The inner lives of animals

Animals conceal sickness symptoms in certain social situations

Fish feel pain as much as other animals

Based on the author’s twenty-five years of experience as a veterinarian and veterinary behaviorist, The Soul of All Living Creatures delves into the inner lives of animals – from whales, wolves, and leopards to mice, dogs, and cats – and explores the relationships we forge with them.
As an emergency room clinician four years out of veterinary school, Dr. Vint Virga had a life-changing experience: he witnessed the power of simple human contact and compassion to affect the recovery of a dog struggling to survive after being hit by a car.  Observing firsthand the remarkably strong connection between humans and animals inspired him to explore the world from the viewpoint of animals and taught him to respect the kinship that connects us.

With The Soul of All Living Creatures, Virga draws from his decades in veterinary practice to reveal how, by striving to perceive the world as animals do, we can enrich our own appreciation of life, enhance our character, nurture our relationships, improve our communication with others, reorder our values, and deepen our grasp of spirituality.  Virga discerningly illuminates basic traits shared by both humans and animals and makes animal behavior meaningful, relevant, and easy to understand.  Insightful and eloquent, The Soul of All Living Creatures offers an intimate journey into the lives of our fellow creatures and a thought-provoking promise of what we can learn from spending time with them.

Source: Broadway Books


The Soul of All Living Creatures: What Animals Can Teach Us About Being Human

Posted in Animals, Animals: Cats, Animals: Dogs, Animals: Whales | Leave a comment

Facial features are the key to first impressions

Why first impressions are so important: new research

Even facts will not change first impressions

A new study by researchers in the Department of Psychology at the University of York shows that it is possible to accurately predict first impressions using measurements of physical features in everyday images of faces, such as those found on social media.

When we look at a picture of a face we rapidly form judgements about a person’s character, for example whether they are friendly, trustworthy or competent. Even though it is not clear how accurate they are, these first impressions can influence our subsequent behaviour (for example, judgements of competence based on facial images can predict election results). The impressions we create through images of our faces (“avatars” or “selfies”) are becoming more and more important in a world where we increasingly get to know one another online rather than in the flesh.

Previous research has shown that many different judgements can be boiled down to three distinct “dimensions”: approachability (do they want to help or harm me?), dominance (can they help or harm me?) and youthful-attractiveness (perhaps representing whether they’d be a good romantic partner – or a rival!).

To investigate the basis for these judgements the research team took ordinary photographs from the web and analyzed physical features of the faces to develop a model that could accurately predict first impressions. Each of 1,000 faces was described in terms of 65 different features such as “eye height”, “eyebrow width” and so on. By combining these measures the model could explain more than half of the variation in human raters’ social judgements of the same faces.

Reversing the process it was also possible to create new cartoon-like faces that produced predictable first impressions in a new set of judges. These images also illustrate the features that are associated with particular social judgements.

The study, published today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), shows how important faces and specific images of faces can be in creating a favourable or unfavourable first impression. It provides a scientific insight into the processes that underlie these judgements and perhaps into the instinctive expertise of those (such as casting directors, portrait photographers, picture editors and animators) who create and manipulate these impressions professionally.

Richard Vernon, a PhD student who was part of the research team, said: “Showing that even supposedly arbitrary features in a face can influence people’s perceptions suggests that careful choice of a photo could make (or break) others’ first impressions of you.”

Fellow PhD student, Clare Sutherland, said: “We make first impressions of others so intuitively that it seems effortless – I think it’s fascinating that we can pin this down with scientific models. I’m now looking at how these first impressions might change depending on different cultural or gender groups of perceivers or faces.”

Professor Andy Young, of the Department of Psychology at York, said: “Showing how these first impressions can be captured from very variable images of faces offers insight into how our brains achieve this seemingly remarkable perceptual feat.”

Dr Tom Hartley, who led the research with Professor Young, added: “In everyday life I am not conscious of the way faces and pictures of faces are influencing the way I interact with people. Whether in “real life” or online; it feels as if a person’s character is something I can just sense. These results show how heavily these impressions are influenced by visual features of the face – it’s quite an eye opener!”


Posted in Human Behavior: Body Language, Human Behavior: Charisma, Human Behavior: Intuition, Human Behavior: Perception, Human Behavior: Popularity | Leave a comment

Endurance runners more likely to die of heat stroke than heart condition

Fatigue during high intensity endurance exercise

Endurance athletes have high rate of gastrointestinal problems

Heat stroke is 10 times more likely than cardiac events to be life-threatening for runners during endurance races in warm climates, according to a study published today in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. The authors noted the findings may play a role in the ongoing debate over pre-participation ECG screenings for preventing sudden death in athletes by offering a new perspective on the greatest health risk for runners.

