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The Inconvenient Evidence on Alzheimer's

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 16, 2010 | Jessie Gruman

Lifestyle May Not Prevent Alzheimer's trumpets a headline in Time magazine. The article goes on to describe a carefully conducted review of decades of evidence examining the hypothesis that exercise, social relationships, diet or vitamins can ward off Alzheimer's disease. The study concludes that there is not sufficient evidence to be able to recommend that the public take any of these actions to prevent or delay the disease.

Watched, Loved and Now Desired by Millions

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 20, 2010 | Dorothy Jeffress

If popular culture provides clues to social trends then all signs point to an American public captivated by red velvet, carrot, lemon, and raspberry. Fabric, fruits and vegetables? No cakes whether of the cup variety or fancy full-size versions.

Guest Blog: How Personal Pain Leads to Medical Dedication

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 24, 2010 | Andrew Schorr

The old joke about psychological therapists is they are among the biggest consumers of therapy themselves. Lately, I have been noticing more and more how a significant portion of the people we meet wearing white lab coats have a very personal connection to the medical work they do. For them it is not a job, a meal ticket, or just putting their years of training into practice, it is a mission connected to something in their past, something in their own body, or the health of a loved one.

Sharing the Burden

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 4, 2010 | Richard Sloan

Jessie has written about her perspective as the patient in an extremely stressful situation. I can add a different one: that of the husband of my seriously ill wife.

Friends, Fatigue and the Slow Slog Back

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 5, 2010 | Jessie Gruman

I have much experience with serious illness. And so I am a connoisseur of fatigue: the sleepless edginess of post-radiation fatigue; the heavy constancy of cardiac fatigue; the blur and blues of chemotherapy-related fatigue.

Patient Perspectives: Crowdsourcing, Ice Cream, a Fourth Devastating Diagnosis, and Medication Side Effects

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 22, 2010 | CFAH Staff

A collection of patient voices from around the web. This week's roundup includes: Red Maxwell, founder of the online diabetes community juvenation.org, D-Mom Leighann Calentine, patient empowerment advocate Trisha Torrey, and WarmSocks from "infinity-itis".

Book Review: Bad Science by Ben Goldacre

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 29, 2010 | Connie Davis

I've been following evidence-based medicine for many years and I've been appalled by the way it is playing out. We have pay-for-performance that does not understand that the reliability we are after is not in reliably (read blindly) applying a guideline to a patient population, but rather reliably considering how the evidence applies to the individual in a health care interaction. We have guidelines that are based on expert opinion, often influenced by drug company funding, or based on bad science. And we have a news media that seems unable to present medical findings in a balanced and understandable way.

A Fighting Spirit Won't Save Your Life

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 26, 2011 | Richard Sloan

Dr. Sloan's piece 'A Fighting Spirit Won't Save Your Life', that recently ran in The Opinion Pages of the New York Times, calls into question our belief that we can affect our health through optimism and positive thinking.

The Dilemma of Digital Mammography

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | February 7, 2011 | Trudy Lieberman

The rapid changeover from traditional mammography'pictures taken with film'to the new digital imaging technology poses a thorny dilemma for women, especially those over 65. The scientific evidence suggests that digital mammography does not improve the detection of breast cancer in older women.

Cancer Survivorship and Fear

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | February 28, 2011 | Andrew Schorr

I had breakfast this morning with my friend, Dave Garcia. Dave is a pit boss on the graveyard shift at the Belagio Hotel in Las Vegas. He is also a 52-year-old chronic lymphocytic leukemia survivor. Today he was to see his oncologist and get his latest blood test results. Would his white blood count be in the normal range? As you can imagine, Dave was on pins and needles.

Patient Perspectives: It's the Little Things

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 21, 2011 | CFAH Staff

It's all the little things that make caring for yourself or the one's you love with an illness that much more challenging. People with diabetes, MS and Rheumatoid Arthritis share their experiences in this patient blog roundup.

1st Person: At 98, Bob Stewart Would Rather Be Dancing

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | April 5, 2011 | First Person

Bob Stewart, who will turn 99 this May, began taking supplements in 2000, when he was in his late 80s. The retired podiatrist is also a strong believer in keeping active. He takes exercise classes at least three times a week and participates in numerous community activities, including a local men's chorus.

