tobacco. 

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Additional Resources and Articles

 

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January 18, 2014 Posted by | Consumer Health, Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Health Education (General Public) | Leave a comment

[Free Statistics Book] Know Your Chances – NCBI Bookshelf

Ever been scared or made uncomfortable about threats to your health? And solutions that seemed too good to be true?
Here’s a book for just about everyone that can help one understand the statistics behind health information. And how to spot misinformation easily.

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What This Book is About – Know Your Chances – NCBI Bookshelf.

From the intro

Every day we are faced with news stories, ads, and public service announcements that describe health threats and suggest ways we can protect ourselves. It’s impossible to watch television, open a magazine, read a newspaper, or go online without being bombarded by messages about the dangers we face.

Many of the messages are intended to be scary, warning us that we are surrounded by danger and hinting that everything we do or neglect to do brings us one step closer to cancer, heart disease, and death. Other messages are intended to be full of hope, reassuring us that technological miracles and breakthrough drugs can save us all. And many messages do both: they use fear to make us feel vulnerable and then provide some hope by telling us what we can do (or buy) to lower our risk. In addition, as you may suspect, a great many of these messages are wildly exaggerated: many of the risks we hear about are really not so big, and the benefits of many of the miraculous breakthroughs are often pretty small.

As a result, we are often left misinformed and confused. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

The goal of this book is to help you better understand health information by teaching you about the numbers behind the messages—the medical statistics on which the claims are based. The book will also familiarize you with risk charts, which are designed to help you put your health concerns in perspective. By learning to understand the numbers and knowing what questions to ask, you’ll be able to see through the hype and find the credible information—if any—that remains.

Don’t worry: this is not a math book (only a few simple calculations are required). Instead, this is a book that will teach you what numbers to look for in health messages and how to tell when the medical statistics don’t support the message. This book will help you develop the basic skills you need to become a better consumer of health messages, and these skills will foster better communication between you and your doctor.

 

From the book (pages 130-132)

From the book

CREDIBLE SOURCES OF HEALTH STATISTICS

Sources Created Primarily for Consumers BMJ (British Medical Journal) Best Treatments

http://besttreatments.bmj.com/btuk/home.jsp

Medical publishing division of the British Medical Association (no commercial ads allowed). Rates the science supporting the use of operations, tests, and treatments for a variety of conditions. In the United States and Canada, available only with a Consumer Reportssubscription.

Center for Medical Consumers

www.medicalconsumers.org

Independent, nonprofit organization. Offers a skeptical take on health claims and recent health news. Free.

Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs* www.consumerreports.org/health/bestbuy-drugs.htm

Independent, nonprofit organization. Compares the benefits, side effects, and costs of different prescription drugs for the same problem, based on information from the Drug Effectiveness Review Project (see listing on page 131). Free.

Foundation for Informed Medical Decision Making*

www.informedmedicaldecisions.org

Independent, nonprofit organization. Offers decision aids that describe the treatment options and outcomes for various conditions in order to promote patient involvement in decision making. DVDs must be purchased at http://www.healthdialog.com/hd/Core/CollaborativeCare/videolibrary.htm.

* Two of us (Drs. Schwartz and Woloshin) are on the advisory board for Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs (unpaid positions). We have been paid consultants reviewing materials for the Foundation for Informed Medical Decision Making.

Informed Health Online

www.informedhealthonline.org

Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care, an independent, nonprofit organization established by German health care reform legislation. Describes the science supporting the use of operations, tests, and treatments for a variety of conditions. Free.

Ottawa Health Research Institute Patient Decision Aids

http://decisionaid.ohri.ca

Academic affiliate of the University of Ottawa. Provides a comprehensive inventory of decision aids (plus a rating of their quality), and tells patients how to get them. Some are free.

Sources Created Primarily for Physicians and Policy Makers Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)

www.ahrq.gov/clinic/epcix.htm

U.S. federal agency under the Department of Health and Human Services. Summarizes all the available data about treatments for specific conditions (look for EPC Evidence Reports). Free.

Cochrane Library

www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/mrwhome/106568753/HOME

International, independent, nonprofit organization of researchers. Summarizes all the available data about treatments for specific conditions (look for Cochrane Reviews). Abstracts free, full reports by subscription.

Drug Effectiveness Review Project (DERP)

www.ohsu.edu/drugeffectiveness/reports/final.cfm

Collaboration of public and private organizations developed by Oregon Health and Science University. Provides comparative data on the benefit, side effects, and costs of different prescription drugs for the same problem (source for Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs). Free.

National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE)

www.nice.org.uk/guidance/index.jsp?action=byTopic

Independent, nonprofit British organization that advises the British National Health Service. Summarizes all the available data about treatments for specific conditions (look for NICE Guidance). Free.

Physician Data Query (PDQ)—National Cancer Institute

www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq

U.S. federal government (part of the National Cancer Institute). Summa- rizes all the available data about cancer prognosis and treatments (look for Cancer Information Summaries). Free.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Center for Drug Evaluation and Research

www.fda.gov/cder/index.html

U.S. federal agency under the Department of Health and Human Services, which reviews and approves new and generic drugs. To look up individual drugs, go to http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cder/drugsatfda/index.cfm. After you choose a drug from the index, the Drug Details page appears. If you click Approval History, you may be able to access a Review and then a Medical Review. TheMedical Review contains all the relevant randomized trials submitted to the FDA for approval. From the Drug Details page, you can also access Label Information, when it is available (the package insert that comes with prescription drugs and summarizes excerpts of the review documents). Warning: This site can be challenging. The review documents can be hundreds of pages, and there may be multiple entries for the same drug (because it is used for multiple purposes). Free.

US Preventive Services Task Force

www.ahrq.gov/clinic/uspstfix.htm

Independent panel of experts sponsored by AHRQ. Summarizes the available data about preventive services. After you choose a topic, you’ll see the relevant recommendations; at the bottom of the list, you can click Best- Evidence Systematic Review under Supporting Documents. Free.

January 2, 2014 Posted by | Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Health Education (General Public), Health Statistics | , | Leave a comment

Resources from the Association of Health Care Journalists

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From the Resource page

The Association of Health Care Journalists offers a wide range of resources – many of which are available exclusively to members.

AHCJ publications include our newsletter, HealthBeat, as well as several guides to covering specific aspects of health and health care.

Members share ideas and ask questions of fellow members on the AHCJ electronic mailing list. Tip sheets are prepared for our conferences and workshops, often offering sources and information about covering specific stories.

Contest entries are from the Awards for Excellence in Health Care Journalism, recognizing the best health reporting in print, broadcast and online media. We have links to past winners and information culled from questionnaires submitted with the entries about how each story was researched and written.

We include links to some recent reports and studies of interest to our membership, as well as links to Web sites relevant to health care.

Members and other journalists write articles specifically for AHCJ about how they have reported a story, issues that our members are likely to cover and other important topics.

 

 

 

 

December 8, 2013 Posted by | Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Health Education (General Public), Health Statistics, Librarian Resources, Medical and Health Research News, Tutorials/Finding aids | , , , , | Leave a comment

[Purdue Library Website] Good Resource Tools for Medical and Health Information

Of particular note in the health/medical area….

Under the tab Health Information

DISEASES

Needless to say, I’ve added a link to this at my Health Resources for all Web site

 

December 3, 2013 Posted by | Educational Resources (Health Professionals), Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Finding Aids/Directories, Health Education (General Public), Librarian Resources | , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] A field guide to The Diagnosis Difference (with a request from the the blogger, Ms. Fox for responses)

From the 26 November 2013 posting at Susannah Fox – Internet geologist**. Health care gadfly. Community colleague.

The Pew Research Center released a report today on people living with chronic conditions: The Diagnosis Difference.

Policy makers, patient advocates, entrepreneurs, investors, clinicians — all health care stakeholders — can use the data to map the current landscape. There are still barren patches, where people remain offline and cut off from the resources and tools. But there are lush valleys, too, where engagement and change is happening.

I see e-patients as the guides to those valleys since unless you are living with chronic conditions — or love someone who is — you don’t see that side of the internet. So here’s my request: provide your evidence. Show what you have learned.

First, a quick summary of the report:

1. 45% of U.S. adults have a chronic condition (For some, that’s a revelation and there is still a considerable distance to go before that reality is widely known. For you, that’s not the news. That’s just proof that we have a sample that matches the CDC’s estimate and you can therefore trust the data.)

2. 72% of adults with chronic conditions have internet access, compared with 89% of U.S. adults who report no conditions. There are digital divide implications to this because having a chronic disease is an independent factor in predicting if someone has access — apart from things like age, income, and educational attainment.

3. Clinicians are central resources. People living with chronic conditions are more likely than other adults to consult a clinician when they need help or after they Google for a diagnosis.

4. Self-tracking is a massive activity, particularly for people living with 2 or more chronic conditions, and this group is more likely to use formal means, not just tracking in their heads as many “well” trackers do. For example, 41% of health trackers who report having one or more chronic conditions use pencil and paper and 14% of this group uses a medical device such as a glucometer.

5. Living with a chronic condition has an independent, significant effect on behaviors that are often described as signs of consumer health engagement, like reading up on drug safety, medical treatments, or delivery-of-care reviews. Internet users living with chronic conditions are more likely than others to read or watch someone else’s commentary or personal experience about health or medical issues online.

I want to stop a moment and give some examples of what that might look like.

And now we come to the category that personally means the most to me since I’ve spent time in rare disease communities: the 16% of U.S. adults who are living with “other conditions,” like rheumatoid arthritisepilepsy, or fibromyalgia (to name a very few of thousands). They are hardly ever in the mainstream spotlight. They may have awareness days or weeks or months that their communities honor, but you won’t see the National Football League wearing their colors.

The internet is their spotlight. A blog, a hashtag, a YouTube channel, or a Facebook group can be their lifeline. Yes, they consult clinicians like everyone else, but those who are online know that the path to health — for them — is often found in the advice shared by someone like them or the person they are caring for. The feeding tip that will help their baby get the nutrients she needs to grow. The heating-pad tip that will ease their painsomnia.

As I wrote at the top, unless you are living with chronic conditions — or love someone who is — you don’t see that side of the internet. So let’s open up the landscape.

Please post in the comments what you have learned online from a fellow spoonie, from a fellow caregiver, from a fellow traveler along the path to health. What would you tell someone just diagnosed with your condition to do, especially in tapping into the resources available online? When someone asks you, maybe over Thanksgiving, about why you spend time online, what will you say?
Post it here [at Samantha Fox's blog] . Links to blogs, videos, tweets — all are welcome.

Thank you.

** From Susannah Fox’s About Page (Internet Geologist definition)

I was at a cocktail party, struggling to describe in just a few sentences what I do for a living, when my friend Paul Tarini broke in and said, “You’re an internet geologist. You study the rocks, you don’t judge them.” Exactly. I study patterns in the online landscape and provide data so people can make better decisions about the social impact of the internet.

My other favorite description of the kind of research I do is “nowist” (meaning: instead of being a futurist, understand what people are doing now and be alert to changes).

“Health care gadfly” describes my role outside the fray, as an observer, hopefully contributing to the public conversation in a useful way.

Ted Eytan coined the phrase “community colleague” for people who collaborate by default. That’s me. My work is enriched by the health geek tribe. I can’t imagine doing the work I do without the help of my community.

November 27, 2013 Posted by | Educational Resources (Health Professionals), Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, health care, Health Education (General Public) | , , , , | Leave a comment

Behavioral Health United States 2012

Screen Shot 2013-11-05 at 5.40.36 AMFrom the US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration press release

Behavioral Health United States 2012

SAMHSA’s newly-released publication, Behavioral Health, United States, 2012, the latest in a series of publications issued by SAMHSA biannually since 1980, provides in-depth information regarding the current status of the mental health and substance abuse field. It includes behavioral health statistics at the national and State levels from 40 different data sources. The report includes three analytic chapters:

  • Behavioral Health Disorders across the Life Span
  • Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders: Impairment in Functioning
  • Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders: Treatment Landscape

 

The volume also includes 172 tables, which are organized into four sections:

  • Behavioral Health of the Population: the mental health status of the U.S. population and prevalence of mental illness;
  • Behavioral Health Service Utilization: providers and settings for behavioral health services; types of behavioral health services provided; and rates of utilization;
  • Behavioral Health Treatment Capacity: number of facilities providing mental health and substance abuse services; numbers of qualified specialty mental health and substance abuse providers; and
  • Payer and Payment Mechanisms: expenditures and sources of funding for behavioral health services.

