Job as remedy

Conservatives everywhere, rejoice!  At last, an expensive illness that can unemploymentbe “treated” by getting the patient a job.  Conservatives’ favorite rant about needy people – they just need to get a job – is vindicated and it’s even backed up with decent research.  Can we really turn the tide of the opiate addiction tsunami with jobs?  Sort of yes.  Sort of no.  Continue reading

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Stupid is as stupid dies

  • stupid
  • All foam, no beer
  • As smart as bait.
  • Nothing going on upstairs.
  • Hare-brained.

There are plenty of ways to insult someone who is dumb, and now we can add injury to insult – people of lower intelligence die younger.  And we have the science to prove it.  Continue reading

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Does this study make us look fat?

fat_dressWe are all weary of news about obesity, and here comes a rarity – an excellent study that uses pristine methods and accurate descriptions of the worldwide trends.  Sad to say, the message will likely get lost in the sound-bite translation.  Continue reading

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Discover: Antidote to Health Bullshit

New research published in The Lancet has uncovered an antidote to a widespread, expensive, and devastating illness –health bullshit disease.  Sufferers arebull_shit_meter susceptible to painless easy weight loss promises, herbal cures for cancer, and many employee wellness programs.  Unlike any other recent new technology in health, this one actually has potential to improve health and reduce costs.  What is this miracle antidote?  Continue reading

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Newton’s law goes to the hospital

To every action there is always opposed an equal newton_third_lawreaction.” Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica, 1687.

When Newton penned his laws of motion in the late 1600s, he was surely not thinking of surprise hospital inspections.  (Hospitals date back to 350 BCE, but hospital inspectors did not come about until 1951 when the Joint Commission on Hospitals was born.)  Nevertheless, his law can clearly be seen at work there: Medicare patients who had a hospital stay during an inspection week had a significantly lower risk of dying in the following 30 days, compared to similar patients who stayed during a non-inspection week.  (JAMA Internal Medicine paper.)  Continue reading

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Butterflies & Birth Control

Which of the following seems least ridiculous?chaos_theory

  • A butterfly flapping its wings can set off a hurricane.
  • Birth control pills and patches cause depression.

Clearly, the birth-control-pill-depression connection seems plausible yet it is very similar to the butterfly example.  It is a change in one thing that will travel over, under, around, and through many other complex systems, and lead to significant change in yet another system. (Kudos if you recognized the hurricane example from chaos theory.)  Continue reading

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NIH Budget Cut – Just what the doctor ordered?

The proposed 20% cut to the National Institutes of Health budget would spark much less furor if we clearly differentiated “health” from “medical care”.  More medical care – more advanced, more techy, more whatever – does not bring nih_researchmore health or longer lives, and it never will.  Continue reading

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More choices, less happiness

On a hot summer ice-cream-craving day, would you choose the shop that has ice_cream_choicesthree flavors of ice cream or the one with three dozen?  If you want to be satisfied with your choice, you go to – surprise – the one with three flavors.

Having too many choices leaves us with regrets. “Well, the one I took was okay but what about the other 35 that I didn’t?” (For a terrific book about choice architecture, see Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness.)

It works for ice cream, and for more complex products – such as (wait for it!) health insurance.  Continue reading

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It that-must-not-be-named

There is a creeping, stealthy (some might say sinister) movement that just might change the face of health insurance in the United States.  It will continue as long as we do not say its name aloud, like Lord What’s-His-Name at Hogwarts. hogwarts

The not-so-well-hidden health policy revolution is the concept of opening Medicare or Medicaid to all people.  A recent Atlantic article, “A Political Opening for Universal Health Care?” makes the scandalous assertion that the time may be ripe for this idea.  Even Republicans might be supportive, as they make good on their promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act.  Continue reading

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The Jetsons Meet Alternative Medicine

Don’t get me wrong – I can enjoy a kale mango turmeric smoothie as much as the next guy.  But I’m no hipster when it comes to alternative medicine.  The real name for it should be “unstudied medicine”, and the reason it is not studied comes down to dollars and cents:the_jetsons

No one makes enough money from apple cider vinegar (melts away extra pounds! cures heartburn!) or whatever else to fund a solid, scientific study. 

Continue reading

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