PREPARED PATIENT BLOG

Patients and experts explore what it takes to find good health care and make the most of it.

The Health Behavior News Service (HBNS), a division of the Center for Advancing Health, brings you the latest health behavior and patient engagement research from selected peer-reviewed journals. HBNS original stories summarize research findings including “Key Points” and are disseminated for free to the press and the public around the world.


Wellness at Work

Health Behavior News Service | December 5, 2013
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...

Latest Health Behavior News

Health Behavior News Service | October 11, 2013
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...

Latest Health Behavior News

Health Behavior News Service | September 20, 2013
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

Health Behavior News Service | August 30, 2013
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

Health Behavior News Service | August 9, 2013
This week in health news: When dieting encouragement goes wrong | What works for more walking at work | Vaccines: Not just for babies | Health insurance matters for cancer survivors

Latest Health Behavior News

Health Behavior News Service | July 26, 2013
This week in health news: Men opt for PSA test, despite guidelines | Obesity an added burden for people with disabilities | Minorities not getting mental health care | Economic downturns affect preventive care

Latest Health Behavior News

Health Behavior News Service | July 9, 2013
This week in health news: Using shame to promote weight loss doesn’t work | Black nursing homes face challenges | Hispanic and Black children not getting the right asthma meds | Electronic health records not widespread

Latest Health Behavior News

Health Behavior News Service | May 22, 2013
This week in health news: Trauma care disparities persist for blacks | Calorie info on menus starts to have an effect | Soda in schools may lead black students to drink more | “Eat Fresh”? Not necessarily

Latest Health Behavior News

Health Behavior News Service | April 25, 2013
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

Latest Health Behavior News

Health Behavior News Service | March 7, 2013
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

Latest Health Behavior News

Health Behavior News Service | February 12, 2013
This week in health behavior news: Effects of deployment on those left behind | Commuting style linked to weight gain | Drugs for fibromyalgia may do more harm than good | Accidental poisonings leading cause of deaths at home

Prepared Patient: Taking Charge of Your Health Records

Health Behavior News Service | January 2, 2013

Prepared Patient: Watchful Waiting: When Treatment Can Wait

Health Behavior News Service | January 1, 2013
In today'??s fast-paced world, waiting '?? whether it'??s at the doctor'??s office, in line at the grocery store or for an Internet connection '?? is rarely considered a good thing. But when it comes to certain medical conditions, delaying treatment while regularly monitoring the progress of disease '?? a strategy doctors refer to as '??watchful waiting,'?? active surveillance or expectant management '?? may benefit some patients more than a rush to pharmaceutical or surgical options.

Prepared Patient: Advance Directives: Caring for You & Your Family

Health Behavior News Service | December 31, 2012
Heather Rubesch first remembers talking with her mom, Linda, about end-of-life care as a teenager. "When I was 14, I had an aunt who passed because she did not receive a kidney transplant. As a family, we had that conversation-if something happened to one of us, organ donation was what we wanted to do," said Rubesch, 37, a business and marketing writer from Kansas City, Mo. Decades later, when Heather got the call from the hospital, informing her of her mother's terminal condition, she was shocked to discover she was expected to make immediate decisions about her mother's end-of-life care.

Prepared Patient: The Handoff: Your Roadmap to a New Doctors Care

Health Behavior News Service | December 29, 2012
It could be a broken wrist, or a life-altering battle with cancer, but sooner or later most patients run up against the diagnosis that sends them from their primary care doctor's care into the hands of a new physician. In medical circles, this transition is called the "handoff" '?? a casual name that conceals the complications and risks of this journey.

Prepared Patient: Making a Pact With Your Doctors

Health Behavior News Service | December 28, 2012
Being a prepared patient means taking on some of the jobs 'big and small' that are necessary for staying healthy and coping will illness. Just like with any other job, it helps to have the job description clearly laid out before you start work. Your doctor may be expecting you to do certain tasks from filling prescriptions to changing your sleep or diet that can help you make the most of your care.

Prepared Patient: Goodbye, Acute Care, Hello, Rehab

Health Behavior News Service | December 27, 2012
After a person receives acute care in a "regular" hospital for catastrophic illness, traumatic injury or a debilitating chronic condition, the next step in the process of recovery often involves a stay at an inpatient rehabilitation, or rehab, facility.

