Preventing Alzheimer’s: 4 ways to cut your risk

Which would you rather have during old age: a sharp mind or good physical health? The assumption behind this conundrum may be missing the point— that with healthy lifestyle choices, you can have both.

More than 5 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, and one-third of American seniors die with the disease or another form of dementia. For those elders and the people who love them, the forgetfulness and slow descent into complete dependency can not only be costly and heartbreaking, but frightening, particularly when relatives are concerned about inheriting the disease themselves.

The genetic factor

There’s a lot that scientists still don’t know about Alzheimer’s, and that includes how much of a person’s risk depends on genetics.

When diagnosing early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, which the National Institute on Aging estimates affects less than 5 percent of all Alzheimer’s patients, doctors have observed a genetic link. Early-onset, which occurs in people ages 30 to 60, is due to one of several genetic mutations. If one of your parents carries the mutation for the disease, you have a 50 percent chance of inheriting it. If inherited, it’s likely that you’ll develop early-onset Alzheimer’s.

Nonetheless, if a grandparent or loved on in your family developed Alzheimer’s later in life, your risks are less understood. More

 

 

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Rejecting unsuitable suitors is easier said than done

You’re at a slumber party with your friends. One friend asks “if a guy at school asked you out, but you weren’t really attracted to him, would you go?” You laugh and shake your head no: “Why would I, if he’s not my type?”

Or imagine you’re at school, sitting in the cafeteria. A guy who you think is attractive but who has some unsuitable personality traits comes up and asks you out. You say yes, even though what you really meant to say was no. “Why did I do that?” you wonder.

According to new research from the University of Toronto and Yale University, rejecting unsuitable romantic partners is easy in hypothetical situations, but not so when considering a face-to-face proposition.

“When actually faced with a potential date, we don’t like to reject a person and make them feel bad, which is not necessarily something that people anticipate when they imagine making these choices,” says the study’s lead researcher, psychology PhD candidate Samantha Joel. “The fact that we underestimate how concerned we’ll feel about hurting the other person’s feelings may help to explain why people’s dating decisions often don’t match up with their stated dating preferences.”

The study came in two parts. In the first, participants completed their own dating profile. Then they were given three profiles which supposedly belonged to other participants. Participants were split into real and hypothetical situations. Those in the real situation were told that the potential dates were in the lab next door and could meet them. Those in the hypothetical situation were told that the potential dates were unavailable, but to imagine the possibility of meeting them.

Participants selected their favourite profile of the three. They were then given additional information about the potential date – including a photo of an unattractive person, and a completed questionnaire that suggested the potential date wanted to meet them. The participants completed the same questionnaire: those in the real situation were told that it would be presented to the potential date and those in the hypothetical situation were to imagine the potential date receiving it.

The researchers found that those in the real situation were more likely to accept the date from the unattractive suitor. When asked, the participants said they were concerned about hurting the potential dates’ feelings.

In the second part of the study, the researchers surveyed participants’ willingness to accept dates with individuals whose qualities or attributes were undesirable because of habits or traits, rather than physical unattractiveness. These deal-breaking attributes included, for example, opposite political or religious views. Instead of being presented with photos, participants received a questionnaire that suggested that their chosen dates were incompatible with them, based on prior reports they gave. They then filled out the same questionnaire and were told it would be presented to the potential date. Again, those in the hypothetical situation were more likely to reject the dates than those considering a face-to-face proposition.

“I think it’s incredible that people care so much about not hurting the feelings of potential dates who they haven’t even met if they think they’ll actually meet them,” says Joel. “Next, I’d like to explore how much this concern might come into play when people make later, perhaps more serious relationship decisions.”

The study “People overestimate their willingness to reject potential romantic partners by overlooking their concern for other people” was recently published in Psychological Science. Source

Posted in Human Behavior: Relationships | Leave a comment

Hypoallergenic labels not regulated by the FDA, often wrong

(Reuters Health) – Products for kids with itchy skin that are labeled hypoallergenic often contain ingredients that can cause allergic reactions, a recent study found.

The “hypoallergenic” label is not regulated by the FDA, said Carsten Hamann, a medical student at the Loma Linda University School of Medicine in California and the lead researcher on the study.

He and his colleagues tested products that might be used by kids with eczema, which affects 17.8 million people in the U.S., according to the National Eczema Association. Patients have patches of red, itchy skin, often on the arms, legs, cheeks, and behind the ears.

“Kids who have eczema or atopic dermatitis use more lotions and creams and ointments, etc. Ostensibly, their caregivers who purchase these products to use on the kids’ skin, give preference to products using these meaningless marketing terms,” Hamann told Reuters Health in an email.

