Opioid ‘Deaths of Despair’ Don’t Explain Mortality Gap

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Arline T. Geronimus Sc.D Professor, Health Behavior and Health Education School of Public Health Research Professor Population Studies Center Institute for Social Research University of Michigan Member, National Academy of Medicine

Dr. Geronimus

Arline T. Geronimus Sc.D
Professor, Health Behavior and Health Education
School of Public Health
Research Professor
Population Studies Center
Institute for Social Research
University of Michigan
Member, National Academy of Medicine 

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

Response: The gap in life expectancy between less and more educated Americans grew over the last 30 years, a deeply troubling fact. We are alone among western nations in these trends. We aimed to determine what causes of death account for this growing educational gap in life expectancy and whether the gap has continued to grow in the most recent years.

Disturbingly, we found the educational gap in life expectancy has continued to grow.

Why? A common theory is that this growing inequality is due to the opioid epidemic. Some even speculate that the less educated are dying from a composite of what they call “deaths of despair” – opioid and other drug overdose, suicide and alcoholic liver disease – with the theory being that as less educated and working class Americans have faced job loss and stagnating wages, they experience hopelessness and despair and turn to drugs, alcohol, or even suicide to ease or end their pain and feelings of hopelessness.

However, while opioid, suicide and alcoholic liver disease deaths have increased among white youth and young adults and is cause for concern, this does not imply that these deaths should be grouped together as “deaths of despair” (DOD) or that they explain the growing educational gaps in life expectancy across all groups – men, women, whites, blacks, or older as well as younger adults.

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Upper Class Individuals Can Exude Unwarranted Overconfidence

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Peter Belmi PhDAssistant Professor of Leadership and Organizational BehaviorDarden School of BusinessUniversity of Virginia

Dr. Belmi

Peter Belmi PhD
Assistant Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behavior
Darden School of Business
University of Virginia

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

 Response: We wanted to understand how socioeconomic inequalities perpetuate from one generation to the next. Some scholars have suggested that social inequalities persist because of systemic prejudice that make it difficult for those at the bottom to improve their standing. Other scholars have suggested that structural inequalities may be hard to dismantle because those who wield the most influence are motivated to preserve their advantages. And other scholars have suggested that inequality may perpetuate when mainstream institutions do not acknowledge the values and norms of individuals from underrepresented groups.

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Does Marijuana Really Cause the Munchies?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
"Chocolate Brownies" by Kurtis Garbutt is licensed under CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0Jessica S. Kruger PhD
Clinical Assistant Professor
Department of Community Health and Health Behavior
School of Public Health and Health Professions
University of Buffalo
Daniel J. Kruger PhD
Adjunct Faculty Associate, Population Studies Center.
Michigan’s Population Studies Center 

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

Response: The legal environment for cannabis is changing rapidly and an increasing proportion of people are using cannabis for medical and recreational purposes. All policy and practice should be informed by science, yet there is a large gap between evidence and existing practices, and the current scope of research on cannabis users is limited.

Public Health has the responsibility of protecting the public, maximizing benefits and minimizing harm in any area. However, the Public Health approach to cannabis has largely been limited to a focus on abstinence, and Federal regulations have restricted the scope of cannabis-related research.

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Ying and Yang of Empathy and Aggression Differ for Boys and Girls

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Eider Pascual-Sagastizabal, PhD

Professor of Evolutionary Psychology and Education
University School of Education of Bilbao (Leioa)
University of the Basque Country 

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

Response: The search for markers of aggression during childhood is a particularly relevant area of research, since the results of intervention and prevention during this developmental stage are more promising than those obtained during later stages. The psychobiological approach to aggressive behavior is of particular importance, as it analyzes the joint, interactive influence of both psychological and biological variables.

We have found that there are different interactions on a biological and psychological level that could account for aggressive behavior in children. More deeply, empathy and hormones could together account for aggressive behavior. In fact, the interactions were different for boys and for girls.  Continue reading

Medicaid Work Requirements Disproportionately Affect Those with Mental Health or Substance Use Disorders

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Hefei Wen, PhDAssistant Professor, Department of Health Management & PolicyUniversity of Kentucky College of Public Health

Dr. Wen

Hefei Wen, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Health Management & Policy
University of Kentucky College of Public Health

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

Response: Work requirements condition Medicaid eligibility on completing a specified number of hours of employment, work search, job training, or community service. Little is known about how behavioral health and other chronic health conditions intersect with employment status among Medicaid enrollees who may be subject to work requirements.