 

No other HHS publication provides this type of comprehensive information regarding behavioral health services delivery in the U.S. This publication is the only available comprehensive source of national-level statistical information on trends in both private and public sector behavioral health services, costs, and clients. Drawing on 40 different data sources, this publication also includes State-level data, and information on behavioral health treatment for special populations such as children, military personnel, nursing home residents, and incarcerated individuals.

 

 

November 5, 2013 Posted by | Educational Resources (Health Professionals), Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Health Education (General Public), Psychiatry, Psychology, Public Health | , , | Leave a comment

[FDA program aimed at health care providers] Truthful Prescription Drug Advertising and Promotion

This page is geared towards health care providers, but it may be of interest to others.

From the US FDA (Food and Drug Administration) Web page 

FDA’s Bad Ad program is an outreach program designed to educate healthcare providers about the role they can play in helping the agency make sure that prescription drug advertising and promotion is truthful and not misleading.

The Bad Ad Program is administered by the agency’s Office of Prescription Drug Promotion (OPDP) in the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. The program’s goal is to help raise awareness among healthcare providers about misleading prescription drug promotion and provide them with an easy way to report this activity to the agencye-mail BadAd@fda.gov or call 855-RX-BADAD.

Continuing Medical Education Video itself is free for anyone to view (http://www.sigmatech.com/BadAd/courses/index.htm)It covers what is legal/illegal for pharmaceutical companies and their representatives when advertising their products at different venues

Prescription drug advertising must:

  • Be accurate
  • Balance the risk and benefit information
  • Be consistent with the prescribing information approved by FDA
  • Only include information that is supported by strong evidence

What types of promotion does OPDP regulate?

  • TV and radio advertisements
  • All written or printed prescription drug promotional materials
  • Speaker program presentations
  • Sales representative presentations

OPDP does not regulate promotion of:

  • Over-the-Counter Drugs
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Medical Devices

Common Violations:

    • Omitting or downplaying of risk
    • Overstating the effectiveness
    • Promoting Uses Not Addressed in Approved Labeling
  • Misleading drug comparisons

 Examples of Violations

Example of Omission of Risk

You attend a speaker program which features a slide show that presents efficacy information about Drug X, but no risk information.

This presentation would be misleading because it fails to include a fair balance of benefit and risk information for Drug X.

Example of Uses Not Addressed in Approved Labeling
You are in a commercial exhibit hall and a company representative tells you that a drug is effective for a use that is not in the FDA-approved product labeling.

This presentation would be illegal because it promotes an unapproved use.

Example of Overstating the Effectiveness

“Doctor Smith, Drug X delivers rapid results in as little as 3 days.”

This presentation is misleading because the majority of patients studied in the clinical trials for Drug X showed results at 12 weeks, with only very few showing results in 3 days.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can I report anonymously?

Yes, anonymous complaints often alert FDA to potential problems.  However, complaints accompanied by names and contact information are helpful in cases for which FDA needs to follow-up for more information.

2. Will OPDP be able to stop the misleading promotion?

In many cases, yes, especially if the appropriate evidence is provided.  Evidence can include the actual promotional materials or documentation of oral statements made by company representatives.

3. What will happen to my complaint once I have contacted OPDP?

The information you provide will be sent to the Regulatory Review Officer in OPDP responsible for this class of drugs.  The reviewer will evaluate it and determine if it may serve as the basis for a potential enforcement action or as valuable information for our ongoing surveillance activities.

4. How do I learn more?

To learn more about OPDP in-service training for large medical group/hospitals call 301-796-1200.

November 5, 2013 Posted by | Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Health Education (General Public), Librarian Resources, Professional Health Care Resources | , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog]Over half of drug ad claims potentially misleading

From the 30 September 2013 article by Gary Schwitzer at HealthNewsReview.org

 

Content Analysis of False and Misleading Claims in Television Advertising for Prescription and Nonprescription Drugs,” is the title of a paper in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

In the eyes of coders in this analysis, 57% of major claims in TV drug ads were potentially misleading.

But the researchers broke down different shades of truth.  For example:

Minimal Facts

A claim that presented a difference among products, but
exaggerated the importance of the difference, promoting
the difference as important when it is not; for example,
when advertisers use poor-quality clinical evidence to
support a claim, and exaggerate the clinical importance of
the poor-quality evidence.

  • “Bayer Quick Release Crystals are ready to work faster than caplets or tablets.” The formulation may dissolve quicker, but it is not taken up by the body any faster, nor will it relievepain faster than other formulations.
  • “Nothing works better than Prevacid” implies that Prevacid is superior to other heartburn remedies when, in fact, it is just as good as other heartburn remedies.

Nonfacts

A claim that presented an intangible characteristic, but not
about the product. Often these claims were in the form of
product opinions or lifestyle claims. Opinions say nothing
about the product, but consumers are left to misinterpret the
opinion as an objective product evaluation. Lifestyle claims
associate the product with a target market that the
advertiser believes is likely to buy the product, in the
absence of evidence to support additional benefit to this
subpopulation.

  • “Move on up to Aleve,” provides the advertisers baseless opinion or recommendation on the choice of product.
  • “AlkaSeltzer is the official cold medicine of the US Ski Team.” Product endorsements like this one are the opinion of a famous or identifiable entity and do not say anything about the functioning of the product.
  • “Help bridge the gap between the life you live and the life you want to live [by taking Enbrel].” This claim makes a vague lifestyle association between the product and the life “you want to life.”
  • “Levitra works for me. Maybe it can work for you,” provides the opinion of the actor in the advertisement about the functioning of Levitra.

False

A claim that was objectively false by directly contradicting
evidence, or lacking any evidence to support it.

  • “Alkaseltzer crystal packs are a taste-free powder.” Inspection of the inactive ingredients from the product label include both flavor and sucrose.
  • “The difference between Advil PM and Tylenol PM is a better night’s sleep.” The specificity of this claim implied that specific head-to-head comparative evidence was available. No studies had been published comparing Advil PM (ibuprofen with diphenhydramine) versus Tylenol PM (acetaminophen with diphenhydramine), only studies comparing ibuprofen

The researchers remind us that “consumers may see up to 30 hours of TV drug ads each year while only spending 15 to 20 minutes on average at each visit with their primary care physician.

television

television (Photo credit: jeevs)

 

Related Resources

 

Anyone can publish information on the Internet. So it is up to the searcher to decide if the information found through search engines (as Google) is reliable or not. Search engines find Web sites but do not evaluate them for content. Sponsored links may or may not contain good information.

 

 

A few universities and government agencies have published great guides on evaluating information.

 

 

Here are a few

 

  • The Penn State Medical Center Library has a great guide to evaluate health information on the Internet.

    The tips include

    • Remember, anyone can publish information on the internet!
    • If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
      If the Web site is primarily about selling a product, the information may be worth checking from another source.
    • Look for who is publishing the information and their education, credentials, and if they are connected with a trusted coporation, university or agency.
    • Check to see how current the information is.
    • Check for accuracy. Does the Web site refer to specific studies or organizations?

The Family Caregiver Alliance has a Web page entitled Evaluating Medical Research Findings and Clinical Trials
Topics include

  • General Guidelines for Evaluating Medical Research
  • Getting Information from the Web
  • Talking with your Health Care Provider

Additional Resources

And a Rumor Control site of Note (in addition to Quackwatch)
 

National Council Against Health Fraud

National Council Against Health Fraud is a nonprofit health agency fousing on health misinformation, fruad, and quackery as public health problems. Links to publications, position papers and more.

 

 

 

October 14, 2013 Posted by | Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Health Education (General Public) | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

15 Maps That Show How Americans Use Drugs – Business Insider

15 Maps That Show How Americans Use Drugs – Business Insider.

From the 26 September 2013 article at Business Insider by PAMELA ENGELGUS LUBIN AND MIKE NUDELMAN

Below is a map of illicit drug use by state, with the highest rates found in the West, Northeast, and Colorado. Vermont is the druggiest state, with 15.29% saying they have used illicit drugs in the past month compared to only 4.29% in Utah.

01_Illicit Drug Use Past MonthSubstance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration 2010/2011 Survey / Business Insider

Marijuana use follows a similar pattern. Vermont takes the lead again with 13.12% using in the past month.

02_Pot Use Past Month
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration 2010/2011 Survey / Business Insider

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/15-maps-that-show-how-americans-use-drugs-2013-9#ixzz2gSpMIf5o

 

October 1, 2013 Posted by | Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, health AND statistics | , | Leave a comment

PestiByte Podcasts Discuss Common Pesticide Questions

From the Web site

Screen Shot 2013-09-04 at 6.58.35 AM

Listen to the voice of NPIC! Our new PestiBytes PODcasts feature NPIC specialists discussing common pesticide questions from people like you. PestiBytes are short (1-2 minute) interviews with NPIC pesticide specialists on each of the topics. Watch for more to come!

Available PestiByte PODcasts:

girl with ball My yard is being sprayed; can my kids go out and play? Episode 22 – A specialist discusses ways to minimize exposure to children after lawn treatments. Download and ListenView Transcript – 2:17 min., 1.4MB
image bed bugs Don’t let pesticides make your bed bug problem worse! Episode 21 – A specialist discusses some do’s and dont’s about getting rid of bed bugs. Download and ListenView Transcript – 2:26 min., 1.4MB
image of dog Slug Baits with Iron Phosphate Episode 20 – A veterinarian gives pet owners some important information about slug & snail products containing iron phosphate. Download and ListenView Transcript -2:11 min., 0.96MB
image of bleach Fasten the Lid. Protect Your Kids! Episode 19 – A specialist discusses how to store pesticides during and after use to keep kids from being exposed. Download and ListenView Transcript – 2:26 min., 1.67MB
image of farmworker The Crop Was Just Sprayed. Can I Work There Today? Episode 18 – A specialist provides information on reentering fields after pesticides have been applied. Download and ListenView Transcript – 2:27 min., 1.69MB
image of man and dog My Home is Being Sprayed. Should I Go or Stay? Episode 17 – A specialist discusses steps you can take to minimize your risk when your home is going to be treated with pesticides. Download and Listen,View Transcript – 2:05 min., 1.43MB
image of pet being treated for fleas Precautions for Using Spot-on Flea and Tick Products Episode 16 – A veterinarian gives pet owners some important pointers about using flea and tick spot-on treatments. Download and ListenView Transcript -2:38 min., 4.95MB
image of a pesticide fogger Can Bug Bombs Really Explode? Episode 15 – A specialist warns about the fire hazards of insecticide foggers and lists safety steps to take before setting off bug bombs. Download and ListenView Transcript – 2:02 min., 3.73MB
image of a roach Don’t Distress Over Uninvited Guests (Roaches)! Episode 14 – A pesticide specialist discusses common problems with cockroaches in the home and simple ways to prevent infestations. Download and Listen,View Transcript – 2:06 min., 3.85MB
image of a gopher Cover the Holes When Baiting for Moles (or Gophers)! Episode 13 – A specialist answers questions about the risks of gopher bait for dogs, and how to keep them from snacking on the bait. Download and Listen,View Transcript – 2:03 min., 3.85MB
image of a drink bottle Pesticides and Food Containers Just Don’t Mix Episode 12 – A specialist points out the dangers of storing pesticides in any container other than the original container. Download and ListenView Transcript – 2:06 min., 3.94MB
fish Would I Hurt the Fish by Weeding and Feeding the Lawn? Episode 11 – A specialist explains ways to keep weed killers from harming fish.Download and ListenView Transcript – 1:50 min., 3.36MB
girl Get Rid of the Mouse! With Kids In the House? Episode 10 – A specialist lists precautions to consider when thinking of using rat or mouse baits around pets and children. Download and ListenView Transcript – 1:53 min., 3.45MB
planting When to Plant After Using Weed Killer? Episode 9 – A specialist provides information about using weed killers to prepare a vegetable garden. Download and ListenView Transcript – 1:44 min., 3.96MB
baby With a Baby on the Way… Is It Okay to Spray? Episode 8 – A specialist discusses infant sensitivity to pesticides and lists some ideas for minimizing exposure. Download and ListenView Transcript – 1:55 min., 4.41MB
slug Could Snail Bait Hurt My Dog? Episode 7 – A specialist cautions dog owners about the risks of snail baits and provides ways to to protect their pets. Download and ListenView Transcript – 1:56 min., 4.42MB
slug Dirty Work Clothes: How Should I Wash Out Pesticides? Episode 6 – A specialist explains how to handle and launder clothes that are contaminated with pesticides. Download and ListenView Transcript- 1:33 min., 3.57MB
Plane What Should I Do During Mosquito Spraying? Episode 5 – A specialist answers questions about why city health departments might spray for mosquitoes and ways people can avoid contact with the mosquito spray. Download and ListenView Transcript – 1:39 min., 1.50MB
Spray Should Kids Use Bug Spray? Episode 4 – A specialist lists precautions a parent might take if they choose to use insect repellents on children.Download and ListenView Transcript – 2:07 min., 1.94MB
Mouse A Mothball Mishap? Episode 3 – A specialist debunks mothball myths and describes how improper use of mothballs can lead to unpleasant or even unhealthy results. Download and ListenView Transcript – 1:32 min., 1.41MB
Fruit How Can I Wash Pesticides From Fruit and Veggies? Episode 2 – A specialist discusses how to best wash pesticide residues from produce, including potential risks of using household products to clean fruit and vegetables. Download and ListenView Transcript – 1:41 min., 1.54MB
Mega Man About NPIC Episode 1 – Our director discusses how NPIC can assist people when making decisions about pesticides. Ways to contact NPIC are provided. Download and ListenView Transcript – 2:07 min., 1.95MB

