Financial Distress Common Among Cancer Patients, Especially Underinsured

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Fumiko Chino, MD Duke Radiation Oncology Duke School of Medicine

Dr. Chino

Dr. Fumiko Chino, MD
Duke Radiation Oncology
Duke School of Medicine

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The financial burden of cancer treatment is a growing concern. Out-of-pocket expenses are higher for patients with cancer than for those who have other chronic illnesses. Fifty percent of elderly cancer patients spend at least 10% of their income on treatment-related out-of-pocket expenses. Additionally, high financial burden is associated with both increased risk of poor psychological well-being and worse health-related quality of life. A cancer diagnosis has been shown to be an independent risk factor for declaring personal bankruptcy, and cancer patients who declare personal bankruptcy are at greater risk for mortality. These potentially harmful outcomes resulting from financial burden have been recognized as the financial toxicity of cancer therapy, analogous to the more commonly considered physical toxicity.

We conducted an IRB approved study of financial distress and cost expectations among patients with cancer presenting for anti-cancer therapy. In this cross-sectional, survey based study of 300 patients, over one third of patients reported higher than expected financial burden. Cancer patients with highest financial distress are underinsured, paying nearly 1/3 of income in cancer-related costs. In adjusted analysis, experiencing higher than expected financial burden was associated with high/overwhelming financial distress (OR 4.78; 95% CI 2.02-11.32; p<0.01) and with decreased willingness to pay for cancer care (OR 0.48, 95% CI 0.25-0.95, p=0.03).

Continue reading

Survival Benefit from Primary Prevention Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillators

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Daniel J. Friedman, MD Duke University Hospital Duke Clinical Research Institute Durham, NC

Dr. Friedman

Daniel J. Friedman, MD
Duke University Hospital
Duke Clinical Research Institute
Durham, NC

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Although primary prevention ICDs have saved countless lives among patients with heart failure and a reduced ejection fraction, the use of primary prevention ICDs in patients with more advanced heart failure [defined by New York Heart Association Class (NYHA)] is controversial.

Specifically, there are conflicting data from the pivotal primary prevention ICD trials regarding whether primary prevention ICDs reduce all-cause mortality among patients with a severely reduced ejection fraction (≤35%) and NYHA III heart failure.

We performed a patient level meta-analysis using data from 4 pivotal primary prevention ICD trials (MADIT-I, MADIT-II, SCD-HeFT, and DEFINITE) to assess whether primary prevention ICD efficacy varied by NYHA class (II vs. III). Overall, the ICD reduced all-cause mortality among the overall population of patients (NYHA II and III). We subsequently assessed ICD efficacy after stratification by NYHA class.

Among NYHA II patients, the ICD significantly reduced all-cause mortality by reducing sudden cardiac death. Although NYHA III patients randomized to an ICD experienced a significantly lower rate of sudden cardiac death, this did not translate into a reduction in all-cause mortality, due to competing causes of non-sudden death (which an ICD cannot treat). Based on relatively wide confidence intervals associated with the estimate for ICD effect in NYHA III patients, there appears to be substantial heterogeneity in outcomes among these patients. This suggests that many NYHA III patients can benefit from a primary prevention ICD, but further study is necessary to determine which NYHA III patients are poised to benefit.

Continue reading

Metformin Associated With Lower Mortality in CKD, CHF and Chronic Liver Disease

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Matthew J. Crowley, MD, MHS Assistant Professor of Medicine Member in the Duke Clinical Research Institute Duke University Medical Center

Dr. Matthew Crowley

Matthew J. Crowley, MD, MHS
Assistant Professor of Medicine
Member in the Duke Clinical Research Institute
Duke University Medical Center

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Although metformin is widely considered to be the first-line drug for type 2 diabetes, concerns about lactic acidosis have traditionally limited its use in some populations. However, FDA now indicates that metformin may be used safely for patients with mild-moderate chronic kidney disease and other historical contraindications like congestive heart failure. With the lactic acidosis question addressed for these groups, this review asked “what do we know about how metformin affects mortality and other outcomes for patients with historical contraindications and precautions?”

The main take-home message is that metformin appears associated with lower mortality in patients with mild-moderate chronic kidney disease, congestive heart failure, and chronic liver disease.