Prepared Patient: On Your Own With Multiple Meds

Health Behavior News Service | December 26, 2012
People with chronic illness often struggle to manage several prescribed drugs at a time. It's overwhelming when the vials, bottles and inhalers bulge from your medicine cabinet and you're confused about which drug is which, or when to take what.

Prepared Patient: Reducing Your Risk of Medical Errors

Health Behavior News Service | December 25, 2012
Recovering from a knee replacement is difficult under the best of circumstances, but for Herminia Briones, the year following her surgery was filled with unexpected pain, complications and confusion. Her repeated attempts to draw attention to her problems went unheeded, beginning an unfortunate and not uncommon struggle with medical error. Why do medical errors happen and how can you help protect yourself from harm?

Prepared Patient: Chronic Conditions: When Do You Call the Doctor?

Health Behavior News Service | December 24, 2012
The signs are everywhere - prescriptions doled out into weekly reminder boxes, blood glucose monitors in a desk drawer, maybe even an adrenaline injection pen stashed in a diaper bag for allergy emergencies. From high cholesterol to HIV, millions of Americans have a medical condition that they manage mostly on their own.

Latest Health Behavior Research News

Health Behavior News Service | December 21, 2012
What's happening in health news: Doctors getting printed reminders and learning to communicate better with patients, young women aren't completing the 3-dose HPV vaccine, and socio-economic factors impact trust in health care providers.

Latest Health Behavior Research News

Health Behavior News Service | November 21, 2012
This week in health news: more active transportation needed, caregivers at risk for cardiovascular disease, divorce brings loss of health insurance for many women, and retail clinics disrupt primary care.

Latest Health Behavior Research News

Health Behavior News Service | October 26, 2012
This week in health behavior news: shingles vaccines in older Americans, quit smoking programs, prescription painkiller abuse in teens, generic drug use in minorities

Latest Health Behavior Research News

Health Behavior News Service | October 12, 2012
In this week's health stories: teen sexual health, graphic anti-smoking ads, bad health news for veterans, and no evidence to back up spinal manipulations.

Latest Health Behavior Research News

Health Behavior News Service | September 21, 2012
In this week's health stories: risk perception of heart disease and diabetes, topical NSAIDs for pain relief, rooming-in helps breastfeeding, and black cohosh for hot flashes.

Prepared Patient: Do You Need a Yearly Checkup? (Updated Version)

Health Behavior News Service | August 3, 2012
We've all heard about well-baby visits, but if you're a healthy adult, you probably have no plan to see a doctor. When there's nothing to complain about, many of us go years without a comprehensive medical check-up, maybe to save money or time off from work or because we don't want to be lectured about our diet or exercise habits. But should we give up the time-honored tradition of the yearly physical?

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

Health Behavior News Service | June 28, 2012
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.

Prepared Patient: Sick at Work

Health Behavior News Service | May 25, 2012
The typical week of sick time provided most employees may be enough if you get hit with the flu or a cold. But what happens when you have a chronic condition, such as Crohn's disease, multiple sclerosis or diabetes, and the time off you need exceeds your number of sick days? What protections do you have if you require major surgery?

Prepared Patient: How to Find and Use Health Insurance

Health Behavior News Service | April 5, 2012
Several years ago, DeAnn Friedholm had to shop for her own health insurance. The prospective insurance company discovered she had had a couple of benign tumors more than a decade before and so denied her coverage because of her preexisting condition. Just like that, Friedholm had no good option for insurance in case she needed to see a doctor. Whether you are like DeAnn with a preexisting condition, are new to shopping for insurance or trying to figure out what coverage you do have, there are resources to help with this often complicated but important purchase.

Prepared Patient: Young Adults Taking the Health Care Reins

Health Behavior News Service | February 9, 2012
Your parents still might be willing to do your laundry, but if you're over 18, they can't make your medical decisions. Are you ready to navigate the adult health care system? This updated Prepared Patient feature offers advice for young people who are just starting out in managing their health care, including information on important provisions from the Affordable Care Act.

Prepared Patient: Small Steps to Big Health Change

Health Behavior News Service | January 12, 2012
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.

Prepared Patient: Using Physician Rating Websites

Health Behavior News Service | January 2, 2012
User reviews and ratings on websites can help you locate a reputable handyman, the perfect restaurant for your anniversary dinner or the right TV for your den. So why wouldn't you turn to the Internet to find your next doctor? New health review sites promise to help you make this important decision for yourself or your loved ones. However, patients and physicians alike are finding that these doctor reviews aren't as transparent or useful as they might seem.