PestiBytes are brought to you by the National Pesticide Information Center, a cooperative agreement between Oregon State University and the Environmental Protection Agency and produced by OSU’s Environmental Health Sciences Center, funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

If you have questions about this, or any pesticide-related topic, please call NPIC at 1-800-858-7378 (7:30am-3:30pm PST), or email at npic@ace.orst.edu.

Similar podcasts  by the US NIH agency explore how environmental exposures affect our health. Each episode highlights ways researchers work in partnership with community groups to understand and address environmental health issues.

September 4, 2013 Posted by | Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, environmental health, Health Education (General Public) | , , , | Leave a comment

Aspirin to Zoloft: Ways Medicines Work

From the 8 August 2013  US National Library of Medicine article

Most medicines work by binding to and modifying the actions of proteins, tiny molecular machines that perform important cellular tasks. Details about protein structure and function help scientists develop medicines that block proteins or otherwise interact with them. But even when a drug is designed to target a specific protein, it can sometimes impact others, causing side effects. The way medicines work also can be influenced by how a person’s body absorbs and processes them.

Findings from research funded by the National Institutes of Health have shed light on how some common medicines work.

HIV protease with saquinavir.

HIV protease with saquinavir.
View larger image.

Antibiotics, Antivirals

Antibiotics and antiviral drugs attack proteins that are only found in the targeted bacterium or virus and that are crucial for the pathogen’s survival or multiplication. In many cases, the targets are enzymes, which are proteins that speed up chemical reactions. The antibiotic penicillin, for example, hones in on an enzyme that builds bacterial cell walls, causing infecting bacteria to burst and die. Protease inhibitors like saquinavir shut down an enzyme that would otherwise help HIV spread in the body.

Anticancer Agents

Tubulin with taxol.

Tubulin with taxol.
View larger image.

Many anticancer drugs act by killing cells that divide rapidly, but they can also affect healthy dividing cells. For example, paclitaxel (Taxol), which is prescribed for breast, ovarian and other cancers, works by binding to the tubulin protein, inhibiting the formation of structures called microtubules that are needed for cell division. Newer anticancer drugs are more discriminating, often targeting important proteins that are abnormally active in certain cancers. One such drug, imatinib mesylate (Gleevec), halts a cell-communication pathway that is always “on” in a cancer of the blood called chronic myelogenous leukemia. Gleevec’s target is a protein called a kinase, and the drug’s design is based on years of experiments on the basic biology of how cancer cells grow.

Antihistamines, Antidepressants, Aspirin

Adrenergic receptor with carazolol, a beta-blocker.

Adrenergic receptor with carazolol, a beta-blocker. View larger image.

Some of the most widely prescribed drugs function by blocking proteins called G protein-coupled receptors, which play key roles in transmitting the signals that allow a cell to respond to its environment. The drug loratadine (Claritin) relieves allergies by blocking the histamine receptor; antidepressant medications (such as Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft) affect the serotonin receptor; and beta-blockers treat heart disease by interfering with the adrenergic receptor. Signaling can also be stopped by targeting the enzymes that create a molecule involved in the process. This is how aspirin works—it inhibits the enzyme cyclooxygenase, which makes pain-signaling molecules called prostaglandins.

Weight Loss, Cholesterol Blockers

Pancreatic lipase with an inhibitor similar to orlistat.

Pancreatic lipase with an inhibitor similar to orlistat.
View larger image.

Medicines taken to control weight or cholesterol also work by interacting with specific proteins. The weight-loss drug orlistat (Xenical or Alli) blocks the action of pancreatic lipase, reducing the amount of fat that is absorbed from food. Cholesterol-lowering medications, such as atorvastatin (Lipitor) and simvastatin (Zocor), block the action of HMG-CoA reductase, an enzyme involved in making cholesterol.

Future Directions

With a better understanding of the specific relationships between a drug and its target (and off-target) proteins, researchers are using a variety of existing data to identify and test FDA-approved drugs for new uses and to predict potential side effects. This could reduce the time and cost of bringing drugs to market. Scientists are also learning more about how a person’s genes may influence the effectiveness and safety of certain drugs. Another area of active research involves developing new ways to deliver drugs to specific organs or disease sites, also improving therapeutic benefits and reducing side effects.

Content adapted from the poster “How Do Drugs Work?” available from the RCSB Protein Data Bank. Images courtesy of David S. Goodsell, The Scripps Research Institute.

Learn more:

Also in this series:

This Inside Life Science article also appears on LiveScience Link to external Web site.

 

August 25, 2013 Posted by | Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Health Education (General Public) | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blog Roll: Our Favorite Health Blogs

Janice Flahiff:

Includes areas as nutrition, healthcare, health communication, and health/medical resources

 

Originally posted on SurroundHealth Blog:

With tons of health blogs out there today, it can be overwhelming trying to find solid ones to follow that are a good fit for your topic of interest. At SurroundHealth, we look for bloggers that align with our goals of sharing resources and best practices in areas such as: health education/communication, professional development and health careers, health and education technology, and current health events.

While this isn’t a FULL list of the blogs we follow, we thought it would be nice to share with our members and readers some of our favorite (in no specific order) health blogs out there!

Our ‘favorites’ blog roll:

Health ECareers Network- HeCN is a really informative blog providing access to everything healthcare careers- news, information, events, career resources and employment opportunities – all specific to individual career paths. Definitely a good one to check out if you are looking to learn…

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July 20, 2013 Posted by | Educational Resources (Elementary School/High School), Educational Resources (Health Professionals), Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Finding Aids/Directories, Health Education (General Public), Librarian Resources | , , , | Leave a comment

How to Handle Mold/Mycotoxin Exposure at Home or at Work – Where To Get Help

Janice Flahiff:

I usually don’t reblog articles that endorse commercial products or alternative/complementary medicine (without biomedical evidence).
Still, this post had a lot of good information on testing and one’s rights.

A few years back at a library where I worked, some of the folks at circulation were having breathing difficulties. They believed it was the HVAC system, but did not report it. Now I wish I could have worked with them to report it….
The folks at the circ desk were union, I was not. So they were more protected than I…..

Resources

Originally posted on Mom's Mold Resources:

ahelp
We are getting a lot of inquiries about where to go for testing and treatment after exposure to toxic levels of Mycotoxins from damp and moldy environments.

Unfortunately few doctors are experienced in testing or treating patients that are suffering from Biotoxin Illness and other health issues that arise after living or working for long periods of time inside of a home/office/school with poor indoor air.

My best advise is to try to find an Environmental Medicine Specialist either in the US or abroad.  Surprisingly Spain has a high incidence of people affected by chemicals that require treatment for MSC (Multiple Chemical Sensitivity) so there seems to be more Environmental Medicine doctors available there.

In the US I have been able to make contact with several doctors and centers who have treated people I have met along my journey.

Dr Gray in Arizona has been mentioned countless times by people…

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July 20, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, environmental health, Health Education (General Public), Librarian Resources, Public Health | , , , , , | Leave a comment

BioEd Online- Science Resources from Baylor College of Medicine

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Not just for teachers!

From the About Page

Welcome to BioEd Online, the online educational resource for educators, students, and parents. BioEd Online utilizes state-of-the-art technology to give you instant access to reliable, cutting-edge information and educational tools for biology and related subjects. Our goal is to provide useful, accurate, and current information and materials that build upon and enhance the skills and knowledge of science educators. Developed under the guidance of our expert Editorial Board, BioEd Online offers the following high-quality resources.

  • Streaming Video Presentations – View timely presentations given by thought leaders on education in biology and related subjects, classroom management, science standards, and other issues in education. Presentation topics include content reviews for prospective biology teachers, content updates for experienced teachers, research lab technique demonstrations, inquiry science, and assessment. In addition, BioEd Online offers helpful presentations for teachers in training as they prepare for the classroom experience.
  • Slide Library – Customize exciting and relevant lesson plans and activities from hundreds of searchable slides developed by our Editorial Board and contributors. The slide library is updated regularly. Each slide is complete with talking points and references and can be downloaded into your own PowerPoint program for personal educational use.
  • Editors’ News Picks – Stay current with science news selected by our Editorial Board. Check back each week for new science stories and related discussion questions to complement your ongoing science activities, and to stimulate an exchange of ideas in your classroom. All Editors’ Picks are maintained in our archive for easy access whenever you need them.

BioEd Online is regularly updated with pertinent new slides in the slide library, presentations on breakthrough research, reviews, and virtual workshops on educational approaches and materials. Stay current with the latest research from top educators in the country by bookmarking BioEd Online for later use!

Other resources of note

  • A variety of free, interactive courses designed for science educators and other life-long learners seeking to increase their knowledge of key scientific subjects. Course offerings range from cutting edge genetics to topical environmental health content and the fascinating science of water. Materials are sorted by topic, making it easy locate the content most appropriate for you.
  • BioEd Online’s library contains student storybooks, magazines, supplemental materials and other items integrated with teacher’s guides and lessons found on this website. Some items may be used as stand-alone reading and language arts activities.

July 19, 2013 Posted by | Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Health Education (General Public), Health News Items, Librarian Resources | , , , , | Leave a comment

Logo of the United States National Center for ...

Logo of the United States National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine , part of the National Institutes of Health. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 From the US National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

 

Cancer and Complementary Health Approaches

Introduction

People with cancer want to do everything they can to combat the disease, manage its symptoms, and cope with the side effects of treatment. Many turn to complementary health approaches, including natural products, such as herbs (botanicals) and other dietary supplements, and mind and body practices, such as acupuncture, massage, and yoga.

This fact sheet was produced through a collaboration between the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI). It provides an introductory overview of complementary health approaches that have been studied for cancer prevention, treatment of the disease, or symptom management, including what the science says about their effectiveness and any concerns that have been raised about their safety.

 

Key Facts

  • Symptom management. A substantial amount of scientific evidence suggests that some complementary health approaches may help to manage some symptoms of cancer and side effects of treatment. For other complementary approaches, the evidence is more limited.
  • Disease treatment. At present, there is no convincing evidence that any complementary health approach is effective in curing cancer or causing it to go into remission.
  • Cancer prevention. A 2012 study indicated that taking a multivitamin/mineral supplement may slightly reduce the risk of cancer in older men. No other complementary health approach has been shown to be helpful in preventing cancer.