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Soda Tax Media Coverage Can Decrease Consumption Even More Than Tax Itself

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Professor Sofia B. VillasBoas Ph.D and
Scott Kaplan, Ph.D. Candidate
Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics,
University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720‐3310 

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

Response: The background leading up to this study is the fact that  in 2014, the city of Berkeley passed the nation’s first sugar-sweetened beverage tax, also called soda tax, through a 75% YES public vote. Using beverage sales data from U. C Berkeley campus retailers, we find that sales of soda fell relative to non-SSB beverages by 10-20% after the election outcome and before the tax was ever passed on to consumers.

We know this to be the case because the campus only passed through the higher prices to consumers in middle of 2016. This effect is also found when we look at beverage sales in retail outlets near U C Berkeley. There, quantity dropped after the Yes election outcome relative to quantity changes in counterfactual stores (in retailers near other U C campuses where the tax was not passed and with comparable patterns of sales to those in the city of Berkeley at baseline).

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Health Status Declines in Disabled Adults Prior to Receipt of SSI Benefits

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Rajan Sonik, PhD JD MPHResearch ScientistTucker-Seeley Research LabLeonard Davis School of GerontologyPostdoctoral Research FellowLeonard D. Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and EconomicsLeonard Davis School of GerontologyUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos Angeles, CA 90089-3333

Dr. Sonik

Rajan Sonik, PhD JD MPH
Research Scientist
Tucker-Seeley Research Lab
Leonard Davis School of Gerontology
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Leonard D. Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics
Leonard Davis School of Gerontology
University of Southern California
Los Angeles, CA 90089-3333

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

Response: Not everyone who is eligible for public benefits like Supplemental Security Income (SSI) tries to receive them. One distinguishing factor is that those who apply for benefits disproportionately experience shocks (e.g., divorce, job loss, health problems) and sharp increases in material hardships (e.g., food insecurity, housing insecurity) shortly before applying. Typically, these increases in hardships are then partially—but not fully—alleviated by receipt of the public benefits.

Given strong associations between these hardships and poor health outcomes, we wanted to examine whether health status might fluctuate before and after the receipt of public benefits as well. We examined SSI in particular given its focus on individuals with disabilities, keeping in mind the particular health vulnerabilities experienced by this population. In line with patterns previously observed for material hardships, we found in a nationally representative sample that the health status of eventual SSI recipients worsened significantly in the period prior to program entry. After enrollment began, the decline in health status stopped but was not fully reversed.

In the paper, we discuss why these findings were more likely to be driven by changes in material hardship levels rather than changes in disability status.

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Anti-Vaccine Groups Are Not Just Worried About Autism

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Beth Hoffman, B.Sc., graduate studentUniversity of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public HealthResearch Assistant,University of Pittsburgh Center for Research on Media, Technology and Health

Beth Hoffman

Beth Hoffman, B.Sc., graduate student
University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health
Research Assistant,
University of Pittsburgh Center for Research on Media, Technology and Health

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

Response: Vaccine refusal is a public health crisis – low vaccination rates are leading to outbreaks of deadly vaccine-preventable diseases. In 2017, Kids Plus Pediatrics, a Pittsburgh-based pediatric practice, posted a video on its Facebook pagef eaturing its practitioners encouraging HPV vaccination to prevent cancer. Nearly a month after the video posted, it caught the attention of multiple anti-vaccination groups and, in an eight-day period, garnered thousands of anti-vaccination comments.

Our team analyzed the profiles of a randomly selected sample of 197 commenters in the hopes that this crisis may be stemmed if we can better understand and communicate with vaccine-hesitant parents.

We determined that, although Kids Plus Pediatrics is an independent practice caring for patients in the Pittsburgh region, the commenters in the sample were spread across 36 states and eight countries.

