Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

[Press release] Losing a family member in childhood associated with psychotic illness

From the 21 January 2014 press release

Highest risk seen in children who experience suicide in close family members

Experiencing a family death in childhood is associated with a small but significant increase in risk of psychosis, suggests a paper published today on bmj.com.

The researchers say that the risks are highest for children who have experienced a suicide in the ‘nuclear family’ (brothers, sisters, parents).

Previous studies have concluded that the risk of adult disease can be influenced by genetics, lifestyle and environmental experience. There is also evidence that maternal psychological stress adversely affects the development of the fetus.

Population studies have so far provided weak support for an association between prenatal maternal psychological stress and later psychosis. Researchers from the UK, US and Sweden therefore set out to examine the association between deaths in the family as a form of severe stress to the individual and subsequent psychosis. Data were taken from Statistics Sweden and the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare and children born between 1973 and 1985 in Sweden.

Definitions of psychosis were: non-affective psychosis (including schizophrenia) and affective psychosis (bipolar disorder with psychosis and unipolar depression with psychosis).

Exposure periods were divided into ‘any exposure’ (all pre and postnatal); ‘any prenatal’ (prior to birth) and ‘any postnatal’ (birth up to 13 years of age) and further subdivided by trimester (first, second, third) and by three year periods in childhood between birth and 13 years of age (0-2.9 years; 3-6.9 years and 7-12.9 years). If more than one exposure occurred during the study period, priority was given to the earliest exposure.

Death was categorised into suicide, fatal injury / accident and others (such as cancers and cardiac arrests).

Models were adjusted for year of birth, child sex, maternal and paternal age, maternal and paternal nationality, parental socioeconomic status and history of any psychiatric illness in the family.

The final number of children included in the study was 946,994. Altogether, 321,249 (33%) children were exposed to a family death before the age of 13. Of individuals exposed to any death during the study period, 1323 (0.4%) developed a non-affective psychosis while 556 (0.17%) developed an effective psychosis. 11,117 children were exposed to death from suicide, 15,189 from accidents and the majority, 280,172 to deaths due to natural causes.

No increased risk of psychosis was seen following exposure in any prenatal period. Postnatally, an increased risk of ‘all psychosis’ was associated with deaths in the nuclear family and risk increased the earlier in childhood the death occurred.

Risks associated with exposure to suicide were higher compared with exposure to deaths from accidents which in turn were higher than risks associated with other deaths from natural causes.

The largest risk was seen in children exposed ages 0-3 years and risks reduced as age of exposure increased.

Professor Kathryn Abel, from the Centre for Women’s Mental Health at The University of Manchester, said: “Our research shows childhood exposure to death of a parent or sibling is associated with excess risk of developing a psychotic illness later in life. This is particularly associated with early childhood exposure. Further investigation is now required and future studies should consider “the broader contexts of parental suicide and parental loss in non-western, ethnically diverse populations.”

 

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Research: Severe bereavement stress during the prenatal and childhood periods and risk of psychosis in later life: population based cohort study

 

 

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January 23, 2014 Posted by | Psychiatry, Psychology | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Press release] Older brains slow due to greater experience, rather than cognitive decline

From the 21 January 2014 press release at EurekAlert

What happens to our cognitive abilities as we age? Traditionally it is thought that age leads to a steady deterioration of brain function, but new research in Topics in Cognitive Science argues that older brains may take longer to process ever increasing amounts of knowledge, and this has often been misidentified as declining capacity.

The study, led by Dr. Michael Ramscar of the University of Tuebingen, takes a critical look at the measures that are usually thought to show that our cognitive abilities decline across adulthood. Instead of finding evidence of decline, the team discovered that most standard cognitive measures are flawed, confusing increased knowledge for declining capacity.

Dr. Ramscar’s team used computers, programmed to act as though they were humans, to read a certain amount each day, learning new things along the way. When the researchers let a computer ‘read’ a limited amount, its performance on cognitive tests resembled that of a young adult.

However, if the same computer was exposed data which represented a lifetime of experiences its performance looked like that of an older adult. Often it was slower, not because its processing capacity had declined, but because increased “experience” had caused the computer’s database to grow, giving it more data to process, and that processing takes time.