 

Keep in Mind

  • Unproven products or practices should not be used to replace or delay conventional medical treatment for cancer.
  • Some complementary approaches can interfere with standard cancer treatments or have special risks for people who have been diagnosed with cancer. Before using any complementary health approach, people who have been diagnosed with cancer should talk with their health care providers to make sure that all aspects of their care work together.
  • Tell all your health care providers about any complementary health approaches you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.

 

About Cancer

Cancer is a term for diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control. Cancer cells can invade nearby tissues and spread to other parts of the body through the bloodstream and the lymph system. Although cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States, improvements in screening, detection, treatment, and care have increased the number of cancer survivors, and experts expect the number of survivors to continue to increase in the coming years. Detailed information on cancer is available from NCI at www.cancer.gov.

 

About Complementary Health Approaches

Complementary health approaches are a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products whose origins come from outside of mainstream medicine. They include such products and practices as herbal supplements, other dietary supplements, meditation, spinal manipulation, and acupuncture.

The same careful scientific evaluation that is used to assess conventional therapies should be used to evaluate complementary approaches. Some complementary approaches are beginning to find a place in cancer treatment—not as cures, but as additions to treatment plans that may help patients cope with disease symptoms and side effects of treatment and improve their quality of life.

 

Use of Complementary Health Approaches for Cancer

Many people who have been diagnosed with cancer use complementary health approaches.

  • According to the 2007 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), which included a comprehensive survey on the use of complementary health approaches by Americans, 65 percent of respondents who had ever been diagnosed with cancer had used complementary approaches, as compared to 53 percent of other respondents. Those who had been diagnosed with cancer were more likely than others to have used complementary approaches for general wellness, immune enhancement, and pain management.
  • Other surveys have also found that use of complementary health approaches is common among people who have been diagnosed with cancer, although estimates of use vary widely. Some data indicate that the likelihood of using complementary approaches varies with the type of cancer and with factors such as sex, age, and ethnicity. The results of surveys from 18 countries show that use of complementary approaches by people who had been diagnosed with cancer was more common in North America than in Australia/New Zealand or Europe and that use had increased since the 1970s and especially since 2000.
  • Surveys have also shown that many people with cancer do not tell their health care providers about their use of complementary health approaches. In the NHIS, survey respondents who had been diagnosed with cancer told their health care providers about 15 percent of their herb use and 23 percent of their total use of complementary approaches. In other studies, between 32 and 69 percent of cancer patients and survivors who used dietary supplements or other complementary approaches reported that they discussed these approaches with their physicians. The differences in the reported percentages may reflect differences in the definitions of complementary approaches used in the studies, as well as differences in the communication practices of different groups of patients.

 

Safety

  • Delaying conventional cancer treatment can decrease the chances of remission or cure. Do not use unproven products or practices to postpone or replace conventional medical treatment for cancer.
  • Some complementary health approaches may interfere with cancer treatments or be unsafe for cancer patients. For example, the herb St. John’s wort, which is sometimes used for depression, can make some cancer drugs less effective.
  • Other complementary approaches may be harmful if used inappropriately. For example, to make massage therapy safe for people with cancer, it may be necessary to avoid massaging places on the body that are directly affected by the disease or its treatment (for example, areas where the skin is sensitive following radiation therapy).
  • People who have been diagnosed with cancer should consult the health care providers who are treating them for cancer before using any complementary health approach for any purpose—whether or not it is cancer-related.

 

What the Science Says

No complementary health product or practice has been proven to cure cancer. Some complementary approaches may help people manage cancer symptoms or treatment side effects and improve their quality of life.

Incorporating Complementary Health Approaches Into Cancer Care

In 2009, the Society for Integrative Oncology issued evidence-based clinical practice guidelines for health care providers to consider when incorporating complementary health approaches in the care of cancer patients. The guidelines point out that, when used in addition to conventional therapies, some of these approaches help to control symptoms and enhance patients’ well-being. The guidelines warn, however, that unproven methods should not be used in place of conventional treatment because delayed treatment of cancer reduces the likelihood of a remission or cure.

A comprehensive summary of research on complementary health approaches for cancer is beyond the scope of this fact sheet. The following sections provide an overview of the research status of some commonly used complementary approaches, highlighting results from a few reviews and studies focusing on preventing and treating the disease, as well as managing cancer symptoms and treatment side effects.

Talking With Your Health Care Providers About Complementary Approaches and Cancer

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has resources that can help you talk with your health care providers about complementary approaches and cancer.

  • NCI’s Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine has a workbook to help cancer patients and their health care providers talk about and keep track of complementary approaches that patients are using. You can download it here: cam.cancer.gov/talking_about_cam.html?cid=ARcam_camnews.
  • NCCAM’s Time to Talk campaign has tips to help both patients and health care providers discuss complementary health approaches.

Complementary Health Approaches for Cancer Symptoms and Treatment Side Effects

Some complementary health approaches, such as acupuncture, massage therapy, mindfulness-based stress reduction, and yoga, may help people manage cancer symptoms or the side effects of treatment. However, some approaches may interfere with conventional cancer treatment or have other risks.People who have been diagnosed with cancer should consult their health care providers before using any complementary health approach.

  • There is substantial evidence that acupuncture can help to manage treatment-related nausea and vomiting in cancer patients. There is not enough evidence to judge whether acupuncture is effective in relieving cancer pain or other symptoms such as treatment-related hot flashes. Complications from acupuncture are rare, as long as the acupuncturist uses sterile needles and proper procedures. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy weaken the body’s immune system, so it is especially important for acupuncturists to follow strict clean-needle procedures when treating cancer patients.
  • Recent studies suggest that the herb ginger may help to control nausea related to cancer chemotherapy when used in addition to conventional anti-nausea medication.
  • Studies suggest that massage therapy may help to relieve symptoms experienced by people with cancer, such as pain, nausea, anxiety, and depression. However, investigators have been unable to reach definite conclusions about the effects of massage therapy because of the limited amount of rigorous research in this field. People with cancer should consult their health care providers before having massage therapy to find out if any special precautions are needed. The massage therapist should not use deep or intense pressure without the health care providers’ approval and may need to avoid certain sites, such as areas directly over a tumor or those where the skin is sensitive following radiation therapy.
  • There is evidence that mindfulness-based stress reduction, a type of meditation training, can help cancer patients relieve anxiety, stress, fatigue, and general mood and sleep disturbances, thus improving their quality of life. Most participants in mindfulness studies have been patients with early-stage cancer, primarily breast cancer, so the evidence favoring mindfulness training is strongest for this group of patients.
  • Preliminary evidence indicates that yoga may help to improve anxiety, depression, distress, and stress in people with cancer. It also may help to lessen fatigue in breast cancer patients and survivors. However, only a small number of yoga studies in cancer patients have been completed, and some of the research has not been of the highest quality. Because yoga involves physical activities, it is important for people with cancer to talk with their health care providers in advance to find out whether any aspects of yoga might be unsafe for them.
  • Various studies suggest possible benefits of hypnosis, relaxation therapies, and biofeedback to help patients manage cancer symptoms and treatment side effects.
  • A 2008 review of the research literature on herbal supplements and cancer concluded that although several herbs have shown promise for managing side effects and symptoms such as nausea and vomiting, pain, fatigue, and insomnia, the scientific evidence is limited, and many clinical trials have not been well designed. Use of herbs for managing symptoms also raises concerns about potential negative interactions with conventional cancer treatments.

Coping With Cancer

People who have cancer, or who have been treated for cancer, may have physical or emotional difficulties as a result of the disease or its treatment. Many conventional approaches can help people cope with these problems. For example, counseling may help people who are distressed about being diagnosed with cancer, medicines can control nausea related to chemotherapy, and exercise may help decrease treatment-related fatigue. Some people find that complementary approaches also help them cope with cancer and improve their quality of life. In addition, using complementary approaches can help people feel they are playing an active part in their own care. If you have cancer or if you have been treated for cancer, be sure to tell your health care providers about all approaches—both conventional and complementary—that you are using. Your health care providers need this information so they can make sure that all aspects of your care work well together. Additional information on coping with cancer is available from NCI at www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/coping.

Complementary Health Approaches for Cancer Treatment

This section discusses complementary health approaches to directly treat cancer (that is, to try to cure the disease or cause a remission).

No complementary approach has been shown to cure cancer or cause it to go into remission. Some products or practices that have been advocated for cancer treatment may interfere with conventional cancer treatments or have other risks. People who have been diagnosed with cancer should consult their health care providers before using any complementary health approach.

  • Studies on whether herbal supplements or substances derived from them might be of value in cancer treatment are in their early stages, and scientific evidence is limited. Herbal supplements may have side effects, and some may interact in harmful ways with drugs, including drugs used in cancer treatment.
  • The effects of taking vitamin and mineral supplements, including antioxidant supplements,during cancer treatment are uncertain. NCI advises cancer patients to talk to their health care providers before taking any supplements.
  • A 2010 NCCAM-supported trial of a standardized shark cartilage extract, taken in addition to chemotherapy and radiation therapy, showed no benefit in patients with advanced lung cancer. An earlier, smaller study in patients with advanced breast or colorectal cancers also showed no benefit from the addition of shark cartilage to conventional treatment.
  • A 2011 systematic review of research on laetrile found no evidence that it is effective as a cancer treatment. Laetrile can be toxic, especially if taken orally, because it contains cyanide.

Beware of Cancer Treatment Frauds

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have warned the public to be aware of fraudulent cancer treatments. Cancer treatment frauds are not new, but in recent years it has become easier for the people who market them to reach the public using the Internet.

Some fraudulent cancer treatments are harmful by themselves, and others can be indirectly harmful because people may delay seeking medical care while they try them, or because the fraudulent product interferes with the effectiveness of proven cancer treatments.

The people who sell fraudulent cancer treatments often market them with claims such as “scientific breakthrough,” “miraculous cure,” “secret ingredient,” “ancient remedy,” “treats all forms of cancer,” or “shrinks malignant tumors.” The advertisements may include personal stories from people who have taken the product, but such stories—whether or not they’re real—aren’t reliable evidence that a product is effective. Also, a money-back guarantee is not proof that a product works.

If you’re considering using any anticancer product that you’ve seen in an advertisement, talk to your health care provider first. Additional information on cancer-related health frauds is available from the FDA and from the FTC.

Complementary Health Approaches for Cancer Prevention

A large 2012 clinical trial has shown that taking a multivitamin/mineral supplement may slightly reduce the risk of cancer in older men. No other complementary health approach has been shown to be helpful in preventing cancer, and some have been linked with increased health risks.

Vitamin and Mineral Supplements. The results of a study of older men completed in 2012 indicate that taking a multivitamin/mineral supplement slightly reduces the risk of cancer. In this study, which was part of the Physicians’ Health Study II (a complex trial that tested several types of supplements), more than 14,000 male U.S. physicians were randomly assigned to take a multivitamin/mineral supplement or a placebo (an identical-appearing product that did not contain vitamins and minerals) for 11 years. Those who took the supplement had 8 percent fewer total cancers than those who took the placebo.

Other studies of vitamins and minerals—most of which evaluated supplements containing only one or a few nutrients—have not found protective effects against cancer. Some of these studies identified possible risks of supplementing with high doses of certain vitamins or related substances. Examples of research results include the following:

  • In another part of the Physicians’ Health Study II (not the part described above), supplementing with relatively high doses of either vitamin E or vitamin C did not reduce the risks of prostate cancer or total cancer in men aged 50 or older. Men taking vitamin E had an increased risk of hemorrhagic stroke (a type of stroke caused by bleeding in the brain).
  • A 2010 meta-analysis of 22 clinical trials found no evidence that antioxidant supplements (vitamins A, C, and E; beta-carotene; and selenium) help to prevent cancer.
  • Two large-scale studies found evidence that supplements containing beta-carotene increased the risk of lung cancer among smokers.
  • The Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT), funded by NCI, NCCAM, and other agencies at NIH, showed that selenium and vitamin E supplements, taken either alone or together, did not prevent prostate cancer. It also showed that vitamin E supplements, taken alone, significantlyincreased the risk of prostate cancer in healthy men. There was no increase in prostate cancer risk when vitamin E and selenium were taken together. The doses of selenium and vitamin E used in this study were substantially higher than those typically included in multivitamin/mineral supplements.
  • Although substantial evidence suggests that calcium may help protect against colorectal cancer, the evidence of potential benefit from calcium in supplement form is limited and inconsistent. Therefore, NCI does not recommend the use of calcium supplements to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.