Two of the most recognized causes of sudden death during an endurance race are arrhythmic death, sudden death usually caused by undetected heart disease in a young and seemingly healthy person, and heat stroke; however, the authors noted sudden death from an undetected heart condition often receives more attention from the medical community and the media.

Due to the increasing popularity of races over 10 km (6.2 miles), or endurance races, researchers sought to determine how many life-threatening events during endurance races were caused by heat stroke compared to cardiac events. A life-threatening event was defined as an event requiring mechanical ventilation and hospitalization in an intensive care unit.

Researchers reviewed data on all deaths and urgent hospitalizations at 14 popular long-distance races in Tel Aviv from March 2007 to November 2013. Overall, 137,580 runners were studied. Only two serious cardiac events were reported during the time period and none were fatal or life threatening. In contrast, over the same period, there were 21 serious cases of heat stroke, including two that were fatal and 12 that were life-threatening.

Under Israeli sports law, ECG screening is required for participants who are organized in teams or associations, but not for individuals in public endurance races. Runners were only required to submit a personal statement confirming a state of good health. Researchers, therefore, asked 513 runners who were surveyed at the 2013 race whether they had undergone an ECG screening. Only 35 percent reported an ECG in the previous year and 46 percent said they had an ECG in the previous five years, reducing the possibility that the low number of cardiac events stemmed from at-risk runners being screened out before the race.

“This research shows that heat stroke is a real threat to marathon and long-distance runners; however, there are no clinical studies of potential strategies to prevent heat stroke during these types of events,” said Sami Viskin, MD, senior author of the study and a cardiologist at Tel Aviv Medical Center. “It’s important that clinicians educate runners on the ways to minimize their risk of heat stroke, including allowing 10-14 days to adjust to a warm climate, discouraging running if a person is ill or was recently ill because a pre-existing fever impairs the body’s ability to dissipate additional heat stress, and developing better methods of monitoring body core temperature during physical activity.”


Posted in Fitness: Endurance Training, Fitness: Running | Leave a comment

12 favorite kids’ foods that they can choke on

Some recent kids’ products that have been subject to recalls for choking hazards

Most parents never dream that their children’s favorite foods can pose choking hazards.

It happened to Landon Jones when he was 15 months old.  He was walking around eating a handful of nuts when a cashew became lodged in his bronchi (wind passage to his lung) causing wheezing and coughing.

“At the time, Landon had a cold so it was not obvious if the coughing was related to his illness or choking,” recalled his mother, Ula Jones.

Eventually, the nut in his bronchi was detected by his doctor and had to be removed in a delicate surgery under anesthesia.  Thankfully, the toddler made a full recovery.

“Landon’s situation is surprisingly common,” explained Landon’s surgeon, Dr. Nina Shapiro, a professor of head and neck surgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.  “In many kids, the food object passes down to their bronchi where it gets lodged and they present with coughing, wheezing, or even what might appear to be pneumonia.  At first, it is not always clear that the child has had a choking incident.”

In fact, it is food-not toys-that is the most common culprit of choking accidents in kids under 5 years of age.  More than 10,000 children visit emergency rooms each year due to choking on food.  While most of these events are not fatal, one child dies every five days from a food-choking accident.  The reasons have a lot to do with a child’s anatomy.

“Young children have underdeveloped swallowing mechanisms, immature teeth and narrow airways which put them at a higher risk for choking on food,” said Shapiro who is also the director of pediatric ear, nose and throat at Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA. “Plus, the diameter of a child’s airway is about the size of their pinky, so high-risk foods can easily block their tiny airways and prevent their ability to breathe.”

The list of high-risk foods for children under age 5 years includes many of kids’ favorites:

  • Cheese sticks
  • Chewing gum
  • Chunks of meat or cheese
  • Chunks of peanut butter
  • Chunks of raw vegetables
  • Dried fruit
  • Grapes
  • Hard or sticky candy and lollipops
  • Hot dogs
  • Nuts
  • Popcorn
  • Seeds such as pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds

“The good news is that not all high-risk foods should be completely avoided. Many are healthy for young children – as long as they are served in the right form,” added Shapiro.

