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 Friday, April 14, 2000

The Uproar Over Wonderland
I posted the following comment (inside, click on the link above) to the ABC Wonderland message board, after ABC announced the cancellation of the controversial new show, Wonderland, after only airing two episodes. This was likely due to pressure from influential lobbies more so than the excuse given of low ratings, since ABC positioned the show from the beginning to go against ratings powerhouse E.R. They knew it would suffer for a while in the ratings, but were determined initially to give it a chance. Unfortunately, the chance they gave it was to sacrafice it to the alter of the Politically Correct. How sad.

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

Nurses As Good As Docs
Multiple studies in this week's British Medical Journal show patient satisfaction is high and costs are lower using nurses over doctors. The first two studies show "that patients requesting same day consultations are as happy to be seen by a nurse as their general practitioner, and in some cases, prefer the experience. Generally, patients consulting nurse practitioners were significantly more satisfied with their care, having been given longer consultations and more information about their illnesses." In another study, "nurses could cost the NHS less than general practitioners in certain circumstances, suggests a study from the University of Manchester. The results showed that consultations with nurses were almost twice as long as those with GPs." I think we knew that nurses were the real caregivers of the majority of healthcare, didn't we?

(Posted at 10:49:17 AM EDT.)

 Thursday, April 13, 2000

Report: Medical boards overworked
"Even though federal regulators have taken small steps to increase safety, the local medical boards primarily responsible for protecting thousands of people enrolled in medical research remain overworked and undertrained, says a new inspector general report. "Minimal progress has been made" since a 1998 warning that the protection system for Americans enrolled in clinical trials was in jeopardy, the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services said Wednesday. One of the biggest gaps: Once regulators agree to let a medical experiment start, there is little independent monitoring of how patients fare day-to-day, meaning early warning signs of risk may be missed." No surprise there.

(Posted at 05:13:44 PM EDT.)

Pay Pal
Hey, have you ever needed to buy something from another person online (e.g., through eBay)? If you have, then you know what a pain it is to go get a money order (unless you know them, personal checks are rarely accepted) and mail it to them, wait for them to get it, and then get your merchandise.

Make payments with PayPal - it's fast, free and secure! Enter a free service called PayPal. This acts as a payment exchange between consumers. I'm not sure what their business model is, given their services are free, but it's simple to signup and use. Why eBay doesn't offer this type of service directly to its users is beyond me. But since this is a third-party, you can use it for all sorts of transactions. (By the way, if you do sign up by clicking the button above, not only do you get $5 deposited into your account [real money!], but so do I for referring you.)
(Posted at 11:23:41 AM EDT.)

Drugs and depression: How much is too much?
''"I feel we have a national health-care crisis," Glenmullen said, noting surveys that indicate upward of one in 10 Americans have taken the drugs. "These antidepressants are being vastly overprescribed, while their dangers are ignored." Glenmullen, who teaches clinical psychiatry at Harvard and has a private psychiatric practice, has created a stir in the mental-health world with his new book, "Prozac Backlash."'' Look folks, when thousands of mental health professionals have been saying the same thing for years now (including myself), when other medical doctors and psychiatrists (like Szasz and Breggin) concur and write similar books, when dozens of articles are published on this very same topic, don't you think there's something there to take note of? Yes, there is. If you have mild depression (or don't even have depression), you probably should not be taking these types of medications as a first-line treatment. Their negative side effects are just too great.

(Posted at 12:34:22 AM EDT.)

Psychologists Eye Investor Anxiety Over Market Drops
"The mighty bull market has been good to a lot of people for a long time, but it is fraught with psychological perils. After years of strong and virtually uninterrupted growth in their financial assets, many investors are not mentally prepared for a bear market. When it happens - if it happens - the emotional repercussions could be ugly, >a href="http://www.intelihealth.com/IH/ihtIH/WSIHW000/333/8014/276933.html">experts say. If Monday's 5-plus percent plunge on NASDAQ is any clue to the future, a lot of investors out there had better prepare themselves for severe mental anguish, loss of self-esteem, even physical discomfort." The money markets are very much affected by psychological factors which have little to do with economics or business.

(Posted at 12:30:33 AM EDT.)

Evaluating the aging driver: when mental abilities are affected, driving competence is always questionable
"Getting incompetent older drivers off the road has been made easier thanks to a scientific-based test designed by a professor emeritus at the University of Alberta. Since starting DriveABLE a year and a half ago, Dr. Allen Dobbs, professor emeritus of psychology at the U of A, has tested about 2000 medically-at-risk people for driving competency. Sixty per cent of those have failed the assessment. While it may be difficult to lose a license, Dobbs sees it as taking 1200 unfit drivers off the road."

(Posted at 12:27:38 AM EDT.)

 Monday, April 10, 2000

Models Discuss Pressure To Be Thin
"Models, fashion bosses and members of the media will meeting in London in June to discuss the pressure on young women to be slim, the British government announced Sunday." Duh? If models were all fat, everyone would value being fat. They are the role models, for better or worse, for society. If they want to effect change -- real change -- they should gain weight and publishers shouldn't fire them for portraying people in society more realistically.

(Posted at 09:24:12 PM EDT.)