Other Natural Products. A 2009 systematic review of 51 studies with more than 1.6 million participants found “insufficient and conflicting” evidence regarding an association between consuming green tea and cancer prevention. Several other natural products, including Ginkgo biloba, isoflavones, noni, pomegranate, and grape seed extract, have been investigated for possible cancer-preventive effects, but the evidence on these substances is too limited for any conclusions to be reached.

Do You Want To Learn More About Cancer Prevention?

People can reduce their risk of cancer in many ways. They include avoiding exposure to agents that cause cancer (such as cigarette smoke), having tests (such as colonoscopies) that find precancerous conditions early, and, for some people who are at high risk, taking medicines to reduce cancer risk (chemoprevention). Additional information on cancer prevention is available from NCI.

 

NIH Research on Complementary Health Approaches for Cancer

Both NCI and NCCAM fund many laboratory studies and clinical trials related to cancer. Some ongoing studies are investigating:

  • The effects of genetic factors and intakes of calcium and magnesium on the risk of developing precancerous colorectal polyps
  • Mechanisms of action of natural products that may be of value in cancer prevention or treatment, such as bamboo extract, grape seed extract, white tea, red ginseng, and S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAMe)
  • The use of acupuncture for difficulty in swallowing after treatment for head and neck cancer
  • Mind and body practices to improve sleep in cancer patients.

Additional information is available from NCI and from NCCAM.

 

If You Have Been Diagnosed With Cancer and Are Considering a Complementary Health Approach

  • Cancer patients need to make informed decisions about using complementary health approaches. NCCAM and NCI have written a brochure that can help: Thinking About Complementary and Alternative Medicine: A Guide for People With Cancer.
  • Gather information about the complementary health product or practice that interests you, and then discuss it with your health care providers. If you have been diagnosed with cancer, it is especially important to talk with your health care providers before you start using any new complementary health approach. If you are already using a complementary approach, tell your health care providers about it, even if your reason for using it has nothing to do with cancer. Some approaches may interfere with standard cancer treatment or may be harmful when used along with standard treatment. Examples of questions to ask include:
    • What is known about the benefits and risks of this product or practice? Do the benefits outweigh the risks?
    • What are the potential side effects?
    • Will this approach interfere with conventional treatment?
    • Can you refer me to a practitioner?
  • Do not use any health product or practice that has not been proven safe and effective to replace conventional cancer care or as a reason to postpone seeing your health care provider about any health problem.
  • Tell all your health care providers about any complementary health approaches you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care. For tips about talking with your health care providers about complementary health approaches, seeNCCAM’s Time to Talk campaign.

 

Key References

 

For More Information

NCCAM Clearinghouse

The NCCAM Clearinghouse provides information on NCCAM and complementary health approaches, including publications and searches of Federal databases of scientific and medical literature. The Clearinghouse does not provide medical advice, treatment recommendations, or referrals to practitioners.

Toll-free in the U.S.:
1-888-644-6226
TTY (for deaf and hard-of-hearing callers):
1-866-464-3615
Web site:

National Cancer Institute

The National Cancer Institute is the Federal Government’s lead agency for cancer research. The National Cancer Institute’s Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine coordinates and enhances the National Cancer Institute’s activities in CAM research.

Toll-free in the U.S.:
1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237)
Web site:

NCI’s Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine

NCI’s Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine coordinates and enhances NCI’s activities in complementary and alternative medicine research.

Information on complementary and alternative medicine in cancer treatment:www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/cam/cam-cancer-treatment/patient/page3/AllPages

Web site:

PubMed®

A service of the National Library of Medicine (NLM), PubMed® contains publication information and (in most cases) brief summaries of articles from scientific and medical journals.

NIH Clinical Research Trials and You

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has created a Web site, NIH Clinical Research Trials and You, to help people learn about clinical trials, why they matter, and how to participate. The site includes questions and answers about clinical trials, guidance on how to find clinical trials through ClinicalTrials.gov and other resources, and stories about the personal experiences of clinical trial participants. Clinical trials are necessary to find better ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat diseases.

Acknowledgments

NCCAM thanks Cornelia Ulrich, Ph.D., German Cancer Research Center; Susan Folkman, Ph.D., University of California, San Francisco; Jun James Mao, M.D., University of Pennsylvania; Elizabeth Austin, M.S., Robin Baldwin, B.S.N., Barbara McMakin, M.S., and Jeffrey White, M.D., National Cancer Institute; and Carol Pontzer, Ph.D., and John (Jack) Killen, Jr., M.D., NCCAM, for their contributions to the 2013 update of this publication.

This publication is not copyrighted and is in the public domain. Duplication is encouraged.

NCCAM has provided this material for your information. It is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your primary health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with your health care provider. The mention of any product, service, or therapy is not an endorsement by NCCAM.

* Note: PDF files require a viewer such as the free Adobe Reader.

NCCAM Pub No.:
D453
Date Created:
September 2005
Last Updated:
May 2013
 

 

 

 

July 17, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Health Education (General Public) | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Health Literacy Resources: Professional Healthcare Organizations and Associations

Janice Flahiff:

Great links to resources as
–High Value Care resources intended to help patients understand the benefits, harms and costs of tests and treatments for common clinical issues.
–Case Management Society of America’s has a consumer page that describes Case Management as a collaborative process of assessment, planning, facilitation and advocacy for options and services to meet an individual’s health needs
–Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is a resource for food, nutrition, and health information. Consumers can find tip sheets, videos, brochures, and health & nutrition guides for women, men, and children.

 

Originally posted on Camille Davidson:

Health Care Workers

Consumer health literacy is the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions.

According to the National Adult Assessment of Literacy (2003), 14% of American cannot comprehend basic health information. The study indicates that health illiteracy is especially prevalent among:

  1.  Adults who did not complete high school, with 49% having below basic health literacy
  2.  Hispanic adults, who have lower health literacy than any other ethnic/racial group, with 41% having below basic health literacy

Low consumer health literacy costs between $106 to $236 billion a year in the form of longer hospital stays; emergency room visits, increased doctor visits, and increased medication, according to a recent report from the University of Connecticut.  Consumers with low literacy levels often fail to engage in early detection and preventive health care.  They also have significant difficulties navigating the health…

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July 17, 2013 Posted by | Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Finding Aids/Directories, health care, Health Education (General Public) | , , , , | Leave a comment

Lower calorie foods – it’s just good business

 

 

UnknownLower calorie foods – it’s just good business

In this landmark study, researchers examined NPD restaurant servings and traffic data, and Nation’s Restaurant News sales trends, to analyze whether or not growing sales of lower-calorie menu items in 21 national restaurant chains, accounting for half of the top 100 chain sales, resulted in superior business performance.

The study concluded that quick-service and sit-down restaurant chains that grew their lower-calorie servings delivered better business results. In short, sound strategic planning with a commitment to growing lower-calorie items is just good business.

The findings of this study clearly demonstrate that between 2006 and 2011 lower-calorie foods and beverages were the key growth engine for the restaurants studied. Restaurant chains growing their servings of lower-calorie foods and beverages demonstrated superior:

• Same-store sales (SSS) growth
• Increases in restaurant customer traffic • Gains in overall restaurant servings

Increasing lower-calorie menu portfolios can help quick-service and sit-down restaurant chains improve the key performance metrics demanded by their shareholders and Wall Street, while at the same time providing lower-calorie foods and beverages for families and children.

 

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May 2, 2013 Posted by | Educational Resources (Health Professionals), Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Nutrition | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Free Library Puts Resources About Minority Health Within Arm’s Reach – National Partnership for Action to End Health Disparities

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Free Library Puts Resources About Minority Health Within Arm’s Reach

From the 9 April 2013 article at the National Partnership for Action to End Health Disparities

The Office of Minority Health Knowledge Center supports National Minority Health Month by highlighting many information resources available to the public. The Knowledge Center focuses its collection on consumer health and many other health equity issues, and builds on this year’s theme ofAdvance Health Equity Now: Uniting Our Communities to Bring Health Care Coverage to All.

Created in 1987, the Knowledge Center indexed and tracked the concept of health disparities in the available literature long before it appeared in the forefront of public health concerns. Today, the library offers both a historical and present day picture of the health status of minority populations and holds a collection of 10,000 reports, books, journals and media, and over 35,000 articles, which makes it the largest repository of minority health information in the nation.

Equal access to health care has long been a factor in health equity, and the Knowledge Center library catalog reflects those concerns. By searching our catalog, you will find many reports, books and fact sheets which explain disparities in access to health insurance and health care.

And the Knowledge Center is more than a library. We also contribute to the outreach and educational activities of the Office of Minority Health and reach out to other libraries to support their consumer health education initiatives. For example, a recent presentation and exhibit at the Joint Conference of Librarians of Color highlighted our services and resources for public and academic libraries.

Other libraries have found ways to advance health equity, in keeping with objectives set by our National Partnership for Action (NPA).  As an NPA partner, the University of Maryland Health Sciences and Human Services Library developed a health advocates program for local high school students (read more about the program.)

With 35 languages represented in our collection, the Knowledge Center is open to the public for research about a variety of diseases and health topics and you can search the database right from your desktop.

We invite you to take a look at our online catalog and conduct a search. Enter the search terms “Affordable Care Act” and discover what OMHRC has to offer you.

For questions or search assistance, please contact us at KnowledgeCenter@minorityhealth.hhs.gov.

May 2, 2013 Posted by | Educational Resources (Health Professionals), Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Health Education (General Public), Librarian Resources | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Allergy Notes: Immunology in the Gut Mucosa – beautiful animation by the journal Nature

Allergy Notes: Immunology in the Gut Mucosa – beautiful animation by the journal Nature.

From the blog item

The gut mucosa is the largest and most dynamic immunological environment of the body. It hosts the body’s largest population of immune cells. It is often the first point of pathogen exposure and many microbes use it as a beachhead into the rest of the body.

The gut immune system therefore needs to be ready to respond to pathogens but at the same time it is constantly exposed to innocuous environmental antigens, food particles and commensal microflora which need to be tolerated.

Misdirected immune responses to harmless antigens are the underlying cause of food allergies and debilitating conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease. This animation introduces the key cells and molecular players involved in gut immunohomeostasis and disease.

Nature Immunology in collaboration with Arkitek Studios have produced an animation unraveling the complexities of mucosal immunology in health and disease:


T helper cells (click to enlarge the image).

Comments from Twitter:

FoodAllergySupport @FASupport: More fun than Magic School Bus!

 

March 22, 2013 Posted by | Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Educational Resources (Elementary School/High School) | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The WomanStats Project and Database

The WomanStats Project and Database

From the Web site

The WomanStats Project is the most comprehensive compilation of information on the status of women in the world. The Project facilitates understanding the linkage between the situation of women and the security of nation-states. We comb the extant literature and conduct expert interviews to find qualitative and quantitative information on over 310 indicators of women’s status in 174 countries. Our Databaseexpands daily, and access to it is free of charge.

The Project began in 2001, and today includes six principal investigators at five universities, as well as a team of up to twenty graduate and undergraduate data extractors. Please learn more by clicking First Time Users and watching our Video Tutorials. Or visit our Blog, where we discuss what we are finding, view our Maps, or read our Researchreports.

First Time Users

Welcome to the WomanStats Database, the world’s most comprehensive compilation of information on the status of women.

The best way to acquaint yourself with the database and how to use it is to watch our Video Tutorials for beginners. The first video tutorial explains how to create a free account. The second teaches how to use the codebook and retrieve data from the View screen. The third covers reports, downloads, and maps. The fourth introduces you to other aspects of our web presence, such as our blog and social media.

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March 22, 2013 Posted by | Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, environmental health, health AND statistics, Health Statistics, Public Health | , | Leave a comment

Solve the outbreak!

Originally posted on Public Health--Research & Library News:

CDC_SolveappDo you want to be a disease detective?  the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have released a new app, Solve the Outbreak.