Here are some tips:

  • Vegetables should be cooked and cut into small pieces.
  • Hot dogs and cheese sticks should be cut lengthwise, then widthwise, and then into the shape of small moons.
  • Grapes should be peeled and cut in half or quarters.
  • Nut butters should be spread thinly onto crackers or bread.
  • Young children should always be attended to by an adult when they eat and only eat developmentally appropriate foods.
  • Children should sit up straight and not play or run while eating.

“We cut all the foods and we are a lot more cautious,” said Landon’s mother. “We don’t feed him in the car and he is not going to have nuts for a really long time.”

If a child does choke and is unable to breathe, call 9-1-1 and perform the Heimlich maneuver.

Even if the child seems to choke but then coughs and appears fine, the object may have become lodged and the child should see a doctor.

To learn more, watch a video and download a free educational brochure, please visit


Posted in Pediatric Health: Injuries | Leave a comment

Running reduces risk of death regardless of duration, speed: Journal of the American College of Cardiology

Number of steps walked is more strongly associated with health than time spent walking

Walking can lower risk of heart-related conditions as much as running

Running fast has more to do with the force one applies to the ground, not how fast the legs move

Running for only a few minutes a day or at slow speeds may significantly reduce a person’s risk of death from cardiovascular disease compared to someone who does not run, according to a study published today in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Exercise is well-established as way to prevent heart disease and it is component of an overall healthy life, but it is unclear whether there are health benefits below the level of 75 minutes per week of vigorous-intensity activity, such as running, recommended by the U.S. government and World Health Organization.

Researchers studied 55,137 adults between the ages of 18 and 100 over a 15-year period to determine whether there is a relationship between running and longevity. Data was drawn from the Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study, where participants were asked to complete a questionnaire about their running habits. In the study period, 3,413 participants died, including 1,217 whose deaths were related to cardiovascular disease. In this population, 24 percent of the participants reported running as part of their leisure-time exercise.

Compared with non-runners, the runners had a 30 percent lower risk of death from all causes and a 45 percent lower risk of death from heart disease or stroke. Runners on average lived three years longer compared to non-runners. Also, to reduce mortality risk at a population level from a public health perspective, the authors concluded that promoting running is as important as preventing smoking, obesity or hypertension. The benefits were the same no matter how long, far, frequently or fast participants reported running. Benefits were also the same regardless of sex, age, body mass index, health conditions, smoking status or alcohol use.

The study showed that participants who ran less than 51 minutes, fewer than 6 miles, slower than 6 miles per hour, or only one to two times per week had a lower risk of dying compared to those who did not run. DC (Duck-chul) Lee, Ph.D., lead author of the study and an assistant professor in the Iowa State University Kinesiology Department in Ames, Iowa, said they found that runners who ran less than an hour per week have the same mortality benefits compared to runners who ran more than three hours per week. Thus, it is possible that the more may not be the better in relation to running and longevity.

Researchers also looked at running behavior patterns and found that those who persistently ran over a period of six years on average had the most significant benefits, with a 29 percent lower risk of death for any reason and 50 percent lower risk of death from heart disease or stroke.

“Since time is one of the strongest barriers to participate in physical activity, the study may motivate more people to start running and continue to run as an attainable health goal for mortality benefits,” Lee said. “Running may be a better exercise option than more moderate intensity exercises for healthy but sedentary people since it produces similar, if not greater, mortality benefits in five to 10 minutes compared to the 15 to 20 minutes per day of moderate intensity activity that many find too time consuming.”


Walking: A Complete Guide to the Complete Exercise

Posted in Exercise: Benefits, Exercise: Walking, Fitness: Running | Leave a comment

Preventing Depression From Age-Related Vision Loss

Elder care staff undertrained in psychosocial issues: Commonwealth Fund

New antidepressants increase risks, falls, stroke, epilepsy for elderly

About 2 million Americans age 50 and older have low vision due to age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a leading cause of vision loss. Millions more have early-stage AMD. The condition damages the macula, a spot near the center of the retina. As the disease progresses, it can cause a growing blurred area near the center of vision.

AMD makes everyday activities—like driving, reading, watching television, and housework—more difficult. It interferes with activities that were once fun and fulfilling, and makes it hard to get out and see friends or meet new people. As a result, up to 25% of people with bilateral AMD (in both eyes) develop clinical depression.

