Is it ethical to incentivize “wellness”?

In an essay on medical ethics, Harald Schmidt explores the question: is it right for employers and health plans to offer incentives to employees/members to pursue health care that is not informed by evidence?  He uses as his example several large insurers paying young (younger than 50, even younger than 40 years), low-risk women to obtain mammograms.  The evidenceContinue reading “Is it ethical to incentivize “wellness”?”

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Can U pls look @ this?

The pediatrician-author-mom Perri Klass wrote a piece in this week’s Well column that will bring knowing smiles to many providers and parents reading this post. She writes about how many unofficial telemedicine consults she fields involving photos of various rashes, injuries and other physical findings taken by parents and/or teens with their mobile devices. She usesContinue reading “Can U pls look @ this?”

Rising death rates in young white adults due to overdoses

A New York Times analysis of CDC data released this week showed that, in contrast to falling death rates among black and Hispanic adults, drug overdoses are driving up the death rate of young white adults in the United States to levels not seen since the end of the AIDS epidemic more than two decades agoContinue reading “Rising death rates in young white adults due to overdoses”

The WSJ as purveyor of evidence on echinacea and flu

An article in this week’s Wall Street Journal‘s Health column–Can Echinacea Melt Winter’s Colds and Flu? –is illustrative of some limitations of the media’s role as a purveyor of scientific information.  Specifically, the writer opted to highlight two scientifically flawed trials, without mention of a  2014 Cochrane Database Systematic Review on the topic, a review that encompassed 24Continue reading “The WSJ as purveyor of evidence on echinacea and flu”

On Doctors Who Have Depression

Also appearing in the New York Times Upshot column, this Incidental Economist blog post on the prevalence of depression, addiction and suicidal thoughts among doctors provides a great overview of the literature.  The post is also compelling because the author draws on his own personal experience with this condition during his own residency, including this moving postContinue reading “On Doctors Who Have Depression”

Personalized preventive medicine

Much research and media attention have focused on personalized medicine.  The National Cancer Institute defines personalized medicine as “a form of medicine that uses information about a person’s genes, proteins, and environment to prevent, diagnose, and treat disease.”  Although this definition includes prevention, much of the focus of personalized medicine has been on treatments, with aContinue reading “Personalized preventive medicine”

2015 Dietary Guidelines: a gallon of lobbying and a pinch of nutrition science?

New federal dietary guidelines issued last week by the Agriculture and Health and Human Services Departments, urge Americans to drastically cut back on sugar, and for the first time have singled out teenage boys and men for eating too much meat, chicken and eggs. The biggest change is restricting added sugar: Americans consume up to 22 teaspoons aContinue reading “2015 Dietary Guidelines: a gallon of lobbying and a pinch of nutrition science?”

Health research humor alert!

The end-of-year edition of the Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice published “Maternal kisses are not effective in alleviating minor childhood injuries (boo-boos): a randomized, controlled and blinded study” (also available here) on behalf of the Study of Maternal and Child Kissing (SMACK) Working Group, a group funded by a (fake) device company that sells ointments andContinue reading “Health research humor alert!”

Limerick version of In Defense of Food

This poem is inspired by Michael Pollan’s PBS documentary In Defense of Food, available here for free viewing until the end of the month: The wisdom Michael Pollan incants– Eat food, not too much, mostly plants— Is simple declared Yet we’re easily ensnared By the food industry’s science-y dance. So here are some other wise rulesContinue reading “Limerick version of In Defense of Food”