March 29, 2015

Exploring Twitter to Analyze the Public's Reaction Patterns to Recently Reported Homicides in London.

People are more likely to post a Twitter message about a homicide if the homicide occurred close to home. How widely and fast the homicide was reported in the news also influenced number of Tweets. The presence of a knife, a young victim, or a gang related homicide are predictors of Tweet posting frequency.  (PLoS One. 2015 Mar 26;10(3):e0121848.)
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March 18, 2015

Social Media and Internet Driven Study Recruitment: Evaluating a New Model for Promoting Collaborator Engagement and Participation.

Using social media helps aid research study dissemination and collaborator recruitment. Social media accounted for 18.2% of collaborator registration (Facebook 11.9%, Twitter 4.8%, and YouTube 1.5%).  (PLoS One. 2015 Mar 16;10(3):e0118899.)
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March 5, 2015

Orthodontic marketing through social media networks: The patient and practitioner's perspective.

The most commonly used marketing strategies in orthodontic practices were social media (76%) and a practice website (59%). Facebook was the most preferred social media platform. Social media and practice websites were positively correlated to new patient starts.  (Angle Orthod. 2015 Mar 4)
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February 18, 2015

Navigating the google blind spot: an emerging need for professional guidelines to address patient-targeted googling.

These authors discuss the moral ambiguity of doctors Googling their patients. In emergency situations, there may be a reason to Google patients, but there is the potential to blur professional and personal boundaries.  (J Gen Intern Med. 2015 Jan;30(1):6-7)
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January 28, 2015

Internet Research in Psychology Research Online

Nearly 40% of the world's population is online, resulting in a transformation of the psychological sciences. Psychological research online appears to present great new opportunities by reaching large, diverse samples and collecting data on actual behaviors.
Annu Rev Psychol. 2014 Sep 22;

January 26, 2015

Smartphone Based Wound Assessment

BACKGROUND: Diabetic foot ulcers are a significant health issue.

QUESTION: can the use of an Android app using a smartphone with a high resolution camera help patients assess diabetic ulcer wound healing?

METHODS: the app makes an outline of the foot determined based on skin color, and the wound boundary is found using a simple connected region detection method. Within the wound boundary, the healing status is next assessed based on red-yellow-black color evaluation model. Moreover, the healing status is quantitatively assessed, based on trend analysis of time records for a given patient.

RESULTS: the system appears to efficiently analyze the wound healing status with good accuracy.

IEEE Trans Biomed Eng. 2014 Sep 17;

January 25, 2015

Online Mental Health Treatments

The internet as a mental health advisor in Germany--results of a national survey.
BACKGROUND: The Internet constitutes a popular source of health information. However, the use of the Internet and other modern media in the domain of mental health remains widely unclear.

QUESTION: are people ready to seek mental health information online, and make use of online counseling and media-assisted psychotherapy?

METHODS: A representative survey of  2411 Germans was conducted.

  • Greater than a fourth of Germans surveyed would consider seeking help online in case of mental health problems, primarily by using the Internet to do research and by participating in online forums. 
  • A small number of those surveyed had already used online counseling. 
  • Most did not know about the availability of online counseling. 
  • Willingness to use online counseling in the future was moderate, with most showing a clear preference towards face-to-face treatment. 
CONCLUSION: It is likely that there will be an increasing demand for media-assisted psychological counseling and interventions. The health care system should prepare for this change and enlighten patients concerning the possibilities and potential risks of online mental health treatments.
PLoS One. 2013;8(11):e79206

December 29, 2014

False information on fluoridation dominates the Internet

Community water fluoridation on the Internet and social media.
QUESTION: how accurate is information on the Internet regarding community water fluoridation?

METHODS: website traffic was evaluated. Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube activity was categorized as "pro" or "con" regarding community water fluoridation.

 RESULTS: website traffic to the "con" sites was found to exceed "pro" sites by 5 to 60 fold. Searching "fluoride" and "fluoridation" on Facebook resulted in 88% to 100% "con" groups and pages; on Twitter and YouTube the result was 64% "con" tweets and 99% "con" videos. "Cancer, " "useless, " and "poisonous" were the three major arguments used against community water fluoridation.

CONCLUSIONS: false anti-fluoridation information significantly dominates the Internet and social media.

J Mass Dent Soc. 2014;63(2):32-6

November 23, 2014

Portable Internet ECG Recording Systems

QUESTION: Is an Internet-enabled ECG recording system (iECG) useful?

METHODS: 24 individuals with risk of cardiovascular disease were monitored. The subjects sent ECG recordings over the Internet to their physician.

RESULTS: Only 21/24 subjects were able to send their ECG recordings over the Internet. A total of 504 ECG recordings were obtained using the iECG. No adverse cardiovascular events were observed. A survey of the subjects showed a 68% satisfaction rate.

CONCLUSION: The iECG may prove to be a useful tool for monitoring cardiovascular health in workers residing abroad.

J Occup Health. 2014 Sep 17

November 18, 2014

Antibiotic Time-outs

This study was a before and after study. The authors compared antibiotic use before and after a bi-weekly "time out" session during which residents reviewed antibiotic use among their in-patients. Not surprisingly, they found that their intervention worked.

