I'm impressed by how much we struggle with seemingly simple health decisions when faced with sorting through too much information. Buying sunscreen: It's a simple task, right? Most of us do it every year about this time. And among actions we can take to reduce our risk of cancer in general and skin cancer specifically, this choice is fairly important. So my colleague was surprised to hear this snippet of conversation as she contemplated ...

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Media-fueled flip-flops and research breakthroughs on lifestyle and health behaviors are wearing down my usual patience with the provisional nature of science. Even simple dietary recommendations like ...

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According to the recent Wall Street Journal article patients are encouraged to engage in care, keep track of their medical data, seek preventive care, and to manage their conditions. Studies show that if patients are actively involved in care and partner with providers, that they experience better health outcomes and lower costs. But for patients to be active participants in care they must acquire knowledge about their diagnoses and treatment plans, ...

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If only our lives were more predictable and certain, we’d feel a greater sense of security and safety. Yet, much of what happens to us is beyond our ability to control. This is true whether we live in a third-world country or in the most advanced scientific and technological environment. It’s also true whether we’re struggling to make ends meet or living in the lap of luxury. No one is immune ...

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What if healthy pregnancies were treated like special needs pregnancies? Mr. and Mrs. Johnson, good afternoon. I’m Doctor Dumas, a visiting obstetrician in Doctor Kwak’s practice. It’s nice to meet you. Look, there’s no easy way to say this, so at the risk of sounding blunt, I have some bad news. The technician and I reviewed your scans and we found that you’re about ten weeks along with a human fetus. I’m not seeing ...

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We tell ourselves many things about our health each day, every day, all day long. The vast majority are unintentional, uninspired and blunt. A particularly sinful dessert brings admonishment, “You should not have eaten that.” Panting after two flights of stairs call for an exasperated, “I am out of shape!” Receiving a diagnosis prompts mental overdrive of “What if I don’t survive this?” thoughts. Learning my diagnosis of chronic kidney disease ...

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I know the ropes at the VA ... I'll pick up the phone in a heartbeat and call my senator and get what I need right away. A lot of guys aren't like that. –Max Gruzen, PTSD patient, Vietnam veteran from the New York Times So this is what it means to be an "engaged" patient in the VA system today. You have to know a senator who will intervene on your ...

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Feminism is the radical notion that women are people. - Marie Shear Recent speaking clients know that I often note the parallels between the patient movement and other cultural revolutions: the women’s movements, civil rights, gay rights, disability rights. (I mention disability issues less often, but it was disability advocate Ed Roberts who said in the 1990s, after years of struggle: “When someone else speaks for you, you lose.”) As anyone who’s heard me ...

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Remember the fathers of sick children When I was a little girl, my dad was my hero. He was strong and brave, and it only took his presence to make me feel safe and secure. I thought he understood everything there was to know in the world. I believed he could solve any problem, slay any dragon, protect me from all harm. That’s the best thing about dads, ...

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5 ways to bridge the communications gap with doctors In an age where technology dominates our medical world, communication between patient and doctor often leave me wanting. Over the last few years as a patient, I have learned a number of strategies to help bridge the communication gap with doctors. For patients: Speak up. Nobody likes confrontation, but it doesn’t have to be an argument if you are calm and respectful with your ...

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