Continue reading

Marital History Linked to Survival After Stroke

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Matthew E. Dupre, Ph.D. Associate Professor Department of Community and Family Medicine & Duke Clinical Research Institute (DCRI) Duke University

Dr. Mathew Dupre

Matthew E. Dupre, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Community and Family Medicine &
Duke Clinical Research Institute (DCRI)
Duke University

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: There have been a handful of recent studies showing how divorce and widowhood increase one’s risk of suffering a serious health event such as a heart attack or stroke. Our research is the first to show that an individual’s marital history can have significant consequences for their prognosis after having a stroke.

We found that people who never married and those with a history of marital loss were significantly more likely to die after suffering a stroke than those who were stably married. We also found that adults who experienced more than one divorce or widowhood in their lifetime were about 50% more likely to die after having a stroke than those in a long-term stable marriage. We were also somewhat surprised to find that remarriage did not seem to reduce the risks from past marital losses.

Continue reading

Hearing Loss Linked To Increased Depression and Dementia Risk

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr-Frank-Lin.jpg

Dr. Lin

Frank Robert Lin, M.D., Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Geriatric Medicine, Head and Neck Surgery
Johns Hopkins Medicine

MedicalResearch.com Editor’s note: Dr. Lin discussed his research during Cochlear’s Global Research Symposium, which brought together international experts from the audiology community.

MedicalResearch.com: Is there a link between hearing loss and the risk of developing dementia?

Response: In the last few years, we have investigated the link between hearing loss and dementia in large studies of older adults who have been followed for many years. In these studies, we and others have found that those with greater hearing loss have a higher risk of developing dementia even after we account for factors like age, education, medical comorbidities, etc. We think this is because there are some pathways through which hearing loss can directly affect our thinking and memory abilities

MedicalResearch.com: Is there an association between hearing loss and cognitive decline or premature death?

Response: There is a link between hearing loss and accelerated cognitive decline. There is also external research that links hearing loss and premature death (Friburg 2014, Contrera 2015). Hearing loss can also increase a person’s chance of using medical and social services

MedicalResearch.com: How is hearing loss linked to increased social isolation and depression in the elderly?

Response: Older people with hearing loss are at a greater risk of social isolation due to their difficulty communicating with people. These individuals may be less likely to go out, particularly to settings where listening can be difficult (e.g., restaurants), and even if they do go out, they may feel isolated from the conversation and not able to engage with others.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Readers should understand that we’re increasingly understanding that hearing loss can detrimentally impact our thinking and memory abilities, risk of dementia, and our ability to remain engaged with others. Ongoing research is now studying to what extent our current hearing loss therapies can reduce and mitigate these risks and promote healthy aging.

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: Readers should know that hearing loss is a growing public health issue. It has been estimated that by 2050 1.2 billion people will suffer from hearing loss, underscoring the need for us to address it and recognize the burden of hearing loss on wider health. To learn more visit,www.linresearch.org and www.nas.edu/hearing

MedicalResearch.com: Thank you for your contribution to the MedicalResearch.com community.

Citation:

Cochlear’s Global Research Symposium October 2016

Disclosure:  Symposium supported by Cochlear Limited (ASX: COH), together with Macquarie University and the Australian Hearing Hub

www.cochlear.com

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

More Medical Research Interviews on MedicalResearch.com

Do People Wearing Activity Trackers Really Exercise More?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Aarti Sahasranaman, PhD
Duke-NUS Gradaute Medical School
Singapore

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: More than half of adults in developed countries do not achieve recommended levels of physical activity. Despite the popularity of activity trackers as a tool for motivating and monitoring activity levels, little research exists on whether they can help people lead healthier lives, or if financial incentives could encourage people to wear them for longer and achieve higher fitness levels. One in ten US adults owns an activity tracker but research suggests that about a third of people abandon them within 6 months of purchase.

Continue reading

Brain Scans Can Predict Specific Spontaneous Emotions

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Kevin S. LaBar, Ph.D. Professor and Head, Cognition & Cognitive Neuroscience Program Co-Director of Undergraduate Studies in Neuroscience Center for Cognitive Neuroscience Duke University Durham, NC

Dr. Kevin LaBar

Kevin S. LaBar, Ph.D.
Professor and Head, Cognition & Cognitive Neuroscience Program
Co-Director of Undergraduate Studies in Neuroscience
Center for Cognitive Neuroscience
Duke University
Durham, NC

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Emotion research is limited by a lack of objective markers of emotional states. Most human research relies on self-report, but individuals may not have good insight into their own emotions. We have developed a new way to identify emotional states using brain imaging and machine learning tools. First, we induced emotional states using film and music clips while individuals were in an MRI scanner. We trained a computer algorithm to identify the brain areas that distinguished 7 emotions from each other (fear, anger, surprise, sadness, amusement, contentment, and a neutral state). This procedure created a brain map for each of the 7 emotions. Then, a new group of participants self-reported their emotional state every 30 seconds in an MRI scanner while no stimuli were presented. We could predict which emotion was spontaneously reported by the subjects by comparing their brain scans to each of the 7 emotion maps. Finally, in a large group of 499 subjects, we found that the presence of the fear map during rest predicted state and trait anxiety while the presence of the sadness map predicted state and trait depression.