COMMENT: this is a classic case of the Hawthorne Bias. Am surprised at how sloppy this research was, yet got published in a top medical research journal. SHAME ! 

Antibiotic Self-stewardship: Trainee-Led Structured Antibiotic Time-outs to Improve Antimicrobial Use.

October 30, 2014

The 5 Secrets of Healthy Aging

A 35y long study has identified 5 simple ways to increase your chances of healthy aging. Here they are:
  1. eat well
  2. work out
  3. drink less
  4. keep your weight down
  5. never smoke. 

Secret of healthy ageing discovered in ground-breaking 35-year study - Telegraph

October 22, 2014

CDC Making Big Mistake on Ebola Patients

"Hospitals should be prepared to recognize possible cases, isolate them — and then call for help. Period,"

COMMENT: I agree. Rapid isolation and triage is the best strategy.

October 21, 2014

Internet-Based Healthy Eating Program Improves Diet and Body

BACKGROUND: The HealthValues Healthy Eating Programme is a standalone Internet-based intervention that employs a novel strategy for promoting behavior change (analyzing one's reasons for endorsing health values) alongside other psychological principles that have been shown to influence behavior. The program consists of phases targeting motivation (dietary feedback and advice, analyzing reasons for health values, thinking about health-related desires, and concerns), volition (implementation intentions with mental contrasting), and maintenance (reviewing tasks, weekly tips).

OBJECTIVE: The aim was to examine the effects of the program on consumption of fruit and vegetables, saturated fat, and added sugar over a 6-month period.

METHODS: A total of 82 females and 18 males were recruited using both online and print advertisements in the local community. They were allocated to an intervention or control group using a stratified block randomization protocol. The program was designed such that participants logged onto a website every week for 24 weeks and completed health-related measures. Those allocated to the intervention group also completed the intervention tasks at these sessions. Additionally, all participants attended laboratory sessions at baseline, 3 months, and 6 months. During these sessions, participants completed a food frequency questionnaire (FFQ, the Block Fat/Sugar/Fruit/Vegetable Screener, adapted for the UK), and researchers (blind to group allocation) measured their body mass index (BMI), waist-to-hip ratio (WHR), and heart rate variability (HRV).

RESULTS: fruit and vegetable consumption went up. Intake of saturated fats went down. Sugar intake went down. BMI and WHR both went down. 

CONCLUSIONS: The Web-based nature of the program makes it a potentially cost-effective way of promoting healthy eating.

J Med Internet Res. 2014;16(10):e231

October 16, 2014

Prevalence of internet and social media usage in orthopedic surgery.

Prevalence of internet and social media usage in orthopedic surgery.
Background: Social networking and Internet usage has become an increasingly important means of patient communication and referral.
Methods: New patients were surveyed (n=752) between December 2012 to January 2013 in a major academic orthopaedic center to complete a 15-item questionnaire including social media and Internet usage information. Data was collected for all orthopaedic sub-specialties and statistical analysis was performed.
Results: Fifty percent of patients use social networking sites, such as Facebook. Sports medicine patients tend to be higher social networking users (35.9%) relative to other services (9.8-17.9%) and was statistically higher when compared to the joints/tumor service (P<0.0001). Younger age was the biggest indicator predicting the use of social media. Patients that traveled between 120 to 180 miles from the hospital for their visits were significantly more likely to be social media users, as were patients that did research on their condition prior to their new patient appointment.
Conclusions: Orthopedic patients who use social media/Internet are more likely to be younger, researched their condition prior to their appointment and undergo a longer average day's travel (120-180 miles) to see a physician. In an increasingly competitive market, surgeons with younger patient populations will need to utilize social networking and the Internet to capture new patient referrals.

Orthop Rev (Pavia). 2014 Aug 8;6(3):5483

March 29, 2014

Internet Use and Depression Among Retired Older Adults in the United States: A Longitudinal Analysis.

Objectives.The purpose of this study is to examine the association between Internet use among retired older adults in the United States and changes in a commonly used predictor of depression (the CES-D).
Method.Analyzing data from four waves (2002-2008) of the Health and Retirement Survey, we assess whether an available and commonly used index of a depression state was affected by prior values of the index and Internet use. The sample includes 3,075 respondents observed over 4 waves of data, yielding a total of 12,300 observations. We analyzed the effect on depression of Internet use and past depression in a full sample and a matched sample. We also conducted informal tests for confounders. Finally, we tested a basic mediation model to determine whether Internet use affected depression through its relationship with loneliness and social isolation.
RESULTS: Across methods, we found a positive contribution of Internet use to mental well-being of retired older adults in the United States, where Internet use reduced the probability of a depression state by one third. We found no evidence of confounding. Some evidence of mediation was found.Discussion.Our dynamic probit model indicates that for retired older adults in the United States, Internet use was found to reduce the probability of a depressed state by about 33%. Number of people in the household partially mediates this relationship, with the reduction in depression largest for people living alone. This provides some evidence that the mechanism linking Internet use to depression is the remediation of social isolation and loneliness. Encouraging older adults to use the Internet may help decrease isolation and depression.

J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2014 Mar 26;