Doctors generally advise people with eczema to apply moisturizer to inflamed areas of skin. But people with eczema tend to have a higher risk of so-called “contact allergies.” That is, they may have allergic reactions to substances that come in contact with their skin, including fragrances, preservatives, and other kinds of chemicals. Source

 

Posted in Dermatology: Contact Dermatitis, Health Care: Medical Errors | Leave a comment

Doubling saturated fat in the diet does not increase saturated fat in blood

New research sponsored by dairy, beef, and egg industries links diabetes, heart disease risk to diet high in carbs, not fat

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Doubling or even nearly tripling saturated fat in the diet does not drive up total levels of saturated fat in the blood, according to a controlled diet study.

However, increasing levels of carbohydrates in the diet during the study promoted a steady increase in the blood of a fatty acid linked to an elevated risk for diabetes and heart disease.

The finding “challenges the conventional wisdom that has demonized saturated fat and extends our knowledge of why dietary saturated fat doesn’t correlate with disease,” said senior author Jeff Volek, a professor of human sciences at The Ohio State University.

In the study, participants were fed six three-week diets that progressively increased carbs while simultaneously reducing total fat and saturated fat, keeping calories and protein the same.

The researchers found that total saturated fat in the blood did not increase – and went down in most people – despite being increased in the diet when carbs were reduced. Palmitoleic acid, a fatty acid associated with unhealthy metabolism of carbohydrates that can promote disease, went down with low-carb intake and gradually increased as carbs were re-introduced to the study diet.

“It’s unusual for a marker to track so closely with carbohydrate intake, making this a unique and clinically significant finding. As you increase carbs, this marker predictably goes up,” Volek said.

When that marker increases, he said, it is a signal that an increasing proportion of carbs are being converted to fat instead of being burned as fuel. Reducing carbs and adding fat to the diet in a well-formulated way, on the other hand, ensures the body will promptly burn the saturated fat as fuel – so it won’t be stored.

“When you consume a very low-carb diet your body preferentially burns saturated fat,” Volek said. “We had people eat 2 times more saturated fat than they had been eating before entering the study, yet when we measured saturated fat in their blood, it went down in the majority of people. Other traditional risk markers improved, as well.”

The research is published in the Nov. 21, 2014, issue of the journal PLOS ONE.

Volek and colleagues recruited 16 adults for the study, all of whom had metabolic syndrome, defined as the presence of at least three of five factors that increase the risk for heart disease and diabetes (excess belly fat, elevated blood pressure, low “good” cholesterol, insulin resistance or glucose intolerance, and high triglycerides).

After getting them to a baseline reduced-carb diet for three weeks, researchers fed the participants the exact same diets, which changed every three weeks, for 18 weeks. The diets started with 47 grams of carbs and 84 grams of saturated fat each day, and ended with 346 carb grams per day and 32 grams daily of saturated fat.

Each day’s meals added up to 2,500 calories and included about 130 grams of protein. The highest-carb level represented 55 percent of daily calories, which roughly matches the estimated daily percentage of energy provided by carbs in the American diet.

Compared to baseline, there were significant improvements in blood glucose, insulin and blood pressure that were similar across diets. Participants, on average, lost almost 22 pounds by the end of the trial.

When looking at palmitoleic acid, however, the scientists found that it consistently decreased on the high-fat/low-carb diet in all participants. The fatty acid then showed a step-wise increase in concentration in the blood as carbs were progressively added to the diet. Elevated levels of palmitoleic acid in the blood have been linked to obesity and higher risk for inflammation, insulin resistance, impaired glucose tolerance, metabolic syndrome, type-2 diabetes, heart disease and prostate cancer.

The study does not address what happens to palmitoleic acid levels when high carbs are combined with a diet high in saturated fat. Instead, Volek hoped to identify the carb-intake point at which participants began to store fat.

“That turned out to be highly variable,” he said. “Everyone showed increased palmitoleic acid levels as carbs increased, but values varied widely between individuals, especially at the highest carb intake. This is consistent with the idea that people vary widely in their tolerance to carbohydrates.”

Participants’ existing health risks were not a factor in the study because everyone ate the exact same diet for 18 weeks. Their bodies’ responses to the food were the focus of the work.

“There is widespread misunderstanding about saturated fat. In population studies, there’s clearly no association of dietary saturated fat and heart disease, yet dietary guidelines continue to advocate restriction of saturated fat. That’s not scientific and not smart,” Volek said. “But studies measuring saturated fat in the blood and risk for heart disease show there is an association. Having a lot of saturated fat in your body is not a good thing. The question is, what causes people to store more saturated fat in their blood, or membranes, or tissues?

“People believe ‘you are what you eat,’ but in reality, you are what you save from what you eat,” he said. “The point is you don’t necessarily save the saturated fat that you eat. And the primary regulator of what you save in terms of fat is the carbohydrate in your diet. Since more than half of Americans show some signs of carb intolerance, it makes more sense to focus on carb restriction than fat restriction.”