“What does this finding mean for our understanding of our ageing minds, for example older adults’ increased difficulties with word recall? These are traditionally thought to reveal how our memory for words deteriorates with age, but Big Data adds a twist to this idea,” said Dr. Ramscar. “Technology now allows researchers to make quantitative estimates about the number of words an adult can be expected to learn across a lifetime, enabling the team to separate the challenge that increasing knowledge poses to memory from the actual performance of memory itself.”

“Imagine someone who knows two people’s birthdays and can recall them almost perfectly. Would you really want to say that person has a better memory than a person who knows the birthdays of 2000 people, but can ‘only’ match the right person to the right birthday nine times out of ten?” asks Ramscar.

“It is time we rethink what we mean by the aging mind before our false assumptions result in decisions and policies that marginalize the old or waste precious public resources to remediate problems that do not exist,” said Topics in Cognitive Science, Editors Wayne Gray and Thomas Hills.

 

 

 

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January 23, 2014 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Press Release] Greatest economic burden shouldered by African-American and Hispanic men

From the 22 January 2014 press release

Greatest economic burden shouldered by African-American and Hispanic men

African-American men incurred $341.8 billion in excess medical costs due to health inequalities between 2006 and 2009, and Hispanic men incurred an additional $115 billion over the four-year period, according to a new study by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The study, published this week in the International Journal of Men’s Health, looks at the direct and indirect costs associated with health inequalities and projects the potential cost savings of eliminating these disparities for minority men in the U.S.

“Health disparities have a devastating impact on individuals and families, and they also affect society as a whole,” said Roland J. Thorpe, Jr., PhD, lead author of the study and Assistant Professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Director of the Program for Research on Men’s Health in the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Disparities Solutions. “Quantifying the economic impact of health inequalities among men highlights how enormous a societal problem this is.”

Researchers used data from the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality’s 2006-2009 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) to determine the prevalence of a variety of health statuses and conditions (for example, fair/poor health, obesity, diabetes, heart disease) among each racial/ethnic group (African American, Asian, Hispanic and white). This information was incorporated in statistical models to estimate the total direct medical costs and the proportion of costs incurred due to health disparities for each group. The direct medical expenditures for African-American men over the four-year period totaled $447.6 billion; and 5.4 percent, or $24.2 billion, were excess costs attributed to health disparities. There were no excess direct costs due to health disparities for the other racial/ethnic groups over the four year period.

The indirect costs of lower worker productivity due to illness and premature death were calculated using data from MEPS and the CDC’s National Vital Statistics System. Over the four-year period, these factors cost the economy a total of $436.3 billion—lower worker productivity due to illness contributed $28 billion in excess costs, and premature death contributed $408.3 billion. Of the total indirect costs, African-American men accounted for $317.6 billion, or 72 percent; indirect costs totaled $115 billion for Hispanic men and $3.6 billion for Asian men.

“These stark findings underscore the fact that we can’t afford to overlook men’s health disparities that exist in this country,” added Thorpe. “The cost to society—both moral and economic—is staggering.”

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January 23, 2014 Posted by | health care | , , , | Leave a comment

[Press release] Health disparities among US African-American and Hispanic men cost economy more than $450 billion

From the 22 January 2014 press release

Greatest economic burden shouldered by African-American and Hispanic men

African-American men incurred $341.8 billion in excess medical costs due to health inequalities between 2006 and 2009, and Hispanic men incurred an additional $115 billion over the four-year period, according to a new study by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The study, published this week in the International Journal of Men’s Health, looks at the direct and indirect costs associated with health inequalities and projects the potential cost savings of eliminating these disparities for minority men in the U.S.

“Health disparities have a devastating impact on individuals and families, and they also affect society as a whole,” said Roland J. Thorpe, Jr., PhD, lead author of the study and Assistant Professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Director of the Program for Research on Men’s Health in the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Disparities Solutions. “Quantifying the economic impact of health inequalities among men highlights how enormous a societal problem this is.”

