If you are African-American or Hispanic, will that make a difference in which hospital you choose when you need a hospital? Do you believe that equality of treatment should be considered as a factor in what makes a hospital excellent? Dr. Louis W. Sullivan and Dr. Augustus A. White, III, suggest that if U.S. News and World Report were to include equality of treatment as a factor in their ranking of the best hospitals, then more hospitals would become sensitive to the problem of unequal care. This in turn could improve healthcare delivery to minority and underserved populations. And, a ranking of hospitals based on equality of service might guide you in selecting the hospital where you feel you will receive the best treatment. Read more of the article, published in CNN Opinion, here.
How does obesity affect the pain of osteoarthritis (OA)? It may sound like a simple question, but this article reports on a study that sought to determine whether patients with a higher body mass index (BMI), a measure of weight in relation to height, experienced greater pain than their less-obese friends and neighbors who also suffered with osteoarthritis.
Some key points:
- The heavier you are, the more likely you are to develop osteoarthritis.
- Osteoarthritis is not necessarily more prevalent today than it has been in the past.
- Patients with a higher BMI reported more pain, regardless of the severity of their joint damage.
- For each level of arthritis severity, pain scores were higher among obese patients than among non-obese patients.
- Hormones associated with obesity may affect the severity of knee arthritis and pain.
- A decrease in body weight could decrease arthritis pain.
Has America become a “postracial” society? Virtual Mentor, The American Medical Association Journal of Ethics asks, is a “postracial” society achievable—or even desirable? As our understanding of race and ethnicity evolves, doctors must learn from the past and remain alert to the ways in which they may be harming or failing patients today. Read the full article here.
By Judith Ohikuare, in The Atlantic:
Consider the importance of finding a supportive community: weight loss is often considered a personal journey, but the best outcomes are the result of group efforts. Does NBC’s The Biggest Loser make you feel like getting in shape is meant to be publicly announced and privately executed? Emphasizing the importance of community to lessen our society’s high rate of obesity is the goal of Drs. Walter Willett and Malissa Wood, the co-authors of Thinfluence: the powerful and surprising effect friends, family, work, and environment have on weight.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, arthritis is the most common cause of disability in the United States. An estimated 50 million people currently suffer from some form of doctor-diagnosed arthritis. By the year 2030, that number is expected to increase to 67 million. These numbers are disproportionally high among women and minorities. Arthritis is also more common among obese people.
What’s the problem?
A little pain in your knees might not seem like much cause for concern, but arthritis can worsen over time—impacting your mobility and your quality of life.
- High risk. If you are obese or have had a knee injury, your risk of developing arthritis is higher—46% of obese people and 57% of those with knee injuries will develop arthritis.
- Disability. It starts slowly. Maybe one day you can’t climb stairs without pain or you can’t walk as far as you used to. Eventually, arthritis can cause you to lose mobility—limiting your ability to work and your quality of life.
- Other chronic conditions. Arthritis often comes with a other problems—such as obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease. Nearly half of adults with arthritis in the U.S. have at least one other health condition.
What can you do about it?
The numbers are daunting, but there is hope of relieving your arthritis pain and increasing your quality of life with these steps.
- Get educated. Learn how to self-manage your pain. Programs such as the Arthritis Self-Management Program or Chronic Disease Self-Management Program may be available in your area. Ask your doctor to help you learn more about how to manage your arthritis.
- Stay active. While it might seem like physical activity will worsen your pain, the opposite is true. Walking, swimming, dancing, or yoga can improve joints and ease pain. Take it slowly at first and increase in time or intensity as you are able.
- Maintain a healthy weight. An extra 10 pounds of body weight is like adding 60 pounds of pressure to your knees. Losing even 10 pounds can make a huge difference in your mobility and quality of life.
Learn more about arthritis, its disabling potential, and the steps you can take to control it here: http://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/publications/aag/arthritis.htm
If you’re a woman, African American, or Latino, you are likely receiving lower quality healthcare than Caucasian males. Causes for disparities—also known as injustices—in care include conscious or unconscious bias from your doctor, stereotyping, racism, or sexism. While these are complex issues not easily overcome, you can take control as a patient to combat some of these disparities in order to receive better care.
Dr. Augustus A. White III recently published Some Advice for Minorities and Women on the Receiving End of Health-care Disparities. This article outlines 15 steps women and minorities can take to improve the odds of getting better care.
Below are the top 10 highlights from Dr. White. You can download the entire article here. Some Advice for Minorities and Women on the Receiving End of Health-care Disparities.
- Know your rights. As a patient you have the right to good care. The U.S. Constitution and other legislation guarantee it. Learn more about your rights here: www.nationalhealthcouncil.org/.
- Always answer questions about race, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation when filling out forms. Hospitals and clinics collect and use this data to help provide better care.
- Don’t ignore the Patient Satisfaction Survey. If you did not receive adequate care, make it known. If a hospital or clinic doesn’t know you are unsatisfied, they cannot make any changes.
- Become health literate. Study your symptoms at www.webmd.com or www.mayoclinic.com before your visit. This will help you talk with your doctor and ask better questions.
- Ask questions. Write down questions before your visit if you can. If you are uncertain about anything your doctor says during your visit, ask questions.
- Repeat back what your doctor has said. Restating to your doctor in your own words is a good way to determine if you fully understand your condition.
- Be frank. If you feel during your visit that you are not receiving good care, tell your doctor. It’s your right to receive excellent care; speak up if you experience anything less.
- Make a connection. Ask your doctor about his or her children or grandchildren, or ask about the weather. Establishing a personal, human connection with your doctor can result in better care.
- Bring a friend. If you need help or emotional support, bring a friend or family member who can help discuss your medical needs.
- Report incidents to management. If you experience unsatisfactory care, report it formally to someone with the authority to do something about it.
A “heat map” released by the CDC reveals the staggering rate of obesity in the United States and how obesity rates have increased dramatically over recent decades.
As seen in the video below, Americans are gaining weight at an alarming rate. Available data show that in 1985, most states had less than 14% of their population considered obese—and many, less than 10%. According to the 2008 data, most states had more than a quarter of their population considered overweight—and some more than 30%. One can only speculate how these numbers will increase if nothing is done to reverse these trends.
By ABIGAIL ZUGER, M.D., in The New York Times: Your relationship with your doctor is affected by the interpersonal chemistry that binds us to some and estranges us from others. Doctors see themselves in some patients, friends and relatives in others, and patients will instinctively experience doctor as parent or sibling, friend or stranger. When your doctor looks at you and sees a mirrored reflection, is that good for you, or bad? Read the entire article here.