Continue reading

Most Gastric Bypass Patients Keep Weight Off After Surgery

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Matthew Leonard Maciejewski, PhD Professor in the Division of General Internal Medicine Department of Medicine Duke University School of Medicine Research Career Scientist and Director of the Health Economics and Policy Unit in the Center for Health Services Research in Primary Care Durham VA Medical Center

Dr. Matt Maciejewski

Matthew Leonard Maciejewski, PhD
Professor in the Division of General Internal Medicine
Department of Medicine
Duke University School of Medicine
Research Career Scientist and Director of the Health Economics and Policy Unit in the Center for Health Services Research in Primary Care
Durham VA Medical Center

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: No study based on a US cohort undergoing current procedures has examined weight change comparing surgical patients and nonsurgical patients for as long as we have. This is the first study to report 10-year outcomes on gastric bypass patients and compare them to matched patients who did not get surgery. At 1 year, gastric bypass patients lost 31% of their baseline weight compared controls who only lost 1.1% of their baseline weight. At 10 years, gastric bypass had lost 28% of their baseline weight.

We also compared weight loss at 4 years for Veterans who received the 3 most common procedures (gastric bypass, sleeve gastrectomy, and adjustable gastric banding). At 4 years, patients undergoing gastric bypass lost more weight than patients undergoing sleeve gastrectomy or gastric banding. Given that few high quality studies have examined sleeve gastrectomy to 4 years, the 4-year sleeve outcomes contribute to filling this important evidence gap as the sleeve gastrectomy is now the most commonly performed bariatric procedure worldwide.

Continue reading

Persistent Postpartum Pain Linked To Higher Risk of Depression

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
MS WEI DU, First author
Third Year Medical Student
DUKE-NUS Medical School and
DR BAN LEONG SNG, Senior Author
Senior Consultant Department of Women’s Anesthesia KK
Women’s and Children’s Hospital

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

MS WEI DU: We performed a cohort study involving 200 healthy women who received epidural pain relief during the deliveries of their firstborns to investigate the relationship between persistent childbirth pain, psychological and pain vulnerability with postnatal depression. Postnatal depression was evaluated using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Score (EPDS).

Patients with persistent pain (>4 weeks postpartum) had significantly higher EPDS scores as compared to patients whose pain resolved by 4 weeks by a difference of 2.44 mean score, and compared to patients who never had pain postpartum by a difference of 4.07 mean score. Other significant factors that were associated with higher EDPS score included higher levels of stress, greater pain vulnerability during the intrapartum period and higher anxiety level at 6 to 8 weeks postpartum.

DR BAN LEONG SNG: Patients with persistent pain (>4 weeks postpartum) had significantly higher EPDS scores as compared to patients whose pain resolved by 4 weeks by a difference of 2.44 mean score, and compared to patients who never had pain postpartum by a difference of 4.07 mean score. Other significant factors that were associated with higher EDPS score included higher levels of stress, greater pain vulnerability during the intrapartum period and higher anxiety level at 6 to 8 weeks postpartum.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

MS WEI DU: We concluded that greater pain vulnerability and stress during intrapartum period, and presence of persistent pain or higher anxiety during postpartum period are positively associated with higher scores on postnatal depression tests.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

DR BAN LEONG SNG: The research findings support the need to address pain comprehensively to lessen the risk of developing postnatal depression. We are currently conducting a larger study to evaluate the impact of pain and postnatal depression in pregnant women.

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

DR BAN LEONG SNG: Postnatal evaluation and management of childbirth pain and postnatal depression is important in our care of mothers and their newborns.

MedicalResearch.com: Thank you for your contribution to the MedicalResearch.com community.

