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 Thursday, February 1, 2001

Who Asked for This? - Part 2
An advertisement pointed me to mycereal.com. Make your own cereal online!! Oh yeah, you know that idea is worth a million bucks. (Not!)

(Posted at 09:57:12 AM EST.)

Who Asked for This?
The ABC network is adding a new dimension to "reality" television with plans for an unprecedented live broadcast of childbirth on "Good Morning America" next week, the network announced Tuesday. Wouldn't it just be easier that if you wanted to see a child's birth, you have a child? I'm such a damned traditionalist!

(Posted at 09:51:22 AM EST.)

 Wednesday, January 31, 2001

Quality of web based information on treatment of depression: cross sectional survey
Sometimes, a little information is worse than none at all. (There are serious methodological flaws with this study that make any conclusions it draws suspect.)

(Posted at 02:56:31 PM EST.)

 Tuesday, January 30, 2001

When Mighty eHealth Websites Fall
drkoop.com went from being the 43rd most trafficked Web site on the entire Internet in Sept. 1999 to now being the 798th most trafficked Web site. Traffic has been cut by 77% during the same time the company's stock has dropped over 99%. Ouch.

drkoop.com stock comparison graph


(Posted at 03:31:31 PM EST.)

My Engagement
On Saturday, I became engaged to a woman I've known for over 8 years. We met in graduate school while I was in my second year, she in her first. Although we dated for a short time then, fate was cruel and caused a premature separation. Since moving to Boston, where she's lived for years now, we picked up where fate left us off.

On Saturday it was a beautiful winter's day. I took her to a local state park we've visited many times. It's hard to plan a romantic engagement in the winter, unless you plan to do things rather publically, but we're both private people. So we went walking on the trail the led deep into the forest. At a picturesque clearing, we found a spot barren of snow and I got down on one knee and asked her to be mine forever. She accepted!! The wedding will be sometime later this year.
(Posted at 01:56:01 PM EST.)

Study shows rats dream about running mazes
You've always suspected this, haven't you?

(Posted at 01:51:55 PM EST.)

 Monday, January 29, 2001

Virtual Reality Psychotherapy
Computer Graphics World has a new article detailing how virtual reality (VR) is being utilized for therapeutic purposes nowadays. A good overview with screen shots of VR worlds.

(Posted at 11:15:01 AM EST.)

Key Provisions of the Final Privacy Rules
Inside you'll find a summary published by WEDI on the final privacy rules of HIPAA. The most significant change is that the proposed rules cover all communications between the patient and the healthcare provider, not just electronic communications. Wow. That's a pretty sweeping change.

(Posted at 10:58:57 AM EST.)

The New Privacy Regs - Marketing
A lot of people are making a big deal about the marketing provisions of the new privacy regulations (HIPAA) proposed by the Department of Health and Human Services. Well, the sad fact is that most people who speak on this issue haven't even read the regulations themselves (HIPAA is about 1,500 pages long; the part pertaining to marketing is about 1 page). Scary or not, you decide... The section on marketing is inside.

(Posted at 10:43:45 AM EST.)

 Sunday, January 28, 2001

Engaged
I got engaged yesterday!! Details to follow...

(Posted at 10:42:19 AM EST.)

 Thursday, January 25, 2001

Psychology of the Internet: Research and Theory Archives
I forgot I had placed the missing archive of the Psychology of the Internet mailing list I began back in 1995(?). After we moved to our new mailing list server at eGroups, we lost the old archive. (It's probably still on a backup tape at CMHC, but not exactly a high priority for them!)

(Posted at 07:28:30 PM EST.)

Beautiful.
(Posted at 05:38:37 PM EST.)

Call for Papers
BTW, the Association of Internet Researchers has a conference coming up in October and has an active Call for Papers out right now. Deadline is March 2, 2001.

(Posted at 10:14:11 AM EST.)

When Well-Meaning Psychiatrists Err
Dr. Bob Hsiung is apparently having some "pushback" from forum participants he studied and wrote up in the most recent issue of CyberPsychology & Behavior. The article seems to be largely one of a descriptive nature, detailing his interactions with consumers on the message boards on his Web site. It included many excerpts from posts made to the board over a specific time period. However, apparently Dr. Bob forgot to submit the research to his IRB for review before he did it or had it published. Oops. Nor does it appear he told the consumers that frequent his board that he was conducting this research, or asked their permission, or even just asked what they would think of it.