To address this problem, Dr. Barry Rovner at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia led a team testing an approach called behavior activation. The treatment helps people maximize their functional vision and engage in activities they enjoy, recognizing that loss of those activities can lead to depression. Maintaining an active social life is an important component of the approach.

The researchers recruited 188 participants with bilateral AMD. Participants were 84 years of age on average, and 70% were women. Half of the participants lived alone. All had a best-corrected vision of less than 20/70 (able to clearly see an object from 20 feet away that a person with normal vision sees at 70 feet away). Each had mild depressive symptoms and was considered at risk for developing clinical depression.

Optometrists first evaluated the participants and prescribed low-vision devices such as handheld magnifiers. Participants were then randomly split into 2 groups. One received behavior activation. Occupational therapists helped them use the low-vision devices, make changes around the home (such as using brighter lights and highlighting objects with high-contrast tape), increase social activities, and set and achieve personal goals by breaking them down into manageable steps. People in the second group met with a support therapist to talk about their vision loss and disability.

Both groups had 6 hour-long therapy sessions in their homes over a 2-month period. They were allowed to take antidepressants, but less than 10% did so. The study, which was funded by NIH’s National Eye Institute (NEI), appeared online on July 9, 2014, in Ophthalmology.

By 4 months, 18 in the control group (23.4%) and 11 in the behavior activation group (12.6%) developed clinical depression. Behavior activation had the most benefit for participants with the worst vision (less than 20/100), reducing the risk of depression by about 60% compared to controls. Overall, the researchers estimate that behavior activation reduced the risk of clinical depression by 50% compared to control treatment.

“Our results emphasize the high risk of depression from AMD, and the benefits of multi-disciplinary treatment that bridges primary eye care, psychiatry, psychology, and rehabilitation,” Rovner says. The study will continue to follow participants to assess the benefits of treatment out to one year.


The Developing Person Through the Life Span

Posted in Elder Care, Eye Disease: Macular Degeneration, Mental Health: Depression | Leave a comment

‘Good cholesterol’ drugs, statins, may not lower, heart attack, stroke, or death rate: new study

Statins have been causing diabetes: more new evidence

Statins linked to memory impairment in new study

Effect on cardiovascular risk of high density lipoprotein targeted drug treatments niacin, fibrates, and CETP inhibitors: meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials including 117,411 patients

BMJ 2014; 349 doi: (Published 18 July 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g4379

Daniel Keene, academic clinical fellow in cardiology,
Clare Price, foundation year 2 doctor,
Matthew J Shun-Shin, academic clinical fellow in cardiology,
Darrel P Francis, professor of cardiology

Author affiliations

1International Centre for Circulatory Health, National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London, London W2 1LA, UK



To investigate the effects on cardiovascular outcomes of drug interventions that increase high density lipoprotein levels.



Studies reviewed

Therapeutic benefit of niacin, fibrates, and cholesteryl ester transfer protein (CETP) inhibitors on cardiovascular events (all cause mortality, coronary heart disease mortality, non-fatal myocardial infarction, and stroke).


117,411 patients were randomised in a total of 39 trials. All interventions increased the levels of high density lipoprotein cholesterol. No significant effect was seen on all cause mortality for niacin (odds ratio 1.03, 95% confidence interval 0.92 to 1.15, P=0.59), fibrates (0.98, 0.89 to 1.08, P=0.66), or CETP inhibitors (1.16, 0.93 to 1.44, P=0.19); on coronary heart disease mortality for niacin (0.93, 0.76 to 1.12, P=0.44), fibrates (0.92, 0.81 to 1.04, P=0.19), or CETP inhibitors (1.00, 0.80 to 1.24, P=0.99); or on stroke outcomes for niacin (0.96, 0.75 to 1.22, P=0.72), fibrates (1.01, 0.90 to 1.13, P=0.84), or CETP inhibitors (1.14, 0.90 to 1.45, P=0.29). In studies with patients not receiving statins (before the statin era), niacin was associated with a significant reduction in non-fatal myocardial infarction (0.69, 0.56 to 0.85, P=0.0004). However, in studies where statins were already being taken, niacin showed no significant effect (0.96, 0.85 to 1.09, P=0.52). A significant difference was seen between these subgroups (P=0.007). A similar trend relating to non-fatal myocardial infarction was seen with fibrates: without statin treatment (0.78, 0.71 to 0.86, P<0.001) and with all or some patients taking statins (0.83, 0.69 to 1.01, P=0.07); P=0.58 for difference.


