Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Researchers Find “Google Flu Trends” a Powerful Early Warning System for Emergency Departments

Researchers Find “Google Flu Trends” a Powerful Early Warning System for Emergency Departments

From the 1 January 2012 article at newswise

newswise — Monitoring Internet search traffic about influenza may prove to be a better way for hospital emergency rooms to prepare for a surge in sick patients compared to waiting for outdated government flu case reports. A report on the value of the Internet search tool for emergency departments, studied by a team of researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine over a 21-month period, is published in the January 9 issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases.

The researchers reported a strong correlation between a rise in Internet searches for flu information, compiled by Google’s Flu Trends tool, and a subsequent rise in people coming into a busy urban hospital emergency room complaining of flu-like symptoms….

February 10, 2012 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Research Reveals Counties With Thriving Small Businesses Have Healthier Residents

Research Reveals Counties With Thriving Small Businesses Have Healthier Residents

From the 9 February 2012 Medical News Today article

Counties and parishes with a greater concentration of small, locally-owned businesses have healthier populations – with lower rates of mortality, obesity anddiabetes – than do those that rely on large companies with “absentee” owners, according to a national study by sociologists at LSU and Baylor University. …

…”Some communities appear to have thriving small business sectors that feature entrepreneurial cultures that promote public health. A place like this has a can-do climate, a practical problem-solving approach in which a community takes control of its own destiny,” said co-author Charles M. Tolbert, Ph.D., chair of the sociology department at Baylor. “The alternative is the attitude that ‘Things are out of our control’.”

Communities may become dependent on outside investment to solve problems, the researchers wrote.

Their findings are a departure from the traditional conclusion that “bigger is better.” …

..But small businesses are more likely to support bond issues for health infrastructures, recruit physicians, push for local anti-smoking legislation, promote community health programs and activities and support local farmers’ markets, researchers said.

They found that counties with a greater proportion of small businesses have a healthier population. …

February 10, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health | , | 4 Comments

The Health Impacts Of Comparing Yourself To Others

umm….yes, I do compare myself. Always knew it wasn’t quite healthy at times,  this article seems to make sense..
On another note, this article may provide good tools in analyzing commercial advertisements (as radio, television, print media, and those pesky Web-based pop-ups). And perhaps to a degree public service announcements. No communication content is completely true!


The Health Impacts Of Comparing Yourself To Others

From the 9th February 2012 Medical News Today article

Comparing yourself to others with the same health problem can influence your physical and emotional health, according to researchers who conducted a qualitative synthesis of over 30 studies focusing on the relationship between social comparisons and health.

“If you’ve ever looked at another person and thought, ‘Well, at least I’m doing better than he is,’ or ‘Wow, I wish I could be doing as well as she is,’ you’re not alone,” said Josh Smyth, professor of biobehavioral health and of medicine, Penn State. “This phenomenon – first proposed in the 1950s – is common in daily life. When we’re unsure of how we’re doing, we can reduce uncertainty by getting information from others. People with chronic illnesses are particularly likely to compare themselves to others with the same illness.”

In their qualitative synthesis published in the current issue of Health Psychology Review, Smith and the researchers at Syracuse University and the University of Iowa found that people who compare “downward” to others who are worse off, are less depressed than people who compare “upward” to people who are better off. Downward comparisons often are associated with immediate positive feelings such as relief and gratitude.

But nearly as often, studies show the exact opposite. People who compare upward do better on physical health measures and report feeling hopeful about their ability to improve. Still other studies demonstrate the negative effects of both types of comparisons – downward comparisons can lead to sadness or worry and upward comparisons can lead to dejection. ,,,,

February 10, 2012 Posted by | Psychology | , , , | Leave a comment

What Doctors Are Telling Us Even When They’re Not Talking

English: Livingston, TX, 9/25/05 -- A doctor t...

Image via Wikipedia

Am thinking…how does one be compassionate to a doctor who lacks good communication skills?
And how does one draw out needed information from the same doctor when one is in a confused state of mind?
Maybe a communication and or/ life skills class in high school should be required that includes body language?

From the 9 February 2012 New York Times article

…For nearly two decades, teaching good communication skills has beenmandatory for medical schools because of research showing that good patient-doctor communication can lead to improved patient satisfaction and better health care outcomes. To this end, medical educators have developed a host of communication courses and workshops that combine lectures, self-assessments, video recordings and “standardized patients,” or actors in the role of patients.

More recently, many schools have broadened their courses to include “cultural competency,” or the ability to communicate with those from different racial, ethnic and social backgrounds. Studies have shown that while a patient’s race and ethnicity can be linked to sharply different treatment courses and quality, better communication between doctors and patients of different backgrounds can reduce the disparities.

Despite these tremendous efforts, there is one area of communication to which few schools have devoted significant time or resources: body language and facial expressions.

 In this recent study, for example, a group of medical sociologists analyzed the interactions between 30 primary care doctors and more than 200 patients over age 65 and found that white physicians tended to treat older patients similarly, regardless of race. Black physicians, on the other hand, often gave white patients contradictory signals, mixing positive nonverbal behaviors, like prolonged smiling or eye contact, with negative ones, like creating physical barriers by crossing the arms or legs….
  • What Doctors Are Telling Us Even When They’re Not Talking (
  • Doctors may paint overly rosy prognosis (
  • Study Finds Doctors Not Always Honest With Patients (
  • Study finds doctors aren’t always honest with patients (
  • 1 in 10 Doctors Admit Lying in the Past Year (
  • Many doctors in survey admit they have lied to their patients (
  • Study finds MDs not always honest with patients (
  • Skills in medicine (
  • Doctors’ Honesty Put to the Test (
  • Some physicians do not agree with, uphold standards on communication with patients (Eureka News Alert)

    A significant minority of physicians responding to a national survey disagreed with or admitted not upholding accepted standards of professionalism for open and honest communication with patients. In the February issue of Health Affairs, investigators from the Mongan Institute for Health Policy at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) report that, among other findings, one fifth of respondents indicated they had not fully disclosed a medical error out of concern for malpractice lawsuits and about one tenth admitted telling a patient something that was not true during the preceding year….

    Five questions on the survey specifically addressed attitudes related to communication – including whether physicians should fully inform patients of the risks and benefits of their treatments, disclose all significant medical errors to patients and always keep patient information confidential – and four addressed what respondents had actually done in the preceding year. The survey was sent to 3,500 U.S. physicians – 500 each in internal medicine, family practice, pediatrics, cardiology, general surgery, psychiatry and anesthesia – and almost 1,900 surveys were completed and returned.

    The overhelming majority of respondents agreed that physicians should completely inform patients about risks and benefits, never disclose confidential information and never tell a patient something untrue. While 66 percent agreed that all significant medical errors should be disclosed to affected patients, one third did not completely agree. Also, about one third did not agree that financial relationships with drug and device companies should always be disclosed. When asked about their own behavior in the preceding year, almost 20 percent admitted not fully disclosing a medical error for fear of being sued,[my emphasis] 28 percent admitted revealing a patient’s health information to an unauthorized person, and 11 percent responded that they had told a patient or the parent of a child something that was not true.

February 10, 2012 Posted by | health care | , , , | Leave a comment


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