Social Notwork? Meg Daley Olmert’s post in Psychology Today

Senior Fellow Meg Daley Olmert’s latest blog post for Psychology Today looks at social bonding in the time of texting. You get the gist from her title, Social Notwork? When words fail us: Bonding in the time of texting.

Let’s all put our devices down later today and enjoy some real time with people this weekend.

Have a good one,

Barbara Glickstein

Social Media Week: Health Tech Food

“Social Media Week (SMW) is a global platform that connects people, content, and conversation around emerging trends in social and mobile media. February 7-11 is the fourth social media week conference since it’s inception. It is being held in multi cities, is free, and supported by global and local sponsors. This year it’s focus was on how societies, cultures and economies around the world are becoming more integrated and more empowered through a global network of communication.

I attended a session titled, Health Tech Food , sponsored by Luminary Labs at the The Paley Center for Media, one of the five sites, which they referred to as Content Hubs, where events are taking place in New York City. There were four short presentations by terrific speakers that set us up to get to work in our ideation workshops: open source health, food systems, the quantified self or mobile health. This excellent use of the talent attending this event made it one of the most thought-provoking learning sessions I’ve attended in a long time. Kudos to the design team. You can see five of the winning ideation teams ideas presented and captured by my Flip Camera work on CHMP’s YouTube Channel.

Healthstyles Special Tonight 99.5FM wbai.org

Please join Co-Hosts Diana Mason & Barbara Glickstein to hear an interview with civil-rights historian John Dittmer, who wrote “The Good Doctors: The Medical Committee for Human Rights and the Struggle for Social Justice in Health Care” Described as “The untold story of the courageous doctors and nurses who fought the battle for racial justice in hospitals, in clinics, and on the streets in the 1960s.” Phyllis Cunningham, a nurse involved in this movement who Dittmer interviewed for his scholarly work, joins this captivating conversation.

Made in India Event

On February 23, CHMP will host the second event in our Film & New Media series. MADE IN INDIA, a film by Rebecca Haimowitz and Vaishali Sinha, is about the journey of an infertile American couple, an Indian surrogate and the reproductive outsourcing business that brings them together. The film weaves together these personal stories within the context of a growing international industry and explores a complicated clash of families in crisis, reproductive technology, and choice from a global perspective.

The event honors the 55th UN Commission on the Status of Women (February 22-March 4) and will be held at the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College. After the screening, the filmmakers, Dr. Carole Vance of Columbia University and CHMP Co-Director Barbara Glickstein will moderate a discussion about the issues the film raises, the media’s role in reporting the growing phenomena of outsourcing surrogacy and how we can advocate for the health and human rights of the women involved.

Second Judge Rules Against Health Care Reform

Florida Federal Judge Roger Vinson ruled yesterday that the entire Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional, a move characterized by Politico as “the most striking blow yet to President Obama’s signature domestic legislation.”

Like the recent ruling in Virginia, yesterday’s decision addressed the legality of the mandate to buy insurance.

However, the Florida-based lawsuit is considered a more significant attack than the Virginia ruling, both because the lawsuit represents a coalition of 26 states and because the judge goes on to rule that because the mandate provision is unconstitutional, so is the entire law. You can read some of the legal debate around this issue on this Washington Post blog.

Another interesting read is The American Prospect’s take on opposition to Health Care Reform in the context of attempts to dismantle The New Deal.

The Florida lawsuit is now headed for the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. The Atlanta-based court is “considered one of the country’s most conservative appellate benches” according to the New York Times’ coverage of the case.

Can Breast Implants Cause Cancer?

The FDA released a report Wednesday regarding recent findings of a link between persons with breast implants and anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL), a rare form of cancer involving the immune system. The FDA stresses that too few cases (37 identified cases since 1997) of ALCL have been recognized among those with breast implants for them to make a causal link between the two.

A registry of breast implant recipients has been proposed by the FDA and the American Society of Plastic Surgeons in order to identify people with breast implants who go on to develop ALCL. Clinicians can report confirmed cases to the FDA safety information program, MedWatch. Physician and FDA scientist, Binita Ashar took part in a Q&A on the FDA website regarding the issue. He noted ALCL has been identified in those with both silicone and saline-filled implants.

The FDA identified this potential connection through their own surveillance, not from agreed upon post-approval studies by makers of breast implants that have enrolled very few women. At the present time the FDA is not suggesting people remove their implants, but it is important to understand this recently identified potential risk.

The FDA states the information they will have to share about this link will be solely based upon the number of reports the registry receives. It will be interesting to see if the increased attention to this issue increases monitoring, and thus case-finding, among breast implant recipients. However, considering the 5-10 million people worldwide with breast implants and 37 confirmed cases of ALCL among them, is this just another media-hyped story adding to cancer-hysteria?

The Power of Poetry in Dying

According to today’s New York Times, many Navajo would view what happens during cardiac resuscitation as barbaric but they also believe that talking about your own death will bring it about. So, helping Navajo people to have a conversation about end-of-life choices and sign an advance directive is challenging. Times reporter Ben Daitz, MD, describes how Mitzie Begay, cross-cultural coordinator of home care for Fort Defiance Indian Hospital in Arizona, and Gina Nez, RN, Director of Nursing for the hospital, worked with staff to craft a Navajo poem that serves as the advance directive and is signed by the patient, as would happen with any advance directive. This culturally-grounded approach to crucial conversations about end of life decisions shows us that the forms we use for advance directives may lack meaningful cultural context for many people. The American Academy of Nursing’s policy brief on Advance Care Planning as an Urgent Public Health Concern calls for treating advance directives as more than a clerical matter and eliciting the preferences and values of the patient. But other considerations may be needed when the patient’s culture precludes such discussions. If poetry works in one culture, perhaps song or literature could help in others.