Volek sees this palmitoleic acid as a potential biomarker to signal when the body is converting carbs to fat, an early event that contributes to what he calls “metabolic mayhem.”

“There is no magical carb level, no cookie-cutter approach to diet, that works for everyone,” he said. “There’s a lot of interest in personalized nutrition, and using a dynamically changing biomarker could provide some index as to how the body is processing carbohydrates.”

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This work was supported by the Dairy Research Institute, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the Egg Nutrition Center.

Co-authors include Brittanie Volk, Laura Kunces, Brian Kupchak, Catherine Saenz, Juan Artistizabal and Maria Luz Fernandez of the University of Connecticut; Daniel Freidenreich, Richard Bruno, Carl Maresh and William Kraemer of Ohio State’s Department of Human Sciences; and Stephen Phinney of the University of California, Davis. Source

Posted in Nutrition: Carbohydrates, Nutrition: Fat, Nutrition: Food: Dairy Products, Nutrition: Food: Eggs, Nutrition: Food: Meat, Nutrition: Information: Confusion | Leave a comment

Overwhelmed & Rushed? Do a Stress Assess

By Leo Babauta

If you find yourself rushing from task to task, worried that you don’t have time to do everything …

If you are feeling a high amount of stress and are just overwhelmed by the number of things you have to do …

You might try doing a Stress Assess.

It’s something I just did for myself, because I woke up and had a million things to do, and another million things swarming around in my head. I lay there in bed for 20 minutes, just thinking of all the things I needed to do, and some problems that were stressing me out.

And then I decided to make a list: everything in my life that’s on my mind or causing me some stress. My projects, but also little requests and financial tasks and personal problems that need my mental space. It was great to have the list written out, so I could see everything instead of having them all swirl around in my head.

Once I had a list, I made a small note next to each one — what I was going to do to resolve them. This immediately made me feel better.

Then I started taking action: I eliminated some things, canceled others, postponed others, and decided to do what I could to resolve the remaining problems.

I cleared space on my schedule for the remaining things, and lifted a huge burden off myself.

What a relief!

A Stress Assess is not a tool that will end all your stress, nor teach you how to deal with stress. But it is a good, quick way to relieve a lot of the things that are causing you to rush around, to feel like you don’t have enough time, and to lose focus.
How to Do the Stress Assess

Here’s the method:

Make a list. Put everything that’s on your mind, that’s causing you stress, on one list (text document or paper list): current or upcoming projects, small tasks, errands, chores, trips, relationship problems, parties, meetings, holiday plans, shopping you need to do, emails that are weighing on your mind, a load of incoming requests, etc. No need to order them, just throw everything on the list. It doesn’t need to be complete — as you think of other things, you can add them.

Make notes. Put a little note next to each item — can you eliminate the item? Can you ask someone to cancel? Can you get out of a commitment? Can you just let something go? Can you postpone something until you have more time? Can you ask someone else to do it or get help? Or is this a high-priority task that needs to go on your Must Do List today or tomorrow? Does it deserve a block on your schedule? Can you block off some time today to churn through the smaller tasks on the list? Also: do you need to have a conversation with someone, to resolve a conflict that’s bothering you? Just make quick notes next to each, for how you’ll resolve the item.

Prefer elimination. If you can get the item off the list, try to cancel, eliminate, delegate, or at least postpone. Try to clear up space, so that you have less on your plate. Take a few minutes now to email or call people to cancel or postpone. This will give you the mental and time space you need.

Resolve to resolve. For the rest of the items that aren’t eliminated or postponed, make time to deal with them. Block off time in your schedule to do your high-priority tasks, to resolve issues, to churn through the smaller tasks that can’t be eliminated.

Note: If you don’t know how to resolve an item because it seems too big or complex … try breaking it down. It might actually be 3-4 items instead of one big one, and each of those items might be easier to resolve.

This entire process might take you 20 minutes, or a little longer if you don’t make quick decisions. But it’s worth the extra time, because you’ll be clearing up space and getting your head straight. You’ll be relieving yourself of burdens, and finding focus. That’s worth 20 minutes of your life. Source

Posted in Human Behavior: Perfectionism, Human Behavior: Stress, Human Behavior: Work Ethic, Workaholism | Leave a comment

Anti-HIV Medicines Can Cause Damage to Fetal Hearts

Newswise — A study by a Wayne State University and Children’s Hospital of Michigan, Detroit Medical Center research team is shedding new light on the troubling question of whether the drugs often given to HIV-positive pregnant women can cause significant long-term heart problems for the non-HIV-infected babies they carry.

The study recently published in the journal AIDS shows that while the HIV medications have been successful in helping to prevent the transmission of the virus from mother to infant, they are associated with persistently impaired development of heart muscle and reduced heart performance in non-HIV-infected children whose mothers received the medicines years earlier.

