Nobody Likes Being Lectured: Why Health Advice That Comes Out As ‘You Should’ Isn’t Paying Off
Physician Perri Klass weighs in with ideas explaining how lecturing patients about complicated attitudes surrounding eating, sleeping and exercising doesn't usually work and using motivational tools do help. In other public health news: travelers' illnesses, autism, obesity, cancer care, stress, sex, Ebola and more.
The New York Times:
Doctors, Is It O.K. If We Talk About Why Finger-Wagging Isn’t Working?
Doctors give a lot of very good advice. Over the years, my primary care doctors have suggested better eating habits, more exercise, improved sleep hygiene, not carrying such a heavy shoulder bag, even exercises to improve my posture. The problem is, I am not sure I have ever made any changes in my behavior as a direct result. That would not come as a surprise to Ken Resnicow, a professor at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. “Finger-wagging doesn’t work,” he said. (Klass, 5/6)
The New York Times:
When Travelers Bring Skin Infections Back As Souvenirs
A 5-year-old girl was brought to the emergency room at Evelina London Children’s Hospital with itchy, rather unsightly sores on both legs. She had recently returned from a weekslong trip to Sierra Leone, and the lesions, which first appeared three weeks into her stay there, had become larger and ulcerated. Diagnosis: cutaneous diphtheria, a disease rarely seen in many industrialized countries, including Britain and the United States, where most children are protected by the diphtheria toxoid vaccine, DTaP, and a booster shot of the tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis vaccine, Tdap. (Brody, 5/6)
The Washington Post:
Is Autism A Medical Condition Or Just A Difference? The Question Is Causing A Vitriolic Divide.
This year, London’s Southwark Playhouse announced the cast of a new play, “All in a Row.” It was instantly clear this would not be a typical family drama. The play unfolds the night before social services separates a boy named Laurence from his family. Unlike the other three characters, Laurence, a nonverbal autistic and sometimes aggressive 11-year-old, would be portrayed by a child-size puppet. When the play opened, a reviewer for the Guardian newspaper awarded it four stars, saying it had “warmth and truth.” On Twitter and beyond, theatergoers also offered praise. (Opar, 5/5)
Many Genes Contribute To Obesity, So Devising A DNA Test Is Difficult
Scientists who recently announced an experimental genetic test that can help predict obesity got immediate pushback from other researchers, who wonder whether it is really useful. The story behind this back-and-forth is, at its core, a question of when it's worth diving deep into DNA databanks when there's no obvious way to put that information into use. The basic facts are not in dispute. Human behavior and our obesity-promoting environment have led to a surge in this condition over the past few decades. Today about 40% of American adults are obese and even more are overweight. (Harris, 5/6)
The Washington Post:
How Palliative Care Is Helping Cancer Patients
When Tori Geib learned she had terminal metastatic breast cancer in 2016 on the week of her 30th birthday, she was automatically booked to see a palliative care coach at Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center in Columbus. There, in addition to receiving a targeted therapy pill to slow the spread of the cancer, she was offered a host of services that she says shaped her quality of life for the next three years: acupuncture, pastoral comfort, nutrition advice and pain expertise to control her nausea and back pain because the cancer had spread to her spine. She also saw a mental health counselor who helped her come to terms with the brutality of her diagnosis. (Richards, 5/6)
Survive Life's Deepest Stresses With These 8 Skills
Feel like you're living under a rain cloud? Life not going your way? Lots of us have a bit of Eeyore's angst and gloom. But here's the good news (sorry to be so cheery): You can be taught to have a more positive attitude. And — if you work at it — a positive outlook can lead to less anxiety and depression. The latest evidence comes from a new study of caregivers — all of whom had the stressful job of taking care of a loved one with dementia. The study found that following a five-week course, participants' depression scores decreased by 16 percent and their anxiety scores decreased by 14 percent. The findings were published in the current issue of Health Psychology. (Aubrey, 5/5)
The New York Times:
Dr. Ruth Says ‘Make Time’ For Sex. Millennials, She’s Looking At You.
People didn’t talk much about sex in the 1980s — at least not openly. So when a pint-size former Israeli sniper with a thick German accent began saying things like “premature ejaculation” and enter “from behind” on local radio — and later, television — people listened (closely). Dr. Ruth banned the word “frigid” on her show. She schooled Conan O’Brien on why “blue balls” was sexist — it’s a phrase for which there is no female equivalent — and suggested they create a companion term for women: “blue lips.” “It never caught on,” she said this week. (Bennett, 5/3)
The Associated Press:
Ebola Deaths Top 1,000 In Congo Amid Clinic Attacks
More than 1,000 people have died from Ebola in eastern Congo since August, the country’s health minister said on Friday, the second-worst outbreak of the disease in history behind the West African one in 2014-16 that killed more than 11,300. The toll came as hostility toward health workers continued to hamper efforts to contain the virus. Health Minister Oly Ilunga said that four deaths in the outbreak’s center, Katwa, had helped push the death toll to 1,008. Two more deaths were reported in the city of Butembo. The outbreak was declared almost nine months ago. (5/4)
The Long And Winding Road To Mental Health Care For Your Kid
For several months last spring and summer, my teen daughter, Caroline, experienced near-daily bouts of depression and debilitating panic attacks. During those episodes, she became extremely agitated, sobbing uncontrollably and aggressively rebuffing my attempts to comfort or reason with her. My daughter was in a dark place, and I was worried. But I have excellent health insurance, and I thought that would help me find a good therapist. (Wolfson, 5/3)