Researchers used data from the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality’s 2006-2009 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) to determine the prevalence of a variety of health statuses and conditions (for example, fair/poor health, obesity, diabetes, heart disease) among each racial/ethnic group (African American, Asian, Hispanic and white). This information was incorporated in statistical models to estimate the total direct medical costs and the proportion of costs incurred due to health disparities for each group. The direct medical expenditures for African-American men over the four-year period totaled $447.6 billion; and 5.4 percent, or $24.2 billion, were excess costs attributed to health disparities. There were no excess direct costs due to health disparities for the other racial/ethnic groups over the four year period.

The indirect costs of lower worker productivity due to illness and premature death were calculated using data from MEPS and the CDC’s National Vital Statistics System. Over the four-year period, these factors cost the economy a total of $436.3 billion—lower worker productivity due to illness contributed $28 billion in excess costs, and premature death contributed $408.3 billion. Of the total indirect costs, African-American men accounted for $317.6 billion, or 72 percent; indirect costs totaled $115 billion for Hispanic men and $3.6 billion for Asian men.

“These stark findings underscore the fact that we can’t afford to overlook men’s health disparities that exist in this country,” added Thorpe. “The cost to society—both moral and economic—is staggering.”

 

 

 

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January 23, 2014 Posted by | health care | , , , | Leave a comment

[Press release] World’s Dangerous Neighborhoods Produce Aggressive Children

From a 22 January 2014 Duke University press release

Editor’s Note: The study is available at http://www.mdpi.com/2075-4698/4/1/45

DURHAM, NC – Children around the world who grow up in dangerous neighborhoods exhibit more aggressive behavior, says a new Duke University-led study that is the first to examine the topic across a wide range of countries.

Many U.S. studies have described a link between dangerous neighborhoods and children’s aggressive behavior. Authors of the new study wanted to determine whether the pattern held true in other cultures. To find out, researchers interviewed parents and children from 1,293 families in nine countries: China, Colombia, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, the Philippines, Sweden, Thailand and the United States.

The study appears online today in the journal Societies.

The researchers asked families a series of questions about dangers in their neighborhoods. Based on the answers, the researchers scored the neighborhoods according to their degree of danger.

To measure children’s aggressive behavior, researchers asked parents and children to complete a widely used child-behavior checklist that captures behaviors such as screaming and threatening people. The researchers sought answers from mothers, fathers and children for the surveys, in order to obtain a fuller portrait.

In neighborhoods that parents described as highly dangerous, children exhibited higher levels of aggressive behavior. This link held true across all nine countries studied, based on parents’ responses, said lead author Ann T. Skinner, a researcher with Duke’s Center for Child and Family Policy.

“This is an incredibly diverse set of countries from around the world, representing countries from the developing and the developed world and including individualistic and collectivist societies,” Skinner said. “In all the countries we studied, we see that living in a dangerous neighborhood may affect kids negatively.”

The study further suggests that perilous neighborhoods may affect children indirectly, through their parents. In all nine countries, when children reported living in more dangerous neighborhoods, harsh parenting practices were more common, as was child aggression. However, adults’ and children’s perceptions differed on that point. More research is needed to determine whether or not dangerous neighborhoods promote harsh parenting practices, Skinner said.

The research was funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development grant RO1-HD054805, Fogarty International Center grant RO3-TW008141 and the intramural program of the NIH, NICHD.

 

 

 

 

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January 23, 2014 Posted by | environmental health | , , , | Leave a comment

[Press release] Guarded welcome for new type of drug

From the January 2014 news item at Edinburg University

New types of drug intended for use in place of antibiotics have been given a cautious welcome by scientists.

University researchers have been probing the long-term effectiveness of drugs currently being developed by the pharmaceutical industry.

These work by limiting the symptoms caused by a bug or virus in the body, rather than killing it outright.

These treatments are designed to avoid the problem of infections becoming resistant to treatment, which has become widespread with antibiotics.

This approach is intended to enable the patient to tolerate disease, and buy the immune system valuable time to get rid of the infection naturally.

Disease spread

Researchers at the Universities of Edinburgh and Liverpool created a mathematical model to look at how at how drugs that limit the damage caused by disease could affect how infections spread and evolve.

They found that for certain infections, where the symptoms are not linked to the spread of disease, these drugs may prevent disease from evolving too quickly.

They will be useful over longer periods of time.

However, scientists caution that people given damage limitation treatments may appear healthy, but carry high levels of infection and so may be more likely to pass on disease.