Prepared Patient: Getting the Right Help for Acute Pain

Health Behavior News Service | December 30, 2011
Whether caused by injury, surgery or a toothache so bad it slams you awake in the middle of the night, acute pain is difficult. Receiving prompt and helpful treatment can make all the difference in the world. But lack of care or inadequate care means that the acute pain may develop into chronic agony.

Prepared Patient: When Pain Doesn't End

Health Behavior News Service | December 29, 2011
At 24, Teresa Shaffer, began a decades-long journey through chronic pain, eventually receiving a diagnosis of degenerative joint disease. Although she was wheelchair-bound at one point, today, at 47, through water therapy, medication, exercise, counseling and perseverance, Shaffer is able to walk on her own and manage her pain as well as serving as an advocate for other pain patients. Kelly Young has suffered constant pain from her rheumatoid arthritis for the last five years. A mother of five, 46-year-old Young copes with her illness with a mix of medications, grit and advocacy work.

Prepared Patient: Watchful Waiting: When Treatment Can Wait

Health Behavior News Service | December 28, 2011
In today's fast-paced world, waiting ' whether it's at the doctor's office, in line at the grocery store or for an Internet connection ' is rarely considered a good thing. But when it comes to certain medical conditions, delaying treatment while regularly monitoring the progress of disease ' a strategy doctors refer to as 'watchful waiting,' active surveillance or expectant management ' may benefit some patients more than a rush to pharmaceutical or surgical options.

Prepared Patient: Vitamins & Supplements: Before You Dive In

Health Behavior News Service | December 27, 2011
At 98 years old, Bob Stewart swears by his dietary supplements as a secret to successful aging. He takes flaxseed and apple cider vinegar pills, along with a Japanese supplement called nattokinase. He has never had a 'bad experience' or side effects, he says. But Betsy McMillan, an Ohio writer, describes her overdose from a vitamin B complex supplement. After a few weeks of taking it'in which she never exceeded the dose recommended on the bottle'her liver began to swell and she was overwhelmed by fatigue. It turned out that the pills contained potentially fatal levels of niacin.

Prepared Patient: Hospice Care: What Is It, Anyway?

Health Behavior News Service | December 26, 2011
Three a.m. can be a lonely time for caregivers. But when Renata Rafferty's husband Jerome struggled to breathe late one night, she knew she wasn't completely alone. Though it was the middle of the night when Renata called, the on-call nurse at their hospice responded immediately: arranging medical equipment and a nurse to check on Jerome. Now, months after Jerome's death, Renata says hospice 'is not the place you go to die, it's the place you go to celebrate and finish your life, in an environment where that is the sole and only focus.'

Prepared Patient: Side Effects: When Silence Isn't Golden

Health Behavior News Service | December 23, 2011
'I had a wonderful gentleman patient who had resistant blood pressure,' recalls Vicki Koenig, M.D., a retired family doctor in Exmore, VA. 'When he came for a blood pressure check on the latest new med and it was great, I was ecstatic. Then he said, 'But I notice my urine's a little dark.' His was one of the first cases of fatal liver complications from this medication.' Medication side effects are common'but when should you speak up?

Prepared Patient: In Case of Emergency: Who's Who in the ER

Health Behavior News Service | December 22, 2011
While commuting to work in September 2009, Ashley Finley stopped her bike short to avoid a pedestrian ' and flew over the handlebars, hitting her head on the pavement. Her chin gushing blood and with concerns about head injury, Ashley and her partner, Goldie Pyka*, immediately headed to an ER. Though their wait time in the Washington, D.C., emergency room was minimal, Pyka says she felt surprised by the number of people who participated in Ashley's care. 'I was expecting to see one person, tell them what happened and have that person help. I wasn't expecting to interact with that many people and to not really be told who they were and what they were there for. I felt we were very passive in the whole experience,' Pyka says.

Prepared Patient: Reducing Your Risk of Medical Errors

Health Behavior News Service | December 15, 2011
Recovering from a knee replacement is difficult under the best of circumstances, but for Herminia Briones, the year following her surgery was filled with unexpected pain, complications and confusion. Her repeated attempts to draw attention to her problems went unheeded, beginning an unfortunate and not uncommon struggle with medical error. Why do medical errors happen and how can you help protect yourself from harm?