Neither niacin, fibrates, nor CETP inhibitors, three highly effective agents for increasing high density lipoprotein levels, reduced all cause mortality, coronary heart disease mortality, myocardial infarction, or stroke in patients treated with statins. Although observational studies might suggest a simplistic hypothesis for high density lipoprotein cholesterol, that increasing the levels pharmacologically would generally reduce cardiovascular events, in the current era of widespread use of statins in dyslipidaemia, substantial trials of these three agents do not support this concept.


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

Why celebrating a win too early is doubly bad

How to avoid another year of failed fitness goals

Goals, pride, shame, success, and failure

Fail Fast, Fail Often: How Losing Can Help You Win

Newswise — Set goal, work to achieve goal, attain goal and react accordingly — that’s the script we write when we set our sights on an achievement.

But what happens when the script isn’t followed, and you learn too soon that you will accomplish what you set out to do? New research from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business finds that the positive reaction one would have when succeeding is lessened if it doesn’t follow the expected course.

In “Feeling Good at the Right Time: Why People Value Predictability in Goal Attainment,” Ayelet Fishbach, a professor of behavioral science and marketing, and Nadav Klein, a doctoral student, found that when people learned, for example, that they would win a game, get a job offer or be accepted to college before their predetermined time, the experience was muted twice — when they learned early, and then when the goal was achieved.

“We basically show that people want to feel good at the right time — that is, when a goal is achieved and not before then,” Fishbach says.

The researchers conducted four studies, and found that people made script-consistent errors in recalling an attained goal, that people were happier when good news followed the predetermined script, that people value goals less if they learn early that they will be achieving them, and that people had a mellowed reaction to achieving the goal if they were certain beforehand that the goal would be achieved.

“When people learn that a goal will be achieved before it actually is, they often try to suppress the positive emotion in order to feel it at the ‘right time,’” Fishbach says. “The result is that people don’t feel as happy when they get the news — because it’s not the right time — as well as when the goal is officially achieved — because by then it’s no longer ‘news.’”

Fishbach and Klein speculate that, among other possible reasons, this muting may occur because of the fragility of positive emotion, noting that it is much easier for a good mood to sour than it is to overcome a bad mood.

“Once positive emotion is ‘tampered with,’ it appears to be difficult to reignite,” they write. “It appears that positive emotion can be dampened relatively easily, but reawakening it appears to be more difficult.”

Posted in Human Behavior: Goal Setting, Human Behavior: Happiness, Human Behavior: Positive Reinforcement, Human Behavior: Work Ethic | Leave a comment

How the 4 key dairy nutrients interact

The top 10 functional foods trends

The Dairy-Free and Gluten-Free Kitchen

Understanding that diets are often built around food groups rather than specific nutrients, researchers from Switzerland, France, and North America decided to examine interactions between four nutrients found in dairy products and their role in preserving bone and skeletal muscle.  Their Open Access article with these findings, “Dairy in Adulthood: From Foods to Nutrient Interactions on Bone and Skeletal Muscle Health,” is now available in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, the Official Publication of the American College of Nutrition and a publication from Routledge.

Calcium (Ca), inorganic phosphate (Pi), vitamin D, and protein are nutrients that impact bone and skeletal muscle integrity. Deficiency in the supply of these nutrients increases with aging. Dairy foods are rich in Ca, Pi, and proteins and in many countries are fortified with vitamin D. Dairy foods are important sources of these nutrients and go a long way to meeting the recommendations, which increase with aging. This review emphasizes the interactions between these 4 nutrients, which, along with physical activity, act through cellular and physiological pathways favoring the maintenance of both bone and skeletal muscle structure and function.

While bone health is often associated with calcium alone, Calcium’s interactions with inorganic phosphate, vitamin D, and protein are important components of beneficial dairy consumption. Combined vitamin D and calcium supplementation has been shown to reduce the incidence of hip and other non-vertebral fractures among older populations, with some studies suggesting that vitamin D actually leads to lower rates of falling in subjects. Dietary protein, while often associated solely with muscle recovery, also promotes bone formation by stimulating both Ca and Pi intestinal absorption and the production of a bone growth factor.  And while vitamin D deficiency is associated with muscle weakness, vitamin D and protein supplementation are required together to improve strength.

Combining the four above-mentioned nutrients with physical activity decreases the likelihood of bone and muscle degeneration-related injury in older adults. Dairy products are a convenient way to work them into a diet, as they contain Ca, Pi, and protein at levels comparable to recommended intakes, and are fortified with vitamin D.