By delving into the messages that each commenter had publicly posted in the previous two years, we also found that they clustered into four distinct subgroups:

  • “trust,” which emphasized suspicion of the scientific community and concerns about personal liberty;
  • “alternatives,” which focused on chemicals in vaccines and the use of homeopathic remedies instead of vaccination;
  • “safety,” which focused on perceived risks and concerns about vaccination being immoral; and
  • “conspiracy,” which suggested that the government and other entities hide information that this subgroup believes to be facts, including that the polio virus does not exist. 

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Childhood Advantages Linked to Bigger Brain Reserves But Faster Cognitive Decline

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Marja Aartsen, PhDResearch professor at NOVA - Norwegian Social Research / OsloMetOslo Metropolitan University

Dr. Aartsen

Marja Aartsen, PhD
Research professor at NOVA
Norwegian Social Research / OsloMet
Oslo Metropolitan University

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

Response: Our study is part of a larger project “Life course influences on health trajectories at older age” conducted at the University of Geneva, of which dr. Stéphane Cullati is the principle investigator (see for more information on the project https://cigev.unige.ch/index.php?cID=887). The aim of that research project is to examine in what way retrospective life course precursors from childhood to late adulthood have long-term impacts on current health trajectories at older age. A number of studies in this project are now published among which our study on childhood conditions and cognitive functioning and cognitive decline in later life.

In our research, we were particularly interested in the origins of cognitive decline in later life.  Studies among children show that the childhood is an important phase in the development of the brain. Growing up in environments in which people are cognitively stimulated stimulates the brain to develop more complex neuronal networks and larger brain reserves, which may compensate for the neuronal losses that occur when people get older. This effect is long visible, even at old age as a number of important studies recently provided quite solid evidence for the beneficial effect of advantaged childhood conditions on level of cognitive functioning in later life. However, not many studies investigated the relation between childhood conditions and the speed of cognitive decline in later life. Those that did found inconsistent results. We reasoned that part of the inconsistencies in study findings might stem from differences in the analytical approach (not sensitive enough), too little cognitive change because of a short follow-up, too young people, or too small sample (all causing too little power to find statistically significant effects) or differences in the measurement of the childhood conditions. To overcome these potential limitations, we used a large study sample with long follow-up, used a multidimensional measurement of childhood condition, and applied a powerful analytical technique.  Continue reading

Prescription Opioids Lead to Decrease in Labor Participation and Increase in Unemployment

Dr. Kessler

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Lawrence M. Kessler, PhD 
Research Assistant Professor

Matthew C. Harris, PhD, Assistant Professor Boyd Center for Business and Economic Research and Department of Economics, The University of Tennessee

Dr. Harris

Matthew C. Harris, PhD Assistant Professor

Boyd Center for Business and Economic Research and Department of Economics
The University of Tennessee  

 

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

Response: Motivation for this study came from Co-Author, Matt Murray, who was at a speaking engagement and heard a community business leader say “we’ve got jobs, but no one is applying, could opioids be a contributing factor?” This led to a conversation back at the Boyd Center between us and Matt Murray, where we decided that if we could get data on prescription rates, we could answer this question empirically.

We started by contacting each state agency in charge of their respective prescription drug monitoring program to see if they’d be willing to share county-level data on prescription opioid rates. From this letter-writing campaign we received data from 10 states, which formed the basis for our analysis. As time went on, new data was made publicly available and we were able to expand the analysis to all 50 states.

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Smoking Highlights Health Disparities Among US Cities

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Eric Leas PhD, MPH Stanford Prevention Research Center University of California, San Diego

Dr. Leas

Eric Leas PhD, MPH
Stanford Prevention Research Center
University of California, San Diego

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

Response: Recent research has demonstrated the importance that neighborhood context has on life opportunity, health and well-being that can perpetuate across generations. A strongly defining factor that leads to differences in health outcomes across neighborhoods, such as differences in chronic disease, is the concurrent-uneven distribution of modifiable risk factors for chronic disease.

The main goal of our study was to characterize inequities in smoking, the leading risk factor for chronic disease, between neighborhoods in America’s 500 largest cities. To accomplish this aim we used first-of-its-kind data generated from the 500 Cities Project—a collaboration between Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—representing the largest effort to provide small-area estimates of modifiable risk factors for chronic disease.

We found that inequities in smoking prevalence are greater within cities than between cities, are highest in the nation’s capital, and are linked to inequities in chronic disease outcomes. We also found that inequities in smoking were associated to inequities in neighborhood characteristics, including race, median household income and the number of tobacco retailers. 

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Heart Attacks and Stroke Cause Blows to Financial Health

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Allan Garland, MD,  MA  Professor of Medicine & Community Health Sciences Co-Head, Section of Critical Care Medicine University of Manitoba

Dr. Garland

Allan GarlandMD,  MA 
Professor of Medicine & Community
Health Sciences
Co-Head, Section of Critical Care Medicine
University of Manitoba

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

Response: Heart attacks, strokes and cardiac arrest are common acute health events.  Most studies of serious acute health events look at outcomes such as death and how long is spent in the hospital.  But for working age people, the ability to work and earn income are very important outcomes that have rarely been studied.

We set out to carefully measure, across Canada, how much heart attacks, strokes and cardiac arrests affect the ability of working age people to work and earn.

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Disaster-Related Media Exposure Can Heighten Post-Storm Stress

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Rebecca R. Thompson, Ph.D. Postdoctoral Scholar Department of Psychological Science University of California, Irvine

Dr. Thompson

Rebecca R. Thompson, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Scholar
Department of Psychological Science
University of California, Irvine

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

Response: Our research team has been interested in how people respond to the repeated threat of disaster exposure for many years. We recently published a review of the literature on evacuation from natural disasters, and one of our main findings was that there have been no studies that include assessments of individuals’ intentions, perceptions, and psychological states assessed prior to an approaching storm’s landfall – all prior research has been retrospective, and recall is undoubtedly biased and unreliable.  Our goal in undertaking this study was to fill this hole in the literature. We sought to assess individuals’ responses to Hurricane Irma in the days leading up to and immediately after its landfall in the State of Florida.

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Comparison of Local Public Health Departments Highlights Social Inequities

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Megan Wallace, DrPH Department of Epidemiology Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Baltimore, Maryland

Dr. Wallace

Megan Wallace, DrPH
Department of Epidemiology
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Baltimore, Maryland

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

Response: Local health departments are often evaluated on a nationwide or statewide basis, however, given diversity among counties that exists even at the state level, we felt there might be a better way to group health departments for evaluation.

In this study, we created county-level clusters using local characteristics most associated with the outcomes of interest, which were smoking, motor vehicle crash deaths, and obesity. We then compared county-level percentile rankings for the outcomes within sociodemographic peer clusters vs nationwide rankings. We identified 8 groups of counties with similar local characteristics.

Percentile ranks for the outcomes of interest often differed when counties were compared within their peer groups in comparison with a nationwide scale.  Continue reading

Teenagers’ Health Impacted by Parental Stress from Work

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Christiane Spitzmueller, Ph.D. Professor, Psychology Industrial Organizational Psychology University of Houston

Dr. Spitzmueller

Christiane Spitzmueller, Ph.D.
Professor, Psychology
Industrial Organizational Psychology
University of Houston

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

Response: We generally conduct research on how parents’ work experiences affect the health and well-being of family systems. Many families struggle to successfully reconcile work and family demands, and we were wondering what specific work experiences were most likely to relate to negative outcomes for children. We also wanted to know how the impact of parents’ stressful work experiences’ with the happiness and health of their children could be addressed. Hence the study!

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Family Characteristics Linked to Aggressive Behaviors in Boys and Girls

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Richard E. Tremblay, PhD, Professor Department of Pediatrics and Department of Psychology University of Montreal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada School of Public Health, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland

Dr. Tremblay

Dr. Richard E. Tremblay, PhD, Professor
Department of Pediatrics and Department of Psychology
University of Montreal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
School of Public Health, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland

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

Response: Adolescent who have frequently use physical aggression are at high risk of school failure, criminal behavior, as well as physical and mental health problems.

A major limit to preventive interventions is our ability to trace the developmental trajectories of physical aggression from infancy to adolescence using a uniform source of information.

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Less Time in the Womb Linked to Less Education and Income in Adulthood

MedicalResearch.com Interview with
"Pregnancy 1" by operalynn is licensed under CC BY 2.0Josephine Funck Bilsteen, MSc
Department of Pediatrics, Hvidovre University Hospital, Hvidovre,
Section of Epidemiology, Department of Public Health
University of Copenhagen
Copenhagen, Denmark

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

Response: The background of this study is that there is increasing recognition of the longer-term health and social outcomes associated with preterm birth such as independent living, quality of life, self-perception and socioeconomic achievements. However, much less is known about differences in education and income among adults born at different gestational weeks in the term period.