Prepared Patient: Using Physician Rating Websites

Health Behavior News Service | November 15, 2011
User reviews and ratings on websites can help you locate a reputable handyman, the perfect restaurant for your anniversary dinner or the right TV for your den. So why wouldn't you turn to the Internet to find your next doctor? New health review sites promise to help you make this important decision for yourself or your loved ones. However, patients and physicians alike are finding that these doctor reviews aren't as transparent or useful as they might seem.

Prepared Patient: Cutting Through ICU Confusion

Health Behavior News Service | October 20, 2011
In January 2010, after beginning treatment for chronic Lyme disease, 53-year-old Jim Young lost significant weight and struggled to breathe. Within 15 hours, his wife Erica Kosal received a call about his imminent transfer to the intensive care unit (ICU). "I can remember he was hooked up to all kind of machines. He looked so deflated.'

Prepared Patient: Getting the Right Help for Acute Pain

Health Behavior News Service | September 22, 2011
Whether caused by injury, surgery or a toothache so bad it slams you awake in the middle of the night, acute pain is difficult. Receiving prompt and helpful treatment can make all the difference in the world. But lack of care or inadequate care means that the acute pain may develop into chronic agony.

Prepared Patient: When Pain Doesn't End

Health Behavior News Service | July 19, 2011
At 24, Teresa Shaffer, began a decades-long journey through chronic pain, eventually receiving a diagnosis of degenerative joint disease. Although she was wheelchair-bound at one point, today, at 47, through water therapy, medication, exercise, counseling and perseverance, Shaffer is able to walk on her own and manage her pain'as well as serving as an advocate for other pain patients. Kelly Young has suffered constant pain from her rheumatoid arthritis for the last five years. A mother of five, 46-year-old Young copes with her illness with a mix of medications, grit and advocacy work.

Prepared Patient: Watchful Waiting: When Treatment Can Wait

Health Behavior News Service | June 6, 2011
In today's fast-paced world, waiting ' whether it's at the doctor's office, in line at the grocery store or for an Internet connection ' is rarely considered a good thing. But when it comes to certain medical conditions, delaying treatment while regularly monitoring the progress of disease ' a strategy doctors refer to as 'watchful waiting,' active surveillance or expectant management ' may benefit some patients more than a rush to pharmaceutical or surgical options.

Prepared Patient: Vitamins & Supplements: Before You Dive In

Health Behavior News Service | April 5, 2011
At 98 years old, Bob Stewart swears by his dietary supplements as a secret to successful aging. He takes flaxseed and apple cider vinegar pills, along with a Japanese supplement called nattokinase. He has never had a 'bad experience' or side effects, he says. But Betsy McMillan, an Ohio writer, describes her overdose from a vitamin B complex supplement. After a few weeks of taking it'in which she never exceeded the dose recommended on the bottle'her liver began to swell and she was overwhelmed by fatigue. It turned out that the pills contained potentially fatal levels of niacin.

Prepared Patient: Hospice Care: What Is It, Anyway?

Health Behavior News Service | March 10, 2011
Three a.m. can be a lonely time for caregivers. But when Renata Rafferty's husband Jerome struggled to breathe late one night, she knew she wasn't completely alone. Though it was the middle of the night when Renata called, the on-call nurse at their hospice responded immediately: arranging medical equipment and a nurse to check on Jerome. Now, months after Jerome's death, Renata says hospice 'is not the place you go to die, it's the place you go to celebrate and finish your life, in an environment where that is the sole and only focus.'

Prepared Patient: Side Effects: When Silence Isn't Golden

Health Behavior News Service | February 3, 2011
'I had a wonderful gentleman patient who had resistant blood pressure,' recalls Vicki Koenig, M.D., a retired family doctor in Exmore, VA. 'When he came for a blood pressure check on the latest new med and it was great, I was ecstatic. Then he said, 'But I notice my urine's a little dark.' His was one of the first cases of fatal liver complications from this medication.' Medication side effects are common'but when should you speak up?

Goodbye Acute Care, Hello, Rehab

Health Behavior News Service | January 21, 2011
Given the interest in Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords' transfer to a Houston rehabilitation facility, here is our Prepared Patient feature article: 'Goodbye, Acute Care, Hello, Rehab' . Understanding some of the myths and realities of rehab care can help patients and caregivers during this critical transition and recovery time.