Homemade Living: Home Dairy with Ashley English: All You Need to Know to Make Cheese, Yogurt, Butter & More

Posted in Nutrition: Calcium, Nutrition: Food: Dairy Products, Nutrition: Protein, Nutrition: Vitamin D | Leave a comment

7 myths about young adults with mental health conditions

Marijuana’s negative health effects: new US gov’t information

Abuse, lack of parental warmth in childhood linked to multiple health risks in adulthood

By: Pamela S. Hyde, J.D., SAMHSA Administrator

When young adults with mental health challenges turn 18, they sometimes receive an unwelcome message: the news that they’re no longer eligible for services through the children’s mental health services system. Unfortunately, without proper support, many of these youth may fall through the cracks in the process of becoming an adult.

Several myths contribute to the problem:

Myth #1: Young adults are fully mature adults.
Reality: Young adult brains are still maturing – for some up to age 25. Young adults oftentimes are still learning to manage their lives, and those in treatment may still be learning to make and keep appointments, navigate public transportation, find and manage apartments, and comply with treatment plans. Many of these young adults don’t have strong connections with adult allies and need extra guidance, support, and skills development.

Myth #2: Most young people in the children’s mental health system don’t have significant mental illnesses, so they don’t need the adult mental health system once they turn 18.
Reality: The Institute of Medicine (IOM) cites researchers supported by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and others who have found that half of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and three-quarters by age 24. Despite effective treatments, there are long delays — sometimes decades — between first onset of symptoms and when people seek and receive treatment. The study also reveals that an untreated mental disorder can lead to a more severe, more difficult to treat illness, and to the development of co-occurring mental illnesses.

Myth #3: It’s hard to engage young adults in services because they just don’t care.
Reality: Young adults who are transitioning into independence are more likely to allocate their time and resources to immediate needs like food, clothing, shelter, employment, and supportive relationships. If community-based services are relevant, accessible, appealing, and offered in a holistic wraparound approach in non-traditional settings, young people will be more likely to access them.

Myth #4: Adult services can adequately address young adults’ needs.
Reality: Adult services don’t always take into account young adults’ developmental needs. Young people need skills development, group settings with peers of the same age, opportunities for experimentation, and energetic staff who enjoy working with young adults.

Myth #5: Young adults don’t think about education or work.
Reality: Figuring out how to achieve vocational goals is a major concern for young adults, including those with mental health issues. They want to keep up with peers and don’t want to fall behind. The key is to identify what additional supports they may need to achieve their educational goals and to find and maintain employment. Youth who have unmet mental health needs can become discouraged if they are not successful in school or work.

Myth #6: Young adults don’t need or want their families involved.
Reality: Some young adults try to go it alone, but often change their minds about accepting family support as challenges arise. With housing costs high and jobs in short supply, young people whose families provide some financial and emotional support have a better chance of achieving independence. When families are not available or able to provide support, young people often look to peers or other adults for support.

Myth #7: Consumer advocates would tell us if young adults were unhappy with services.
Reality: Traditional consumer organizations often have few young adult members and therefore may not adequately serve as the voice of young consumers. In addition, youth advocacy groups don’t often connect with groups serving adults because of their separate histories and stronger ties to children’s systems. The reality is that young adults don’t want mental health labels to follow them into adulthood. There may be reluctance to shift from one system to the next, but support may be needed in the transition nonetheless.

SAMHSA is working hard to dispel these myths and ensure that young people get the services and supports they need to fulfill their potential as healthy, independent adults. SAMHSA is also supporting several youth-specific support and consumer groups.

SAMHSA’s new report, “Serious Mental Health Challenges among Older Adolescents and Young Adults,” provides empirical data about young adults’ challenges and needs. Our Emerging Adults Initiative has helped states create a seamless transition to the adult mental health system and ensure that services meet young adults’ developmental needs. Building on that program’s success, our new Now Is the Time programs will further increase young people’s access to treatment and support.

As I said at National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day, we need to ensure that all young people receive the services and supports they need to stay on a path to the bright future we all want for all of them.