In addition, people with lesser symptoms could remain undiagnosed and add to the spread of disease.

Their study was published in PLoS Biology.

In treating infections with drugs, we change their environment, but bacteria and other infectious agents are incredibly good at adapting to their environment. Damage limitation therapies may be a useful alternative to antibiotics, but we should be cautious, and investigate their potential long-term consequences. Limiting damage may work for the individual, but could, in some cases, increase disease spread.

Dr Pedro Vale

School of Biological Sciences

 

 

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January 23, 2014 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , | Leave a comment

[Press release] More diseases from air pollution uncovered by improved data material

From the 22 January 2014 EurkAlert

More diseases from air pollution uncovered by improved data material

Good health and personal registers in combination with model calculations of air pollution down to an individual address has helped Danish researchers to become among the very best in the world to detect harmful diseases deriving from polluted air

 IMAGE: This is professor Ole Hertel of Aarhus University. Good health and personal registers in combination with model calculations of air pollution down to an individual address has helped Danish researchers…Click here for more information.

At rest, we breathe approx. 12-15 times per minute, and for each inhalation we change approx. one litre of air. Depending on the activity level, this makes up a daily quantity in the order of twenty cubic metres of air that – with its content of pollution in the form of particles and different gases – can make us ill depending on how polluted the air is.

Asthma attacks, wheezing, cardiovascular diseases and lung cancer are some of the more glaring examples of diseases we – in worst case – can get from the domestic air. The list of injuries due to air pollution in Denmark is long. This appears from a brand new article that professor Ole Hertel from Aarhus University, has written with a number of Danish colleagues at University of Copenhagen, the Danish Cancer Society and Aarhus University. “So the list of diseases detected in Denmark is long, but it does not mean that we have the world’s most polluted air. This is to be found in Asia, Africa and South America. Here, you typically find a yearly mean value of the particle pollution (PM10) of 50-200 micrograms per cubic metres of air, while the content in Copenhagen and other Western European Megacities typically is at a lower level – about 20-50 micrograms per cubic metre. But even in a “moderately polluted” air as we call it in Danish towns and cities, we find many serious injuries which come from the air that we breathe every day,” explains Ole Hertel.

Danish studies

In the article “Utilizing Monitoring Data and Spatial Analysis Tools for Exposure Assessment of Atmospheric Pollutants in Denmark”, Ole Hertel and his colleagues review the Danish experiences in combining measurements and models. By combining measurements on relatively few but well-chosen places with advanced models for spreading of air pollution, the researchers can calculate the air pollution down to the individual addresses.

Hertel and Co. review a number of Danish studies of the coherence between air pollution and injuries to health. A total of nine short-term studies have been published in Denmark, where researchers have demonstrated respiratory and cardiovascular diseases after episodes with increased air pollution, etc. Similarly, eleven studies demonstrate long-term injuries due to air pollution, e.g. lung cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and mortality.

 IMAGE: Ole Hertel and his colleagues at Aarhus University can calculate the air pollution down to address accuracy with the AIRGIS model which combines information about emissions of air pollution and…Click here for more information.

Improved information

The scientists’ ability to detect a wide range if different types of damages of the Danes’ health is due to the fact that Danish researchers represent some of the very best to demonstrate illnesses caused by air pollution on human health. This is obvious when we look at the model for spreading of air pollution, OSPM, which was developed by Danes and is now used in approx. twenty countries. This is also why Ole Hertel was invited to give an overview of the diseases detected to be a consequence of the air pollution in Denmark, first on a major international conference and afterwards in book form:

“We have some very unique health registers in Denmark and that is quite different from other countries. We are able to connect addresses and health registers with air-polluted areas. In Denmark, we have many cohort investigations where the same persons are followed during a long period of time. Here, we can link to other sorts of information and thus separate effects related to e.g. lifestyle from effects related to air pollution. For instance, the Danish Cancer Society makes a study of people’s diet and exercise habits in a so-called Diet, Cancer, Health study, and in addition you have the whole birth cohort where the same children have been followed from around the turn of the century until now,” explains Ole Hertel.

