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Health Costs, Health Policy, In the News, Media, Medicine and Society, NIH

#ACT4NIH campaign seeks stories to spur research investment

#ACT4NIH campaign seeks stories to spur research investment

ACT4NIH_Samples_FINAL

No ice buckets are involved in the latest push for investment in medical research. Instead Act for NIH: Advancing Cures Today, a Washington D.C.-based non-profit led by a former National Institutes of Health staffer, is a good ‘ol fashioned media campaign using data, stories and images, including a haunting photo of a presumably sick child captaining its home page.

The need is real. NIH funding has failed to keep pace with inflation or with investments by other nations including China. Now, only one in six research proposals, the lowest ever, are accepted, according to Act for NIH.

The campaign’s goal is simple: “We advocate an immediate, significant funding increase for the NIH, followed by steady, predictable budget growth in the future.”

Not so simple, of course, is the actual funding hike. That’s why the campaign is hunting for stories, as well as money. It urges supporters to photograph themselves besides a ACT for fill-in-the-blank poster. ACT for cancer, for hope, my grandfather, for AIDS – you name the reason to support research, action (and money) is needed.

Science released an interview with leader Patrick White today. White admitted the group lacks a formal plan, but it does have momentum, thanks to the backing by real estate developers Jed Manocherian.

It’s launch comes just in time for the 2015-16 federal budget cycle, which usually begins with the president’s budget proposal in February.

Becky Bach is a former park ranger who now spends her time writing about science and practicing yoga. She’s an intern with the Office of Communications and Public Affairs. 

Previously: How can health-care providers better leverage social media to improve patient care?, NIH network designed to diagnose, develop possible treatments for rare, unidentified diseases and Federal investments in research and higher education key to U.S. maintaining innovation edge
Photo by Act for NIH

Media, Podcasts, Surgery

CNN's Sanjay Gupta, MD: journalist, surgeon, advocate

CNN's Sanjay Gupta, MD: journalist, surgeon, advocate

Gupta - smallWhen the history about medical marijuana’s path to legitimacy is written, CNN’s chief medical reporter Sanjay Gupta, MD, may be more than a footnote. Gupta famously authored a 2009 TIME magazine column decrying efforts to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes. In a 180-degree turnabout in August 2013, he issued an apology and said he was wrong. He wrote that he didn’t look hard enough at the “remarkable research” indicating that for some illnesses marijuana provided a relief. He told me in this 1:2:1 podcast that while he’s cautious about the impact of marijuana on some brain and psychiatric disorders, he feels that the evidence is clear for certain diseases like epilepsy, neuropathic pain and muscle spasms brought on by MS that cannabis has the power to heal.

I wanted to talk to Gupta for this special issue of Stanford Medicine on surgery not only because of his controversial yea-and-nay positions about weed as medicine but because he’s also a neurosurgeon who still spends time with patients in and out of the OR  between covering health crises around the globe. And in recognition of his clinical and advocacy skills, he was also personally asked by President Obama to consider taking the position of U.S. Surgeon General. (He turned down the offer as the timing just wasn’t right for him.)

And what about this new campaign to Just Say Hello that he launched on Oprah.com? He tells me that if we were a friendlier society – neighbor greeting neighbor –  perhaps we could heal some of the loneliness out there and become a more civilized society.

I asked Gupta, since he travels internationally, whether there’s one universal truth that he finds all human beings seek. “Most everyone wants to do good by their bodies, understand health and how they can improve the health of their family members. I think that the desire for good health and desire for improved function is a universal thing,” he told me. And in his storytelling, what impact does he want to make with the viewer?  What does he want the audience to understand about the world as seen through his eyes?  He said:

If I can explain to them that as the bombs came raining down the same family that was driving their kids to school the day before, grocery shopping after that, stopping at a bank to withdraw some money, that they are now fleeing with whatever few possessions they could garner and run for the border… that they are a lot like families in your own neighborhood… That’s really important to me as a reporter.

Previously: Stanford Medicine magazine opens up the world of surgery and The vanishing U.S. surgeon general: A conversation with AP reporter Mike Stobbe
Illustration by Tina Berning

Big data, Media, Stanford News

Stanford's Big Data in Biomedicine chronicled in tweets, photos and videos

Stanford's Big Data in Biomedicine chronicled in tweets, photos and videos

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At this year’s Big Data in Biomedicine conference, a crowd of close to 500 people gathered at Stanford to discuss how advances in computational processing power and interconnectedness are changing medical research and the practice of medicine. Another 1,000 virtual attendees joined in the discussion via the live webcast, and several hundred participated in the conversation on social media.

We’ve captured a selection of the tweets, photos, videos and blog posts about the conference on the School of Medicine’s Storify page. On the page, you’ll find an interview with Philip Bourne, PhD, associate director for data science at the National Institutes of Health, talking about on the importance of “data to the biomedicine enterprise,” news stories on how big data holds the potential to improve everything from drug development to personalized medicine, and official conference photos and twitpics from attendees. You’ll also find a conference group photo and recap of the event written by my colleague Bruce Goldman.