“What our study indicates is that there’s potentially a long-term price to be paid for protecting the children of HIV-infected mothers from the virus,” said Steven E. Lipshultz, M.D., pediatrician-in-chief at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan and chair of pediatrics for the Wayne State University School of Medicine. Dr. Lipshultz is a specialist in the study of long-term toxic cardiac effects among children affected by cancer and HIV drug therapies.

“These medicines have been very effective at reducing the rate of transmission of HIV from mother to child,” added Dr. Lipshultz, the lead author of the study, “but the findings we’ve just published show clearly that further investigation of their long-term impact on the heart health of the children involved is needed.

“Thanks to the new anti-HIV medications, the rate of transmission has been lowered from 26 percent to less than 1 percent during the past few decades, and that has been a miracle of life for the children involved. Still, we don’t want to be protecting these children from one disease, only to give them another one.”

The study compared heart development and long-term heart functioning in 428 uninfected children of HIV-infected mothers to children who had not been exposed to HIV from 2007 to 2012. The results pointed to a significant association between lagging heart muscle development and impaired pumping ability in the children of the HIV-infected mothers who had received the medications.

“These findings clearly indicate the need for further study,” said Dr. Lipshultz, while pointing to one of the study’s key conclusions: “Subclinical differences in left ventricular structure and function with specific in-utero antiviral exposures indicate the need for a longitudinal study to assess long-term cardiac risk and cardiac monitoring recommendations.”

Dr. Lipshultz, a nationally recognized expert on pediatric cardiac care who 20 years ago led the effort to found the nation’s only registry of pediatric cardiomyopathy, said the study is a “compelling example of how clinical research can be effective in helping to shed light on complex problems in pediatric health care.”

The Children’s Research Center of Michigan team, located at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan, involved with this National Institutes of Health-supported multicenter study includes James Wilkinson, M.D., associate director of the center and professor of pediatrics, and research assistant Joslyn Westphal, M.P.H.

Dr. Wilkinson stressed the study “raises the question of how much do we know about the long-term safety of drugs given to children?” He is concerned that “pediatric drug studies remain particularly limited. The lack of information about the long-term safety of drugs prescribed for children is a special worry, both for drugs that may be used for decades for chronic conditions and for drugs for which short-term use may be found to harm children’s growth and development months or years later. Although these are effective medicines for children, in order to understand their safety, long-term pediatric safety studies are needed to potentially allow future options for improvement if serious safety risks are identified.”

“At the end of the day, our goal at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan is to provide the very best possible care for our patients,” Dr. Lipshultz said. “Studies like this one are crucially important for meeting that challenge.”

The PHACS (Pediatric HIV/AIDS Cohort Study) is the largest US government study of pediatric HIV and AIDS with over 30 centers. It is a trans-National Institutes of Health study with 10 NIH institutes and centers participating and funding PHACS. Since PHACS’s inception more than a decade ago, Dr. Lipshultz has been the NIH-funded cardiology leader of PHACS, a member of its scientific leadership group, and the inaugural and only chair of the NIH PHACS Cardiovascular Task Force, the group which led this study.

Posted in Health Care: Medical Errors, HIV | Leave a comment

Obesity-attributable absenteeism among US workers costs the nation more than $8 billion annually

November 21, 2014 — A study conducted by researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health shows that obesity costs the U.S. $8.65 billion per year as a result of absenteeism in the workplace –more than 9% of all absenteeism costs. The consequences of obesity among the working population go beyond healthcare and create a financial challenge not only for the nation but for individual states as well. Findings are published online in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

The study is the first to provide state-level estimates of obesity-attributable costs of absenteeism among working adults in the U.S. In Wisconsin, for example, costs for obesity-related absences from the job cost the state $14.4 million; in California this figure rose to $907 million. “In areas where local wage level is higher or have high burden of obesity, the value of lost productivity really adds up,” said Y. Claire Wang, MD, ScD, co-director of the Obesity Prevention Initiative at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, and senior author.

To calculate the loss in worker productivity, researchers used nationally representative data about height, weight, and missed workdays for health reasons among 14,975 people from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey for the years 1998 to 2008. They also analyzed body mass index (BMI) data for 2012 by state for more than 100,000 people using the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.

“Obesity and healthy-living behaviors are often seen as just individual choices,” noted Wang, Mailman School associate professor of Health Policy and Management. “But our paper really highlights the fact that the burden is beyond just individual choices.”

Previous studies of this kind tend to focus on healthcare cost resulted from treating obesity-related illness which is only one dimension of its burden to the society. For instance, in 2011, Wang and her colleagues published a study in Lancet estimating a $66 billion higher medical expenditure by 2030 if the US trend in obesity continues. However, in thinking about obesity, especially severe obesity, as a threat to a competitive, healthy workforce, the authors present this problem as a priority from an economic standpoint. “Healthy community and healthy workers mean business.” Wang said.

