Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Family Health History Tools and related medical studies about diseases that run in the family

From a November 5, 2010 American Society of Human Genetics news release

BETHESDA, MD – October 22, 2010 – Thousands of the world’s top scientists and clinicians in the human genetics field will convene to present their latest research findings at the American Society of Human Genetics 60th Annual Meeting, which will be held November 2-6, 2010, in Washington, D.C.

A number of scientific presentations at this year’s meeting will feature research on the application and use of family health history information in clinical settings to assess an individual’s risk for developing common chronic diseases. Family health history assessment is an inexpensive, simple, and useful tool that has been shown to be effective and accurate when implemented in clinical care settings to assess personal disease risks. Integrating the use of family health history information in clinical practice can help practitioners determine which patients are at high risk of developing a specific health condition and would benefit from taking precautionary measures to prevent disease (such as early and frequent screening, genetic testing, health behavior and lifestyle changes, etc.)…….

…Since National Family Health History Month is celebrated in November, ASHG will be spreading awareness about this important public health topic and helping people understand its application in clinical practice as a cost-effective tool for assessing disease risk by hosting a press briefing to highlight some of the latest research findings of interest on this topic that will be presented at the ASHG 2010 Annual Meeting.

Some Family Health History Tools

Using My Family Health Portrait you can:

  • Enter your family health history.
  • Print your family health history to share with family or your health care worker.
  • Save your family health history so you can update it over time.
  • Family Healthware (US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
    [currently in development]

 

 

November 6, 2010 Posted by | Consumer Health, Health Education (General Public), Librarian Resources | , , , | Leave a comment

Looking older than your age may not be a sign of poor health: Study

From a November 5, 2010 St. Michael’s news release

Contact: Julie Saccone
sacconej@smh.ca
416-864-5047
St. Michael’s Hospital

Looking older than your age may not be a sign of poor health: Study

Common practice of linking health to how old a person looks not an accurate indicator

Toronto, Ontario, November 5, 2010 – Even though most adults want to avoid looking older than their actual age, research led by St. Michael’s Hospital shows that looking older does not necessarily point to poor health. The study found that a person needed to look at least 10 years older than their actual age before assumptions about their health could be made.

“Few people are aware that when physicians describe their patients to other physicians, they often include an assessment of whether the patient looks older than his or her actual age,” says Dr. Stephen Hwang, a research scientist at St. Michael’s Hospital and an associate professor at the University of Toronto. “This long standing medical practice assumes that people who look older than their actual age are likely to be in poor health, but our study shows this isn’t always true.”

For patients, it means looking a few years older than their age does not always indicate poor health status. The study found that when a physician rated an individual as looking up to five years older than their actual age, it had little value in predicting whether or not the person was in poor health. However, when a physician thought that a person looked 10 or more years older than their actual age, 99 per cent of these individuals had very poor physical or mental health.

“Physicians have simply assumed that their quick assessment of how old a person looks has diagnostic value,” explains Dr. Hwang. “We were really surprised to find that people have to look a decade older than their actual age before it’s a reliable sign that they’re in poor health. It was also very interesting to discover that many people who look their age are in poor health. Doctors need to remember that even if patients look their age, we shouldn’t assume that their health is fine.”

The researchers studied 126 people between the ages of 30 to 70 who were visiting a doctor’s office. Participants completed a survey that accurately determined whether they had poor physical or mental health. Each person was photographed, and the photographs were shown to 58 physicians who were told each person’s actual age and asked to rate how old the person looked.

The study, published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, provides new insights and questions into the value and limitations of a long standing medical practice of judging a person’s health by how old they appear.

 

###

About St. Michael’s Hospital

St. Michael’s Hospital provides compassionate care to all who walk through its doors. The Hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in more than 23 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, and care of the homeless are among the Hospital’s recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research at St. Michael’s Hospital is recognized and put into practice around the world. Founded in 1892, the Hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.

 

 

November 6, 2010 Posted by | Health News Items | , , | Leave a comment

The History of Vaccines

The History of Vaccines is an informational, educational website created by The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, the oldest professional society in the United States.

The History of Vaccines provides continually updated information to provide a compelling history of vaccine development as well as news about cutting edge technologies in vaccine development and delivery.

The site aims to improve public knowledge through categories as timelines, activities, and articles.
You can also find material through the links at the top of the page: Parents, and also Educators.
Students can find useful material through the links Parents, Educators, Timelines, Activities and also Articles.
Most material is at the high school or early college level.

November 6, 2010 Posted by | Educational Resources (High School/Early College( | , , , | Leave a comment

“Summaries for Patients” and other plain language summaries help patients and others understand medical studies and guidelines

Heard or read about research on a medical topic but not sure if the news is reliable? Looking for trusted information on a treatment or drug carefully reviewed by experts? Do scientific articles seem to contain good information, but they are hard to understand?

Not sure where to go next?  You are not alone.

These plain language summaries are great places to start for medical and health information that has been rewritten for those of us who are not scientists or health care professionals. Much of the information is free, and often there are great links to reliable Web pages for additional information.

                    These summaries will help you
    • Discover how researchers did the published study and what they found, including
      • What the problem was and why it is studied
      • Who was studied and why the study was done
      • What the scientists found and what the limits of the study were
    • Find overviews about clinical guidelines -official recommendations for doctors in treating patients
To locate a specific summary

These summaries are provided to help patients or their caregivers more fully understand  research results. They also provide links  to the full text of  many research articles.
Some full text articles are free. Others require a reduce-fee payment (much less than ordering from the publisher!).
(Always check to see if you can get the article for free or at even lower cost from your area public, medical, or academic library – most libraries will try to help anyone who contacts them directly)

Cochrane Summariesbeta

Independent high-quality evidence for health care decision making

  • Cochrane Collaboration provides well researched reviews of the strongest evidence available about healthcare interventions (as drugs, medical tests,  and medical procedures).  Every available treatment/test has not yet been reviewed. However each review is conducted in depth by experts.            

              To find plain language  and audio summaries of Cochrane Reviews

    • Go to the Cochrane Reviews Home page and scroll down to Browse Free Summaries
    • Click on a topic OR scroll down and click on All Summaries
    • The All Summaries page will allow you to
      • Search by entering words and short phrases (as headache, multiple sclerosis drugs, asthma acupuncture
      • Browse by Health Topics (left column)
      • Include only these in the search results
        • Podcasts – audio summaries
        • PEARLS – guidance and advice for real time decisions

Related Blog Items 


Cannot find a plain language summary with the above resources?

Consider asking a reference librarian for help at your local public, academic, or hospital library. Many academic and hospital libraries provide at least limited reference service to the public.
Call or email them for information about their services.

You may also contact me at jmflahiff@msncom.  I will do my best to reply within 48 hours.


November 6, 2010 Posted by | Consumer Health, Librarian Resources | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

   

%d bloggers like this: