To rebuild trust in public health: Better communication, fewer mandates, and small wins

April 11, 2024 It’s no surprise in today’s corrosive political environment that trust in government is near an all-time low. That’s a big problem. Communities with more trust during the Covid-19 pandemic had fewer deaths and less economic devastation.

A photo of Thomas Frieden, director of Resolve to Save Lives.

In many countries — notably the United States — the pandemic dissolved trust between parts of the community and the public health system. How can that trust be restored? In a word: gradually. Trust is built in drops and lost in buckets.

Read more in this article by Thomas Frieden in STAT First Opinion.

AI makes retinal imaging 100 times faster, compared to manual method

April 10, 2024 Researchers at the National Institutes of Health applied artificial intelligence (AI) to a technique that produces high-resolution images of cells in the eye. They report that with AI, imaging is 100 times faster and improves image contrast 3.5-fold. The advance, they say, will provide researchers with a better tool to evaluate age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and other retinal diseases.

Illustration of the eye showing the location of the retina and its retinal pigment epithelium (RPE).

Read more in this News Release from NIH.

As a rule, rape exceptions for abortion don’t work

April 9, 2024 A year before the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022, Texas implemented Senate Bill 8, which banned abortions for all but the very few who made it to a clinic within about two weeks of missing their period. I was an abortion provider at the time in San Antonio, and the eight months I worked after SB8 took effect were the most depressing of my career. I was forced to turn away hundreds of patients and explain that the most convenient abortion clinic was more than 500 miles away in New Mexico.

A map of Texas.

The most difficult conversations I had during that time were with patients who had been raped. I remember a young woman in my clinic who, after learning that she couldn’t get an abortion because she was 10 weeks pregnant, told me she needed to rush back to work so her abusive boyfriend wouldn’t find out she had made an appointment at Planned Parenthood. She was pregnant because he had raped her, and she had hoped to get an abortion secretly, knowing that the bleeding and cramping that happen after a medication abortion are basically indistinguishable from having a miscarriage or a heavy period.

Read more in this article by Samuel Dickman in STAT First Opinion.

Florida: Specialized Alzheimer’s Adult Daycare, Level One (347)

April 8, 2024 ATrain Education offers one of the few approved Specialized Alzheimer's Adult Day Care courses approved by the Florida Department of Elder Affairs (Curriculum Approval Level 1 / 3 hour SAADC 10335). Approved through April 2, 2027). Agency and corporate contracts available. 

An illustration of the human brain.

Click here to access the course.

Your dog is probably on Prozac. Experts say that says more about the American mental health crisis than pets

April 5, 2024 Dogs, our sunny, selfless shadows, crave little more than a daily walk, a treat or two, and their human’s happiness. But increasingly, their own happiness is the topic of concern in veterinarian offices, dog parks, and internet forums.

Bella

Prozac prescriptions for dogs are on the rise, veterinarians across the country acknowledge, along with a myriad of cheaper generic mood stabilizers sold for humans but applied to pets’ separation anxiety, socialization fears, biting habits, or other problematic behavior.

Read more in this article by Sarah Owermohle in STAT Health.

Covid cut life expectancy by 1.6 years globally, but the leading causes of death haven’t changed since 1990

April 4, 2024 The leading causes of death haven’t changed since 1990 — with one glaring, pandemic-sized exception.

An illustration of COVID particles.

According to the latest analysis of the Global Burden of Disease study, which reviewed  deaths from 288 causes in over 200 states and territories, Covid-19 was the only condition that broke into the ranks — if only for two years — of the global population’s traditional top five killers: ischemic heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and lower respiratory infections. In 2020 and 2021, Covid-19 was the second-leading cause, pushing stroke to third position. 

Read more in this article by  Annalisa Merelli in STAT Health

I saw the promise of diversity efforts in health care. A moment later I saw its critical gaps

April 3, 2024 Health care was once moderately immune to the anti-diversity, anti-equity, and anti-inclusion craze. Not anymore*.

California’s medical board is facing litigation for requiring physicians be trained about implicit bias. Health systems are reassessing training on systemic racism because of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s bill that prohibits public funding for diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. And Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives have introduced a bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965; the bill aims to prohibit medical schools from receiving federal aid if they adopt certain policies related to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

A doctor talking to a patient.

Read more in this article by David Velasquez in STAT First Opinion.

*See our courses on cultural competence and implicit bias under "Featured Courses."

How lung distress from SARS-CoV-2 can cause heart damage

April 2, 2024 SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can trigger a life-threatening condition called acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), in which fluid leaks into the lungs and prevents oxygen from passing into the body. Other complications of COVID-19 include systemic inflammation and cardiovascular complications.

An illustration showing how SARS-CoV-2 can damage the heart.

Read more in this article by Brian Doctrow in NIH Research Matters.

Banning teens from social media won’t help their mental health. Here’s what might

April 1, 2024 Since the U.S. surgeon general’s 2023 advisory on social media and teen mental health, public concern has skyrocketed around adolescents’ digital lives. Major news organizations and even state governments have pinned social media apps as addictive, dangerous, and the cause of the youth mental health crisis. In turn, calls to ban teens from social media apps have started to emerge, with mixed reception from policymakers nationwide.

Read more in this article by Jessica Schleider in STAT First Opinion.

People in Republican-voting states more likely to report Covid-19 vaccine side effects, study says

April 1, 2024 People in Republican-voting states were more likely to report adverse events after receiving a Covid-19 vaccination than people living in Democratic-leaning states, a new analysis finds, suggesting that how people view their post-vaccine side effects or decide whether to report them may be shaped by their political views.

A nurse receiving the COVID vaccine at the beginning of the pandemic.

Read more in this article by Elizabeth Cooney in STAT Health.

Covid’s scientific silver lining: A chance to watch the human immune system respond in real time

March 28, 2024 While an increasingly anxious world watched a new coronavirus spread across the globe in early 2020, veteran immunologist Rafi Ahmed quickly grasped that his field was about to experience something truly extraordinary. His former student Ali Ellebedy was gnawed by frustration as Covid shutdowns stalled his influenza research; it took until the summer, when mass vaccination planning hit his radar, before the same realization kicked in.

An illustration of COVID particles.

For scientists who study the human immune system, the penny dropped at different points in the early frenetic months of the Covid-19 pandemic. Looking back now, many marvel at the realization that they witnessed and were able to chronicle something no other scientists had ever actually seen.

Read more in this article by Helen Branswell in STAT Health.