Patient-Centered Care: From Exam Room to Dinner Table

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | May 11, 2011 | Jessie Gruman

Only one in 10 respondents to a national survey could estimate how many calories they should consume in a day. Seventy-nine percent make few or no attempts to pay attention to the balance between the calories they consume and expend in a day.These and other piquant findings from the online 2011 Food and Health Survey fielded by the International Food Information Council Foundation (IFIC) struck home last week as I smacked up against my own ignorance about a healthy diet and the difficulty of changing lifelong eating habits.

Why Angry Birds Gets More Play Than Health Apps

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 1, 2011 | Jessie Gruman

I have been musing about why, despite our fascination with gadgets and timesaving devices, so few of us use the apps and tools that have been developed to help us take care of ourselves.

The Conversation Continues: Vitamins and Supplements

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 23, 2011 | CFAH Staff

The WSJ Health Journal looks at the pros and cons of taking a multivitamin.

The Emotions Illness Brings

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 5, 2011 | Patient Perspectives

The experiences and emotions brought on by having an illness or disability can be complex and sometimes unexpected. In this blog roundup, three patients share theirs.

NBC Urges Women >40 to Ask About CRP Test

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 19, 2011 | Gary Schwitzer

After seeing the NBC Nightly News last night, a physician urged me to write about what he saw: a story about a "simple blood test that could save women's lives." Readers - and maybe especially TV viewers - beware whenever you hear a story about "a simple blood test."

We Interrupt This State Fair for a Little Prostate Cancer Screening

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 7, 2011 | Gary Schwitzer

There are a few things a man should think about seriously before rolling up his sleeve for the supposedly "simple" blood test. 'But here, prostate cancer screening is hawked in the same setting as the modern-day carnies pitching their slice-'em-and-dice-'em devices and inventions you only see at the state fair - "only at this price today!"

Connections Between Fiscal and Physical Health

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 20, 2011 | Jane Sarasohn Kahn

The relationship between economic development and population health has been long documented the health of a nation's economy does impact the health of its individuals. In this case, the connection between one's financial health (foreclosure rates in particular) and one's physical/emotional health is looked at specifically.

I am Not My iPhone

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 5, 2011 | Jessie Gruman

There is excitement in the air about how mobile phones are the breakthrough technology for changing health behavior. Last Saturday, I was convinced this must be true. In two short hours, I...

Guest Blog: What's All That Other Stuff In My Medicine?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 14, 2011 | Scott Gavura

The perception from many consumers (based on my personal experience) seems to be that products are inferior if they contain non-drug ingredients. By this measure, drug products are problematic...

Guest Blog: On Alcohol and Breast Cancer, Guilt, Correlations, Fun, Moderation, Doctors' Habits, Advice and Herbal Tea

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 11, 2011 | Elaine Schattner

Few breast cancer news items irk some women I know more than those linking alcohol consumption to the disease.

1st Person: At 98, Bob Stewart Would Rather Be Dancing

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 27, 2011 | First Person

Bob Stewart, who will turn 99 this May, began taking supplements in 2000, when he was in his late 80s. The retired podiatrist is also a strong believer in keeping active. He takes exercise classes at least three times a week and participates in numerous community activities, including a local men's chorus.

A New Year and a New Big Picture Look at Weight Loss?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 9, 2012 | Inside Health Care

With New Years resolutions still fresh, weight loss is all over the news, and many Americans' minds are firmly resolved to lose weight. However, their bodies and fast food restaurants may be equally determined that they fail.

Prepared Patient: Small Steps to Big Health Change

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 12, 2012 | Health Behavior News Service

The task of changing our routine behaviors and habits ' even those that may be important for our health ' can seem overwhelming. No wonder: habits become habits because they give us something we think we need. Maybe they make us feel better or they bring comfort, familiarity or convenience to our lives. We also worry that we won't be successful. It turns out, the key to lasting behavior change is taking small steps.

Guest Blog: Old Public Health Guy's Plea: Don't Wear Your Headphones All the Time

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 27, 2012 | Douglas Kamerow

I propose that people stop wearing headphones when they are out in public...More serious than harming your hearing...it appears that earphone use in public can actually endanger your life.

Teen Smoking: An Epidemic?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 15, 2012 | Inside Health Care

A new report from the U.S. surgeon general's office estimates 3,800 kids light their first cigarette every day and tobacco companies spend more than $1 million an hour marketing and promoting tobacco products.

