Health Wrap - June 2

Posted by Admin on June 2, 2006

A new UCLA/Veteran's Affairs study showed that more than 40 percent of patients who initially had received a positive result on a fecal occult blood test –a stool guiaic card which is an initial screening tool for colon cancer -- did not receive appropriate follow-up tests like a colonoscopy or a barium enema. Only 59 percent of this group received follow-up diagnostic tests such as a colonoscopy or a barium enema. Forty-one percent received no follow-up at all in the six months following the positive stool study. The authors say any healthcare system that provides cancer-screening programs needs to track each step in the screening process to help ensure that patients don't slip through cracks in the system.

A new study suggests where people shop may influence their food choices and their degree of obesity. Residents who lived in poor neighborhoods and shopped in even poorer neighborhoods were more overweight than those who shopped in grocery stores in wealthier areas.

 But, it found a 5-foot-5-inch person who lived in a poor neighborhood whose neighbors shopped in a wealthier area would weigh an average 9.2 pounds less than if he or she lived in a poor neighborhood whose residents shopped in a poorer area. The authors say the facts that calorie-dense food is cheap, sugar is cheap, sodas are cheap and snacks are cheap are at least part of the explanation. 

 And researchers asked people that if there was a deadly flu sweeping the nation that caused a 10% chance of death, and if there was a vaccine that is completely protective, but itself had 5% risk of mortality, would they take the vaccine? Easy choice…if you’re not the patient. It turns out people who imagine themselves in various roles of parent, doctor, or medical director have different responses Only 48% of participants who imagined being the patient said they would choose the flu vaccine for themselves.

On the other hand, 73% of those thinking as physicians would vaccinate large numbers of patients. The authors say it's very hard to see the big picture when faced with a tough medical decision. One author says it perhaps clinicians should encourage their patients to put themselves in other peoples' shoes when thinking about medical choices, to make the smart decision more easily.

 Many patients appeared to be willing to face higher risks of death to avoid having caused harm to themselves by choosing an active treatment, like the vaccine. One author says the study illuminates some of the tensions in the doctor-patient relationship. The study was published in the June issue of the Journal of General Internal Medicine.


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