Tag: study

Virtual urgent care didn’t divert Ontario patients from ER visits during pandemic, study suggests

Virtual urgent care didn’t make a dent in diverting patients with less severe health problems from emergency departments during the COVID-19 pandemic in Ontario, say physicians and researchers.

During the early days of COVID, when physical distancing was strongly encouraged, health care largely shifted to virtual delivery instead of face to face.

In Monday’s issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ), Shelley McLeod, a clinical epidemiologist at Sinai Health and associate professor at the University of Toronto, and her team published a study that assessed more than 19,000 virtual urgent care visits across Ontario from December 2020 to September 2021.

The researchers looked at how ill patients were, their later in-person visits to an emergency department and outcomes at a mix of urban, pediatric and northern settings across the province.

No magic bullet for family health crisis   

Of all those patients in the study, nearly 13 per cent went to emergency in person within three days of a virtual visit, and almost 22 per cent did so within a month of being seen via video call or by phone.

“We found no overall impact of the provincial [virtual urgent care] pilot program on both subsequent emergency department visits and hospital admissions, although an important percentage of [virtual care] patients subsequently attended an emergency department in person,” McLeod and her team wrote.

A virtual COVID-19 assessment over a computer.
A virtual COVID-19 assessment room in Toronto General Hospital. Doctors and nurses across Canada are now looking at what’s the best role for virtual care amid staffing crunches. (Supplied/University Health Network)

Young adults, city dwellers and those from higher-income neighbourhoods accessed virtual services, and those who already had a family physician or primary care provider accessed virtual services the most, the researchers found. 

In the study, the mean patient age was 28 years, 60 per cent were female

Preconception period critical to baby’s health: study

“You want to stop that [smoking and drinking] before you get pregnant because you often don’t realise initially that you are pregnant,” Black says. “By the time you find out, some of the crucial structures in the spine and the brain have begun to form.”


And while the majority of women take folic acid once they discover they are pregnant, it needs to be taken for three months before conception to have the most benefit on neural tube defects – defects of the head and the spine – including spina bifida.

Around half of women are overweight or obese entering pregnancy, Black adds. “If you have maternal obesity at the time of conception, you’re more likely to produce a baby that is overweight and more likely that child will be obese.”

Losing weight during pregnancy is not recommended, so any interventions at that point are “too little too late”.

Like many women, Hayley Scutts-Gullery, now 36, had no idea there was anything specific she had to change before trying to conceive.

She and her husband wanted to start trying for a baby in the next six to 12 months and, having witnessed the struggles of friends, the only thing her mind was whether fertility might be an issue.

The Sydney resident had put on 15 kilograms during COVID and wanted to lose some of that weight, but mainly because she knew she would gain more weight during pregnancy.

So when her mum heard an ad on the radio for PreBabe, a world-first research trial exploring how losing weight in the six to 12 months before conception improves outcomes for both the mother and baby, Scutts-Gullery signed up.

The educational component of the program was the first time anyone had explained the implications of being overweight or obese during

Being a vegetarian may be in your DNA genes: study

Going meatless may not be just a matter of willpower, according to a new study.

The study published Wednesday in PLOS One found that there are four genes associated with how well someone is able to adhere to a vegetarian lifestyle.

“At this time we can say is that genetics plays a significant role in vegetarianism and that some people may be genetically better suited for a vegetarian diet than others,” said lead study author Dr. Nabeel Yaseen, professor emeritus of pathology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.

In addition to religious and cultural practices, health, moral and environmental reasons all rank among the factors that motivate people to reduce or eliminate their meat consumption — but they aren’t always so successful, Yaseen said in an email.

“A large proportion of self-described vegetarians actually report consuming meat products when responding to detailed questionnaires,” he said. “This suggests that many people who would like to be vegetarian are not able to do so, and our data suggest that genetics is at least part of the reason.”

The study wasn’t able to identify who would or would not be genetically predisposed to vegetarianism, but researchers hope future work will tackle that question, Yaseen said.

That may lead to better health information in the future, said Dr. José Ordovás, director of nutrition and genomics and professor of nutrition and genetics at Tufts University in Massachusetts. Ordovás was not involved in the study.

“The study highlights the intricate connection between our genes and our dietary choices, suggesting that in the future, we might have more personalized dietary recommendations based on genetic predispositions,” he said.


Researchers used data from the UK Biobank, a large biomedical database and research

Study suggests ways to improve seniors’ care in Canada

As Canada’s population ages at a rapid rate, a new study from the C.D. Howe Institute suggests the country can do more to improve access to seniors’ care and overall equity in the health system.