In this study shorter gestational duration, even within the term range, was associated with lower chances of having a high personal income and having completed a secondary or tertiary education at age 28 years. This is the first study to show that adults born at 37 and 38 completed weeks of gestation had slightly lower chances of having a high income and educational level than adults born at 40 completed weeks of gestation.  Continue reading

In Long Term Marriages, Humor and Acceptance Replace Negative Behaviors Over Time

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Alice Verstaen, PhD VA Puget Sound Health Care System 

Dr. Verstaen

Alice Verstaen, PhD
VA Puget Sound Health Care System 

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

Response: The study began in the 1980s in Dr. Levenson’s laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley in collaboration with Dr. John Gottman of the University of Washington and Dr. Laura Carstensen at Stanford University.

Prior to this study, most research on marriage had focused on younger marriages that ended in separation and divorce. Our study was designed to focus on marriages that had lasted for many years. The idea was that these successful longer-term marriages could provide important clues as to what makes marriages succeed and stay together over time.  Continue reading

Mental Health and Substance Abuse Drive Hospitalizations Among Homeless

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Rishi Wadhera, MD  Cardiology Fellow Brigham and Women's Hospital Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Wadhera

Dr. Rishi Wadhera, MD 
Cardiology Fellow
Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Harvard Medical School.

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

Response: In the United States, an estimated half a million people are homeless on any given night. In recent years, policy efforts to improve the health of homeless individuals have intensified, but there is little large-scale, contemporary data on how these efforts have impacted patterns of acute illness in this vulnerable population.

In this study, we examined trends, causes, and outcomes of hospitalizations among homeless individuals in three states – Massachusetts, Florida, and California – from 2007 to 2013. We found that hospitalization rates among homeless adults increased over this period of time.

Strikingly, over one-half of these hospitalizations were for mental illness and substance use disorder. More broadly, homeless adults were hospitalized for a very different set of reasons compared with demographically similar non-homeless adults. In addition, homeless individuals had longer lengths of hospitalization but lower total costs per hospitalization.

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Regular Religious Service Attendance Associated with 50% Lower Divorce Rates

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Professor Tyler VanderWeele Ph.D John L. Loeb and Frances Lehman Loeb Professor of Epidemiology Harvard University

Prof. VanderWeele

Professor Tyler VanderWeele Ph.D
John L. Loeb and Frances Lehman Loeb Professor of Epidemiology
Harvard University

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the key points of the paper?  

Response: Several prior studies have suggested that religious service attendance is associated with lower rates of divorce. However, many of these studies have been with small samples and have not had rigorous study designs. In addition, most studies have focused on women earlier in life and there has been little research on the effects of religious service attendance on divorce later in life. While divorce rates in the United States in general has been falling, it has in fact been increasing for middle-aged groups, doubling between 1990 and 2010.

In our study we found that among women in mid- to late- life, regular religious service attendance was subsequently associated with 50% lower divorce rates over the following 14 years of the study.

We also found that among those who were widowed, religious service attendance was associated with a 49% increase in the likelihood of remarrying over the 14 years of the study.

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Exposure to Police Violence May Be Associated With Mental Health Disparities

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
"USA - NY - City of New York Police VARIATION" by conner395 is licensed under CC BY 2.0Dr. Jordan E. DeVylder, PhD
Graduate School of Social Service
Fordham University, New York, New York

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

Response: This study is intended to address the lack of empirical research on police violence from a public health perspective.

The main findings are that police violence is relatively widespread in Baltimore and New York City, is disproportionately directed toward people of color and sexual or gender minorities, and is associated with psychological distress, suicidal behavior, and psychosis-like symptoms.

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Is Social Media Making You Depressed and Lonely?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Melissa G. Hunt, Ph.D. Diplomate - Academy of Cognitive Therapy Chair - PENDELDOT Associate Director of Clinical Training Department of Psychology University of PennsylvaniaMelissa G. Hunt, Ph.D.

