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Dr. House's Prescription: More Medicine Is Better

Kaiser Health News reports on the impact that television shows can have on the expectations of patients and, as a result, the costs of care to the health delivery system. "Media analysts say medical dramas like 'House, ' as well as glowing news accounts of high-tech medicine, encourage patients to expect that the latest devices, drugs and other treatments will yield miraculous results. The downside of tests and treatments, such as their high costs and possible side effects, get less air time" (Weaver, 9/1). This information was reprinted from with kind permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives and sign up for email delivery at kaiserhealthnews.

The Impact Of Positive Parenting Can Last For Generations

A new study that looks at data on three generations of Oregon families shows that "positive parenting" - including factors such as warmth, monitoring children's activities, involvement, and consistency of discipline - not only has positive impacts on adolescents, but on the way they parent their own children. In the first study of its kind, David Kerr, assistant professor of psychology at Oregon State University, and project director Deborah Capaldi, and co-authors Katherine Pears and Lee Owen of the Eugene-based Oregon Social Learning Center, examined surveys from 206 boys who were considered "at-risk" for juvenile delinquency. The boys, then in elementary school, and their parents were interviewed and observed, which gave Kerr and colleagues information about how the boys were parented.

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Worse Patient-Doctor Communication With Blacks Who Have High Blood Pressure

Black patients with high blood pressure experience poorer communication with their doctors than white patients do, a study led by a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill researcher has found. "This is an important finding because poorer communication is associated with worse patient satisfaction, adherence to therapy and blood pressure control, which in turn may lead to worse disease outcomes for black patients compared to white patients, " said Crystal Wiley CenĂ, M.D., M.P.H., an assistant professor in the UNC School of Medicine and lead author of the study. The study is published in the September 2009 issue of the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Study Helps Understand How Alcohol Consumption Disrupts Circadian Rhythm In Humans

Chronic alcohol consumption blunts the biological clock's ability to synchronize daily activities to light, disrupts natural activity patterns and continues to affect the body's clock (circadian rhythm), even days after the drinking ends, according to a new study with hamsters. The study describes the changes that drinking can produce on the body's master clock and how it affects behavior. The research provides a way to study human alcoholism using an animal model, said researcher Christina L. Ruby. The study "Chronic ethanol attenuates circadian photic phase resetting and alters nocturnal activity patterns in the hamster" appears in the American Journal of Physiology - Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology.

Election Date Set For Kennedy's Replacement; Dodd Ponders Political Future

A special election for Kennedy's vacant Senate seat is scheduled for Jan. 19, leaving candidates little time to prepare their campaigns. "Amid fevered speculation about possible contenders for Senator Edward M. Kennedy's seat, Gov. Deval Patrick on Monday scheduled a special election for Jan. 19 and said he would keep pushing the state legislature to change the law so he could name an interim successor, " The New York Times reports. The primary will be held on Dec. 8. "Shortly before his death last week, Mr. Kennedy wrote legislative leaders asking them to revise the law so his seat would not stay vacant for months. The legislature indicated Monday that it would decide quickly whether to grant his request, scheduling a public hearing on the proposal for Sept.

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Basic Discoveries Suggest Robotics Applications

Fish and some amphibians possess a unique sensory capability in the so-called lateral-line system. It allows them, in effect, to "touch" objects in their surroundings without direct physical contact or to "see" in the dark. Professor Leo van Hermmen and his team in the physics department of the Technische Universitaet Muenchen are exploring the fundamental basis for this sensory system. What they discover might one day, through biomimetic engineering, better equip robots to orient themselves in their environments. With our senses we take in only a small fraction of the information that surrounds us. Infrared light, electromagnetic waves, and ultrasound are just a few examples of the external influences that we humans can grasp only with the help of technological measuring devices - whereas some other animals use special sense organs, their own biological equipment, for the purpose.

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