Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

[News release] First patient-led research registry for arthritis patients launched

First patient-led research registry for arthritis patients launched.

From the 20 May 2015 University of Alabama news release

CreakyJoints, an online, nonprofit, patient support community with more than 80,000 members, has launched Arthritis Power, the first patient-led, patient-generated, patient-centered research registry for arthritis, bone, and inflammatory skin conditions. Focusing on rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis as well as numerous other musculoskeletal conditions, the goal of Arthritis Power is to securely collect health data from tens of thousands of arthritis patients to support future research.

achy joints

Arthritis Power includes a steering committee of patients called the Patient Governor Group that identifies research needs for study development and prioritizes research requests from the CreakyJoints patient community around the world. The new initiative is launched in partnership with the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Arthritis Power is supported in part by the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization created by Congress as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. Its overall goal is to enhance informed health-care decision-making and to improve health-care delivery.

Usually patients with rheumatoid, psoriatic arthritis or other chronic conditions learn about opportunities to participate in research from their health-care providers. Arthritis Power will offer a variety of clinical trial and other research opportunities, allowing patients to proactively decide when and how to participate. Securely donated data will be used by patients, universities, research facilities, and physicians to better understand how to fight these diseases and perhaps, contribute to finding elusive cures. Arthritis Power data will be collected using a smart phone, laptop, desktop or tablet where there is an Internet connection.

“Patient-centered research means that we can more effectively use big data to answer questions that are important to those living with these illnesses. This opportunity will produce results that help patients weigh the value of health-care options according to their personal circumstances, conditions, and preferences,” says Jeffrey Curtis, M.D., M.S., MPH, William J. Koopman Endowed Professor in Rheumatology and Immunology in the UAB Division of Clinical Immunology and Rheumatology.

 

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May 28, 2015 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , | Leave a comment

[e-book] Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases, 13th Edition “The Pink Book”

Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases, 13th Edition “The Pink Book”.

image of book cover as discussed in On the Cover section

This illustration depicts the influenza virus. Graphic created by Dan J. Higgins, Division of Communication Services, CDC

The 13th Edition Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases, a.k.a. the “Pink Book,” provides physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, pharmacists, and others with the most comprehensive information on routinely used vaccines and the diseases they prevent.

Typical chapters include a description of the disease, pathogenesis, clinical features, laboratory diagnosis, medical management, epidemiology, vaccination schedule and use, contraindications and precautions, adverse reactions following vaccination, vaccine storage and handling, and references.

Six appendices contain a wealth of reference materials including: vaccine minimum ages and intervals, current and discontinued vaccines, vaccine contents, foreign vaccine terms, and more.

To view online or download to print specific sections, see links below.

Order a bound copy from the Public Health Foundation Learning Resource CenterExternal Web Site Icon.

 

May 28, 2015 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

[news release] Iris scanners can now identify us from 40 feet away

Iris scanners can now identify us from 40 feet away.

From the 21 May 2015 article at The Conversation


Initiating iScan. Shutterstock

Biometric technologies are on the rise. By electronically recording data about individual’s physical attributes such as fingerprints or iris patterns, security and law enforcement services can quickly identify people with a high degree of accuracy.

The latest development in this field is the scanning of irises from a distance of up to 40 feet (12 metres) away. Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University in the US demonstrated they were able to use their iris recognition technology to identify drivers from an image of their eye captured from their vehicle’s side mirror.

The developers of this technology envisage that, as well as improving security, it will be more convenient for the individuals being identified. By using measurements of physiological characteristics, people no longer need security tokens or cumbersome passwords to identify themselves.

 

May 28, 2015 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Study: 23 pct of US adults with health coverage underinsured

Study: 23 pct of US adults with health coverage underinsured.
From the May 2015 Commonwealth Fund study

Abstract

New estimates from the Commonwealth Fund Biennial Health Insurance Survey, 2014, indicate that 23 percent of 19-to-64-year-old adults who were insured all year—or 31 million people—had such high out-of-pocket costs or deductibles relative to their incomes that they were underinsured. These estimates are statistically unchanged from 2010 and 2012, but nearly double those found in 2003 when the measure was first introduced in the survey. The share of continuously insured adults with high deductibles has tripled, rising from 3 percent in 2003 to 11 percent in 2014. Half (51%) of underinsured adults reported problems with medical bills or debt and more than two of five (44%) reported not getting needed care because of cost. Among adults who were paying off medical bills, half of underinsured adults and 41 percent of privately insured adults with high deductibles had debt loads of $4,000 or more.


BACKGROUND

The Affordable Care Act has transformed the health insurance options available to Americans who lack health benefits through a job. Numerous surveys have indicated that the law’s coverage expansions and protections have reduced the number of uninsured adults by as many as 17 million people.1

But Congress intended the Affordable Care Act to do more than expand access to insurance; it intended for the new coverage to allow people to get needed health care at an affordable cost. Accordingly, for marketplace plans, the law includes requirements like an essential health benefit package, cost-sharing subsidies for lower-income families, and out-of-pocket cost limits.2 For people covered by Medicaid, there is little or no cost-sharing in most states.