Diana J. Mason, PhD, RN, FAAN, Rudin Professor of Nursing

Philadelphia Abortion Arrests – What The Media Missed

With this week’s arrest of Dr. Kermit Gosnell and the truly gruesome allegations about the conditions and procedures at the Philadelphia abortion clinic he operated, the media has been forced to navigate coverage of a polarizing and inherently politicized topic.

Some outlets and writers, like the Associated Press’ superlative David Crary, used the story to examine late-term providers nationally; how they are regulated, and what the availability of care is. But most ran with disturbing and salacious lines, like the local Fox affiliate’s web coverage, entitled, “Doctor Allegedly Killed Babies With Scissors.”

What is alleged to have happened is unspeakable. However, amid the manic energy that surrounds the abortion debate in our country, the media missed a key part of this story: access to care.

Gosnell’s clinic, the Women’s Medical Society, operated in West Philadelphia, and its clients were mostly poor and immigrant women, especially women of color. Despite 10 malpractice suits, decades of complaints against the clinic from both patients and fellow providers, and at least one patient’s death, the clinic had not been inspected since 1993 – until drug investigators got involved after being tipped off that the clinic was selling illegal prescriptions.

Media outlets as weighty as The Atlantic rounded up coverage of the case, attempting to balance both sides of the choice debate carefully. Missing from their coverage: the story of access to quality care.

Clearly Dr. Gosnell, who was not a board-certified OB/GYN, who employed no nurses or anesthetists at the clinic, and who is alleged to have used an employee’s 15 year-old daughter to administer anesthesia, ran a frightening, filthy clinic with cat litter boxes in patient rooms, and blood and urine stains everywhere, according to the Grand Jury Report.

What kind of situation would any woman have to be in, if she found herself at the Women’s Medical Society and did not immediately seek care elsewhere?

Why does our civic apparatus have the will and ability to respond to illegal drug complaints in a timely way but is unable to monitor health care quality?

As Maryclaire Dale and Patrick Waters wrote for the Associated Press,

“The grand jury suggested the state knew Gosnell and his clinic were offering unacceptable medical care; its report said race, socioeconomic status and politics were among the reasons why no action was taken.

‘We think the reason no one acted is because the women in question were poor and of color…” the report said.’….

White women from the suburbs were ushered into a separate, slightly cleaner area because Gosnell believed they were more likely to file complaints.”

The Three Stooges, Cops and Robbers, and Public Misunderstanding of the Long-Term Effects of Repeated Head Trauma

Some of the most fundamental and taken for granted cultural assumptions are the hardest to question. Why? Because “they” said they are true.

These are the assumptions that my Mom and Grandma used to always attribute to “they,” the mystical font of all wisdom and patron saint of unsubstantiated claims. “They” knew what caused colds, what foods were good for you, and seemed to have genuine insider knowledge about why it was important to wait a half hour after eating before swimming. I remember being a happy yet stubborn 9 year-old, arguing some point with my grandma, and instantly holding up the white flag when she was able to cite some evidence that “they” had reported. It simply didn’t matter that the information provided by “they” came from everything from supermarket tabloids to long-departed relatives. “They” knew what “they” was talking about!

“They” was on my mind today.

Within only several years, the problem of sports-related concussions and head trauma has become a topic of wide discussion and concern. Today on NPR’s Fresh Air, former All-Ivy league lineman, pro wrestler, Harvard graduate, and head trauma activist Chris Nowitski discussed his crusade to raise awareness about the potentially lifelong and debilitating effect of repeated head trauma. His foundation, The Sports Legacy Institute, focuses on the study of the degenerative brain disease Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE, a condition caused by repetitive concussive and sub-concussive brain injuries.

Listening to the interview reminded me of two things: First, I recalled that my freshman year of high school was marked by a painful and angry argument between my Mom and me about whether I could play football. I wanted to play. I lost. She was probably right.

But my other thought today was the absolutely ridiculous and even humorous way that head trauma is depicted in popular culture. People are knocked unconscious in staged fights and immediately regain consciousness. Cowboys and cops and criminals are constantly being punched, dropping to the ground, and quickly waking up with little effect. In fact, in physical humor and slapstick, the very act of being knocked unconscious is presented as the zenith of hilarity.

In “they-land,” the Three Stooges can smack and poke and punch each other’s head endlessly, and the laughter only gets louder.

It’s not that 1) some of this isn’t genuinely funny or 2) that it is something requiring censorship. I will, though, suggest that one result of all this consequence-free theatrical punching and poking is that the long-term consequences of sudden head trauma have largely been buried under all the comedy and action-packed scenes in film and television. The conventions and constraints of popular entertainment simply leave no room for the variety of short and long term symptoms of real-world concussions.

When is the last time you watched a crime drama, saw a bad guy get knocked out, and then watched him wake up with any of the actual symptoms of a serious concussion – vomiting, memory loss, a seizure, vision problems, etc? Never. Because “they” knows that all these complications would simply clog up and slow down a good police procedural.

My point is simple: the facts about the effects of repeated head trauma from football and boxing are slowly emerging in a number of longitudinal studies and post-mortem examinations of suspect brain tissue. Articles, studies, and commissions will tease out the medical nuance and – perhaps – effective treatment and prevention measures will emerge.

What a shame, though, that – while this work goes on – our culture will continue to get its kicks from popular entertainment – nonsense like professional wrestling, for example — that will depict the good old fashioned “bop on the head” as part of a grand tradition of performance rather than something potentially deadly and debilitating.

“They” should know better.