Diplomate – Academy of Cognitive Therapy
Chair – PENDELDOT
Associate Director of Clinical Training
Department of Psychology
University of Pennsylvania


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

Response: Lots of prior research has established a correlation, or association, between social media use and depression.  Ours is the first study to establish an actual causal relationship between using more social media, and feeling more depressed.   Continue reading

Why Are Some Homes Prone to Cockroach Infestation?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
"Cockroaches at night" by Sigurd Tao Lyngse is licensed under CC BY 2.0Changlu Wang, PhD

The Urban Entomology lab
Department of Entomology
Rutgers University

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

Response: Cockroaches are an important public health pest. They carry pathogens and produce allergens which causes asthma. Some residential communities always have chronic cockroach infestations.

This study is designed to understand the environmental and behavioral factors associated with cockroaches in low-income homes occupied by senior citizens. We found 30% of the 388 surveyed homes had German cockroaches. Sanitation and residents’ tolerance are two factors significantly associated with the presence of cockroaches. A dirty apartment is 2.7 times more likely to have German cockroaches. Gender, ethnicity, and clutter level are not associated with presence of cockroaches. People would be bothered by cockroaches when more than 3 cockroaches are caught in sticky traps when 4 traps were placed per apartment over 2 weeks period.

A high percentage (36%) of residents were unaware of cockroaches when they were caught in traps in their homes. These findings are important for property managers and policy makers in designing better intervention methods to reduce the cockroach infestations.  Continue reading

States Vary in Parental Opioid Use and Child Removal Rates

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Troy Quast, PhD Associate Professor in the University South Florida College of Public Health

Dr. Quast

Troy Quast, PhD
Associate Professor in the University
South Florida College of Public Healt

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

Response: One of the cited repercussions of the opioid epidemic is its effect on families. However, there is considerable variation in opioid misuse across the county. This is the first nation-wide study to investigate the relationship between opioid prescription rates and child removals at the state level.

I found that there are significant differences across states in the relationship between opioid prescription and child removal rates associated with parental substance abuse. In twenty-three states, increases in opioid prescription rates were associated with increases in the child removal rate. For instance, in California a 10% increase in the county average prescription rate was associated with a 28% increase in the child removal rate. By contrast, in fifteen states the association was flipped, where increases in the opioid prescription rate were associated with decreases in the child removal rate. There was no statistically significant relationship in the remaining states.  Continue reading

Are the Oldest of Old Necessarily Lonely?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
"Elderly woman speaks about Water Supply and Sanitation program in Nepal" by World Bank Photo Collection is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0Dr Sharon Leitch | MBChB, DCH, PGDipGP, FRNZCGP
General Practitioner, Clinical Research Training Fellow
Department of General Practice and Rural Health
University of Otago
New Zealand

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

Response: Loneliness is associated with poor health, reduced quality of life, and increased mortality. Loneliness typically worsens with age. We were curious to learn what the prevalence of loneliness was among older New Zealanders, if there were age-specific associations with loneliness, whether there were any associations between demographic and psychosocial variables and loneliness, and we also wanted to compare centenarians (100 years or older) with elderly people (aged 65-99 years). Centenarians are a particularly interesting group to study because they are a model of successful ageing.

The international Resident Assessment Instrument-Home Care (interRAI-HC) assessment has been mandatory in New Zealand for anyone undergoing assessment for publically funded support services or residential care since 2012, providing us with a comprehensive data set. We conducted a retrospective, observational, cross-sectional review of the interRAI-HC data from over 70,000 people living in the community who had their first assessment during the study period (January 2013-November 2017). We analysed eight items from the interRAI-HC data set to describe the population and evaluate the core psychosocial components of aging; age, gender, ethnicity, marital status, living arrangements, family support, depression and loneliness.

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Mammograms: Minorities and Poor Less Likely To Report Barriers to Care

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Mammogram showing small lesion - Wikipedia

Mammogram showing small lesion
– Wikipedia

Sage J. Kim, PhD
Division of Health Policy and Administration,
School of Public Health,
University of Illinois at Chicago,
Chicago, IL 60612 

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

Response: Our study examined the rates at which women who received patient navigation in a randomized clinical trial reported barriers to obtaining a screening mammogram. The trial, called the Patient Navigation in Medically Underserved Areas (PNMUA) study, randomly assigned patients to one of two groups: one received a patient navigation support intervention and the other served as a control. Of the 3,754 women who received the patient navigation intervention, only 14 percent identified one or more barriers to care, which led to additional interactions with navigators who helped overcome barriers.

