My son was underperforming at school, and I was gently encouraging him to try harder (if gesticulating like an over-caffeinated Italian qualifies as gentle encouragement). He could not understand why I was upset: “Dad, most of my friends are doing drugs and engaging in unprotected sex. You should be rewarding me for being such a good kid.” “Reward you for not being bad?!,” I replied incredulously. That made no sense to ...

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According to recent research, a hug a day could keep the doctor away. According to another study, Twitter can predict the chance that people will experience heart attacks. A normal blogger would look at these two findings and tell a story about the relationship between stress and health. I’m not normal. I looked at these two studies and came to a different conclusion -- that we ...

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Americans spend more per capita on medical care than just about any other country and, yet they often have little to show for it. Americans have worse access to care than people in other countries, and are often less likely to receive primary care services, like preventive therapies and screening tests. Determined to address these problems, Medicare leaders have been testing out new models of primary care, hoping to find ...

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A recent study of men with early-stage prostate cancer found no difference in 10-year death rates, regardless of whether their doctors actively monitored the cancers for signs of growth or eradicated the men’s cancers with surgery or radiation. What does this study mean for patients? Based on research we have conducted on prostate cancer decision-making, the implications are clear: Patients need to find physicians who will interact with ...

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There is lots to love about American health care. We have some of the best clinicians in the world, as evidenced by the huge number of people who come to the U.S. from other countries when they are sick. Yet the American people are less satisfied with their health care system than are citizens of the majority of other developed countries. Why do people in the land of the Mayo Clinic ...

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It is hard for any physician to advance as a medical researcher. Competition for research funding is fierce; the rigors of publishing in prestigious medical journals are gargantuan. And women pursuing such careers face even bigger challenges, with many having to take on disproportionate burdens at home compared to their male colleagues (caring for kids, attending to chores), while receiving less effective mentorship than equally accomplished men. Add ...

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Left to our own devices, most of us physicians try our best to provide high-quality care to our patients. But almost none of us provide perfect care to all of our patients all of the time. In fact, many of us get so caught up in our busy clinic schedules we occasionally forget to, say, order mammograms for women overdue for such tests, or we don’t get around to weaning ...

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We have a vaccine crisis in the this country. Not just the one caused by anti-vaxxers like Jenny McCarthy, scaring Americans away from life-saving childhood vaccines with pseudo-scientific claims about autism. Instead, I’m talking about a bigger crisis, one caused by a dangerously thin supply of vaccines. Wise parents who ignore the blatherings of people like McCarthy may soon arrive at their pediatricians’ offices prepared to vaccinate their children, only ...

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I sometimes worry that my wife Paula won’t be able to see me grow old. Not that I expect to outlive her. She is four years my junior and has the blood pressure of a 17-year-old track star. It’s her eyesight I’m worried about, because she is at risk for a form of blindness called macular degeneration. Paula is the youngest in a long line of redheads, several of whom ...

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Prince died of an opioid overdose. A tragic and avoidable fate but, even more tragically, one that is becoming increasingly common in the United States. Some people who overdose live on the edge of society–homeless and with no access to good medical care. Prince, by contrast, had several mansions and a number of physicians actively involved in his care, physicians aware of his problem with opiates. ...

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