In the emerging world of studying online behavior, questions of ethics and how to conduct studies of support groups is very much a gray area with no well-defined rules. Psychologists, unlike psychiatrists, are held to a strict set of ethical guidelines that define a researcher's behavior (online and off). Specifically, Dispensing with informed consent (6.12) makes it clear that if you're going to do research without first getting the participants' consent, you consult with other colleagues and your IRB before moving forward. Also 6.09 talks about getting IRB approval, and 6.18 talks about debriefing participants. Maybe Dr. Bob should become a member of the Association of Internet Researchers??!

This issue has an update written on June 5, 2001.

(Posted at 10:06:53 AM EST.)

Drunks can control their behaviour
"Rowdy drinkers can't blame their violent behaviour on alcohol, say Canadian researchers who have found that drinkers can "sober up" if offered a small reward. The findings suggest that being intoxicated is no defence if someone commits a crime."

(Posted at 09:52:02 AM EST.)

David Letterman
On a fun note, me and my girlfriend went down and saw David Letterman in NYC 2 weeks ago... Forgot to mention it earlier. Basically an enjoyable experience, but we also felt let down by the experience. TV shows with television audiences really are a crock -- you feel so used after the short experience. They get you all hyped up, and then the show is lame and you're forcing yourself to laugh even though it's nothing close to being funny. We had good seats, but even with good seats, the cameras are usually obstructing your vision (especially when he's sitting at his desk). Worse, when the show is over, Dave is like, "Seeya" and the pages are like, "Get out." Dave comes out like 2 minutes before the show starts and talks for that very brief period of time, usually taking one audience member question. It was very lame, but we both like Dave so much, it was good to do it anyways. If you ever go to his show, just be prepared to be let down.

(Posted at 09:49:56 AM EST.)

 Wednesday, January 24, 2001

The Ongoing Conversation with Don Kemper
Don Kemper is president of Hi-Ethics, an organization I took to task last week for not policing its own members' adherence to a well-publicized set of ethical principles for health Websites. The adherence program was supposed to have begun on November 1, 2000, but nearly 3 months later it's still nowhere to be seen (it's "in progress"), and nearly a year after the actual principles themselves were announced.

Part of what I called into question was Hi-Ethics' selection of TRUSTe, an organization which has a less-than-stellar record in policing its own members' adherence to privacy statements. Don Kemper answers these concerns and more about our conversation inside...
(Posted at 10:46:13 AM EST.)

Self-help Magazine Stretches the Truth
Marlene Maheu, editor of Self-help Magazine, has been boasting on her mailing lists of late (and on the virtual magazine's Web site) that she has the "world's first mental health website, established November 1, 1994." Unfortunately for her, a list member on one of her lists pointed out that the first documented occurrence of a mental health Web site (August, 1994) is actually the Florida Mental Health Institute (according to NCSA's what's new). I haven't done any research into the matter, but I suspect there are a few others as well when I go back and look at my "psychology pointer" for 1994. The first documented psychology Web site was Hanover College's, in April, 1994, according to this same poster.

(Posted at 09:26:18 AM EST.)

 Tuesday, January 23, 2001

Hi-Ethics Responds
The president of the Hi-Ethics organization, Don Kemper, wrote me some e-mail yesterday to defend Hi-Ethics and its actions. I like Don personally, and greatly respect and admire his Healthwise book and database. But I still believe Hi-Ethics is on a road that leads to nowhere, answering questions asked by nobody (except maybe some businesses afraid of government regulation). The seal program they're devising with TRUSTe will be meaningless since it won't be available to the vast majority of the 100,000+ health Web sites online today (nor would it make sense for them). I'll write more about the details of Don's concerns and my replies later on...

(Posted at 10:31:36 AM EST.)

 Thursday, January 18, 2001

People prefer to know when a stressful event is about to occur
"Given the option, people would rather know when a stressful event is about to occur than not know, according to a new study led by Brown University researchers, whose findings provide insight into the management of panic disorder." Makes sense, doesn't it? The more you know, the better you can prepare for it.

(Posted at 02:13:16 PM EST.)

Eating more fish and n3 fatty acids associated with reduced risk of stroke for women
"Higher consumption of fish and n3 polyunsaturated fatty acids is associated with a reduced risk of some types of stroke among middle-aged women, and primarily among women who do not take aspirin regularly, according to an article in the January 17, 2001 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA)."

(Posted at 02:10:48 PM EST.)

