Health News Review
  • Feb 5 2014

    When your doctor recommends a test: another “Less is More” example

    A thoughtful perspective piece in JAMA Internal Medicine‘s “Less is More” series is entitled, “A Dual-Energy X-ray Absorptiometry Scan:  Need to Know vs. Nice to Know.” The DXA scan is a test looking for signs of osteoporosis. The piece is written by a woman physician who had turned 50 and was now facing a recommendation [...]

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  • Jan 8 2014

    “Our screening sacred cows”

    On The Guardian’s website in the UK, Dr. Margaret McCartney makes a clear, compelling case for balance in public information about screening in a piece entitled, “Patients deserve the truth: health screening can do more harm than good.” And she charges that the British National Health Service “fails to inform patients that health screening often [...]

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  • Dec 12 2013

    The unvarying story of health care variations – Dartmouth Atlas on children’s care

    Jack Wennberg made his mark by documenting health care variations in the way certain services were utilized – even in adjacent communities in New England. One of the early signs that caught his attention was when his own kids were of the tonsillectomy age. He found, as Reuters recalls, “that rates of tonsillectomy are 60 [...]

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  • Oct 15 2013

    Reflecting on one little paper in Science 40 years ago – Jack Wennberg’s legacy

    This week, Dartmouth celebrated the publication of a paper 40 years ago that it seemed no one wanted to publish. It was Jack Wennberg’s Science magazine paper, “Small Area Variations in Health Care Delivery.” In the Los Angeles Times today, Dartmouth’s Gil Welch writes: “Similar populations living in different regions of the United States get [...]

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  • Jul 11 2013

    Shared decision-making for prostate cancer screening? Fuhgeddaboudit!

    The news, unfortunately, is that there’s nothing new here. “Shared decision-making uncommon for PSA tests,” Reuters Health reports. Excerpts: “Most men have not discussed the potential advantages and disadvantages of prostate cancer screening with their doctor, according to a new study. Guidelines from groups including the American Urological Association and American College of Physicians call [...]

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  • Jun 12 2013

    Giving talks at ISDM 2013 (Peru) and at WCSJ 2013 (Helsinki): crossover of health care journalism & shared decision-making

    This site will be on hold for the month of June because of other commitments. I will deliver one of the keynote talks at the International Shared Decision Making conference in Lima, Peru.  Dr. Victor Montori of the Mayo Clinic invited me.  Ironically, we will meet in Lima for the first time, even though we [...]

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  • May 28 2013

    5 shared decision-making articles in JAMA Internal Medicine receive little attention

    “Patient communication has room to grow,” reported Reuters Health.  And so does journalism about shared decision-making or patient-centered care – subject of four papers and an editorial in this week’s JAMA Internal Medicine. How Patient Centered Are Medical Decisions? Results of a National Survey “Respondents reported much more discussion of the pros than the cons [...]

  • Apr 25 2013

    Two noteworthy breast cancer stories: “The Feel-Good War” and guidelines didn’t change practice

    The New York Times Sunday magazine piece, “Our Feel-Good War on Breast Cancer,” is by Peggy Orenstein who begins: “I used to believe that a mammogram saved my life. I even wrote that in the pages of this magazine. It was 1996, and I had just turned 35 when my doctor sent me for an [...]

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  • Mar 12 2013

    Health care journalists head to Boston

    I’ll be in Boston this week to co-lead a workshop at the Association of Health Care Journalists (AHCJ) annual conference (12:45 pm, Thursday) on how to improve news coverage of medical studies and research. This is, I think, the 6th such workshop I’ve been involved in at AHCJ annual conferences through the years.     [...]

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  • Feb 13 2013

    Some stuff you may not want to hear about why your doctor chooses certain drugs

    Drug companies clearly have a lot riding on understanding doctors’ prescribing behavior and how they assign trust to brands and to specific drugs. A Harris Poll of physicians found that: “…when it comes to driving trust, emotional connection, relationships with sales representatives, and perceptions of the pharmaceutical company or companies backing the product can be [...]

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