Posted in Mental Health | Leave a comment

Patient-centered medical homes don’t need doctors: Joint Commission

Medical home philosophy boosts patient, physician satisfaction

Walgreens Worksite Health Centers receive accreditation as patient-centered medical homes from the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC)

CARMICHAEL, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The Foundation for Chiropractic Progress (F4CP), a not-for-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness about the value of chiropractic care, applauds the Joint Commission, a national nonprofit organization that accredits more than 20,000 healthcare organizations and programs, for its restatement in favor of “non-physician” led patient-centered medical home (PCMH) healthcare teams. The F4CP points to doctors of chiropractic (D.C.s) as being trained to both serve and lead within the PCMH setting.

“Collaboration between providers is a central element to achieving the high quality and cost-effective goals of the PCMH model,” says Gerard Clum, D.C., spokesperson, F4CP. “Possessing extensive training in diagnosis and treatment, doctors of chiropractic (D.C.) can contribute tremendous value to PCMHs. Particularly, for patients with conditions, such as low back pain, neck pain and headaches, evidence supports chiropractic as a suitable option that presents greater opportunity for superior outcomes.”

According to the F4CP report, “The Role of Chiropractic Care in the Patient-Centered Medical Home,” there are several roles a D.C. can assume within a PCMH to advance patient care:

  • As neuromuscular and musculoskeletal specialists with direct patient access
  • As neuromuscular and musculoskeletal specialists, on referral from primary care providers (PCP)
  • As PCPs who also deliver care to patients seeking help for non-musculoskeletal conditions
  • As providers of diagnostic and therapeutic prevention and health promotion services, including, but is not limited to, evidence-based diet and exercise counseling

National entities, including the National Committee for Quality Assurance, Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care and URAC, agree that an organization can provide the attributes of a PCMH without physician leadership – with the exception of the American Medical Association House of Delegates.

“I congratulate the Joint Commission for opening the doors to other healthcare disciplines to support patient care through the PCMH model,” says Dr. Clum. “This updated approach allows care to be determined based on a patient’s needs, rather than a profession’s needs. It marks a tremendous step forward for our nation’s healthcare system and patient population, and I am optimistic that this will soon become the generally accepted method for care delivery.”

Posted in Health Care: Medical Home | Leave a comment

Green spaces increase birth weight

Air pollution causes lower birth weight: Karolinska

Pollutant exposure and rapid weight gain and overweight in infancy

BEER-SHEVA, ISRAEL, July 28, 2014…Mothers who live near green spaces deliver babies with significantly higher birth weights, according to a new study, “Green Spaces and Adverse Pregnancy Outcomes” published in the journal, Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

A team of researchers from Israel and Spain, including Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU), evaluated nearly 40,000 single live births from a registry birth cohort in Tel Aviv, Israel to determine the impact of green surroundings during pregnancy and birth outcomes.

“We found that that overall, an increase of surrounding greenery near the home was associated with a significant increase of birth weight and decreased risk for low birth weight,” says Prof. Michael Friger, of BGU’s Department of Public Health. “This was the first study outside of the United States and Europe demonstrating associations between greenery and birth weight, as well as the first to report the association with low birth weight.”

An analysis of neighborhood socioeconomics also revealed that the lowest birth weight occurred in the most economically deprived areas with lack of access to green spaces. Green spaces — parks, community gardens or even cemeteries — were defined as land that is partly or completely covered with grass, trees, shrubs, or other vegetation.

“The application of remote sensing data on surrounding green areas enabled our study to take small-scale green spaces (eg, street trees and green verges) into account, while the OpenStreetMap data determined the major green spaces,” Friger explains.


Prof. Friger mentored the lead researcher, Dr. Keren Agay-Shay, Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology (CREAL), Barcelona for the study, which was the result of collaboration between researchers in Israel and Spain.

The Israel Environment and Health Fund supported the study.


Posted in Environmental Health: Urban, Pregnancy: Low Birth Weight | Leave a comment

Mobile health market needs more FDA oversight: law school prof

FDA approves many drugs that predictably increase heart and stroke risk

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Dallas (SMU) — Smart phones and mobile devices are on the cusp of revolutionizing health care, armed with mobile health (“mHealth”) apps capable of providing everything from cardiac measurements to sonograms.

While tremendous potential exists to broaden access to medical treatment and control costs, several health law experts say in a just-published New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) report that more oversight is needed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ensure consumer confidence and safety. Out of some 100,000 mHealth apps on the market, only about 100 have been cleared by the FDA, while opponents see the FDA as deterrents to innovation — and profits.