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The study was supported by the National Cancer Institute (1R01CA172814-01).

Co-authors are Tatiana Andreyeva, PhD, director of economic initiatives of the Rudd Center at Yale University’s University’s Institution for Social and Policy Studies; and Joerg Luedicke of StataCorp. Source

Posted in Corporate Wellness, Health Care: Costs, Obesity, Workplace Issues | Leave a comment

Atrial fibrillation drug digoxin (Digox, Lanoxin) associated with higher risk of death and hospitalization

OAKLAND, Calif., Nov. 21, 2014 — Digoxin, a drug commonly used to treat heart conditions, was associated with a 71 percent higher risk of death and a 63 percent higher risk of hospitalization among adults with diagnosed atrial fibrillation and no evidence of heart failure, according to a Kaiser Permanente study that appears in the current online issue of Circulation: Arrhythmia and Electrophysiology.

Digoxin is a drug derived from digitalis, which has been used for more than a century for heart-rate control in patients with atrial fibrillation, and it remains commonly used for this purpose worldwide. Current clinical practice guidelines for the management of atrial fibrillation recommend the use of digoxin alone for resting heart-rate control in sedentary individuals.

“Our findings suggest that the use of digoxin should be re-evaluated for the treatment of atrial fibrillation in contemporary clinical practice,” said study co-author Anthony Steimle, MD, Chief of Cardiology at Kaiser Permanente Santa Clara Medical Center. “Given the other options available for heart-rate control, digoxin should be used with caution in the management of atrial fibrillation, especially in the absence of symptomatic systolic heart failure.”

The results of this study follow on the findings by many of the same investigators in a 2013 study that revealed digoxin was associated with a 72 percent higher rate of death among adults with newly diagnosed systolic heart failure.

The current study was conducted between Jan. 1, 2006 and June 30, 2009 among almost 15,000 adults within Kaiser Permanente’s Northern and Southern California regions who had recently diagnosed atrial fibrillation and no prior heart failure or digoxin use. Researchers examined the independent association between newly initiated digoxin use and the risks of death and hospitalization.

During the study period, 4,858 or 17.8 percent of the participants initiated digoxin use. There were 1,140 deaths among the study cohort, with a significantly higher rate of death in digoxin users compared with non-users (8.3 vs. 4.9 per 100 person years). At the same time, there were 8,456 hospitalizations for any cause, and the rate of hospitalization was higher for patients who received digoxin compared with those who did not (60.1 vs. 37.2 per 100 person years).

“Digoxin remains commonly used for rate control in atrial fibrillation, but very limited data exist to support this practice — mostly small, older clinical studies with very limited follow-up that did not assess the long-term effects of digoxin on mortality or hospitalization,” said Alan S. Go, MD, senior author of the study and research scientist at the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, California.

“In contrast, this study included the largest and most diverse sample of adults with incident atrial fibrillation not complicated by heart failure treated in clinical practice reported to date, with results that were consistent across age and gender,” said Dr. Go. “We believe these findings, which build on earlier work, have significant value in guiding clinical cardiology decision-making in regard to digoxin use in the modern era.”

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Other authors on the study include James V. Freeman, MD, MPH of Yale University School of Medicine; Kristi Reynolds, PhD, and Teresa N. Harrison, SM, of the Department of Research and Evaluation, Kaiser Permanente Southern California; Margaret Fang, MD, MPH, of the University of California, San Francisco; Natalia Udaltsova, PhD, and Niela K. Pomernacki, BA, of the Division of Research, Kaiser Permanente Northern California; Leila H. Borowsky, MPH, of Massachusetts General Hospital; and Daniel E. Singer, MD, of Harvard Medical School.

The study was supported by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and the National Institutes of Health [RC2 HL101589 and U19 HL91179], and the American Heart Association Pharmaceutical Roundtable-Spina Cardiovascular Outcomes Research Center program [0875162N]. Source

Posted in Digoxin, Health Care: Medical Errors, Heart Health: Atrial Fibrillation | Leave a comment

Employees of small, locally owned businesses have more company loyalty, Baylor study finds

Employees who work at small, locally owned businesses have the highest level of loyalty to their employers — and for rural workers, size and ownership of their company figure even more into their commitment than job satisfaction does, according to Baylor University researchers.

Higher levels of commitment are associated with less absenteeism, lower turnover and less seeking of jobs outside the company. The study — “Small, local and loyal: How firm attributes affect workers’ organizational commitment” — is published in the journal Local Economy.

“It’s an interesting time because of the shift toward big business and globalization. While large firms tend to provide higher earnings and more fringe benefits, there are still practical values of small and local businesses, including benefits to the community and to the individual, such as less income inequality, less population turnover, lower crime and more committed workers,” said lead author Katie Halbesleben, a doctoral student in Baylor’s department of sociology.