Released Thursday, the study compares the performance of seniors’ care in Canada and its provinces to that of other wealthy nations using data from the Commonwealth Fund, a U.S.-based foundation dedicated to improving health-care systems, and identifies areas for improvement.

The foundation’s 2021 International Health Policy Survey of Older Adults survey focused on a random sample of seniors aged 65 and older in 11 developed countries and asked about their experiences, interactions and perceptions of the health-care system and health providers.

Among the countries surveyed, Canada ranked eighth in seniors’ care — ahead only of France, the U.K. and Sweden.


Drawing from the survey’s data, the C.D. Howe Institute study applies a magnifying lens to seniors’ care in Canada’s provinces, because, as study co-author Rosalie Wyonch explained in an interview with CTVNews.ca, “we’re really 13 health-care systems, not one.”

The study found that most provinces exceed the international average in care process, which includes factors such as co-ordination across health providers and patient engagement, but fall below average on equity and access to care, which includes factors such as wait times.

It also notes that access to medical care is an obstacle for low-income seniors, noting in the study that 15 per cent of seniors in Canada are not visiting a dentist and eight percent are not receiving the home care they need because they can’t afford it.

Four provinces — P.E.I., Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta — were found to score above the international average overall, while some provinces — particularly Newfoundland

Emergency department use and geospatial variation in social determinants of health: a pilot study from South Carolina | BMC Public Health

Study sample

The study sample included Prisma Health patients, aged 18 years or older, engaged in ambulatory care and condition management, inpatient case management, or community health in South Carolina’s central (Midlands) and northwestern (Upstate) regions. This study population constitutes initial efforts to pilot the SDoH screening within the health system.

Data sources

Prisma Health is the largest non-profit health system in South Carolina and treats about 1.4 million patients annually. Its geographic footprint covers about half of the state’s total population [32]. Census data based on the system’s geographic coverage describes the areas served by the health system as predominantly White (63.4%) with the second most common racial or ethnic group being Black (26.7%). Of individuals in this geographic area, 29.0% have a bachelor’s degree or higher (versus 32.9% nationally), 13.8% would be considered persons in poverty (versus 11.4% nationally) and 13.2% are without health insurance (versus 10.2% nationally). Median household income is $54,864 versus $64,994 nationally and areas covered have population density of 332.6 per square mile (< 500 per square mile and less than 2,500 people being rural) [32].

The data for this study came from the health system’s piloting of a digital SDoH screening and referral platform in 2020, called NowPow. NowPow is a software program, embedded within the electronic medical record (EMR), that matches patients with SDoH-related needs to local resources based on their demographic information (e.g., distance from home).

This study uses three data sources: SDoH screening information from NowPow, electronic medical record (EMR) data and geocoded patient addresses. This study was reviewed by the Institutional Review Board (IRB) at Prisma Health (IRB# Pro00105482) and approved as human subjects exempt. Informed consent was waived by the IRB committee, and the study was conducted in accordance to all relevant IRB guidelines.

Data was collected for

TikTok users prefer health guidance from influencers over medical experts: study – Doha News

As TikTok videos featuring popular influencers peddle health advice, a new study spotlights alarming trends, prompting urgent calls for integrating credible medical information into the digital landscape.

In an era where social media apps are shaping global discourse, a recent study by Washington State University (WSU) has thrown a spotlight on a critical issue.

TikTok is playing a pivotal role in influencing how users perceive and engage with health-related content, and the findings are as captivating as they are alarming.

According to the study, published in the Journal of Health Communication, TikTok’s predominantly young audience has a marked predilection for health-themed content delivered by their favourite influencers. The research points out that topics revolving around sexual health, diet, and exercise invariably go viral, while other significant health issues are largely ignored.

“Most of these videos weren’t providing attainable steps for behaviour change,” Nicole O’Donnell, Assistant Professor of Communications at WSU and the study’s lead author, said. “Instead, they’re sharing aesthetic details of what is often a highly unobtainable lifestyle.”

The research team, comprising of communications doctorate students, analysed videos from TikTok’s #EduTok campaign to glean a comprehensive understanding of user engagement.

They found an unsettling lack of audience interaction with mental health videos. Moreover, pertinent topics such as substance abuse prevention, bullying, and sexual violence prevention were conspicuously absent, despite being highly relevant to the platform’s teenage demographic.

Videos featuring influencers portraying the “role model” persona, as well as those deterring people from certain behaviours through shock value, garnered the highest engagement. However, these videos were found to be light on substantive information and deficient in promoting achievable behavioural changes.

A particularly disturbing trend highlighted by the study was the profusion of videos encouraging self-diagnosis of mental health conditions.