Getting Kids to Be Active

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 26, 2012 | Conversation Continues

Getting kids to eat well and exercise can be a tough sell. Are so-called "fat-shaming" books and exhibits the answer?

Employee Wellness Programs: The Carrot or the Stick?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | April 23, 2012 | Conversation Continues

Employee wellness programs can't work if employees don't participate. So, what's the motivation? Incentives or mandatory participation?

Guest Blog: Illness is Not Discrete. On Feeling Sick, and Not Knowing What's Next

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | April 25, 2012 | Elaine Schattner

A few days ago, the room around me started spinning. I wished I were Jack Kerouac , so it wouldn't matter if my thoughts were clear but that I tapped them out. Rat tat tat. Or Frank Sinatra with a cold. You'd want to know either of those guys, in detail. Up-close, loud, even breathing on you. You'd hire 'em. Because even when they're down, they're good. Handsome. Cool, slick, unforgettable. Illness doesn't capture or define them.

Reading, Writing, Weight Control?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | May 15, 2012 | Conversation Continues

"If you believe this is a massive national problem, you have to deal with it in a systems way," says, Dan Glickman, chair of an Institute of Medicine panel/report, "Accelerating Progress in Obesity Prevention".

Banning the Big Gulp: Bold Initiative or Bad Idea?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 14, 2012 | Inside Health Care

"Who should be responsible for the health of Americans?" "What's the best way to break society's bad habits?" Questions like these poured in following New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's recent proposal to ban sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces.

Uncomfortable with being Comfortable

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 19, 2012 | Chris Gibbons

Fitness maven Jeanette Jenkins recently tweeted that to see big results you have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. In other words, making change happen, inevitably leads to emotional or physical discomfort. If you are serious about change you must be willing to endure a lot of discomfort.

Guest Blog: The App Gap: Why Baby Boomers Won't Use Most Smart Phone Apps

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 25, 2012 | Val Jones

Along with the invention of smart phones, an entire medical mobile application (app) industry has cropped up, promising patients enhanced connectivity, health data collection, and overall care quality at lower costs...For all the hype about robo-grannies, aging in place technologies, and how high tech solutions will reduce healthcare costs, the reality is that these hopes are unlikely to be achieved with the baby boomer generation.

Six Things Patients Want from Social Media

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 27, 2012 | Jessie Gruman

A few weeks ago, I spoke at the Connecting Healthcare + Social Media conference in New York about what we patients want from health social media. Michelle McNickle, New Media Producer for Healthcare IT News wrote the following piece summarizing my talk and the '6 things patients want from social media.'

Prepared Patient: Do I Have to Go to the Dentist? Oral Health Starts Early

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 28, 2012 | Health Behavior News Service

Many of us have vivid memories of tying a thread to a loose tooth and wiggling it back and forth with our tongue all the time hoping for a profitable visit from the Tooth Fairy. Facebook is full of school and family photos of kids with cute, gap-toothed smiles. But increasingly, children are losing their baby teeth not due to the budding of their permanent teeth but to the ravages of early decay and cavities. There are a number of reasons kids and adults don't make it to the dentist regularly. For some parents, it's a lack of understanding about the importance of oral health, even at an early age.

Right-Sizing Health IT: Where’s My App?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 25, 2012 | Jessie Gruman

The online migration of health information services and technologies (IT) has been a popular focus for IT investors and developers recently. But we have not been as captivated by their efforts as we have been by those of, oh, Facebook, say. Or Lady Gaga's fan site. Or eBay. In fact, most of us are reluctant to make use of the thousands of helpful health IT tools launched to help us get healthier, take care of ourselves and make good use of our health care.

Guest Blog: Attitude

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 31, 2012 | Elaine Waples

I'??ve come to believe that seriously sick people are often subject to some very interesting comments from well-intentioned non-sick people.

Does Knowing Change Behaving?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 17, 2013 | Carolyn Thomas

One of my blog readers recently told us about why most of those self-tracking health apps may not in fact be particularly useful: "Fundamentally, sick people are the LEAST likely to be self-quantifiers. We, in fact, relish the thought of NOT obsessing about our health, to take it for granted like we do, say, gravity."