But most Americans—more than 150 million people—get their health insurance through employers.3 Prior to the Affordable Care Act, employer coverage was generally far more comprehensive than individual market coverage.4 However, premium cost pressures over the past decade have led companies to share increasing amounts of their health costs with workers, particularly in the form of higher deductibles.5

In this issue brief, we use a measure of “underinsurance” from the Commonwealth Fund’s Biennial Health Insurance Survey to examine trends from 2003 to 2014, focusing on how well health insurance protects people from medical costs. Adults in the survey are defined as underinsured if they had health insurance continuously for the proceeding 12 months but still had out-of-pocket costs or deductibles that were high relative to their incomes (see Box #1). The survey was fielded between July and December 2014. This means that we could not separately assess the effects of the Affordable Care Act on underinsurance because people who were insured all year in the survey had insurance that began before the law’s major coverage expansions and reforms went into effect. People who had new marketplace or Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act would not have had that coverage for a full 12 months, as it would have begun in January 2014 at the earliest. Similarly, people with individual market coverage who were insured all year would have spent all or part of the period in plans that did not yet reflect the consumer protections in the law.6

May 28, 2015 Posted by | health care | , , , , , | Leave a comment

[News release] Researchers identify mechanisms linking early adversity, disease later in life

Researchers identify mechanisms linking early adversity, disease later in life.

From the 20 May 2015 University of Georgia news release

May 20th, 2015 Author: Cal Powell  |  706-542-3536  |  More about Cal
Contact: Kandauda Wickrama  |  706-542-4926  | More about Kandauda

Athens, Ga. – Early socioeconomic adversity, such as poverty, low education and disadvantaged community, has both direct and indirect long-term effects on young adults’ cardio-metabolic disease risk, according to researchers within the University of Georgia College of Family and Consumer Sciences.

K.A.S. Wickrama, the Athletic Association Endowed Professor in human development and family science, and his research team explored a “resource focused model” examining the positive psychosocial resources—self-esteem, personality and educational attainment—linking adolescents’ early life experiences to young adults’ health outcomes as measured by nine bio-markers including blood pressure, blood glucose level and body mass index.

The research showed that in addition to early adversity’s direct impact on cardio-metabolic health, it also negatively influenced the development of these psychosocial resources, which, in turn, proved detrimental to disease risk, including diseases such as diabetes, heart disease or stroke.

The study included data from more than 12,000 young adults currently aged 25-34 who participated in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health over a 13-year period. Wickrama has published extensively from this data set.

“Youth in a poor family or poor community likely feel less valuable, have lower self-worth and lower self-esteem than youth in families with more socioeconomic capital,” Wickrama said. “Also, early socioeconomic adversity manifests itself directly in the form of impaired cognitive development and educational attainment.”

This connection between psychosocial resources and disease risk is likely due to multiple factors, researchers said, including neurological pathways and poor health behaviors.

Researchers also found gender differences relative to the association between psychosocial resources and cardio-metabolic risk.

The association was statistically significant for women but not for men, they noted. For men, researchers said, early adversity impairs development of psychosocial resources, but those impaired resources do not seem to lead to cardio-metabolic risk for young adults as it does for women.

The paper, “Early socioeconomic adversity, youth positive development and young adults’ cardio-metabolic disease risk,” appeared in the March issue of Health Psychology and is one of three recent papers on the subject produced by Wickrama’s research team.

Co-authors include Catherine Walker O’Neal, a postdoctoral research associate, and Tae Kyoung Lee, a doctoral candidate, both in the human development and family science department within the college.

Another paper, “Stressful life experiences in adolescence and cardio-metabolic risk factors in young adulthood,” was published online in February by the Journal of Adolescent Health.

Using a stress-focused model, the paper links early adversity to poor physical health outcomes based on stressful events that can lead to a rush into adulthood, such as teenage pregnancy or dropping out of high school.

“There is a physical effect on your body from being in these stressful environments,” O’Neal said. “This is a long-term effect that you really can’t easily overcome.”

Researchers refer to this phenomenon as a person’s allostatic load, or weathering.

“Think of a rock continually exposed to the elements day after day,” O’Neal said. “It gets weathered and worn down, and you can’t restore the rock to its original state. In the same way, recovering from the physical effects of these stressors is incredibly difficult.”

A third paper, “Stress and resource pathways connecting early socioeconomic adversity to young adults’ physical health risk,” was published in the Journal of Youth Adolescence late last year.

This paper shows that both the resource and stress pathways connecting early socioeconomic adversity to cardio-metabolic health operate independently.

Researchers suggested through these studies that vulnerable groups of children can be identified early for prevention and intervention efforts.

“I think our findings definitely could be very applicable to intervention and prevention work,” O’Neal said. “I think we show multiple intervening points and areas where you could step in and stop the cycle.”

An abstract of the Health Psychology paper is available at http://psycnet.apa.org/?&fa=main.doiLanding&doi=10.1037/hea0000208.