“When it comes to your job, it’s usually not just one thing that affects your commitment. You may say ‘I like my boss’ or ‘I am satisfied with what I do.’ Our study re-affirms that working for a small and local company is also an important factor that contributes to a worker’s commitment.”

Research findings are based on analysis of data from the Baylor Religion Survey, a nationally representative sample of 1,714 adults that includes information on workers’ attitudes, beliefs and practices. The survey was conducted by the Gallup Organization in fall 2010. Researchers analyzed data from 763 participants who had full- or part-time jobs, as well as a subset of 146 workers living in a rural area.

Small companies were defined as those with 1 to 49 employees, with all others categorized as large businesses. Among variables relating to work conditions were hours worked the week before and job satisfaction.

Respondents were asked to rate whether and how much they agreed with the following four statements:

  1. I really feel this organization’s problems are my own.
  2. I do not feel a strong sense of “belonging” to my organization.
  3. I do not feel “emotionally attached” to my organization.
  4. This organization has a great deal of personal meaning to me.

The study showed that:

  • More than half — 57.2 percent — of workers in a small firm scored in the highest commitment category, compared to 40.5 percent working for a large firm.
  • Ownership of the company also played a major role, with 56 percent of workers in locally owned firms having high commitment scores, compared to 38.7 percent in non-locally owned firms.
  • Commitment was strongest when individuals worked for a company that was both small and locally owned: 61.4 percent of those employed at such a business scored in the highest commitment category as opposed to 46.7 percent for large, local businesses.

While job satisfaction is the single factor most likely to determine an employee’s commitment, that was not the case with rural workers. For them, working for a company that was both small and locally owned was the greatest predictor for organizational commitment, Halbesleben said.

But “you can’t rule out other factors that may figure into that for rural workers,” she said. “It may be a matter of, ‘I have to be committed, because I don’t have many other job opportunities.'”

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Study co-author was Charles M. Tolbert, Ph.D., chair of the department of sociology in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences.

Funding was provided by USDA National Institute for Food and Agriculture and USDA National Research Initiative. Source

Posted in Human Behavior: Loyalty, Workplace Issues | Leave a comment

Trouble with your boss? Own it.

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Don’t get along with your boss? Your job performance may actually improve if the two of you can come to grips with the poor relationship.

A new study led by Michigan State University business scholars finds that workers are more motivated if they and their supervisors see eye-to-eye about a bad relationship than if they have different views about their relationship. The findings are published in the Academy of Management Journal.

“Seeing eye-to-eye about the employee-supervisor relationship is equally, if not more important than the actual quality of the relationship,” said Fadel Matta, lead investigator on the study and a management researcher in MSU’s Broad College of Business.

Past research suggests workers and their bosses often have differing views about the quality of their relationship. Matta and his fellow researchers set out to examine whether that affects actual work engagement, or motivation.

It does. According to the MSU-led study of 280 employees and their bosses, motivation suffered when an employee believed he or she had a good relationship with the boss but the boss saw it differently. The finding held when the flip side was true and the boss believed the relationship was good but the subordinate did not. The two were surveyed separately, meaning the boss did not necessarily know how the employee felt about him or her, and vice versa.

Interestingly, employee motivation was higher (and the employee was more apt to go above and beyond his or her basic job duties) when the worker and supervisor saw eye-to-eye about the relationship, even when it was poor.

The study examined a wide range of employees – from cashiers to senior managers – in a host of industries, including automotive, retail and financial services. The employees and bosses were surveyed separately.

It’s nearly impossible for a supervisor to have a good relationship with every employee — there’s only so much time and so many resources a boss can invest toward that goal — but at the same time it’s human inclination to want everyone to like you, Matta said.

Ultimately, it’s important that supervisors and workers don’t misrepresent how they feel about their relationship.

“Some people would say it’s better to fake it, but our results indicate that the opposite is true,” said Matta, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Management. “At the end of the day, it’s better for everyone to know where they stand and how they feel about each other.”

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His co-researchers are Brent Scott, associate professor of management at MSU; Donald Conlon, Eli Broad Professor of Management at MSU; and Joel Koopman, assistant professor at the University of Cincinnati. Source

Posted in Human Behavior: Conflict, Workplace Issues | Leave a comment

Violence against women and girls needs worldwide action: WHO

Current efforts to prevent violence against women and girls are inadequate, according to a new Series published in The Lancet. Estimates suggest that globally, 1 in 3 women has experienced either physical or sexual violence from their partner, and that 7% of women will experience sexual assault by a non-partner at some point in their lives.