Latest Health Behavior News

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 7, 2013 | Health Behavior News Service

Recent health behavior research news stories: Friendships Are Good for Our Health | Obesity Lowers Quality of Life in Boys | Health Centers Have High Satisfaction Rates | Diabetes + Depression Increases Risk of Death

Self-Tracking Tech Revolution? Not So Fast…

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | April 8, 2013 | Carolyn Thomas

When the report called "Tracking for Health" was released last month, media headlines announced: “Over Two-Thirds Track Health Indicators!” Surprisingly, very few headlines ran the real news from the report: “Only 21% Use Technology to Self-Track!” Yet as of last autumn, more than 500 tech companies are busy developing The Next Big Thing in self-tracking tools.

Latest Health Behavior News

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | April 25, 2013 | Health Behavior News Service

Brought to you by CFAH’s Health Behavior News Service: Depressed teens have rocky twenties | Gym benefits, yes. Extra costs, no thanks | Church goers look to ministry for health advice | Just say no to smoking in public housing

‘Healthy Privilege’ – When You Just Can’t Imagine Being Sick

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | May 6, 2013 | Carolyn Thomas

What I’ve learned since my heart attack is that, until you or somebody you care about are personally affected by a life-altering diagnosis, it’s almost impossible to really get what being sick every day actually means…

Do Corporate Wellness Programs Work?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 5, 2013 | Trudy Lieberman

On a recent trip to Lincoln, NE, I visited Lincoln Industries, a company that makes chrome trims for Harley-Davidson motorcycles. I was curious about the firm’s award-winning wellness program, especially since more employers are penalizing workers by making them pay more for their health insurance if they fail to meet certain health goals.

What to Say to Someone Who Is Ill

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 30, 2013 | Conversation Continues

It can be hard to find the right words to say to someone who has received a devastating diagnosis. Here are some suggestions from people who have been through it.

Why I Don't Like the Phrase 'Cancer Survivor'

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 1, 2013 | Susan Fitzpatrick

Why is it that survivors of other devastating personal traumas – fires, floods, tornadoes – rarely use celebratory hero language? Mostly, they speak of themselves as lucky…

I Wish I'd Known Earlier...Kids with Cancer Need Emotional Support Too

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 23, 2013 | Sabrina Smith

The word "survivor" is a huge hot button for my older son, Nate, who was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) at the age of not-quite-three-years-old. The biggest regret I have from his illness is that we were so focused on saving his life and getting him physically healthy that we didn't think to bring therapy into the process for him in a full way...

Scary Coffee Stories – Add Cream and Two Lumps of Caveats

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 27, 2013 | Gary Schwitzer

You may have seen the story the other day about a paper pointing to an association – not proof of cause – between heavy coffee consumption and higher death rates in people younger than 55. At last check, there were more than 170 stories about this study that turned up on a simple web search. But there was a point that didn’t make it into most stories...

Latest Health Behavior News

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 30, 2013 | Health Behavior News Service

This week in health news: For teens, fighting is bad for the brain | Skeptical elderly turn to home remedies | Bedwetting treatments offer help | Green light for eating and drinking during labor

Latest Health Behavior News

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 20, 2013 | Health Behavior News Service

In this weeks health news: Group exercise alleviates college stress | Maintain your weight in a matter of minutes | Education may be the key to fighting obesity | Men who binge at risk for cardiovascular disease.

Latest Health Behavior News

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 11, 2013 | Health Behavior News Service

In this week's health news: Patient-doctor relationship affects diabetes care | Women in Appalachia at risk for late stage breast cancer | People with asthma need not fear exercise | Treating depression helps some smokers quit...

Is Everything We Know About Nutrition Wrong?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 31, 2013 | Inside Health Care

Millions of dollars are spent on dietary research, but are we any closer to understanding what a truly healthy diet consists of? A few new studies are turning long-held recommendations on their heads.

This Doctor Treats Poverty Like a Disease

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 6, 2013 | Trudy Lieberman

What would you think if your doctor handed you a prescription that recommended filing your tax returns or applying for food stamps instead of the usual medicines for high blood pressure or diabetes...

The Hard-Hitting Truth About Sports Concussions

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 11, 2013 | Conversation Continues

Final scores, rankings and rivalries aren't the only fall football traditions getting news coverage this season. Rates, effects and what to do about concussions are in the spotlight too.