For those of you missed the event, and for those who want to participate again, our next Big Data in Biomedicine conference has been scheduled for May 20-22, 2015.

Previously: Videos of Big Data in Biomedicine keynotes and panel discussions now available online, Rising to the challenge of harnessing big data to benefit patients and Discussing access and transparency of big data in government
Photo by Saul Bromberger

Health Policy, Media, Public Health, Research, Technology

Lack of adoption of social media among health-policy researchers = missed opportunity

Lack of adoption of social media among health-policy researchers = missed opportunity

Despite the opportunity for connecting directly with the public and policy makers, health-policy researchers have yet to rapidly adopt social media-tools in communicating news about their work, according to a study recently published in Health Affairs.

The survey of more than 200 health and health-policy researchers (primarily MDs and PhDs) found that 14 percent of participants reported using Twitter and an estimated 21 percent used blogs or Facebook in the past year to discuss their findings. However, 65 percent of individuals utilized press releases, media interviews or other traditional media channels. Lead author David Grande, MD, MPA, said in a release that the low adoption of social media among these experts “could be a significant missed opportunity to expose a larger audience to important health news and findings.”

Grande and colleagues identified four factors preventing researchers from participating in social media: the belief that the culture of social media is frequently at odds with that of research, perceived professional risk, low confidence in ability to use social media, and uncertainties about how effective the tools are at disseminating research. Educating researchers about how to use social media and best practices could alleviate these concerns and increase adoption, said the authors. They concluded:

Public investments in research on health and health care are substantial. It is essential to maximize the returns on those investments by making research a key component of the process of developing, implementing, and refining health policies. Historically, the communication gap between researchers and policy makers has been large. Social media are a new and relatively untested tool, but they have the potential to create new communication channels between researchers and policy makers that can help narrow that gap. Determining how health researchers can best use and adapt this new technology to communicate evidence to policy makers should be a priority for universities, research funders, and scientists.

Previously: More reasons for doctors and researchers to take the social-media plunge, A reminder to young physicians that when it comes to social media, “it’s no longer about you”, How using Twitter can benefit researchers and How can physicians manage their online persona? KevinMD offers guidance
Via PsychCentral

Media, Medicine and Literature, Technology

More reasons for doctors and researchers to take the social-media plunge

More reasons for doctors and researchers to take the social-media plunge

I’ve come across so many helpful and insightful articles on medical and science professionals’ use of social media lately that I’m compelled to share a few. Last week on Wing of Zock, Cynthia Floyd Manley, associate director of public affairs and marketing at Vanderbilt University, shared nuggets from a recent conference on digital professionalism and reminded readers why maintaining a digital presence is so important for doctors. (She quoted Bryan Vartabedian, MD: “Physicians have two choices, really. They can participate in the discussion that is happening online and frame the story, or they can let someone else frame the story for them.”)

Earlier in the month, the PLOS blog Mind The Brain published a Q&A with a young scientist who uses Twitter to connect with other researchers and learn more about what’s happening in her field. She provided concrete tips for those scientists who want to dip their toes in the Twitter waters and also shared how the platform connects her with other academics:

I feel that with Twitter, my academic world expanded to include many colleagues I wouldn’t otherwise meet. I am now able to keep my finger on the academic pulse better. The information shared on Twitter is so much more current than you would find on journals or conferences. For instance, academics I follow post their latest articles on Twitter that would otherwise probably take me months to learn about. I can then ask questions of the authors themselves and chat with them. I think we all love to talk about our work!

And just today, MedCrunch featured a piece singing the praises of Twitter (which prolific blogger and social-media expert Kevin Pho, MD, calls here “the most powerful application for listening and for keeping informed about what’s happening in the science and medical communities”) and encouraging physicians to – at a minimum – create and maintain professional profiles on LinkedIn. As Susan Williams writes in her post, “defining your reputation by illustrating your credentials and your authority in your field affects two of the most important patient-doctor relationship traits: respect and trust.”

Previously: How should doctors respond to negative reviews?, A reminder to young physicians that when it comes to social media, “it’s no longer about you”, How using Twitter can benefit researchers, Advice for physicians when interacting with patients online and How can physicians manage their online persona? KevinMD offers guidance

Health and Fitness, Media, Parenting, Pediatrics, Research

Depictions of obesity in children's movies

Depictions of obesity in children's movies

As winter break approaches for schoolchildren, movie-watching in theaters or snuggled together on the couch may be on the family calendar. But while ratings alert parents to violent or otherwise “adult” content, some more hidden messages within a movie could have an impact on a child’s well-being.

A new study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill focused on messages about healthy eating and obesity in films. Researchers looked at 20 of the most popular children’s movies released in the U.S. between 2006 and 2010 and found that a good number featured characters that overeat and under-exercise and/or stigmatization of overweight and obesity.