Yet, despite increased global attention to violence perpetrated against women and girls, and recent advances in knowledge about how to tackle these abuses, levels of violence against women – including intimate partner violence, rape, female genital mutilation, trafficking, and forced marriages – remain unacceptably high, with serious consequences for victims’ physical and mental health. Conflict and other humanitarian crises may exacerbate ongoing violence.

Between 100 and 140 million girls and women worldwide have undergone female genital mutilation (FGM), with more than 3 million girls at risk of the practice every year in Africa alone. Some 70 million girls worldwide have been married before their eighteenth birthday, many against their will.

Although many countries have made substantial progress towards criminalising violence against women and promoting gender equality, the Series authors argue that governments and donors need to commit sufficient financial resources to ensure their verbal commitments translate into real change. Even where laws are progressive, many women and girls still suffer discrimination, experience violence, and lack access to vital health and legal services.

Action needed on causes of violence

Importantly, reviewing the latest evidence, the authors show that not enough is being done to prevent violence against women and girls from occurring in the first place. Although resources have grown to support women and girls in the aftermath of violence (e.g., access to justice and emergency care), research suggests that actions to tackle gender inequity and other root causes of violence are needed to prevent all forms of abuse, and thereby reduce violence overall.

“We must work towards achieving gender equality and preventing violence before it even starts.”

Professor Charlotte Watts, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, United Kingdom

“Globally, 1 in 3 women will experience intimate partner and/or sexual violence by non-partners in their lifetime, which shows that more investment needs to be made in prevention. We definitely need to strengthen services for women experiencing violence, but to make a real difference in the lives of women and girls, we must work towards achieving gender equality and preventing violence before it even starts,” explains Series co-lead Professor Charlotte Watts, founding Director of the Gender Violence and Health Centre at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, UK. “No magic wand will eliminate violence against women and girls. But evidence tells us that changes in attitudes and behaviours are possible, and can be achieved within less than a generation.”

Ultimately, say the authors, working with both the perpetrators of violence (men and boys) and women and girls will be essential to achieve lasting change, by transforming deeply entrenched societal norms on gender relations and the insidious belief that women are inferior.

Violence is often seen as a social and criminal justice problem, and not as a clinical or public health issue, but the health system has a crucial part to play both in treating the consequences of violence, and in preventing it.

“Health-care providers are often the first point of contact for women and girls experiencing violence,” says Series co-lead Dr Claudia Garcia-Moreno, a physician at WHO, Geneva, who coordinates research and policy on violence against women.

“Early identification of women and children subjected to violence and a supportive and effective response can improve women’s lives and wellbeing, and help them to access vital services. Health-care providers can send a powerful message – that violence is not only a social problem, but a dangerous, unhealthy, and harmful practice – and they can champion prevention efforts in the community. The health community is missing important opportunities to integrate violence programming meaningfully into public health initiatives on HIV/AIDS, adolescent health, maternal health, and mental health.”

Five key actions needed

The Series urges policy makers, health practitioners and donors worldwide to accelerate efforts to address violence against women and girls by taking 5 key actions. First, governments must allocate necessary resources to address violence against women as a priority, recognising it as a barrier to health and development.

Second, they must change discriminatory structures (laws, policies, institutions) that perpetuate inequality between women and men and foster violence.

Third, they must invest in promoting equality, non-violent behaviours and non-stigmatising support for survivors.

Fourth, they must strengthen the role of health, security, education, justice, and other relevant sectors by creating and implementing policies for prevention and response across these sectors, and integrating violence prevention and response into training efforts.

Finally, they must support research and programming to learn what interventions are effective and how to turn evidence into action.

According to Series co-ordinator, Dr Cathy Zimmerman, from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, UK, “We now have some promising findings to show what works to prevent violence. Our upcoming challenge is to expand this evidence on prevention and support responses to many more settings and forms of violence. Most importantly, we urgently need to turn this evidence into genuine action so that women and girls can live violence-free lives.”

In a comment accompanying the Series, former US President Jimmy Carter, founder of The Carter Center says, ”It is my hope that political and religious leaders will step forward and use their influence to communicate clearly that violence against women and girls must stop, that we are failing our societies, and that the time for leadership is now.”

The Series is published ahead of the 16 days of Activism against Gender Violence (Nov 25–Dec 10, 2014). Source

Posted in Domestic Violence, Human Behavior: Bias, Human Behavior: Violence, Women's Health, World Health | Leave a comment

For breast cancer patients, a new follow up model

Newswise — Public health researchers from the University of Adelaide have evaluated international breast cancer guidelines, finding that there is potential to improve surveillance of breast cancer survivors from both a patient and health system perspective.

International guidelines recommend annual follow-up mammograms for every woman after treatment for early breast cancer, regardless of the risk of her cancer returning. There is also no strong evidence to support annual mammography compared with other possible mammography schedules.