New outbreaks happen every day and CDC’s disease detectives are on the front lines, working 24/7 to save lives and protect people. When a new outbreak happens, disease detectives are sent in to figure out how outbreaks are started, before they can spread.  with this new, free app for the iPad, you can play the role of an Epidemic Intelligence Service agent. Find clues about outbreaks and make tough decisions about what to do next: Do you quarantine the village? Talk to people who are sick? Ask for more lab results?

With fictional outbreaks based on real-life cases, you’ll have to puzzle through the evidence to earn points for each clue. The better your answers, the higher your score – and the more quickly you’ll save lives…

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March 22, 2013 Posted by | Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Health Education (General Public) | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Evidence based content for medical articles on Wikipedia?

Originally posted on ScienceRoll:

I would love to get your feedback on a project I just came across on Wikipedia, the WikiProject Medicine/Evidence based content for medical articles on Wikipedia. The organizer of the project is the same as in Cochrane Students’ Journal Club. Please sign up if you are interested in helping us out.

Wikipedia has been accepted world wide as a source of information by both lay people and experts. Its community driven approach has ensured that the information presented caters to a wide variety of people. An article from 2011 in the Journal of Medical Internet Research found that a significant number of experts and doctors consult Wikipedia’s medicine related topics.

Medical information is very dynamic and conclusions and recommendations are turned on their heads based on new findings. Taking this into account it is important to ensure that Evidence Based content is a part of any medicine related…

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March 22, 2013 Posted by | Educational Resources (Elementary School/High School), Educational Resources (Health Professionals), Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Librarian Resources | , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Database Reveals Thousands of Hospital Violation Reports New Database Reveals Thousands of Hospital Violation Reports

Hospital

Hospital (Photo credit: Ralf Heß)

 

From the March 20, 2013 State Line article

 

Hospitals make mistakes, sometimes deadly mistakes.  A patient may get the wrong medication or even undergo surgery intended for another person.  When errors like these are reported, state and federal officials inspect the hospital in question and file a detailed report.

Now, for the first time, this vital information on the quality and safety of the nation’s hospitals has been made available to the public online.

A new website, www.hospitalinspections.org, includes detailed reports of hospital violations dating back to January 2011, searchable by city, state, name of the hospital and key word.  Previously, these reports were filed with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS), and released only through a Freedom of Information Act request, an arduous, time-consuming process.  Even then, the reports were provided in paper format only, making them cumbersome to analyze.

Release of this critical electronic information by CMS is the result of years of advocacy by the Association of Health Care Journalists, with funding from the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation.  The new database makes full inspection reports for acute care hospitals and rural critical access hospitals instantly available to journalists and consumers interested in the quality of their local hospitals.

The database also reveals national trends in hospital errors. For example, key word searches yield the incidence of certain violations across all hospitals.  A search on the word “abuse,” for example, yields 862 violations at 204 hospitals since 2011. …

 

 

March 20, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety, Educational Resources (Health Professionals), Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Finding Aids/Directories, health AND statistics, Health Statistics, Librarian Resources | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Report Provides High-Impact Recommendations to Improve Prevention Policies in America

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From the 29 January 2013 Trust for America’s Health news release 

Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) has released A Healthier America 2013: Strategies to Move from Sick Care to Health Care in Four Years – which provides high-impact recommendations to prioritize prevention and improve the health of Americans.

The Healthier America report outlines top policy approaches to respond to studies that show 1) more than half of Americans are living with one or more serious, chronic diseases, a majority of which could have been prevented, and 2) that today’s children could be on track to be the first in U.S. history to live shorter, less healthy lives than their parents.

“America’s health faces two possible futures,” said Gail Christopher, DN, President of the Board of TFAH and Vice President – Program Strategy of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.  “We can continue on the current path, resigning millions of Americans to health problems that could have been avoided or we invest in giving all Americans the opportunity to be healthier while saving billions in health care costs.  We owe it to our children to take the smarter way.”

The Healthier America report stresses the importance of taking innovative approaches and building partnerships with a wide range of sectors in order to be effective.  Some recommendations include:

  • Advance the nation’s public health system by adopting a set of foundational capabilities, restructuring federal public health programs and ensuring sufficient, sustained funding to meet these defined foundational capabilities;
  • Ensure insurance providers reimburse for effective prevention approaches both inside and outside the doctor’s office;
  • Integrate community-based strategies into new health care models, such as by expanding Accountable Care Organizations into Accountable Care Communities;
  • Work with nonprofit hospitals to identify the most effective ways they can expand support for prevention through community benefit programs;
  • Maintain the Prevention and Public Health Fund and expand the Community Transformation Grant program so all Americans can benefit;
  • Implement all of the recommendations for each of the 17 federal agency partners in the National Prevention Strategy; and
  • Encourage all employers, including federal, state and local governments, to provide effective, evidence-based workplace wellness programs…..

February 6, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Educational Resources (Health Professionals), Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, health care | , , , , , | Leave a comment

CDC Releases Data on Interpersonal and Sexual Violence by Sexual Orientation (A First in this Area)

nisvs_coverFrom the 25 January 2013 US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) press release

The first set of national prevalence data on intimate partner violence (IPV), sexual violence (SV), and stalking victimization by sexual orientation was released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The study found that lesbians and gay men reported IPV and SV over their lifetimes at levels equal to or higher than those of heterosexuals; with sexual orientation based on respondents’ identification at the time of the survey.

The survey also found that bisexual women (61.1 percent) report a higher prevalence of rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner compared to both lesbian (43.8 percent) and heterosexual women (35 percent). Of the bisexual women who experienced IPV, approximately 90 percent reported having only male perpetrators, while two -thirds of lesbians reported having only female perpetrators of IPV.

The data presented in this report do not indicate whether violence occurs more often in same-sex or opposite sex couples. Rather, the data show the prevalence of lifetime victimization of intimate partner violence, sexual violence and stalking of respondents who self-identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual at the time of the survey and describe violence experienced with both same-sex and opposite-sex partners. …

Other key findings include:

  • The majority of women who reported experiencing sexual violence, regardless of their sexual orientation, reported that they were victimized by male perpetrators.
  • Nearly half of female bisexual victims (48.2 percent) and more than one-quarter of female heterosexual victims (28.3 percent) experienced their first rape between the ages of 11 and 17 years.

CDC will work to create resources to bring attention to these issues within lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities.

For more information about NISVS, including study details, please visit http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/nisvs/index.html.

To watch webinars that discuss the NISVS 2010 Summary findings, please visit PreventConnectExternal Web Site Icon, a national online project dedicated to the primary prevention of sexual assault and domestic violence.

 

 

February 6, 2013 Posted by | Educational Resources (Health Professionals), Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Health Education (General Public), Health Statistics, Librarian Resources, Psychology | , , , | Leave a comment

2011 EPA Toxic Release Inventory is releaed

From the EPA Web page

The TRI National Analysis is an annual report that provides EPA’s analysis and interpretation of the most recent TRI data. It includes information about toxic chemical releases to the environment from facilities that report to the TRI Program. It also includes information about how toxic chemicals are managed through recycling, treatment and energy recovery, and how facilities are working to reduce the amount of toxic chemicals generated and released.

WASHINGTON – Total toxic air releases in 2011 declined 8 percent from 2010, mostly because of decreases in hazardous air pollutant (HAP) emissions, even while total releases of toxic chemicals increased for the second year in a row, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) annual Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) report published today.

The annual TRI provides citizens with vital information about their communities. The TRI program collects information on certain toxic chemical releases to the air, water and land, as well as information on waste management and pollution prevention activities by facilities across the country. TRI data are submitted annually to EPA, states and tribes by facilities in industry sectors such as manufacturing, metal mining, electric utilities, and commercial hazardous waste facilities.

What’s new in the National Analysis this year?

  • An investigation into declining air releases;
  • More information about pollution prevention activities conducted at TRI facilities;
  • Updated risk information;
  • Enhanced Indian Country and Alaska Native Villages (ANVs) analysis.

What tools are available to help me conduct my own analysis?

A variety of online tools are available to help you access and analyze TRI data. When using TRI data, you may also want to explore the other data sources and information listed on the TRI Data and Tools webpage.

Where can I get downloadable files containing the data used in the 2011 National Analysis?

  • Basic Data Files : Each file contains the most commonly requested data fields submitted by facilities on the TRI Reporting Form R or the Form A Certification Statement.
  • Basic Plus Data Files : These files collectively contain all the data fields submitted by facilities on the TRI Reporting Form R or the Form A Certification Statement.
  • Dioxin, Dioxin-Like Compounds and TEQ Data Files : These files include the individually reported mass quantity data for dioxin and dioxin-like compounds reported on the TRI Reporting Form R Schedule 1, along with the associated TEQ data.

January 18, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety, Educational Resources (Health Professionals), Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Librarian Resources, Public Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

[Partial Reblog] The Power of Patient-Expert Books

(And no, I am not advertising these books, or endorsing the contents of these books, only pointing to a trend!)

From the 4 January 2013 Huffington Post article by Riva Greenberg

Today, more and more books are being written by patients — well-educated, informed patients who manage their illness successfully and have experience, practical knowledge and insights to share with other patients.

As the new year incites a rush to become a “new, better and healthier you,” we often do so learning from our peers. When it comes to illness-warranted behavior changes, as like seeks like, it’s often easier to make changes learned from fellow patients with whom you share the experience of a disease. Like support groups and mentor programs, this is fertile soil for positive behavior change. So, I applaud the rise of patient-authors.

Patient-authors also narrate the experience of illness. That is why I hope health care professionals (HCPs) are also reading books written by patients. A book like No-Sugar Added Poetry, for example, can give HCPs immediate access to some of the emotional landscape of living with diabetes.

There is, in my mind, no easier or quicker way to tap into the experience of illness — what patients grapple with, how they feel, and the practical things that must be managed every day — than by reading a patient-written book.

When clinicians do, I believe they will become more mindful and compassionate and the relationship with their patients more trusting. And that can lead to better outcomes for both….

Read the entire article here

 

January 15, 2013 Posted by | Educational Resources (Health Professionals), Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Health Education (General Public) | , , , , | Leave a comment

[Free Webcast] Evidence for Violence Prevention Across the Lifespan and Around the World-A Workshop

Found this while “surfing” the Institute of Medicine Web page (the primary source for an article in one of my RSS feeds).
I think I share a concern with gun violence with many of you dear readers.There has to be a better way to prevent gun violence than simply arming more folks. For example, a school system to the west of my hometown of Toledo, OH believes arming its janitors will curb violence. (Montpelier schools OKs armed janitors***). My gut reaction? If I had children in the school I would  pull them out. Homeschool them if there were no other ways to educate them. And if the teachers were armed? Same reaction.

Meanwhile I’m going to be participating in a [local] Community Committee Against Gun Violence (MoveOn.org). For the past several years I’ve been very concerned about gun violence. Time to start to do something…hopefully not too late.

Yes, this webcast might be viewed as just another talking heads exercise. I am hoping some good will come out of it. If nothing else, keep a conversation alive on how to address prevention of violence through nonviolence.

Here’s some information about the Webcast directly from the Institute of Medicine web site

Evidence for Violence Prevention Across the Lifespan and Around the World-A Workshop

When: January 23, 2013 – January 24, 2013 (8:00 AM Eastern)
Where: Keck Center (Keck 100) • 500 Fifth St. NW, Washington, DC 20001 Map
Topics: Global HealthChildren, Youth and FamiliesSubstance Abuse and Mental HealthPublic Health
Activity: Forum on Global Violence Prevention
Boards: Board on Global HealthBoard on Children, Youth, and Families

This workshop will be webcast. Register to attend in-person or register to watch the webcast.

  [My note...registration is now closed for in-person attendance, they've reached seating capacity]

Evidence shows that violence is not inevitable, and that it can be prevented. Successful violence prevention programs exist around the world, but a comprehensive approach is needed to systematically apply such programs to this problem.  As the global community recognizes the connection between violence and failure to achieve health and development goals, such an approach could more effectively inform policies and funding priorities locally, nationally, and globally.