But not only do we have some of the world’s best health registers in Denmark;

“We also have some outstanding good pieces of information on traffic, buildings and infrastructure. This information we have concluded in the so-called

AirGis Model which uses digital road maps and building and road registers to determine the parameters we need for air quality calculations on address level. Therefore, we can come up with conclusions that are more precise than in other countries.” Ole Hertel emphasises that there are strong constrains around handling of personal information.

Surprising results

Ole Hertel points out one of the Danish results as particularly notable:

“It came as a surprise to me that the studies showed a connection between air pollution and diabetes. It is rather new information that air pollution can cause diabetes, and we are working on finding a biological explanation for this correlation. This is an example of the fact that our very detailed way of working in Denmark leads to precise results.”

It takes fifty litres of air to read this article

Dear reader, if you represent an average reader, you have just spent three minutes and 58 seconds to read this article – probably inclusive of pauses for thoughts (thank you for that!). During this time you have inhaled approx. fifty litres of air through your lungs, depending on your gender and size.

Long term exposure to air pollution linked to coronary events (EurkAlert)

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January 23, 2014 Posted by | environmental health | , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Aging Parent Hospitalizations and Observation Status

As Our Parents Age

Just when you think that you have settled the most significant adult child-aging parent issues — when you and your parents have spoken about medical care support, finances, and the range of their end-of-life wishes — along comes another concern to worry about, and it’s one that may be completely out of our control.

Medicare ObservationWe now need to be concerned about the possibility of a parent entering a hospital and assigned to observation status for several days. Observation means that, rather than being officially admitted as a patient, the person is there to be watched, sort of like an out-patient, but not really an out-patient. The problem is, it’s difficult to discover what status a hospital assigns a patient  — the two look almost alike with nurses, doctors, hospital rooms, blood pressure checks, etc.  Admission and observation do not look that different to the patient and family, and apparently many hospitals…

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January 23, 2014 Posted by | health care | , | Leave a comment

State unveils public website to expose harmful cosmetics

State unveils public website to expose harmful cosmetics.

 

From the 10 January 2014 Contra Costa Times article

 

Assorted cosmetics and tools

Assorted cosmetics and tools (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

State public health officials announced on Friday a new online database that shows which cosmetics sold in California contain certain harmful chemicals, offering the first state-run public resource to inform consumers about potentially hazardous products they use everyday on their skin and hair.

The long-awaited California State Cosmetics Program Product Database is part of a state law passed in 2005 that aims to expose products with potentially hazardous ingredients, and pressure manufacturers to reformulate makeup, soap, lotion and similar products with safer alternatives. The public can search the website by type of product, brand or ingredient, and will be shown a list of products made with chemicals that are known to cause cancer, reproductive harm or birth defects.

“It does not mean that the cosmetic product itself has been shown to cause cancer, but since most products are not extensively tested for safety, providing information on chemical components will allow consumers to make more informed choices,” said Dr. Ron Chapman, director of the state Department of Public Health.

As of November, the state had collected information from about 475 companies, which have disclosed the ingredients in roughly 30,000 products. The state is requiring only companies that sell in California and have more than $1 million per year in cosmetic sales to report the potentially harmful ingredients they use. The state is looking for about 900 chemicals that have been identified as harmful by Proposition 65 legislation and organizations such as the National Toxicology Program.

The database is part of the California Safe Cosmetics Act of 2005, legislation signed by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. The law required the site to be up by Dec. 31, 2013, but a health department spokesman said it did not go live until Friday.

The law also gives the state some enforcement authority, such as requiring products are labeled with warnings.

“We are the one agency in the U.S. collecting this information on cosmetics,” Nerissa Wu, a state public health official who helped establish the program, told this newspaper in an interview last fall. “Our hope is that the market pressure that comes out of that … encourages manufacturers to reformulate.”

Advocates welcomed the database, but some worried that the state lacked the resources to enforce safer standards for cosmetics.

“This doesn’t ban anything. This doesn’t restrict anything,” said Gretchen Salter, senior program and policy manager at the San Francisco-based Breast Cancer Fund, an advocacy group that championed the 2005 legislation. “Ultimately our feeling is these products don’t belong in cosmetics in the first place.”

The database is at http://www.cdph.ca.gov/programs/cosmetics/Pages/default.aspx

Contact Heather Somerville at 510-208-6413. Follow her at Twitter.com/heathersomervil.

