The Minimum Wage and the Social Determinants of Mental Health

A new study in Health Economics shows a temporal association between Britain’s minimum wage law and substantially improved mental health of the low wage workers benefitting from the policy. Source: The Minimum Wage and the Social Determinants of Mental Health

Fall in life expectancy for white Americans

Newly released 2014 data from the National Center for Health Statistics on life expectancy showed a worrisome decline in life expectancy for whites in the US, to 78.8 years in 2014 from 78.9 in 2013. The good news is that, in contrast, life expectancy increased by 0.2 years for the Hispanic population (from 81.6 toContinue reading “Fall in life expectancy for white Americans”

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April no-fooling!

This week’s NY Times science section debunks several common misconceptions.  All are interesting reads: Misconception: Baby teeth don’t matter. I am leading with the one I hear most often at work. Dental caries (cavities) is the most common chronic illness of childhood, and this misconception is one reason why. (Actually: Neglecting baby teeth can set a childContinue reading “April no-fooling!”

Talking with children about political bullies

Columns on “talking to your children about XXX” appear after mass shootings, natural disasters and other disturbing news events. This election cycle’s extreme levels of bullying have inspired columns on talking with your children about Trump. These include The Parent-Child Discussion That So Many Dread: Donald Trump (New York Times) Telling our kids not toContinue reading “Talking with children about political bullies”

Avoid peanut allergy by early introduction of peanuts

A study released today in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that giving infants small amounts of peanut butter in their first year of life substantially reduced the prevalence of peanut allergy when compared to infants who avoided peanuts for their first year. The investigators found that the safeguard lasted for a year after the children stoppedContinue reading “Avoid peanut allergy by early introduction of peanuts”

Readmissions revisited

I am reposting  a post by Garret Johnson and Zoe Lyon, both research assistants for Dr. Ashish Jha at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (who also has a great post on risk-adjustment for readmissions.  The post eloquently explores an issue I’ve visited in a recent post: the importance of understanding the diverseContinue reading “Readmissions revisited”

Guns, Drugs and Cars

This week’s JAMA released a comparison of major causes of injury death and how they contribute to the gap in life expectancy between the US and other high-income countries. Here are their findings: Men in the comparison countries had a life expectancy advantage of 2.2 years over US men (78.6 years vs 76.4 years), asContinue reading “Guns, Drugs and Cars”

Your Team Made the Super Bowl? Better Get a Flu Shot

As an emergency medicine physician, popular spectator events such as the Super Bowl usually mean little more than a temporary slowing in the rate of patient arrivals, especially among males, a phenomenon described in several countries in addition to the U.S. A recent Upshot post shows that the impact of widely popular spectator events extendsContinue reading “Your Team Made the Super Bowl? Better Get a Flu Shot”

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”?”

Will prevention ever be sexy?

As a pediatric emergency medicine provider, many of the reasons patients show up in the Emergency Department are related to symptoms–a fever, cough, rash, ache, nausea, runny nose, diarrhea, etc.  What is this causing it? What will make it go away as soon as possible? A commentary on NPR’s Shots series notes that, often, despiteContinue reading “Will prevention ever be sexy?”