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) will convene a 2-day workshop to explore the evidentiary basis for violence prevention across the lifespan and around the world. The public workshop will be organized and conducted by an ad hoc committee to examine: 1) What is the need for an evidence-based approach to violence prevention across the world? 2) What are the conceptual and evidentiary bases for establishing what works in violence prevention? 3) What violence prevention interventions have been proven to reduce different types of violence (e.g., child and elder abuse, intimate partner and sexual violence, youth and collective violence, and self-directed violence)?  4) What are common approaches most lacking in evidentiary support? and 5) How can demonstrably effective interventions be adapted, adopted, linked, and scaled up in different cultural contexts around the world?

The committee will develop the workshop agenda, select and invite speakers and discussants, and moderate the discussions. Experts will be drawn from the public and private sectors as well as from academic organizations to allow for multi-lateral discussions. Following the conclusion of the workshop, an individually-authored summary of the event will be prepared by a designated rapporteur.

 

*** I did respond to the newspaper article. The response is online. I am expecting some rather strong responses, perhaps about how naive I am (sigh).

“Now I know, more than ever, that I have to get more involved in addressing violence through nonviolent means. For starters, am going to get better prepared for a nonviolent workshop our Pax Christi USA section is sponsoring next month. Also am going to do my best to follow through with a local Community Committee Against Gun Violence (http://civic.moveon.org/event/events/index.html?rc=homepage&action_id=302). Guess it’s time to be part of the solution…these two events are steps that are challenging, don’t solve things overnight, but in my heart of hearts…I feel called to participate in actions like these….(am thanking teachers here, esp those at St. Catherine’s(1960-1969) and Central Catholic (1969-1973).”

 

January 11, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Safety, Educational Resources (Elementary School/High School), Educational Resources (Health Professionals), Educational Resources (High School/Early College( | , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Curēus, an open-access medical journal with crowdsourcing

[Reblog] Curēus, an open-access medical journal with crowdsourcing December 23, 2012

Posted by Dr. Bertalan Meskó in MedicineWeb 2.0Medical journalism,Medicine 2.0e-Science.
trackback
John Adler who is a neurosurgeon at Stanford just launched Curēus, an open-source medical journal that leverages crowdsourcing to make scientific research more readily available to the general public. What do you think?

Based in Palo Alto, California, Curēus is the medical journal for a new generation of both doctors AND patients. Leveraging the power of an online, crowd-sourced community platform, Curēus promotes medical research by offering tools that better serve and highlight the people who create it, resulting in better research, faster publication and easier access for everyone.

We make it easier and faster to publish your work – it’s always free and you retain the copyright. What’s more, the Curēus platform is designed to provide a place for physicians to build their digital CV anchored with their posters and papers.

The Curēus site also has..

Currently, a relatively few number of papers online. The concept is good, here’s hoping this is not a flash in the pan, but the wave of the future.

December 27, 2012 Posted by | Biomedical Research Resources, Educational Resources (Health Professionals), Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Finding Aids/Directories, Health Education (General Public), Librarian Resources | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

There’s no app for that: health apps that don’t work

iTunes Store, impresion en iPhoto y iPhone en ...

iTunes Store, impresion en iPhoto y iPhone en México (Photo credit: marcopako )

 
From the 15 November 2012 article at HealthNewsReview.org

 

A report by The New England Center for Investigative Reporting - published by the Washington Post – is headlined, “Many health apps are based on flimsy science at best, and they often do not work.”

It begins:

“When the iTunes store began offering apps that used cellphone light to cure acne, federal investigators knew that hucksters had found a new spot in cyberspace.

“We realized this could be a medium for mischief,” said James Prunty, a Federal Trade Commission attorney who helped pursue the government’s only cases against health-app developers last year, shutting down two acne apps.

Since then, the Food and Drug Administration has been mired in a debate over how to oversee these high-tech products, and government officials have not pursued any other app developers for making medically dubious claims. Now, both the iTunes store and the Google Play store are riddled with health apps that experts say do not work and in some cases could even endanger people.

These apps offer quick fixes for everything from flabby abs to alcoholism, and they promise relief from pain, stress, stuttering and even ringing in the ears. Many of these apps do not follow established medical guidelines, and few have been tested through the sort of clinical research that is standard for less new-fangled treatments sold by other means, a probe by the New England Center for Investigative Reporting has found.”

 

 

 

December 12, 2012 Posted by | Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Health Education (General Public) | , , | Leave a comment

Look up medications more quickly and easily on Google

From the Google Announcement

11/30/12 | 9:00:00 AM

Labels: 

We get a lot of queries for medicine on Google. So to make it quick and easy for you to learn about medications, we’ll start showing key facts — side effects, related medications, links to in-depth resources, and more — right on the search results page.


This data comes from the U.S. FDA, the National Library of Medicine, and the Department of Veterans Affairs, among others. It’s part of the Knowledge Graph — our project to map out billions of real-world things, from famous artists to roller coasters to planets (and now medications). We hope you find this useful, but remember that these results do not act as medical advice.

Posted by Aaron Brown, Senior Product Manager, Search

 

Related Resources (because there are other reputable resources besides the one’s Google mines! with additional drug info)

MedlinePlus Trusted Health Information for You

 
 
 
Learn about your prescription drugs and over-the-counter medicines. Includes side effects, dosage, special precautions, and more.
Browse dietary supplements and herbal remedies to learn about their effectiveness, usual dosage, and drug interactions.
 
Information about label ingredients in more than 6,000 selected brands of dietary supplements. It enables users to compare label ingredients in different brands. Information is also provided on the “structure/function” claims made by manufacturers.
These claims by manufacturers have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Companies may not market as dietary supplements any products that are intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
 
 
Drug Information Portal
A gateway to selected drug information from the US government.  It links you to information on over 12,000 drugs from trusted consumer drug information sources (as MedlinePlus Drug Information), the US Food and Drug Information (as Drugs @FDA)LactMed(summary of effects on breastfeeding), and more.
 


 
Pillbox enables rapid identification of unknown solid-dosage medications (tablets/capsules) based on physical characteristics and high-resolution images.
Once a medication is identified, Pillbox provides links to drug information and drug labels.
 
 
MedWatch logo
Clinically important safety information and reporting serious problems with human medical products.
Safety information includes drug information, recalls & alerts, drug shortage information, and medication guides.
 

Together we

Adverse Reaction Online Database contains information about suspected adverse reactions (also known as side effects) to health products, recalls, advisories, and warnings from the Canadian government
 
 
More Drug Resources at Drug Information Resources 
      (by the Consumer and Patient Health Information Section of the Medical Library Association)
 
Including…..
  • CenterWatch/Clinical Trials Listing Service
    This useful resource lists newly approved drugs, drugs in current clinical research, weekly trial results, as well as a link to the PDR Family Medical Guide for Prescription Drugs.
  • Longwood Herbal Task Force
    This site has in-depth monographs about herbal products and supplements written by health professionals and students. It provides clinical information summaries, patient fact sheets, and information about toxicity and interactions as well as relevant links. The task force is a cooperative effort of the staff and students from Children’s Hospital, the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.
  • FDA Recalls  provides information gathered from press releases and other public notices about certain recalls of FDA-regulated products
  • Epocrates

 

 

December 12, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health, Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Finding Aids/Directories, Health Education (General Public) | , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Understanding Eyes as We Age

[Reblog] from the December 7, 2012 post at As Our Parents Age –Timely Topics for Adult Children

 

I’ve written several posts about eye medical care (post on cataracts – posts on detached retinas). Sometime soon I will share a bit more about my experience with cataract surgery — mine occurred several weeks ago.

Recently I discovered a terrific eye education resource. If you are trying to make sense of the medical health of your eyes or the eyes of an aging parent, get started by educating yourself about the structure of an eye. Check out this wonderful Eye Anatomy Tour, posted over at the Cleveland Clinic website.

Because most of my doctors offer explanations during fairly short appointments, I am not always able to absorb everything. My physicians usually explain things clearly and mostly in an unrushed manner, but I cannot always remember everything that I need (or want) to know.

The nice thing about this animated eye tour is that it can be run over and over — always a useful feature but especially so if an adult child is  explaining an eye condition to an aging parent. When you watch the tour you can also use the Dictionary of Eye Terms, linked from the same web page.

 

December 11, 2012 Posted by | Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Health Education (General Public) | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Howard Hughes Medical Institute Bulletin (videos, interactive graphics, audio slideshows, and more!)

Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Howard Hughes Medical Institute (Photo credit: Mark Warner)

 

“Reblog” from the Scout Report

 

 

Howard Hughes Medical Institute Bulletin

 

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/hhmi-bulletin/id411540287?mt=8

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) is a remarkable institution that stands at the forefront of research in a wide range of medical fields. This site provides access to the HHMI Bulletin via the iPad in a format that is most visually stimulating. On this site, visitors can browse screen shots of this most wondrous compendium, complete with exclusive videos, interactive graphics, and audio slideshows. Visitors with iPads who download the app can learn about the latest cancer research, along with fun primers of the basic work of the HHMI and updates about long-term projects. Those without iPads are still strongly encouraged to check out the H HMI Bulletin, available here: http://www.hhmi.org/bulletin/. [KMG]

 

 

December 1, 2012 Posted by | Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Health Education (General Public) | , , | Leave a comment

Deficiency Symptoms and Signs – A Referenced Resource for Professionals and the Public

This morning I came across this nutrition deficiency guide while doing a (somewhat) focused Web search on a Quora question about nutritional deficiencies.
The table (rather longish) lists signs/symptoms along with possible nutritional deficiencies and other possible causes.

According to the terms and use, I am not allowed to copy/paste the table, or provide a direct link to this very informative table.
(This is a commercial site, but ad free).

Here’s how to get to the table

This site has, well, to me, an overabundance of unbiased, reliable nutrition from a medical doctor.

Dr. Stewart is medical practitioner in 1976 from Guy’s Hospital London and became a Member of the Royal College of Physicians in 1979.  He was a founding member of the British Society for Nutritional Medicine.

 

October 31, 2012 Posted by | Educational Resources (Health Professionals), Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Health Education (General Public), Librarian Resources | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Health Resources in Multiple Languages

Those of you who follow my blog notice that from time to time I highlight multilingual health information Web sites as Healthy Roads Media.

Recently (via a US govt listserv- PHPartners) I ‘ve come across a wonderful list of general health information resources in multiple languages. This resource list is a subset of the larger  Multi-Cultural Resources for Health Information. Multi-Cultural Resources includes links in the following areas

Oh, I haven’t forgotten. Here is the list of Health Resources in Multiple Languages.

 

 

October 27, 2012 Posted by | Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Health Education (General Public), Librarian Resources, Tutorials/Finding aids | , , , , | Leave a comment

New Suicide Prevention Plan: 10/15/2012 [NLM Director’s Comments ]

From the Director’s page

Greetings from the National Library of Medicine and MedlinePlus.gov

Regards to all our listeners!

I’m Rob Logan, Ph.D. senior staff National Library of Medicine for Donald Lindberg, M.D, the Director of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Here is what’s new this week in MedlinePlus.listen

comprehensive plan to reduce the number and impact of suicides in the U.S. recently was announced by the U.S. Surgeon General…

..

The Surgeon General’s National Strategy for Suicide Prevention is available at surgeongeneral.gov.

Meanwhile, a helpful introduction to suicide symptoms is provided by the American Society of Suicidology in the ‘overviews’ section ofMedlinePlus.gov’s suicide health topic page. A helpful guide about what to do if someone is suicidal is provided by the Mayo Foundation for Medical Research and Education in the ‘prevention/screening’ section of MedlinePlus.gov’s suicide health topic page.

The Mayo Foundation for Medical Research and Education also provides a helpful website, ‘Considering suicide? How to Stay Safe and Find Treatment’ in the ‘coping’ section of MedlinePlus.gov’s suicide health topic page.

MedlinePlus.gov’s suicide health topic page contains links to the latest pertinent journal research articles, which are available in the ‘journal articles’ section. Links to related clinical trials that may be occurring in your area are available in the ‘clinical trials’ section. From the suicide health topic page, you can sign up to receive email updates with links to new information as it becomes available on MedlinePlus.

To find MedlinePlus.gov’s suicide health topic page, type ‘suicide’ in the search box on MedlinePlus.gov’s home page, then, click on ‘Suicide (National Library of Medicine).’ Links to health topic pages devoted to depression, mental health and behavior, as well as social/family issues are accessible within ‘related topics’ on the right side of MedlinePlus.gov’s suicide health topic page.

