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Health Updates 24 February 2012

  • Pets, people and illness: “Having a pet can help someone who has an illness, and researcher Allison Webel of Case Western University in Cleveland, Ohio, has ideas about how it works.  Webel held 12 focus groups with 48 women, with an average age of 42, who had HIV.  Owning a pet came out as one of the things that helped women manage their illness.   ‘The routine of feeding the pet, and walking the pet, and coming home to the pet – and all of those positive responsibilities leads women to best manage their health’.  Webel things that what she found in these women with HIV may also be the case with people who have other chronic illnesses.” (HHS HealthBeat)
  • Support for tougher liquor laws rises when booze, crime linked: “News coverage of alcohol’s role in violent crime and fatal accidents may persuade the public to give stronger support to alcohol-control laws, new research suggests.  It is estimated that drinking is involved in nearly one-third of deaths from accidents and violent crime.  Most news reports of such cases, however, make no mention of alcohol, according to the authors of the study, published in the March issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs‘People have some awareness of the social cost that alcohol can have,’ study author Michael D. Slater, of Ohio State University, in Columbus, said in a journal news release. ‘But only a small fraction of  news stories on violent crime and nonmotor-vehicle accidents acknowledge the continuing role of alcohol’.  This means that many people don’t realize how often alcohol plays a role in violence and accidents that don’t occur on the roads.  This lack of awareness may dampen public support for alcohol-control laws such as strict enforcement of underage drinking rules or bans on serving alcohol to drunk customers…”. (MedlinePlus)
  • Implanted microchip might be the future of drug delivery: “Remote controls may not be for just appliances anymore.  In a new small study, women with severe osteoporosis were implanted with a microchip that releases bone-building drugs at the push of a button, a delivery method that could someday become common for various health conditions.  Roughly 1.5-by-2.5 inches in size, the microchip significantly improved patient compliance with a drug regimen that normally requires painful daily self-injections, study authors said….Because daily injections can be psychologically and physically challenging…only 25 percent of patients on [the medication] teriparatide actually finish a typical 24-month regimen.  But with the implant – which delivered 20 timed doses controlled by doctors – the compliance rate rose to 100 percent.” (HealthDay)
  • A shift from nursing homes to managed care at home: “Faced with soaring health care costs and shrinking Medicare and Medicaid financing, nursing home operators are closing some facilities and embracing an emerging model of care that allows many elderly patients to remain in their homes and still receive the medical and social services available in institutions.  The rapid expansion of this new type of care comes at a time when health care experts argue that for many aged patients, the nursing home model is no longer financially viable or medically justified.  In the newer model, a team of doctors, social workers, physical and occupational therapists and other specialists provides managed care for individual patients at home, at adult cay-care centers and in visits to specialists.  Studies suggest that it can be less expensive than traditional nursing homes while providing better medical outcomes….The recent influx of adult day-care centers and other managed care plans for the frail elderly is being driven by financial constraints as President Obama and Congressional leaders seek hundreds of billions of dollars in savings in Medicare and Medicaid.” (NY Times)
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