The Great Canadian Experiment to House the Homeless

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 13, 2013 | Trudy Lieberman

At Home/Chez Soi, a Canadian program for the mentally ill, is built on the concept that providing housing is the first order of business. An approach that reinforces the truism that good health is more than swallowing the latest wonder drug.

Reducing Obesity: It Takes a Village

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 20, 2013 | Trudy Lieberman

During my recent visit to Canada, I had a chance to meet obesity expert and medical director of Canada's Bariatric Medicine Institute, Dr. Yoni Freedhoff. What he had to say was somewhat surprising...

For Many People with Diabetes, Lifestyle Changes Trump Medications

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 21, 2013 | Milly Dawson

Three key patient engagement themes emerged from this year's 'Diabetes + Innovation 2013' conference in Washington, D.C., organized by Joslin Diabetes Center at Harvard Medical School...

Healthy Eating...Help!

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 27, 2013 | CFAH Staff

It isn't breaking news that exercising and eating a healthy diet can help improve your overall health and fitness, but that doesn't make it any easier for most of us to follow suit. These resources from CFAH's 'Be a Prepared Patient' can help...

Color Us Stressed – How to Deal

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 2, 2013 | Jane Sarasohn Kahn

Coast-to-coast, stress is the norm for most Americans: 55 percent of people feel stressed in everyday life, and far more women feel the stress than men do. It will take a village to help manage stress, including but not limited to our doctors.

Wellness at Work

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 5, 2013 | Health Behavior News Service

Is your company one of the many that are now offering "wellness programs"? Our latest Be a Prepared Patient article, Staying Well at Work, looks at a few of these programs in action and offers tips for maintaining a healthy work/life balance...

What Does It Take to Get 'Better Living Through Medications' These Days?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 15, 2014 | Jessie Gruman

Lately, the public's faith in the safety of prescription and over-the-counter drugs has been making me uneasy. Why do so many of us continue to purchase pills that are not effective in causing weight loss, swallow syrups that promise to cure diabetes, and fiddle with our medication-taking regimens?...

NBC Vastly Exaggerates the Potential Benefits of Lung Cancer Screening

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 16, 2014 | Gary Schwitzer

When we talk about a consistently clear pattern of news stories that exaggerate or emphasize benefits while minimizing or ignoring harms, we are talking about stories exactly like this one...

Sticking With Resolutions Is All About Preparation

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 27, 2014 | David L. Katz

Relevant research and conventional wisdom alike suggest that, despite their irresistible perennial tug on our collective conscience, New Year's resolutions generally have about the staying power of Champagne bubbles. In contrast, the science of sustainable behavior change tips convincingly toward "don't go until ready."

Getting Help for Depression

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | February 20, 2014 | Be a Prepared Patient

Depression affects nearly one in ten Americans yet many people often go untreated. In fact, a recent study found that 70 percent of people surveyed with symptoms of depression received no treatment of any kind. Here's advice on how to get help...

Confessions of a Non-Compliant Patient

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | February 24, 2014 | Carolyn Thomas

Most days, I have learned to function pretty well. But take a few unexpected health challenges, no matter how minor they may seem to others, arriving at the same time and piled onto an already-full plate and you have an explosion of overwhelm that looms larger than the average healthy person could even imagine. I've become a non-compliant patient...

Engagement From Patients' Perspective: Different Than Docs, Employers, Health Plans

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | February 26, 2014 | Jessie Gruman

The Prepared Patient Blog published over two hundred articles in 2013 about what it takes for people to get the most from health care and how the system can be improved to make it feasible for us to do so. Here's a recap of what engagement looks like to us – whether we are sick or well, whether we are caregivers or loved ones: Engagement is not easy and we can't do it alone. Patient engagement is not the same as compliance. It is not a cost-cutting strategy, and it is not one-size-fits-all.

The Person Responsible for Your Health Is...

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | February 27, 2014 | CFAH Staff

Is it our job alone to look after our health? Or do employers, insurers, for-profit companies and the government also share some responsibility to keep us healthy? One person's nanny state is another's public health salvation. There is no shortage of examples of opposing perspectives...