First FDA approved, non-drug treatment for high-blood pressure now available
"A new medical device that can help lower blood pressure with no side effects is now available in the United States by prescription exclusively in the Chicago area. The device, called RespeRate™, analyzes a patient's breathing, then creates sound patterns that guide the patient to through breathing exercises to lower his or her breathing rate. Following each 15-minute exercise, the usual breathing rate resumes. Within a few weeks of use, blood pressure can be lowered with no side effects."

(Posted at 02:08:07 PM EST.)

 Tuesday, January 16, 2001

More Funny Business from Koop
It's funny how drkoop.com claims compliance with the Hi-Ethics code of ethics for health sites. Look for information drkoop.com is supposed to offer on its Website:

4)B. Clearly identify those who hold an ownership interest of 10% or more in our company, and those whose financial contributions to our health web site represent 10% or more of the annual revenues of our company. Financial contributions means both cash and in-kind services or materials by persons who are not otherwise identified as sponsors.

Nope, not unless you include obscure SEC filings. Or how about this one:

5)A. We will clearly distinguish advertising from health information content, using identifying words, design, or placement. We will design our health web sites to avoid confusion between advertising and health information content.

So what is the relationship with Healthology, who is providing health content for drkoop.com, without any clear indication of whether it's a sponsorship, whether any money is changing hands, and if so, which direction the moola flows.

Want to complain? Well, of course the Hi-Ethics Website doesn't even give consumers a recourse in which to file a complaint against a member site. Can you say, "self-serving industry effort"??? There, I knew you could. Not surprising that drkoop.com headed the effort to create Hi-Ethics, rather than joining with an existing healthcare ethics organization, such as the older Internet Healthcare Coalition (which has much broader representation).
(Posted at 12:48:37 PM EST.)

Koop Closes Austin Offices
Ahh sweet... Nice to see that nearly a year after reading the writing on the wall, they finally are starting to get it. Still, burning through nearly $1 million a month is a bit ludicrous for a site that produces so little revenue. This is the best quote:

"However, drkoop.com will now be focused on creating alliances with highly qualified and trusted partners that share drkoop.com's vision of providing advanced solutions and offerings to the marketplace as extensions to the drkoop.com brand."

In other words, take other people's products and services (heck, why contribute something unique and original to the world!?) and simply re-brand them with the drkoop.com name. This is their new corporate focus?!?!?!? Wow. What visionaries. Quick, call the Wall Street Journal!
(Posted at 12:30:40 PM EST.)

 Monday, January 15, 2001

Study: Cutting TV Reduces Aggression
"A school-based program that discourages television and video game use makes grade-school children less aggressive, a Stanford University study suggests. While previous research has linked exposure to media violence with increased aggression, few potential solutions have been evaluated, the authors said.

Their findings indicate "that the effects of televised violence in kids are really reversible," said Dr. Thomas Robinson, the lead author and an assistant professor of pediatrics."


(Posted at 05:42:56 PM EST.)

 Wednesday, January 10, 2001

Medical hospitalization may be especially distressing for those with psychiatric disorders
"Being hospitalized for a medical illness may have long-term negative effects on those with psychiatric conditions, according to a one-year study of male veterans. [...] Previous research has shown medical illness and hospitalization tends to be hard on everyone -- up to half of medically ill patients report depression, anxiety or distress -- but those who also suffer from psychiatric disorders may be hit even harder with such symptoms when they are hospitalized, according to the study. "

(Posted at 03:46:04 PM EST.)

Chronic fatigue associated with additional health problems
"Having chronic fatigue syndrome appears to be associated with an increased risk of developing other physical health problems, suggest the results of a small study of identical and fraternal twins. [...] Study participants with chronic fatigue had higher rates of several physical conditions -- most notably fibromyalgia (a condition that causes muscle pain), irritable bowel syndrome, chronic pelvic pain, multiple chemical sensitivities and temporomandibular disorder (a condition that causes jaw pain) -- than did their twins, the researchers found."

(Posted at 03:45:08 PM EST.)

 Tuesday, January 9, 2001

Culture Exaggerates Dangers From Mentally Ill, Specialists Say
"A day after Michael McDermott's parents revealed that their son had been hospitalized for depression and was being treated for it when he allegedly gunned down seven co-workers, psychiatrists said people suffering from the disorder are no more prone to violence than the general population. Some mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, may be associated with a slightly increased risk of violence, which grows significantly if the sufferer also abuses drugs or alcohol. But even those risks are greatly exaggerated by popular culture, the experts said."

(Posted at 05:26:35 PM EST.)

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