Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

For A Less Biased Study, Try Randomization

From the 13 April 2011 Medical News Today article

A new review** of existing research confirms that the so-called “gold standard” of medical research – the randomized controlled study – provides a safeguard against bias.

The researchers found that certain kinds of studies – those whose recruiters were more likely to know in which comparison group the next participant would land – had larger estimates of effects than those that whose “blinding” was considered adequate. Yet the finding does not mean such studies are inaccurate.

The findings could give researchers more insight into the pros and cons of the strategies they embrace to figure out whether one drug or treatment is better than another. While it might seem obvious that a randomized study is the most reliable option, scientists do not universally believe it is, said review lead author Jan Odgaard-Jensen. …

 

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** A summary of the article may be found here

For suggestions on how to get this article for free or at low cost, click here

 

 

April 14, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

AHRQ News And Numbers: Medication Side Effects, Injuries, Up Dramatically

From the 13 April 2011 Medical News Today article

The number of people treated in U.S. hospitals for illnesses and injuries from taking medicines jumped 52 percent between 2004 and 2008 – from 1.2 million to 1.9 million — according to the latest News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. These medication side effects and injuries resulted from taking or being given the wrong medicine or dosage.

The federal agency also found that in 2008:

– The top 5 medicines that had more than 838,000 people treated and released from emergency departments were: unspecified medicines (261,600); pain killers (118,100), antibiotics (95,100), tranquilizers and antidepressants (79,300), corticosteroids and other hormones (71,400).

– For patients admitted to the hospital, the top five medicines causing side effects and injuries were corticosteroids (used for such illnesses as asthmaarthritis, ulcerative colitis, and other conditions–283,700 cases), painkillers (269,400), blood-thinners (218,800), drugs to treat cancer and immune system disorders (234,300), and heart and blood pressure medicines (191,300).

– More than half (53 percent) of hospitalized patients treated for side effects or other medication-related injuries were age 65 or older, 30 percent were 45 to 64, 14 percent between 18 and 44, and 3 percent under age 18. Children and teenagers accounted for 22 percent of emergency cases.

– About 57 percent of the hospitalized patients and 61 percent of emergency department cases were female.

This AHRQ News and Numbers is based on data in Medication-related Adverse Outcomes in U.S. Hospitals and Emergency Departments, 2008. The report uses data from the agency’s 2008 Nationwide Inpatient Sample and 2008 Nationwide Emergency Department Sample. For information about these two AHRQ databases, go here.

April 14, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Public Health | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The School Food Revolution: The Healthy Changes In School Cafeterias You Haven’t Seen On TV

School Nutrition Association

From the School Nutrition Association Press Release

The School Food Revolution: The Healthy Changes in School Cafeterias You Haven’t Seen on TV

National Harbor, MD (April 13, 2011) – Despite limited resources and rising food costs, school nutrition programs across the country have made tremendous progress in offering healthier meals in school cafeterias.  But don’t expect to see these successes on television – good news about school meals just doesn’t bring in the ratings.

School Nutrition Association’s 2010 Back to School Trends Report found that schools are serving more whole grains and fresh produce, while working to reduce added sodium and sugar in foods served on the lunch line.  Many school districts are bringing in more locally-grown produceencouraging extra helpings of fruits and vegetables or offering salad bars.  To get kids excited about these healthy choices, schools are experimenting with kids cooking competitionspartnerships with local chefs and nutrition education programs.

Many schools are cooking up more menu items from scratch, and schools with limited ability to scratch cook, due to staffing, equipment or cost challenges, are using higher quality pre-prepared foods.  Food companies have been using leaner meats, more whole grains and less salt and sugar to make the pre-prepared foods served in schools healthier than ever.  These days, baked sweet potato “fries” or wedges are common choices, while school pizza is often served on whole grain crust with low-fat cheese and low-sodium sauce.  Meanwhile, local dairies have been working with school nutrition programs to reduce the fat and sugar in flavored milk choices, which leading health and nutrition organizations support keeping in schools.

These changes are being achieved through the perseverance of school nutrition professionals who must contend with paltry budgets, burdensome regulations, strict food safety standards or insufficient equipment and support.  Often, critics of school nutrition programs and advocates for healthier food choices fail to acknowledge these cost constraints and the complexity of the rules governing the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs.

Over the next several weeks, School Nutrition Association will issue a series of articles highlighting the School Food Revolution occurring nationwide and the ways schools have raised the bar for school meals.
SNA, (http://www.schoolnutrition.org ) the School Nutrition Association, is a national, non-profit professional organization representing more than 53,000 members who provide high-quality, low-cost meals to students across the country. Founded in 1946, the Association and its members are dedicated to feeding children safe and nutritious meals.


 

April 14, 2011 Posted by | Nutrition | , , | Leave a comment

Free Online/Print US Government Publications

From a US General Services Administration news release

WASHINGTON — Through a partnership among GSA, the U.S. Government Printing Office, and Google, 100 of the most popular government publications are now available to download for free online. This partnership will allow for greater access to these documents and contribute to an open and transparent government. As more documents become available online, it will eventually reduce the number of documents that GSA’s Federal Citizen Information Center prints while reducing costs and the environmental impact.

To shop for these free government publications, click here

These publications encompass areas as cars, consumer action, education, employment, family, food, and housing.

A sampling of the health titles

  • Antibiotic resistance
  • Dietary supplements
  • Health scams
  • My medicines

 

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April 14, 2011 Posted by | Health Education (General Public) | , , | Leave a comment

   

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