Do People Really Want to Tech Their Way to Health?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 25, 2014 | Jane Sarasohn Kahn

The hockey-stick growth of "wearable technology" seen at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show begs the question: Will people pay out-of-pocket for gadgets that help them measure their steps, track their sleep, quantify their calories, record their heart rate and feedback their mood? A caveat emptor to investors seeing short-term dollar signs in the digital health sector...

Shared Decision Making: Blending Beliefs and Attitudes With Evidence

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | April 7, 2014 | Don S. Dizon

My patient, Mary, was a 28-year-old woman who had completed chemotherapy for stage II breast cancer. After discussing surveillance, frequency of follow-up and ASCO guidelines, I recommended against further testing or imaging. Mary was well aware of the evidence, but she had different plans...

Doctors as Coaches, Giving Up the High Horse

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | April 21, 2014 | Milly Dawson

A recent conference at Harvard Medical School brought together scores of physicians who want to live healthfully themselves and to work as partners with their patients to help them do the same. I've attended many medical meetings but never one as much fun or as health promoting for participants as this one...

Are We Cowboys or Managers of Our Chronic Conditions?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | April 23, 2014 | Jessie Gruman

The word "management" raises images of organizational charts and neat project timelines. This bears no relationship to my experience of trying to live a full, rich life with serious chronic disease. My image of having a serious chronic disease is of a cowboy riding a rodeo bull. You call that management? No. But it gives you a pretty good idea of what it feels like to have a serious chronic disease. This is our experience...

Calorie Disclosures Might Actually Improve Health

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | April 29, 2014 | Trudy Lieberman

I've long been a skeptic when it comes to disclosing information about how doctors practice medicine, how hospitals treat patients and what both doctors and hospitals charge for their services. But I'm dropping my skepticism about disclosing calories in food. We've been conditioned to think of some foods as healthier than others. Only labels will reveal the truth...

Society of Behavioral Medicine Announces Inaugural 'Jessie Gruman Award for Health Engagement'

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | April 30, 2014 | CFAH Staff

Dedicated to promoting behavioral medicine research and the application of that knowledge to improve the health and well-being of individuals, families, communities and populations, Society of Behavioral Medicine created this award to recognize an individual who has made a pivotal contribution to research, practice or policy in the field of health engagement.

Medication Cocktails: Not Every Mix Is Safe

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | May 5, 2014 | CFAH Staff

One in every five older Americans takes medications that work against each other. And some interactions between prescription drugs and supplements can pose dangerous health risks. So what must we do to make sure that we benefit from the drugs we take?

Who Needs a Doctor These Days?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | May 6, 2014 | Trudy Lieberman

Are insurance companies making more decisions about the health care you receive? I received a letter from Aetna, my Medicare supplement insurance carrier, advertising a pitch for getting "started on a healthier lifestyle." "Because of your health history, we think you might benefit from joining our program," the letter read. Annoyed, I called the insurer...

How Much Is a Patient's Peace of Mind Worth?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | May 12, 2014 | Anne Polta

If something is medically useless, does it still have value if it gives the patient (and perhaps the clinician as well) some peace of mind? To many patients, this is no small thing. Unfortunately, it's also often abetted by consumer marketing that plays up the peace-of-mind aspect of certain tests while remaining silent about the limited benefit, the possible risk and the clinical complexity that may be part of the larger picture...

Don't Forget the Hefty Price We Pay to Engage in Health

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 12, 2014 | Jessie Gruman

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 lower fat/salt recommendations have become complicated as old truisms are overturned by new evidence. So I'm asking: To whom should I turn for meaningful guidance about modifying my risk for illness and boosting my health?

Don't Let the Sun Shine Down on Me (It's Too Complicated!)

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 18, 2014 | Jessie Gruman

I'm impressed by how much we struggle with seemingly simple health decisions when faced with sorting through too much information. Every week we view diverse arrays of products with health, convenience and cosmetic claims competing for our attention. Think yogurt, Gatorade, running shoes, breakfast cereal...Given the ubiquity of such products and the swirl of marketing and science- or non-science-based information surrounding each, I'm wondering three things...

Patient Engagement: Here to Stay

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 1, 2014 | Jessie Gruman

What is patient engagement and what does it take to accomplish? With the support of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, CFAH set out to explore this concept as it was viewed by various diverse stakeholders. Our interviews with 35 key health care stakeholders lead to an impressive unity of opinion...