“Consumers will be spending a lot of money on these products, and venture capital is flying into the industry,” says the article’s lead author, SMU Dedman School of Law Associate Dean of Research Nathan Cortez, adding that by 2017 mHealth apps are expected earn $26 billion— up from $2.4 billion in 2013.

The FDA needs “additional funding and in-house technical expertise to oversee the ongoing flood of mHealth products,” the authors note. An under-regulated mobile health industry could create “a Wild West” market, says Cortez, who has conducted extensive research into FDA regulation of mobile health technologies.

“Most consumers take mobile health app claims at face value, and think that because they’re available through a trusted retailer like the iTunes Store, they must have been reviewed by the FDA, which isn’t usually the case,” Cortez says.

Cortez, who also serves as an associate professor in SMU’s Dedman School of Law, co-wrote the NEJM article with Harvard Law School Professor I. Glenn Cohen, faculty director of the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology & Bioethics, and author of Human Subjects Research Regulation: Perspectives on the Future (MIT Press, 2014) and Aaron S. Kesselheim, associate professor of medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School.

“Although the vast majority of mHealth products are very low-risk, some apps make promises they can’t fulfill, and others make errors that could harm patients,” Cortez notes, pointing out that life-threatening technical mistakes are not only possible – they also have occurred.

One of several examples cited in the study includes Sanofi Aventis’ 2012 recall of a diabetes app that miscalculated insulin dosages.

Several Congressional bills have been proposed to strengthen FDA jurisdiction over mHealth products, with one proposing the creation of a new Office of Wireless Health Technology within the administration, the article notes. Meanwhile, more restrictive bills also have been introduced to keep the FDA from regulating “clinical software” or “applying a complex regulatory framework could inhibit future growth and innovation in this promising market.”

“The conventional wisdom is that FDA regulation will stifle innovation, and that’s a very short-term way to think about this,” Cortez says. “Most Silicon Valley firms aren’t used to much federal regulation, and Internet technologies have been subject to very little federal oversight.”

If dangerous errors and disproven product benefits are allowed to proliferate, “some very useful products will be undermined by widespread consumer distrust,” Cortez contends.

“We’re trying to push lawmakers to empower the FDA, not hamstring it,” he says. “Clarity will help the industry create products more helpful than harmful.”


Posted in Mobile Health, The Law | Leave a comment

What is Ebola, and how worried should we be?

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As the death toll from Ebola reaches 670, a second Amercian doctor contracts the virus in Liberia, and it is feared to have spread to Nigeria, here’s an explanation of what Ebola is, how it is spread, and how worried we should be

Ebola virus disease (EVD), formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, is described by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as “a severe, often fatal illness in humans.”

It first appeared in 1976 in two simultaneous outbreaks – in Nzara, Sudan; and in Yambuku, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The latter was in a village situated near the Ebola River, from which the disease takes its name.

It is mainly found in tropical Central and West Africa, and can have a 90 per cent mortality rate – although it is now at about 60 per cent.

How is it transmitted?

The virus is known to live in fruit bats, and normally affects people living in or near tropical rainforests.

It is introduced into the human population through close contact with the sweat, blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals such as chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats, monkeys, forest antelope and porcupines found ill or dead or in the rainforest.


Posted in Infectious Diseases: Ebola | Leave a comment

3 ways to loving your job. ANY job.

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All too often, people feel as though their emotional sacrifice of joy is rationalized by the fact that they are able to support a family or a lifestyle that is viewed as “successful.”

Being viewed as a success, regardless of how you feel, ends up being another, more-often used metric for fulfillment.

When your neighbors and family see you as successful despite your empty feeling, it makes it easier to endure.

Loving work is seen as an ideal that few can achieve, but those who do are the ones who have truly won the lottery of life.

You experience something that goes beyond anything material that you can acquire; you feel fulfilled, challenged and engaged.

The problem is that loving work has been treated as something that is a byproduct of being successful, not a necessary steppingstone.

Too often, people forge the path for financial success thinking that the result will provide fulfillment.

Loving work has not been viewed as a critical component of success; it’s just a “nice to have.”

The reality is that loving work is not something that you can wish for or dream up.

It requires hard work, commitment, and strategy.

Notwithstanding, loving work is not as much a pipe dream as winning the lottery–it’s something far easier to achieve. Here are three specific ways to get there:

1. Decide that you will make loving what you do and being engaged a focus–and be willing to make changes accordingly.



Posted in Human Behavior: Goal Setting, Human Behavior: Happiness, Workplace Issues | Leave a comment