Monday, January 26, 2009

TV shows prompting bioethics discussions

In this week's AMNews: TV doctors' flaws become bioethics teaching moments -- comments on a recent study examining medical students' TV viewing habits.
Dr. House is the fictional protagonist of Fox TV's "House," a medical mystery drama that last year drew an average 16.2 million viewers weekly. The bad-boy antics that made the master diagnostician a hit with American viewers also have made him popular among medical students, according to a December 2008 study in The American Journal of Bioethics.

The survey of nearly 400 medical and nursing students at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland found that 76% of doctors in training watch "House" and 73% watch ABC's hospital soap opera "Grey's Anatomy." Nearly 40% watch NBC's "ER" and one in five tunes in "Nip/Tuck," which airs on the FX cable network. Eighty-five percent of medical students said they watched a medical drama in the prior year.
The AJOB paper itself: Matthew Czarny, Edwin Bodensiek, Ruth R. Faden, Marie T. Nolan, Jeremy Sugarman. Medical and Nursing Students' Television Viewing Habits: Potential Implications for Bioethics 2008. The Am J Bioethics 2008 Dec; 8(12):1.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Personalized genetic prediction

Commentary on the current state of genetic testing for personalized medicine, including promise as well as challenges that still need to be tackled..

Personalized Genetic Prediction: Too Limited, Too Expensive, or Too Soon?
John P.A. Ioannidis
Ann Intern Med 2009;150 139-141
“Genetic epidemiology has identified many common genetic variants that are associated with common diseases, and the list is growing monthly (1, 2). This success has boosted expectations for personalized genetic prediction. According to these expectations, genetic information can tell people about their risk for various diseases and which medications they should use or avoid. However, 2 articles in this issue (3, 4) suggest that this promise may be exaggerated and premature.”

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

New JAMA users' guide article

In today's JAMA -- John Attia; John P. A. Ioannidis; Ammarin Thakkinstian; Mark McEvoy; Rodney J. Scott; Cosetta Minelli; John Thompson; Claire Infante-Rivard; Gordon Guyatt. How to Use an Article About Genetic Association: A: Background Concepts. JAMA 2009;301 74-81.

The start of a 3-article series about how to read a genetic association study.

Update: the 2nd and 3rd articles are now available too.

- Attia J, Ioannidis JPA, Thakkinstian A; et al. How to use an article about genetic association: B: are the results of the study valid? JAMA. 2009;301(2):191-197.

- John Attia; John P. A. Ioannidis; Ammarin Thakkinstian; Mark McEvoy; Rodney J. Scott; Cosetta Minelli; John Thompson; Claire Infante-Rivard; Gordon Guyatt. How to Use an Article About Genetic Association: C: What Are the Results and Will They Help Me in Caring for My Patients? JAMA 2009;301 304-308.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Limited usefulness of private-sector medication information

From the FDA: "Study Finds Much of Private-Sector Consumer Medication Information Not Consistently Useful" (12/16/2008)
A study released today by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found that the printed consumer medication information (CMI) voluntarily provided with new prescriptions by retail pharmacies does not consistently provide easy-to-read, understandable information about the use and risks of medications.

The study, Expert and Consumer Evaluation of Consumer Medication Information, showed that while most consumers (94 percent) received CMI with new prescriptions, only about 75 percent of this information met the minimum criteria for usefulness as defined by a panel of stakeholders. In 1996, Congress called for 95 percent of all new prescriptions to be accompanied by useful CMI by 2006.


One more from the WSJ's Health blog -- summary of a recent Microsoft study about how people search for health information: Cyberchondria: it's not just in your head.
Is that burning feeling heartburn or a heart attack? Quick, your brain says to the hand not clutching your chest, type “chest pain” into Google and let’s get to the bottom of this.

What happens next, for many people, is a descent into worst-case scenarios, fueled by the ready availability of information on the Web about medical conditions both rare and common. Obscure or serious medical problems can bubble up to the first page of search results, where anxious searchers can quickly conclude their symptoms result from scary but unlikely causes. Before you can say, “Google,” there’s another case of cyberchondria on the loose.

Negative studies going unpublished

Brief item on the Wall Street Journal Health blog -- "How many negative drug studies still go unpublished?" -- includes highlights from the last year's studies on publication bias and news items about pharma potentially suppressing release of some results.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Latest JMLA case

In case you haven't seen it yet, check out the latest installment in the JMLA case study series -- The role of the medical librarian in the basic biological sciences: a case study in virology and evolution by Michele Tennant and Michael Miyamoto.

This case challenges us to apply our medical knowledge building and searching skills to the field of virology, touring us through basic virology concepts and considering the implicit nature of the answer for the question featured in the case.

The next case will tackle a selection of veterinary and zoological medicine topics and will appear later next year.