 

May 28, 2015 Posted by | environmental health | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Journal abstract] Hiding your true colors may make you feel morally tainted

Hiding your true colors may make you feel morally tainted.

From the abstract (Psychological Science, May 11)

The Moral Virtue of Authenticity

Abstract

May 28, 2015 Posted by | Psychology | , , , , , | Leave a comment

[News release] People tend to locate the self in the brain or the heart—and it affects their judgments and decisions

People tend to locate the self in the brain or the heart—and it affects their judgments and decisions.

From the 20 May 2015 Rice University news release

Whether people locate their sense of self in the brain or the heart can have a major influence on their decision-making, according to a new study by management and business experts at Rice University and Columbia University.

Overall, the study found people tend to locate the self in the brain.

The paper, “Who You Are Is Where You Are: Antecedents and Consequences of Locating the Self in the Brain or the Heart,” will be published in the journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes.

“We view our research as a first step toward reviving the debate about which part of our body contains the seat of the self – a debate that dates back to the ancient Greek philosophers,” said Hajo Adam, an assistant professor of management at Rice’s Jones Graduate School of Business. “Our findings demonstrate not only that the preference for the brain versus the heart as the location of the self systematically depends on a person’s self-construal — meaning the perceptions that individuals have about their thoughts, feelings and actions in relation to others — but also that the location of the self has important implications for people’s opinions on contentious medical issues as well as prosocial contributions.”

Adam co-authored the paper with Otilia Obodaru, an assistant professor of management at the Jones School, and Adam Galinsky, the Vikram S. Pandit Professor of Business and chair of the management division at Columbia’s business school.

The authors’ research consisted of eight studies exploring the antecedents and consequences of whether people locate their sense of self in the brain or the heart. Their hypothesis was that although people generally tend to locate their sense of self in the brain, this preference is significantly stronger for people with an independent self-construal than for people with an interdependent self-construal.

People with an independent self-construal tend to assert the autonomous nature of the self, realize their internal attributes and influence their environment. In pursuit of these self-relevant goals, these people often engage in thoughts, conversations and behaviors that are conceptually related to the brain. In contrast, people with an interdependent self-construal tend to be part of a group, maintain harmonious relationships and adjust to others. In pursuit of these self-relevant goals, these people often engage in thoughts, conversations and behaviors that are conceptually related not only to the brain, but also to the heart.

– See more at: http://news.rice.edu/2015/05/20/study-people-tend-to-locate-the-self-in-the-brain-or-the-heart/#sthash.QmCCnNEt.dpuf

May 28, 2015 Posted by | Psychology | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[News release] Gun violence restraining orders: A promising strategy to reduce gun violence in the US

Gun violence restraining orders: A promising strategy to reduce gun violence in the US.

From the 20 May 2015 Johns Hopkins news release

Law would give family members and law enforcement tool to temporarily remove guns from someone believed dangerous

Gun violence restraining orders (GVROs) are a promising strategy for reducing firearm homicide and suicide in the United States, and should be considered by states seeking to address gun violence, researchers from the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the University of California, Davis, argue in a new report.

The article is being published online in Behavioral Sciences and the Law on May 20.

GVROs allow family members and intimate partners who believe a relative’s dangerous behavior may lead to violence to request an order from a civil court authorizing law enforcement to remove any guns in the individual’s possession, and to prohibit new gun purchases for the duration of the order.

Three states have laws that authorize law enforcement to remove guns from someone identified as dangerous: Indiana, Connecticut and Texas. In 2014, California became the first state in the nation to allow family members and intimate partners to directly petition a judge to temporarily remove firearms from a family member if they believe there is a substantial likelihood that the family member is a significant danger to himself or herself or others in the near future. The law, passed by the California legislature, takes effect Jan. 1, 2016.

“GVROs allow family members or intimate partners who identify a pattern of dangerous behavior to intervene in advance of something bad happening,” says lead author Shannon Frattaroli, PhD, MPH, an associate professor with the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research. “Currently under federal law, those who have been involuntarily committed to inpatient treatment for mental illness or those who have been convicted of felonies are prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms, but there is no temporary prohibition based on dangerousness,” Frattaroli said. “The limitation of this approach is that firearm removals do not go into effect until an extreme event that results in a criminal justice or mental health system response has already occurred.”

 

May 28, 2015 Posted by | Public Health | , | Leave a comment

[News release] Savoring meals increases energy expenditure after meal intake

Savoring meals increases energy expenditure after meal intake.

From a May post at SciFeeds

897f1929savoringmeal.jpg

The benefits of eating slowly and chewing thoroughly have been proposed for over a century, but there has been little actual proof of the theory. Now, Naoyuki Hayashi and Yuka Hamada at Tokyo Institute of Technology have shown that, in the three-hour period after eating, energy expenditure is greater if the food was eaten slowly than if it was eaten quickly.

Read more …

May 28, 2015 Posted by | Nutrition | , | Leave a comment

   

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