Prepared Patient: In Case of Emergency: Who's Who in the ER

Health Behavior News Service | January 13, 2011
While commuting to work in September 2009, Ashley Finley stopped her bike short to avoid a pedestrian and flew over the handlebars, hitting her head on the pavement. Her chin gushing blood and with concerns about head injury, Ashley and her partner, Goldie Pyka*, immediately headed to an ER. Though their wait time in the Washington, D.C., emergency room was minimal, Pyka says she felt surprised by the number of people who participated in Ashley's care. 'I was expecting to see one person, tell them what happened and have that person help. I wasn't expecting to interact with that many people and to not really be told who they were and what they were there for. I felt we were very passive in the whole experience,' Pyka says.

Prepared Patient: Advance Directives: Caring for You & Your Family

Health Behavior News Service | January 3, 2011
Heather Rubesch first remembers talking with her mom, Linda, about end-of-life care as a teenager. "When I was 14, I had an aunt who passed because she did not receive a kidney transplant. As a family, we had that conversation-if something happened to one of us, organ donation was what we wanted to do," said Rubesch, 37, a business and marketing writer from Kansas City, Mo. Decades later, when Heather got the call from the hospital, informing her of her mother's terminal condition, she was shocked to discover she was expected to make immediate decisions about her mother's end-of-life care.

Prepared Patient: Coping With the High Costs of Prescriptions

Health Behavior News Service | December 31, 2010
Cost-cutting measures are creeping into the medicine cabinet. We split pills in half or take the drugs every other day to stretch our doses. We stop filling the prescriptions for our most expensive drugs. We buy prescriptions from online pharmacies with questionable credentials. As patients pay more for their prescription drugs ' whether it's through higher insurance co-pays or shouldering the full costs ' many people decide to opt out of taking the drugs altogether. But there are safer ways to cut costs than skimping on ' or skipping 'the medicines you need.

Prepared Patient: Need Help With Your Mental Health?

Health Behavior News Service | December 30, 2010
Insomnia and oversleeping, slowed speech, hopelessness, frequent crying and lack of focus all are symptoms of depression. Overeating or lack of appetite; suicidal thoughts; loss of interest or pleasure in activities and relationships that usually bring joy; anxiety and difficulty feeling pleasure or sustaining positive emotions can occur as well.

Prepared Patient: The Handoff: Your Roadmap to a New Doctors Care

Health Behavior News Service | December 29, 2010
It could be a broken wrist, or a life-altering battle with cancer, but sooner or later most patients run up against the diagnosis that sends them from their primary care doctor's care into the hands of a new physician. In medical circles, this transition is called the "handoff" a casual name that conceals the complications and risks of this journey.

Prepared Patient: Sorting Out Medical Opinion Overload

Health Behavior News Service | December 28, 2010
When her grandmother experienced a sudden onset of dizziness, slurred speech and facial drooping, Kafi Grigsby found herself in an emergency department waiting room, surrounded by five doctors with four different opinions on what had occurred and how to treat it.

Prepared Patient: Taking Charge of Your Health Records

Health Behavior News Service | December 27, 2010
File folders, marching across the shelves in an orderly line behind the receptionist's desk, may be the first thing you see when you sign in for a doctor's appointment. While it's tempting to believe that your personal health history is neatly contained within one of those folders, the truth is far more troubling.

Prepared Patient: Effective Patienthood Begins With Good Communication

Health Behavior News Service | December 24, 2010
Given all the obstacles that prevent us from getting to the doctor's office scheduling an appointment, digging out the insurance card and plain old procrastination it is good health sense to make the most of your time when you are finally face-to-face with your health care provider.

Prepared Patient: Medical Testing: You Need Answers

Health Behavior News Service | December 20, 2010
Deborah Lewis got a shock when her pain management clinic called about a recent MRI test: They told me I needed to see an oncologist right away, that I had tumors on my spine. An oncologist did a lot of tests even though he said the MRI report didn't indicate anywhere that I had tumors or cancer. In fact, Lewis just had benign tumors common to her chronic medical condition. After a lot of wasted money, time and a whole lot of fear, we learned to question all test results,' she says.

Prepared Patient: Your Doctor's Office, Demystified

Health Behavior News Service | November 17, 2010
Long gone are the days when all nurses sported identical uniforms and only physicians wore white coats and scrubs. Today, when visiting your doctor's office, it can be difficult to know with whom you're speaking and what role they play in your health care.