Black women, women living in poverty, and women who reported high levels of distrust of the health care system were the least likely to report barriers. Women who reported barriers were more likely to have additional contact with navigators and obtain a subsequent screening mammogram. The extra support could help with early diagnosis and better survival and mortality outcomes. Continue reading

Dermatology Care Varies Widely by Gender, Socioeconomic Factors and Race

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Raghav Tripathi, MPH Case Western Reserve University MD Candidate, Class of 2021

Raghav Tripathi

Raghav Tripathi, MPH
Case Western Reserve University
MD Candidate, Class of 2021

MedicalResearch.com: Why did you decide to perform this study?

Response: Differences in the impact of dermatologic conditions on different groups have been of interest to our research group for a long time. Previously, our group had found differences in time to treatment for patients with different skin cancers. Beyond this, we had found differences in mortality and incidence of various skin conditions (controlling for other factors) in different racial groups/ethnicities, socioeconomic groups, demographic groups, and across the rural-urban continuum.

The goal of this study was to investigate socioeconomic and demographic differences in utilization of outpatient dermatologic care across the United States. As demographics throughout the country become more diverse, understanding differences in utilization of dermatologic care is integral to developing policy approaches to increasing access to care across the country.  Continue reading

CDC Identifies Risk Factors for Adverse Childhood Experiences

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Melissa T. Merrick, PhD Behavioral Scientist,  Surveillance Branch, Division of Violence Prevention CDC

Dr. Merrick

Melissa T. Merrick, PhD
Behavioral Scientist,
Surveillance Branch, Division of Violence Prevention
CDC

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

Response: Childhood experiences build the foundation for health throughout a person’s life. Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are potentially traumatic experiences, which occur in childhood. Exposure to ACEs, especially for young people without access to safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments, can impact health in many ways, including increased risk of chronic disease, engagement in risky behaviors, limited life opportunities, and premature death.

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Who Is Most Vulnerable To Opioid Prescription Use?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Hanna Grol-Prokopczyk PhD Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology University at Buffalo, SUNY

Dr. GROL-PROKOPCZYK

Hanna Grol-Prokopczyk PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology
University at Buffalo, SUNY

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

Response: Studies examining predictors of prescription opioid use often have limited information about users’ socioeconomic status, their level of pain, and their opinions of opioids.  Using unique data from the Health and Retirement Study’s 2005-2006 Prescription Drug Study—which includes information about older adults’ education, income, wealth, insurance type, pain level, and opinions of prescription drugs used—I was able to explore how socioeconomic factors shaped prescription opioid use in the 2000s, when U.S. opioid use was at its peak.  I was also able to present a snapshot of how users of prescription opioids felt about these drugs before the declaration of an opioid epidemic.

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Brain Signaling Finds Dominant Individuals Make Accurate Decisions Faster

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Prof. Carmen Sandi Director, Brain Mind Institute Laboratory of Behavioral Genetics Brain Mind Institute Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne Lausanne, Switzerland 

Prof. Sandi

Prof. Carmen Sandi
Director, Brain Mind Institute
Laboratory of Behavioral Genetics
Brain Mind Institute
Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne
Switzerland 

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

Response: Social hierarchies are pervasive and social status has deep consequences for health, wellbeing and societal organizations. Socially dominant individuals have priority access to resources and are more likely to become leaders. Although there are drastic differences in the predisposition of individuals to attain or strive for dominance, very little is known regarding the factors that predispose individuals to attain dominance. Does dominance become visible only in social context?

Here, we performed five behavioral experiments and consistently found that individuals high in dominance are faster than less dominant ones to respond in choice situations, though not less accurate, which suggests that promptness to respond may predispose individuals to become dominant. Strikingly, using high-density EEG, we find that promptness to respond in dominant individuals is reflected in a strongly amplified brain signal at approximately 240 ms post-stimulus presentation. At this latency, participants’ reaction times were negatively correlated with activity in the cingulate cortex. Our results may open a new research approach using EEG signatures as a measure for dominance, independent of social context.

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