As described in a release:

Segments from each movie were assessed for the prevalence of key nutrition and physical behaviors corresponding to the American Academy of Pediatrics’ obesity prevention recommendations for families, prevalence of weight stigma, assessment of the segment as healthy, unhealthy or neutral, and free-text interpretations.

With regard to eating behaviors, the researchers found that 26 percent of the movie segments with food depicted exaggerated portion size, 51 percent depicted unhealthy snacks and 19 percent depicted sugar-sweetened beverages.

With regard to depiction of behaviors, 40 percent of movies showed characters watching television, 35 percent showed characters using a computer and 20 percent showed characters playing video games.

The authors conclude that these movies “present a mixed message to children: promoting unhealthy behaviors while stigmatizing the behaviors’ possible effects.” The study (registration or purchase required) appears in the journal Obesity.

Previously: Sugar intake, diabetes and kids: Q&A with a pediatric obesity expertTalking to kids about junk food ads and Health experts to Nickelodeon: Please stop promoting unhealthy food to our kids

In the News, Media, Neuroscience, Research, Stanford News

How epilepsy patients are teaching Stanford scientists more about the brain

How epilepsy patients are teaching Stanford scientists more about the brain

Earlier this fall, we linked to a KQED piece highlighting how treating and researching patients with severe epilepsy is helping scientists understand functions of the human brain. That piece spotlighted Nate Bennett, a Stanford Hospital patient, and the work of his physician, neurologist Josef Parvizi, MD, PhD; this morning a longer, more in-depth version of the story aired on NPR.

Previously: Implanting electrodes to treat epilepsy, better understand the brainAsk Stanford Med: Neurologist answers your questions on drug-resistant epilepsyWe’ve got your number: Exact spot in brain where numeral recognition takes place revealed and Metamorphosis: At the push of a button, a familiar face becomes a strange one

Media, Scope Announcements, Stanford News

50,000 Twitter followers – and counting

50,000 Twitter followers - and counting

Twitter 50,000 followersWe’re pleased to announce that we reached a Twitter milestone today: Our @SUMedicine feed now has 50,000 followers. We’re grateful for your support, and we look forward to continuing to expand our social community. And if you’re not already following us on Twitter, we hope you’ll check us out.

Previously: Five thousand blog entries – and counting and Introducing the @ScopeMedBlog Twitter feed

Media, Medicine and Society, Technology

Subjects for doctors to avoid when using social media

To post, or not to post? Sometimes, especially on Twitter, it’s a fine line to walk. Over on Wing of Zock, Bryan Vartabedian, MD, lists five subjects he tends to avoid, even at the risk of missing a good story.

Vartabedian explains why he chooses to err on the side of privacy:

Beer. I once spoke at a meeting out of town and caught up with some friends at the end of the day to visit and have a beer. I shared some details of my meetup and the particulars of the IPA I was enjoying. The following week in clinic a parent made a tongue-in-cheek comment on what I had shared. The comment reminded me that everyone’s watching and 140 characters doesn’t offer enough space to explain the why, or the time zone, of what I’m doing. So I now typically keep activities like beer consumption out of reproducible public view.

These and the other four are thoughts worth sharing.

Previously: Does age affect doctors’ adoption of technology?How a “culture of permission” prevents doctors from being active in social mediaAdvice for physicians when interacting with patients online and How can physicians manage their online persona? KevinMD offers guidance

Media, Medicine and Society, Public Health

Is medical information on Wikipedia a public-health problem?

Is medical information on Wikipedia a public-health problem?

2453225588_bd12f72712Anyone can edit Wikipedia, but who actually does? Weird Al Yankovic, for one, according to his song “White and Nerdy.” But while many citizen editors have good intentions in sharing and refining information in the public domain, subjects such as medical information require further oversight by qualified professionals. Beth Bengston, principal at Hale Advisors, writes in a piece for Ragan’s Health Care Communication News that Wikipedia’s unreliable information, often taken by readers as truth, poses a public health problem.

From the piece:

Those in the health care industry, especially drug manufacturers and the FDA, have a public health responsibility to play a role in helping to fix the inaccuracies and incomplete information on Wikipedia. Sure, there are some challenges—like the perception that the drug manufacturers have a conflict of interest or that getting anywhere near user-generated content will result in a visit from the FDA, but we should work toward common sense solutions.

Wikipedia has a role to play, as well. It needs to embrace drug manufacturers and assume they have the right intent in ensuring accurate information is available to the public. Some might argue that drug manufacturers in the past have been caught trying to game the system by removing damaging information about their products. But the beauty of Wikipedia is that the community will find and fix those self-serving changes.

Previously:  The importance of curation and communities when crowdsourcing clinical questionsA call to tap “latent creative” physicians in the medical communitySocial media advice from a physician-blogger and Advice for physicians when interacting with patients online
Photo by Mikeedesign

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