 

 

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January 23, 2014 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety | , , , | Leave a comment

[Press Release] Warning! Warning labels can be dangerous to your health

Warning! Warning labels can be dangerous to your health.

From the 16 January 2014 Tel Aviv University press release

AU research shows that some warning labels can make products like cigarettes more appealing

Many products, like cigarettes and medications, are stamped with warning labels alerting consumers to their risks. Common sense suggests these warnings will encourage safer choices.

But now Dr. Yael Steinhart of Tel Aviv University‘s Recanati Business School, along with Prof. Ziv Carmon of INSEAD in Singapore and Prof. Yaacov Trope of New York University, has shown that warning labels can actually have the opposite effect. When there is a time lag between reading a warning and then buying, consuming, or evaluating the associated products, the warnings may encourage trust in the manufacturers of potentially dangerous products, making them less threatening. Published in Psychological Science, the study findings could help improve the efficacy of warning labels.

“We showed that warnings may immediately increase concern and decrease consumption,” said Dr. Steinhart. “But over time, they paradoxically promote trust in a product and consequently lead to more positive product evaluation and more actual purchases.” The findings have important implications for regulators and managers in fields including consumer products, healthcare, and finance.

The best laid plans

The study is based on an idea called “the construal-level theory” (CLT), developed by Prof. Trope and Prof. Nira Liberman of TAU’s School of Psychological Sciences. When thinking about objects over a period of time, people tend to construe them abstractly, emphasizing what they describe as “high-level features” and suppressing “low-level features.” The high-level feature of warning labels is that they build trust in consumers by creating the impression that all the relevant information about the products is being presented. The low-level feature of warning labels is that they make consumers more aware of the products’ negative side effects.

The CLT holds that over long periods of time, consumers deemphasize side effects and emphasize the feeling of trust communicated by warnings over time. Ironically, this may increase the purchase, consumption, and assessment of the associated products.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder

 

 

 

Read the entire article here

 

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January 23, 2014 Posted by | Psychology, Public Health | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[News article] Early warning: Internet surveillance predicts disease outbreak

Early warning: Internet surveillance predicts disease outbreak.

From the 7 January 2014 news article

The habit of Googling for an online diagnosis before visiting a GP can provide early warning of an infectious disease epidemic.

In a new study published in Lancet Infectious Diseases, internet-based surveillance has been found to detect infectious diseases such Dengue Fever and Influenza up to two weeks earlier than traditional surveillance methods.

Dr Hu, based at QUT’s Institute for Health and Biomedical Innovation, said there was often a lag time of two weeks before traditional surveillance methods could detect an emerging infectious disease.

“This is because traditional surveillance relies on the patient recognizing the symptoms and seeking treatment before diagnosis, along with the time taken for health professionals to alert authorities through their health networks,” Dr Hu said.

“In contrast, digital surveillance can provide real-time detection of epidemics.”

Dr Hu said the study found by using digital surveillance through search engine algorithms such as Google Trends and Google Insights, detecting the 2005-06 avian influenza outbreak “Bird Flu” would have been possible between one and two weeks earlier than official surveillance reports.

“In another example, a digital data collection network was found to be able to detect the SARS outbreak more than two months before the first publications by the World Health Organization (WHO),” he said.

“Early detection means early warning and that can help reduce or contain an epidemic, as well alert public health authorities to ensure risk management strategies such as the provision of adequate medication are implemented.”

Dr Hu said the study found social media and micoblogs including Twitter and Facebook could also be effective in detecting disease outbreaks.

“There is the potential for digital technology to revolutionize emerging infectious disease surveillance,” he said.

….

Read entire article here

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January 23, 2014 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

What does it take to make healthcare more accessible? – GE Step Ahead Initiative – Moneycontrol

What does it take to make healthcare more accessible? – GE Step Ahead Initiative – Moneycontrol.

