Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

[Press release] ‘Patients-in-waiting’: Even the perceived risk of disease prompts intention to act

From the 3 December 2014 Yale press release

Bubble_rev01_YaleNews(Photo via Shutterstock)

With so much focus on risk factors for disease, we are living in an era of surveillance medicine, in which the emphasis on risk blurs the lines between health and illness, argue researchers at Yale and Syracuse universities in a study published in the December issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior.

Co-authors Rene Almeling, assistant professor of sociology at Yale, and Shana Kushner Gadarian, assistant professor of political science at Syracuse University, conducted a nationwide survey of American adults to determine if healthy people react to hypothetical genetic risk information by wanting to take action.

The main finding of the study was that as the level of risk increases from 20% to 80%, people are more likely to want to take action of all kinds, including seeking information about the disease, managing risk by taking medications or undergoing surgery, consulting family members, organizing finances, and participating in community and political events.

The results of the survey showed the importance of risk information even to healthy people, suggesting that the experience of living between health and disease is not just limited to those who are already patients. “Social scientists have argued that we are now treating risk as if it were a disease, and these results provide strong evidence for that claim,” says Almeling.

Participants were asked if they have a family member or close friend with the disease to which they had been assigned to assess whether experience with the disease increased their interest in taking action. The researchers were startled to find that seeing a disease up close did not make much difference; across the board, people responded to the hypothetical risk information by wanting to take action.

The survey questions were hypothetical, but the issues that the study raises are real, note the researchers, adding that people use risk information to make significant medical decisions, such as whether to increase the frequency of cancer screenings or undergo prophylactic surgery.

“It is extremely important for social scientists and clinicians to understand how people respond to these risk numbers and how they are being used to make important life decisions,” says Almeling. She added, “Studies like this can aid health care providers in offering genetic information with sufficient context to insure that people make the best decisions for themselves.”

Given that people throughout the population — from the healthy to the sick and those with and without a family history of disease — had largely identical reactions suggests that normality has indeed become precarious and that we are all patients-in-waiting, say the researchers.

 

December 9, 2014 Posted by | Psychology, Public Health | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Saving patients from Internet health information

Quite a few of my blog postings encourage folks to be well informed in making health care decisions.
However, I do agree with the author of this post – use your information to consult with a health care provider.  (I believe even e-patient Dave believes in discussing what he has researched with his physicians) These professionals at the very least are to be viewed as consultants. Please meet with them when considering taking strong actions, as discontinuing a medication based on what you read on the Internet (even trusted resources I quote !)

From the 2 February 2012 article by Stewart Segal, MD at KevinMD.com 

Lately, I get the feeling that I’m doing something wrong.  I’m supposed to form a partnership with my patients.  My patients are supposed to be the working partner and I’m supposed to be the consulting partner.

My job as the consulting partner is to offer sagely medical advice to the boss (working partner).  As a consultant, I’m supposed to help in the making of key decisions, find the appropriate tools to help make the boss healthy and happy, and instruct the boss in how to implement those tools should he decide to follow my advice.

As the boss and working partner, my patient is supposed to weigh his options, institute those procedures and treatments as prescribed and to keep me updated on how he is doing.  His job should also entail reviewing key health decisions with me prior to making changes in his overall healthcare.

Lately, my patients have been making unilateral decisions.  In other words, they have not been consulting with me, their doc, prior to changing or stopping their medications or other treatments.  While it is well within their rights to institute or stop any medical intervention on their own, it is often wiser to utilize the services of a trained consultant/doc……

             Excerpt

HIMSS, and in many cases traditional health IT along with it, is experiencing something of a whirlwind. One force adding wind has been the fact that President Obama has funded EHR systems with meaningful use, and made it clear that the future of healthcare funding will take place at Accountable Care Organizations (ACO) that are paid to keep people healthy rather than to cover procedures when they are sick. It is hard to understate the importance of this. Meaningful Use and ACOs will do more to computerize medicine in five years than the previous 50 years without these incentive changes.

But in the same breath, we must admit that the healthcare system as a whole is strained and unable to meet the needs of millions of its patients. The new force in healthcare is peer to peer medicine. There are really only a few things that doctors provide to patients. They either provide treatment, or they provide facts, or perhaps, they provide context for those facts. More and more, patients are seeking facts and context for that information, from the Internet generally and other patients specifically. This can be dangerous, but when done correctly it can be revolutionary .

It’s not rocket science really; our culture has changed. Baby boomers still wonder if it is OK to discuss sexual issues in polite company. Their kids blog about their vasectomies. It’s not just that we blog about vasectomies. We read blogs about vasectomies and consider it normal….

For whatever reason, the epatient community centers around Twitter. More than likely this is because of the fundamentally open nature of this network. Although it is possible to “protect” tweets, most account holders tend to tweet to the whole world. If you are interested in a particular health-related issue, you can use Twitter to find the group of people who are discussing that issue. Twitter is a natural way for people who are connected by a common thought or issue to organize. Facebook, on the other hand, is about connecting with people you already know. The famous quote applies: “Facebook is about people you used to know; Twitter is about people you’d like to know better.” You could change that quote to read “Twitter is about people you’d like to know who have had vasectomies.”..

February 23, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Surprising Decline in Consumers Seeking Health Information

Figure 1

Surprising Decline in Consumers Seeking Health Information

Tracking Report No. 26
November 2011
Ha T. Tu

In 2010, 50 percent of American adults sought information about a personal health concern, down from 56 percent in 2007, according to a new national study from the Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC). The likelihood of people seeking information from the Internet and from friends and relatives changed little between 2007 and 2010, but their use of hardcopy books, magazines and newspapers dropped by nearly half to 18 percent. While the reduced tendency to seek health information applied to consumers across nearly all demographic categories, it was most pronounced for older Americans, people with chronic conditions and people with lower-education levels. Across all individual characteristics, education level remained the factor most strongly associated with consumers’ inclination to seek health information. Consumers who actively researched health concerns widely reported positive impacts: About three in five said the information affected their overall approach to maintaining their health, and a similar proportion said the information helped them to better understand how to treat an illness or condition.

November 30, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Public Health | , , , | Leave a comment

   

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