At the Same Time...
As Eli Lily is making claims about Prozac, the NIH is disputing that the research on St. John's Wort isn't sufficient to make judgments about it. For example, most early Prozac studies (even those done for FDA approval) were 6 to 8 weeks in length; so are the St. John's Wort studies. Do you know how many long-term studies (e.g., greater than a year) have been done on Prozac? Under a handful. Yet how long is Prozac typically prescribed for? Much longer than the 6 to 8 weeks, that's for sure. St. John's Wort has been shown, after years of research, to be effective and cheaper than prescription medications for mild to moderate depression. The latest study, published in December, 1999 on 263 patients with controlled doses, only confirms this conclusion.

(Posted at 09:17:30 PM EDT.)

Fluoxetine Overprescribed and Side Effects Are Overly Minimized
The research on fluoxetine is suggesting that not only is it overprescribed for disorders which don't qualify for a major depression diagnosis, but that some of its major side effects (e.g., sexual dysfunction) were severely underestimated in early research and FDA clinical trials for the drug. Early research suggested that less than 1% of subjects suffered from sexual dysfunction as a side effect. Some studies didn't even mention it as a serious side effect. Now, a new book claims that figure could be as high as 60% and even Eli Lily, the makers of Prozac, are admitting that 20-30% of patients taking their drug are suffering from sexual side effects (a great deal more than they were claiming a decade ago).

(Posted at 08:48:53 PM EDT.)

 Sunday, April 9, 2000

Community Mental Health Services Are Lifeline to Homeless
"Community services are becoming the lifeline to persons with mental illnesses who are homeless or battling substance abuse, according to three articles published in the April issue of Psychiatric Services. Homeless persons with severe mental illnesses can achieve long term residential stability when given access to safe, affordable housing linked to outpatient services that include case management, according to researchers from New York University School of Medicine." Don't cut off funding of these important lifelines, ever.

(Posted at 11:54:44 PM EDT.)

Single moms at higher risk for early death
"Single mothers have a 70% higher risk of dying prematurely than mothers living with partners, report Swedish researchers. This difference held even after taking into account a variety of social and psychological factors. The risks of early death due to suicide, violence, or alcohol-related causes were notably higher in single mothers, according to the study findings published in the April 8th issue of The Lancet." Heck of a time to be single in the new millenium.

(Posted at 11:52:28 PM EDT.)

"I don't deserve this kind of happiness; how can I destroy it?" - Titus

I think a lot of us feel this way when things are going well. We seek to self-destruct, usually unconsciously, when our lives are going along swimmingly. If you're this kind of person, you can help yourself by first identifying situations in which it has happened in the past. That can help prepare you for future moments when it could happen again.
(Posted at 10:23:22 PM EDT.)

American Ginseng reduces blood sugar: implications for diabetes and herbal research
"Researchers at St. Michael's Hospital and the University of Toronto have found that taking American ginseng before a meal reduces blood sugar in people both with and without diabetes. The study appears in the April 9 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, a publication of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA)." In case you missed this, I thought it may have been of interest to you.

(Posted at 10:18:55 PM EDT.)

“Urge-To-Kill” Thoughts Are Common
"If you've ever had a fleeting fantasy about killing someone, you're not alone. According to recent study findings, almost half of apparently normal people may harbor these fantasies." This isn't really news to most psychologists or therapists, I would think. We know already (or had suspected?) that everyone has felt suicidal at least once in their life, so it wouldn't be a stretch to imagine we also have had fantasies about rubbing someone out. How very un-Christian of us!

(Posted at 01:57:39 AM EDT.)

Substantial numbers of schoolchildren in Scotland carry weapons
"Substantial numbers of schoolchildren in Scotland carry weapons, finds a schools survey published in this week's BMJ. Weapon carrying was strongly linked to the use of illegal drugs, the survey showed. To investigate whether there was a link between illegal drugs and weapon carrying, McKeganey and Norrie, of the Centre for Drug Misuse Research and the Robertson Centre for Biostatistics, at the University of Glasgow, surveyed over 3000 students from 20 schools across Scotland. The students were aged from 11 to 16 years old. Over a third of the boys and one in 12 of the girls surveyed said that they had carried a weapon; almost four out of ten 13 to 15 year old boys reported having done so. Boys who took illegal drugs were over three times as likely, and girls over five times as likely, to carry weapons as their non-drug taking peers. The more drugs that were used, the greater was the link with weapon carrying. Almost all the boys who took five or more different drugs reported carrying weapons, compared with around one in two who took one drug. Types of weapon carried included flick and Stanley knives, machetes, razors, baseball bats, and hammers." Scary.


(Posted at 01:51:50 AM EDT.)

Keeping the Faith
I saw a preview of this movie tonight and it was good. A strange romantic comedy, for sure, but worth seeing nonetheless. It's a little over 2 hours, and the first 30 minutes are a little slow, but after that it gets and keeps your attention.

(Posted at 01:50:09 AM EDT.)

Is There More to Life Than...
... this? A question only you can answer. And don't think you're the only person to have asked it. More people than you can imagine (ala "American Beauty") have asked the very same question. And sometimes come up wanting.

(Posted at 01:48:02 AM EDT.)

 Saturday, April 8, 2000

No News
I need to post something here, but probably not today. I've been busy with trying to get some programs up and running and everything always takes longer than you'd think.

(Posted at 06:39:16 PM EDT.)

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