[Not endorsing GE, this article is for informational purposes only]

Excerpt from the [January 2014?] article at money control.com by Gopi Katragadda

I spent quality time in the recent weeks with a small working group developing an understanding of affordable healthcare. As a part of this exercise, I visited several hospitals and met with technology providers. Also, I researched a good amount of literature on the future of healthcare across the globe. I was surprised to learn that affordable healthcare is a significant problem not only in the emerging economies, but in the western world as well. In the US, as an example, 27% of the population has serious problems paying their medical bills. In India, lower unit costs for healthcare are accomplished through higher throughput; however, cost in general and accessibility in rural areas still remain areas of concern.

Based on my observations so far, mobility, simplicity, and automation are the three primary axes of making healthcare more accessible.

Read the entire article here

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January 23, 2014 Posted by | health care | Leave a comment

[Reblog] The hallucinated demons of intensive care « Mind Hacks

The hallucinated demons of intensive care 

From the 7 January 2014 article at Mind Hacks

Screen Shot 2014-01-23 at 4.03.52 AM

http://www.maquet.com/images/
thumbs/320_Solutions_Intensive_Care.jpg

I’ve got an article in The Observerabout the psychological impact of being a patient in intensive care that can include trauma, fear and intense hallucinations.

This has only been recently recognised as an issue and with mental disorders being detected in over half of post-ICU patients it has sparked a serious re-think of how ICU should be organised to minimise stress.

Some of the most spectacular experiences are intense hallucinations and delusions that can lead to intrusive and surreal flashbacks that can have effects long after the person has become medically stable.

Wade interviewed patients about the hallucinations and delusions they experienced while in intensive care. One patient reported seeing puffins jumping out of the curtains firing blood from guns, another began to believe that the nurses were being paid to kill patients and zombify them. The descriptions seem faintly amusing at a distance, but both were terrifying at the time and led to distressing intrusive memories long after the patients had realised their experiences were illusory.

Many patients don’t mention these experiences while in hospital, either through fear of sounding mad, or through an inability to speak – often because of medical breathing aids, or because of fears generated by the delusions themselves. After all, who would you talk to in a zombie factory?

One of the interesting aspects is how standard ICU care is incredibly stressful and uncomfortable experience. I quote Hugh Montgomery, a professor of intensive care medicine, who says “If you think about the sort of things used for torture you will experience most of them in intensive care”!

Anyway, more at the link below.
Link to ‘When intensive care is just too intense’ in The Observer.

 

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January 23, 2014 Posted by | health care, Psychology | , , | Leave a comment

[News article] Seniors moving to homecare based services face more hospital risk

Seniors moving to homecare based services face more hospital risk.

From the 8 January 2014 ScienceDaily article

Screen Shot 2014-01-23 at 3.55.44 AM

… Aging-in-Place House Plans by Nicolleli Architects. [not an endorsement]

Seniors want greater access to home- and community-based long-term care services. Medicaid policymakers have been happy to oblige with new programs to help people move out of expensive nursing homes and into cheaper community or home care. It seems like a “win-win” to fulfill seniors’ wishes while also saving Medicaid programs money, but a new study of such transitions in seven states finds that the practice resulted in a 40 percent greater risk of “potentially preventable” hospitalizations among seniors dually eligible for Medicaid and Medicare.

“We are trying to move people into the community and I think that is a really great goal, but we aren’t necessarily providing the medical support services that are needed in the community,” said Andrea Wysocki, a postdoctoral scholar in the Brown University School of Public Health and lead author of the study published online in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. “One of the policy issues is how do we care for not only the long-term care needs when we move someone into home- and community-based settings but also how do we support their medical needs as well?”

Wysocki said her finding of a higher potentially preventable hospitalization risk for seniors who transitioned to community- or home-based care suggests that some medical needs are not as well addressed in community settings as they are in nursing homes. More vigilant and effective treatment for chronic, already-diagnosed ailments such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease could prevent some of the hospitalizations that occur.

There are two likely reasons why care in home and community settings is not as effective in preventing hospitalizations, Wysocki said.

[One]Nursing homes provide round-the-clock care by trained nurses and doctors, but workers with much less medical training provide community- and home-care services.

[Two] In addition, while Medicaid pays for long-term care, Medicare pays for medical care, meaning that Medicaid programs do not have a built-in financial incentive to prevent hospitalizations. Home- and community-based care is less expensive for Medicaid regardless of the medical outcome.

Read the entire article here

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January 23, 2014 Posted by | health care, Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

   

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