Citation:

World Congress of Anaesthesiologists abstract discussing:

Persistent childbirth pain increases risk of postnatal depression

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

More Medical Research Interviews on MedicalResearch.com

Same Genes Predict Educational Attainment and Socioeconomic Success

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Daniel Belsky, PhD Assistant Professor of Medicine Duke University School of Medicine Durham, NC 27708

Dr. Daniel Belsky

Daniel Belsky, PhD
Assistant Professor of Medicine
Duke University School of Medicine
Durham, NC 27708

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Belsky: The genome-wide association study
(GWAS) of educational attainment by the Social Science Genetic Association Consortium was the first large-scale genetic investigation of a human social/behavioral trait. Follow-up studies, including studies some of us were involved in, established that the genetic signature uncovered by this GWAS was highly reproducible; people who carried more education-associated alleles completed more schooling—and this was true even when studies compared siblings in the same family. Because getting a good education requires many of the same skills and abilities needed to get ahead in life more generally, we hypothesized that the same genetics that predicted success in schooling would predict success in life.

To ask this question, we designed a study to do three things.
• First, we wanted to test if the genetics of success in schooling would predict social and economic success through midlife (better jobs, salaries, and credit scores, fewer financial problems, etc.).
• Second, if the genetics of educational success did predict broader economic outcomes, we wanted to test how this came about:
o When and how did differences develop between children whose genomes predicted more educational success and children whose genomes predicted less success?
o The goal of this analysis was to try and learn something about pathways to success – pathways that any child could take advantage of, regardless of their genetics.
• Third, we wanted to know what kinds of psychological characteristics linked genetics with behavior. The goal of this analysis was to begin building a bridge between statistical models of the genome and the biological mechanisms that connect DNA sequence with behavior.

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?

Dr. Belsky: There are four major take home points:
(1) Genetic discoveries for educational attainment are not discoveries for education only. The same genetics predict socioeconomic success well beyond the completion of schooling.
(2) Genetic discoveries were associated with social mobility — children with higher polygenic scores tended to achieve more socioeconomic success even if they were born poor.
(3) The psychological characteristics that mediated genetic associations with life outcomes included intelligence, but also self-control and interpersonal skills, for example being friendly.
(4) The pattern of characteristics and behaviors that connects DNA sequence with life outcomes begins early in life and extends through adulthood. Kids with higher polygenic scores started talking and reading earlier, and they had higher IQ scores, more self-control, and were more skilled interpersonally. As they grew into adolescence and adulthood, they were more ambitious, more willing to move away from home in search of opportunity, more successful in attracting better educated and higher earning spouses, and better at managing their money.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Dr. Belsky: Our research speaks to three audiences. To scientists — behavioral/social and genetic — our results highlight the need for interdisciplinary collaborations to untangle genetic influences on human outcomes. We found that children’s genes shaped the environments they grew up in, suggesting that social and behavioral scientists may need to pay more attention to genetics. We also found that genes influenced life outcomes through patterns of behavior that are also affected by environmental circumstances, suggesting that geneticists may need to pay more attention to the social and behavioral sciences.
To policy makers, our research highlights the importance of developing regulations for the use of genetic information. “Precision education” or other tailoring of environments to children’s genomes is not possible with the data we have in hand today. But our findings suggest that such data may someday become available. It is vital to have the conversation about what that might mean and how we will deal with it BEFORE it happens.
Finally, to the general public, our research emphasizes the small effects of known-genetics on important human outcomes. Our findings provide a provocative window into how our genes may shape our lives. But we can make only very weak predictions about how far a child can go in life based on their genes.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Belsky: Two big questions are “How do children’s environments affect the relationship between their genomes and their outcomes as adults?” and “How may genetics linked to educational success affect adult health and aging?”

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Dr. Belsky: I was most surprised to find the very same genetics that predicted better cognitive and social functioning in children were unrelated to their physical health. When we tested if the polygenic score predicted children’s physical health – measured from repeated clinical exams across childhood – we found no association whatsoever.

MedicalResearch.com: Thank you for your contribution to the MedicalResearch.com community.

Citation:

D. W. Belsky, T. E. Moffitt, D. L. Corcoran, B. Domingue, H. Harrington, S. Hogan, R. Houts, S. Ramrakha, K. Sugden, B. S. Williams, R. Poulton, A. Caspi. The Genetics of Success: How Single-Nucleotide Polymorphisms Associated With Educational Attainment Relate to Life-Course Development. Psychological Science, 2016; DOI:10.1177/0956797616643070

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

More Medical Research Interviews on MedicalResearch.com.