As the Surgeon General’s report notes, improving prevention to offset a sobering rate of suicide is gaining new momentum in medicine and public health. We wish the Surgeon General’s National Strategy for Suicide Prevention every success.

Before I go, this reminder… MedlinePlus.gov is authoritative. It’s free. We do not accept advertising …and is written to help you.

 

October 22, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health, Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Health Education (General Public) | , , | Leave a comment

Ask a Scientist [Howard Hughes Medical Institute]

 

askascientist.org.gif

From the Web page

Ask a Scientist connects you to some of the top scientists in the country, and each of them is connected to the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. If you’ve got a question about medicine, human biology, animals, biochemistry, microbiology, genetics, or evolution, then please, Ask A Scientist

Links include

 

October 12, 2012 Posted by | Educational Resources (Elementary School/High School), Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Health Education (General Public) | , , , , | Leave a comment

[Partial Reblog] New series: Understanding and Guiding Medical Research

 

 

 

A patient having his blood pressure taken by a...

A patient having his blood pressure taken by a physician. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

From the 1 September 2012 post at ePatient Dave

 

Some edits made, and new items added, late the same evening.

I’ve recently learned of some well-intentioned medical research that disturbs me so deeply that I think it’s time to get formal about teaching e-patients and their partners how to detect research that misses its target, even if it’s well intentioned.

Doing this responsibly requires a deep understanding of the purpose of research and its methods. So this is the start of a series in which I’ll lay out what I’ve learned so far, describe the problems and challenges and opportunities that I see, and invite dialog on where I’m wrong and your own experiences as patient or clinician or researcher.

If this succeeds we’ll have a new basis for considering questions of what to do and how to prioritize it, in this era of change in medicine – not just in research but in all of medicine, as we work on reducing our spend. My goal in the series will be to be as clear in my writing as I can, while being as verifiably accurate as I can, given that I’m no PhD or Pulitzer laureate. Critique and correction are welcome.

This first post is an introduction, with background reading.

Context: Patient Engagement

The context for this series is patient engagement: patients shifting from being “compliant” cars in a medical car wash to being responsible and engaged.

Empowered, engaged patients take responsibility for their health and their care. One aspect is being responsible for understanding, as best we can, the evidence that a recommended treatment is right for us. Sometimes it’s pretty simple, sometimes not; but the higher the stakes get, the more important it is.

With respect to research, there’s a big challenge: sometimes the published evidence sucks – even though it got through the peer review process and was approved by a big-name journal.

Of course not all evidence sucks. But if you’re considering whether to be cut open or eat chemicals (meds), you have a choice: trust blindly (“whatever you say, doc”) or take responsibility for understanding as much as you can.

As we’ll discuss, one big reason blind trust fails is that the evidence your doctor gets isn’t necessarily great, and most clinicians aren’t rigorously trained in how to scrutinize it. (They too are largely trained to trust the journal process.) So this is for them too.

Intended audiences

  • Patients and caregivers – the people on the receiving end of the treatment; the ones who make the decision to accept treatment.
  • Clinicians, for two reasons:
    • In a participatory relationship, the patient and clinician need to be on the same page regarding the basis for decisions, or one will think the other’s crazy
    • As I said, in my experience most clinicians haven’t been rigorously schooled in the weakness of the info they were taught to trust. (This isn’t an insult; see homework below.)
  • Health policy people (government and non-profits), because they need to be firmly grounded in reality, or they can’t possibly make policies that work in reality (eh?)
  • Insurance companies (commonly euphemized as “care plans” or just “the plans”), who decide what will get paid for.  (I know some insurance companies don’t mind paying for stuff that doesn’t work; they basically get a commission on all spending. But others do care what works and what doesn’t – some even have staff who help patients understand the options! They need to be well informed too.)
  • Others, I’m sure.

This will make some people unhappy.

It’s the unhappiness that comes from realizing the world isn’t what you thought it was. And the unhappiness that comes from realizing you have to adjust.

But ladies and germs, disconnects like that are what keep a dysfunction in place and make problems intractable. So, comfortable or not, let’s get on with it. The unhappiness I anticipate:

  • Some clinicians don’t welcome questions from their patients. (Others do.) In my personal experience most of the ones who object don’t realize how weak the evidence is.
    • I hope they’ll remember what I learned in school: all science must be open to new information. (As SPM co-founder and ACOR founder Gilles Frydman said in 2010, “All knowledge is in constant beta.”)
    • I know clinicians have many pressures including short appointments. This doesn’t have to be done by an MD; in my view of the future, every “medical home” will have coaches who can help assess published material.
  • Some patients really don’t want to hear that the science they depend on – which has indeed produced miracles – has also produced crap sometimes. They especially don’t want to hear that clinicians – their clinicians, who they know are good people – aren’t perfect.
  • In general, everyone wants certainty – doctors and patients alike – so it’s unsettling to know you can’t have it. (Even the best science has a chance of errors, and all science is subject to correction.)

Important: This is not a “we reject science” series.

  • love science. I personally am alive because of great medical research that created a harsh treatment delivered brilliantly by great clinicians at Beth Israel Deaconess in Boston. I love the training and clinical experience that made them able to save my life!
  • It included great laparoscopic surgery and orthopedic surgery developed by great skilled scientists and delivered by skilled, adroit surgeons & teams. Hooray for science!
  • But in the end, science knows that there is no certainty. They’re doing the best they can amid uncertainty. Heck, I myself live in uncertainty:
    • The best evidence (which is not great) says there’s a 50% chance my cancer will return, which would likely kill me
    • At diagnosis the evidence said I had 24 week median survival
    • On the flip side, the treatment that did cure me usually doesn’t work.

Bottom line: There Is No Certainty.

The art of designing, conducting and reporting research includes dealing accurately with this issue.Whatever you read, there’s always a chance it’s wrong.

In my view, the ultimate responsible patient understands this, accepts the uncertainty (as best a human can), and responds by saying “Okay, what are the options? And what are the chances they’ll work?”

If you fully understand that much research is shaky and deserves questioning, you can skip to the end and wait for round 2.  If not, read these past posts, because if you don’t realize there’s weakness, you have no reason to learn what comes next.

Here’s your homework.

Past posts establishing the need to be responsible for our decisions

These posts are from e-patients.net………
Click here for the rest of the post

 

 

 

September 7, 2012 Posted by | Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, health care | , , | Leave a comment

New Genetics Education Resource

The National Library of Medicine (NLM)  is pleased to announce the release of a new educational resource, GeneEd.

..a useful resource for students and teachers in grades 9 – 12 to learn genetics.

GeneEd allows students and teachers to explore topics such as Cell Biology, DNA, Genes, Chromosomes, Heredity/Inheritance Patterns, Epigenetics/Inheritance and the Environment, Genetic Conditions, Evolution, Biostatistics, Biotechnology, DNA Forensics, and Top Issues in Genetics.

Teachers can use the site to introduce topics, supplement existing materials, and provide as a reliable source to students conducting research.

Text varies from easy-to-read to advanced reading levels, which makes this a versatile tool both in and out of the classroom.
Specialty pages including Teacher Resources and Labs and Experiments highlight those tools that teachers may find particularly helpful.

Other specialty pages such as Careers in Genetics and Highlights allow students to see what is new and noteworthy in the field of Genetics along with links to different careers related to the science of Genetics.

September 4, 2012 Posted by | Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, statistics | , , , , | Leave a comment

Top Health Issues for LGBT Populations (Free Information and Resource Kit)

Top Health Issues for LGBT Populations

I learned a lot just by looking at the powerpoint slides and the overview.

From the SAMHSA site

Equips prevention professionals, healthcare providers, and educators with information on current health issues among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) populations. Includes an overview of terms related to gender identity and sexual expression.

Table of contents

Helpful Terms for Prevention Specialists and Healthcare Providers A-1
A Discussion about Gender Identity B-1
Top Health Issues for Lesbians C-1
Top Health Issues for Gay Men D-1
Top Health Issues for Bisexual Men and Women E-1
Top Health Issues for Transgender People F-1
Selected Web-based Resources G-1
PowerPoint Slides: Top Health Issues for LGBT Populations H-1


July 13, 2012 Posted by | Educational Resources (Health Professionals), Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Health Education (General Public) | , , , | Leave a comment

National Library of Medicine (NLM) Drug Information Portal is now available for mobile devices

Now one can get summary and detailed drug information on the go from reputable resources

From a recent email rec’d from the US National Library of Medicine

The National Library of Medicine (NLM) Drug Information Portal is now available for mobile devices.http://druginfo.nlm.nih.gov/m.drugportal

This mobile optimized web site covers over 32,000 drugs and provides descriptions, drug names, pharmaceutical categories, and structural diagrams.  Each record also features information links to 19 other resources including NLM PubMed, NLM LactMed, and Drugs@FDA.  The mobile version of a resource is used when available.

Smart Phones accessing the main Drug Portal site will be taken the mobile site.

The Drug Information Portal (http://druginfo.nlm.nih.gov)  is a free Web resource from the NLM that provides an informative, user friendly entry-way to current drug information for over 32,000 drugs. Links to sources span the breadth of the NLM, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and other government agencies. Current information regarding consumer health, clinical trials, AIDS–related drug information, MeSH pharmacological actions, PubMed biomedical literature, and physical properties and structure is easily retrieved by searching on a drug name. A varied selection of focused topics in medicine and drug–related information is also available from displayed subject headings.

For a full list of available apps and mobile websites, visit our NLM Gallery of Mobile Apps and Sites at: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/mobile/

June 22, 2012 Posted by | Educational Resources (Health Professionals), Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Health Education (General Public), Professional Health Care Resources | , , | 1 Comment

Government in action – Quick Health Data Online (Free telephone training today, June 14)

quick health data online

Can’t make the training? Guided help at the Web site (Look for the “Get Started Now” Box

From the Website

About Quick Health Data Online

The Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health has developed an important online tool: Quick Health Data Online. Quick Health Data Online contains extensive health data for the years 1998-2004 for the entire United States, and it will be updated on a yearly basis. National, regional, state, and county data are available and the data can be stratified by gender, race/ethnicity, and age concurrently.

The database includes statistics on:

  • Demographics
  • Mortality
  • Access to care
  • Infections and chronic disease
  • Reproductive health
  • Maternal health
  • Mental health
  • Prevention
  • Violence and abuse

Free training available

Quick Health Data Online 101
QHDO 101 will provide an overview on health indicators available, preparing custom queries, and generating tables, graphs, and basic maps.

  • Monday, April 16: 3-4 p.m. (EST)
  • Monday, May 14: 2-3 p.m. (EST)
  • Tuesday, June 12: 1-2 p.m. (EST)

Quick Health Data Online 201
QHDO 201 will detail the comprehensive mapping features.

  • Wednesday, April 18: 1-2 p.m. (EST)
  • Wednesday, May 16: 2-3 p.m. (EST)
  • Thursday, June 14: 3-4 p.m. (EST

Register today! (for the training) External link The toll-free conference call number and other details are provided at the registration site. You need to be at a computer with Internet access and a telephone.

June 13, 2012 Posted by | Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Health Education (General Public) | , | Leave a comment

Haz-Map (occupational health database) redesigned for web and mobile versions

three hazardous waste workers with barrelfarmer on tractor in field

 

From a recent email from NLM (US National Library of Medicine)

The National Library of Medicine (NLM) Division of Specialized Information Services (SIS) has released redesigned web and mobile versions of Haz-Map (http://hazmap.nlm.nih.gov/ ). The new design adapts to web browsers on desktop computers, laptops, and tablets, as well as mobile browsers on smart phones, such as iPhones, Android and Blackberry phones.

Haz-Map is an occupational health database designed for health and safety professionals and for consumers seeking information about the health effects of exposure to chemicals and biologicals at work.  Haz-Map links jobs and hazardous tasks with occupational diseases and their symptoms. It currently covers over 5997 chemical and biological agents and 235 occupational diseases.

More information can be found at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/pubs/factsheets/hazmap.html

June 13, 2012 Posted by | Educational Resources (Health Professionals), Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, environmental health, Finding Aids/Directories, Health Education (General Public), Professional Health Care Resources | , , | Leave a comment

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