What Community Health Leaders Told CFAH About Patient Engagement

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 23, 2014 | CFAH Staff

"When I think of patient engagement, I think of a partnership where people work together to figure out what the patient wants and how to support the process. Engagement is the knowledge base, working through the decisions and helping people to become full partners in their health outcomes." – June Simmons, MSW — Founding President and CEO, Partners in Care Foundation, San Fernando, CA

What Employers and Purchaser Representatives Told CFAH About Patient Engagement

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 6, 2014 | CFAH Staff

"Employers have an opportunity to reduce barriers and support engagement because they sponsor health plans and can provide access to information, tools, technologies, incentives, and more. Employers have more ability to influence engagement than they often believe they have." – Michael Vittoria, Vice President, Corporate Benefits, MaineHealth, Portland, ME

What Policy Makers Told CFAH About Patient Engagement

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 13, 2014 | CFAH Staff

"Since patients don't live in a vacuum, we must also involve the community in which patients live, work, and play. Community resources must be readily available to meet the needs of the population they serve. Also, as we begin to have patients and families engaged in their care and talk to peers and extended family members, they begin to model engagement to others. We are looking for 'engaged communities.'" - Jean Moody-Williams - Group Director, CMS Quality Improvement Group, Baltimore, MD

Clever Hospitals Find Another Way to Snag New Patients

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 13, 2014 | Trudy Lieberman

As I sat on a New York subway one sizzler of a day, an ad for an ice cream cone grabbed my attention. After a closer read, I realized the ad was not touting ice cream but the Center for Advanced Digestive Care, a part of New York Presbyterian, one of the city's most prestigious hospitals and well known for its TV ads designed to cultivate brand recognition. The ice cream cone was an effective attention-grabber. So was the message…

What Health Insurers Told CFAH About Patient Engagement

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 20, 2014 | CFAH Staff

"Most health plans view engagement as important and want to support it. But they recognize that they are only one (relatively weak) factor in supporting patient/consumer engagement... Their customers want their insurance premiums going to medical care, not a bunch of mailings about things they already know they should do..." – Arthur Southam, MD – Executive Vice President of Health Plan Operations, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Oakland, CA

Stress Is US

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 8, 2014 | Jane Sarasohn Kahn

"Reality is the leading cause of stress among those in touch with it," Lily Tomlin once quipped. So it's no surprise, then, that one-half of the people in the U.S. have had a major stressful event or experience in the last year. And health tops the list...

What Health Care Consultants Told CFAH About Patient Engagement

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 10, 2014 | CFAH Staff

"At the end of the day, there is a growing recognition that we need people to take better care of themselves. Too much money is being spent on the consequences of unhealthy choices and on health care. We don't think that patient engagement is just the flavor of the week. The concept of how we can take more responsibility for our health and health care is not going away." – Janice Prochaska, PhD, President and CEO of Pro-Change Behavior Systems in South Kingstown, RI

'Be a Prepared Patient' Gets a New Look

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 1, 2014 | CFAH Staff

Finding good health care and making the most of it is critical for each of us. Yet all too often, reliable, unbiased information is hard to find and understand. On the redesigned Be a Prepared Patient website, we have collected trusted resources and tips to help people navigate their way through health and health care decisions and experiences...

Why Attend a Patient Support Group Twenty Years Later? 'Because I Remember'

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 3, 2014 | Jack Aiello

I was reluctant to attend. I didn't have leukemia and am not a "touchy-feely" person, which was my perception of a support group. However, I dragged my IV pole of medications and went to this meeting where I met my first fellow myeloma patient named Jim – finally, someone who had the same disease as me. So to this day, whenever I meet with one or a group of myeloma patients, I make the following plea...

Taking an Active Role in Your Recovery

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 12, 2014 | Alexandra Rosas

I was once someone who never felt that I'd be normal again. But recovery is made up of small steps that lead us to a successful life – these steps toward wellness matter, because being active versus passive about your recovery greatly increases the likelihood of a positive outcome...

Food Companies' Masterful Marketing at Odds With Consumers' Health

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 18, 2014 | CFAH Staff

New options from Domino's, McDonald's and Pepsi are putting consumers' food choices to the test. Do we really want nacho-chips-flavored Mountain Dew? Probably not. But health advocates will have to step up their game to compete against these marketing powerhouses...