In a paper published in the journal Value in Health, researchers in the University’s School of Population Health demonstrate that for postmenopausal women with moderate prognosis early breast cancer, less frequent surveillance may be more cost-effective, especially for those older than 70 years.

“Due to early diagnosis and improved treatment, the number of breast cancer survivors is increasing. All of these women will need follow-up mammography to detect recurrent or new disease,” says the study’s co-author, Professor Jon Karnon.

“But while the diagnosis and treatment have significantly improved the outlook for many cancer patients, approaches to cancer surveillance haven’t changed.

“The results show that for younger postmenopausal women at moderate risk of breast cancer recurrence, annual follow-up screening for five years, with two yearly visits thereafter, appears to be cost-effective.

“For older women, a mammography schedule every two years is likely to be cost-effective, if women continue to attend follow-up mammography,” he says.

The researchers based their findings on health service data and simulation modelling, enabling them to predict the long-term costs and health outcomes of alternative mammography schedules for women, based on the women’s age and the features of their primary breast cancer.

“It’s clear to us that the current ‘one size fits all’ international guideline of annual follow-up mammography may not be necessary for all women with early breast cancer,” says study co-author Clinical Associate Professor Taryn Bessen.

“This work highlights the potential benefit of tailoring follow-up to the risk of recurrence, and the use of modelling methods to help guide clinical practice in an evidence-based and pragmatic manner.”

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New treatment for Marfan syndrome shows promise

An investigational treatment for Marfan syndrome is as effective as the standard therapy at slowing enlargement of the aorta, the large artery of the heart that delivers blood to the body, new research shows. The findings indicate a second treatment option for Marfan patients, who are at high risk of sudden death from tears in the aorta.

The results are being presented Nov. 18 at the American Heart Association’s annual meeting in Chicago and will appear online the same day in The New England Journal of Medicine.

“For years, standard medical therapy for Marfan syndrome consisted of giving patients beta blockers, which lower heart rate and blood pressure, reducing stress on the wall of the aorta,” said study co-author Alan C. Braverman, MD, a cardiologist at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. “This new study suggests that we have a second option for patients that appears to be as effective as standard treatment.”

The second option is Losartan, an angiotensin receptor blocker. Past research in mice and smaller clinical trials suggested that this class of drugs might actually be superior to beta blocker treatment for Marfan syndrome. Angiotensin receptor blockers commonly are prescribed to treat high blood pressure.

People with Marfan syndrome have weak connective tissues and tend to develop unusually long arms, legs and fingers. In addition to heart problems, patients often develop problems with the eyes, lungs, bones and joints. Patients with the condition are at high risk of sudden death from a tear in the aorta, also called an aortic dissection.

Though there is no cure for Marfan syndrome, treatment with beta blockers and preventive surgery to replace the section of the aorta adjacent to the heart has increased lifespan to near normal. But physicians have continued to look for more effective therapies, especially since some patients on beta blockers experience side effects such as tiredness and nausea.

So investigators in the Pediatric Heart Network of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), including Braverman and senior author Ronald V. Lacro, MD, a cardiologist at Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital, conducted a clinical trial comparing the beta blocker Atenolol with Losartan.

The study included 608 patients with Marfan syndrome at 21 medical centers nationwide. Patients were ages 6 months to 25 years and had enlarged aortas. Half of these participants were randomly given Losartan, the investigational treatment, and the other half received Atenolol, the standard therapy, but in higher doses than physicians typically prescribe to see if this would increase the beta blocker’s effectiveness.

After following participants for three years, the investigators reported no differences between the two groups in the growth rate of the aorta. They further observed similar rates of tears in the aorta, similar numbers of surgeries required to repair these tears and no difference in the number of deaths between the two groups.

“This trial demonstrated that Marfan patients treated with either Atenolol or Losartan had very slow rates of aortic growth, and each group tolerated their medications well,” said Braverman, who treats patients at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. “While beta blockers may be the gold standard for this condition, these results suggest we must use effective doses. This is also an important alternative therapy for the smaller number of patients who are intolerant to beta blockers.”

Braverman also pointed out that ongoing research, including clinical trials currently underway, will continue to shed light on the different effects of these drugs. Investigators would like to determine whether factors such as a patient’s genetic makeup, age and severity of disease favor one drug over the other, or a combination of the two.


This work was supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH),  grant numbers U01 HL068269, U01 HL068270, U01 HL068279, U01 HL068281, U01 HL068285, U01 HL068292, U01 HL068290, U01 HL068288 and U01 HL085057, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Office of Orphan Products Development. Additional support provided by The Marfan Foundation, Merck & Co. Inc., and Teva Canada Limited.

Lacro RV, et al for the Pediatric Heart Network Investigators. Atenolol versus Losartan in children and young adults with Marfan syndrome. The New England Journal of Medicine. Nov. 18, 2014. Source

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