“Videos of people self-diagnosing their depression, anxiety, or other issues related

Can You Spot the Bot? Study Finds ChatGPT Almost Undetectable in Medical Advice

Summary: A new study suggests that ChatGPT’s healthcare-related responses are hard to distinguish from those provided by human healthcare providers.

The study, involving 392 participants, presented a mix of responses from both ChatGPT and humans, finding participants correctly identified the chatbot and provider responses with similar accuracy.

However, the level of trust varied based on the complexity of the health-related task, with administrative tasks and preventive care being more trusted than diagnostic and treatment advice.

Key Facts:

  1. In the study, participants correctly identified ChatGPT’s healthcare-related responses 65.5% of the time and human healthcare provider responses 65.1% of the time.
  2. Trust in ChatGPT’s responses overall averaged a 3.4 out of 5 score, with higher trust for logistical questions and preventative care, but less for diagnostic and treatment advice.
  3. The researchers suggest that chatbots could assist in patient-provider communication, particularly with administrative tasks and chronic disease management.

Source: NYU

ChatGPT’s responses to people’s healthcare-related queries are nearly indistinguishable from those provided by humans, a new study from NYU Tandon School of Engineering and Grossman School of Medicine reveals, suggesting the potential for chatbots to be effective allies to healthcare providers’ communications with patients.

An NYU research team presented 392 people aged 18 and above with ten patient questions and responses, with half of the responses generated by a human healthcare provider and the other half by ChatGPT.

Participants were asked to identify the source of each response and rate their trust in the ChatGPT responses using a 5-point scale from completely untrustworthy to completely trustworthy.

The study found people have limited ability to distinguish between chatbot and human-generated responses. On average, participants correctly identified chatbot responses 65.5% of the time and provider responses 65.1% of the time, with ranges of 49.0% to 85.7% for different questions. Results remained consistent no matter the

Cannabis use landing more young people in emergency departments, study finds


Over the past few years, marijuana use has been landing more young people in the hospital, according to a new study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Published on Thursday in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the report analyzed nearly 540,000 cases nationwide where people under 25 years old wound up in a hospital due to complications from cannabis use. From 2019 to 2022, the researchers found that cannabis-related emergency department visits increased overall among kids, teens, and young adults.

Over the study period, the researchers also noted large increases in cannabis-related ED visits among kids less than ten years old.

Nearly 1 in 5 Americans over 12 years old used cannabis in 2021, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration. Studies show that marijuana users across the board are more likely to visit an emergency department or be hospitalized. For teens or young adults with a mood disorder, marijuana use puts them at an increased risk of self-harm, suicide attempts and death.

Using data from the National Syndromic Surveillance Program, the report looked at instances in the years before and during the Covid-19 pandemic where kids and young adults landed in emergency departments due to marijuana use. Average weekly visits for young people were higher across the board between 2020 and 2022 compared to pre-pandemic levels in 2019, peaking in the second half of the 2020-2021 school year. Those levels remained high throughout 2022.

While the report didn’t look specifically at the reasons for the increase in cannabis-related youth ED visits, it proposes a variety of possible causes, including using cannabis as a “coping mechanism for pandemic-related stressors” and increased availability of highly concentrated THC products.

“The pandemic took an overwhelming toll on the mental health of

Taurine may help slow the aging process, new animal study shows

Cows on top of a hill at sunsetShare on Pinterest
Taurine is a compound found in dairy products as well as some energy drinks. Kevin Day/Getty Images
  • Taurine is a compound found in humans as well as dairy products and some energy drinks.
  • In a study, researchers say taurine was effective as an anti-aging agent that promoted longevity in mice.
  • Experts say the findings are promising, but more research needs to be done humans.

A deficiency in the nutrient taurine appears to drive aging in animals, but experts say more research is needed to determine if the same effect is found in humans.

A study published today in the journal Science reports that supplements of taurine slowed the aging process in monkeys, mice and worms and extended the healthy lifespan of mice in middle age by up to 12%.

“For the last 25 years, scientists have been trying to find factors that not only let us live longer, but also increase health span, the time we remain healthy in our old age,” Vijay Yadav, PhD, the lead author of the study and an assistant professor of genetics & development at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York, said in a press statement.

“This study suggests that taurine could be an elixir of life within us that helps us live longer and healthier lives,” Dr. Yadav added.

In undertaking their study, the researchers first examined the levels of taurine in the blood of monkeys, mice and people and discovered that levels decrease significantly with age.

In humans, they found that taurine levels in 60-year-olds were only a third of those found in 5-year-olds.

“That’s when we started to ask if taurine deficiency is a driver of the aging process, and we set up a large experiment with mice,” Yadav said.

The researchers examined

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