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Latest Posts

Dr. Val Gives ABC News A Sneak Preview Of The Largest Health IT Convention Of The Year: HIMSS In Atlanta

This year, the Better Health team will be offering live coverage of healthcare’s largest tech conference: HIMSS in Atlanta, March 1-4. Three medical bloggers, Dr. Val Jones, Dr. Mike Sevilla, and Dr. Nick Genes will interview over 40 different exhibitors and stream their interviews live via UStream. You can ask questions of the interviewees by submitting questions to @drval during the event. Dr. Val Jones will report to ABC News, DC via Skype from the convention floor on Wednesday, March 3rd at 10:50am. Here’s a sneak preview of HIMSS:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v96kje6mCRU

Stay tuned to the Better Health blog for more information about HIMSS coverage… Or meet Dr. Val at HIMSS during her “Meet The Bloggers” panel discussion. Read more »

A New Year’s Resolution For Scientists: Engage More With The Media

Steve Silberman and Rebecca Skloot just pointed out to me an editorial from science writer Chris Mooney that has appeared online and will be in the Sunday, January 3rd edition of The Washington Post.

In the essay, “On issues like global warming and evolution, scientists need to speak up,” Mooney continues his longstanding call to scientists to take ownership in combating scientific misinformation, invoking the very weak response of the scientific community to the aftermath of e-mails and documents hacked from the Climatic Research Institute at the University of East Anglia.

The central lesson of Climategate is not that climate science is corrupt. The leaked e-mails do nothing to disprove the scientific consensus on global warming. Instead, the controversy highlights that in a world of blogs, cable news and talk radio, scientists are poorly equipped to communicate their knowledge and, especially, to respond when science comes under attack. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Terra Sigillata*

The Decade’s Top 5 Threats To Science In Medicine

As 2009 comes to an end, it seems that everyone is creating year-in-review lists. I thought I’d jump on the list band wagon and offer my purely subjective top 5 threats to rational thought in healthcare and medicine.

Of course, it strikes me as rather ironic that we’re having this discussion – who knew that medicine could be divorced from science in the first place? I thought the two went hand-in-hand, like a nice antigen and its receptor… and yet, here we are, on the verge of tremendous technological breakthroughs (thanks to advances in our understanding of molecular genetics, immunology, and biochemistry, etc.), faced with a growing number of people who prefer to resort to placebo-based remedies (such as heavy-metal laced herbs or vigorously shaken water) and Christian Science Prayer.

And so, without further ado, here’s my list of the top 5 threats to science in medicine for 2009 and beyond: Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Science-Based Medicine*

Flu Shots: Another Vocal Minority Influences The Media Disproportionately

My position on the H1N1 flu vaccine is clear: everyone should get it.

But not every physician shares that sentiment. The Washington Post reports that there are a minority who are unconvinced of the vaccine’s safety and believe the H1N1 pandemic is over-hyped.

Worse, they aren’t vaccinating their patients. And when you’re talking about pediatricians, that can mean trouble for their patients; children who are most susceptible to the damage caused by H1N1. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at KevinMD.com*

Why Do People Cling To Misinformation About Healthcare Reform?

Blame motivated reasoning.

Newsweek’s Sharon Begley writes about the phenomenon, which goes a long way why the myth about “death panels” continues to persist in the health reform conversation. She cites the work of sociologist Steve Hoffman, who explains: “Rather than search rationally for information that either confirms or disconfirms a particular belief, people actually seek out information that confirms what they already believe.”

And with a growing majority obtaining their news through pundit-tinged lens, such as from FOX News on the right and MSNBC on the left, there’s always fodder to confirm pre-existing beliefs.

Ms. Begley goes on to suggest that cognitive dissonance is also in play:

This theory holds that when people are presented with information that contradicts preexisting beliefs, they try to relieve the cognitive tension one way or another. They process and respond to information defensively, for instance: their belief challenged by fact, they ignore the latter. They also accept and seek out confirming information but ignore, discredit the source of, or argue against contrary information.

This is seen often in those who believe there is a link between vaccine and autism, despite convincing evidence to the contrary.

And with information freely available on the internet and on the 24-hour cable news cycle, there are endless opportunities to confirm, rather than challenge, one’s beliefs.

*This blog post was originally published at KevinMD.com*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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