Archive for the ‘PLoS ONE’ Category

Limited Health Knowledge as a Reason for Non-Use of Four Common Complementary Health Practices

July 16, 2015 Comments off

Limited Health Knowledge as a Reason for Non-Use of Four Common Complementary Health Practices
Source: PLoS ONE

Complementary health practices are an important element of health/healthcare seeking behavior among adults in the United States. Reasons for use include medical need, prevention and wellness promotion, and cultural relevance. Survey studies published over the past several decades have provided important information on the use of complementary health practices, such as acupuncture and yoga. A review of the literature, however, reveals an absence of studies looking specifically at who does not use these approaches, and why not.

To explore this issue two samples were created using data from the 2007 National Health Interview Survey Complementary and Alternative Medicine supplement. Of particular interest was the relationship between lack of health knowledge, as a reason for non-use, and key independent variables. The first sample was comprised of individuals who had never used any of four common complementary health practices — acupuncture, chiropractic, natural products, and yoga. The second was a subset of those same non-users who had also reported low back pain, the most frequently cited health concern related to use of complementary therapies.

A hypothesized association between lack of health knowledge, lower educational attainment, and other key socioeconomic indicators was supported in the findings. Although it was hypothesized that low back pain would be associated with greater information seeking, regardless of level of education, that hypothesis was not supported.

Lack of knowledge was found to affect utilization of common complementary health practices, regardless of the potentially motivating presence of back pain. Disparities in the utilization of complementary medicine, related to educational attainment and other socioeconomic factors, may negatively affect quality of care for many Americans. Creative approaches are needed to help reduce inequities in understanding and improve access to care for underserved populations.

Women Favour Dyadic Relationships, but Men Prefer Clubs: Cross-Cultural Evidence from Social Networking

July 9, 2015 Comments off

Women Favour Dyadic Relationships, but Men Prefer Clubs: Cross-Cultural Evidence from Social Networking
Source: PLoS ONE

The ability to create lasting, trust-based friendships makes it possible for humans to form large and coherent groups. The recent literature on the evolution of sociality and on the network dynamics of human societies suggests that large human groups have a layered structure generated by emotionally supported social relationships. There are also gender differences in adult social style which may involve different trade-offs between the quantity and quality of friendships. Although many have suggested that females tend to focus on intimate relations with a few other females, while males build larger, more hierarchical coalitions, the existence of such gender differences is disputed and data from adults is scarce. Here, we present cross-cultural evidence for gender differences in the preference for close friendships. We use a sample of ~112,000 profile pictures from nine world regions posted on a popular social networking site to show that, in self-selected displays of social relationships, women favour dyadic relations, whereas men favour larger, all-male cliques. These apparently different solutions to quality-quantity trade-offs suggest a universal and fundamental difference in the function of close friendships for the two sexes.

Preferred Women’s Waist-to-Hip Ratio Variation over the Last 2,500 Years

July 9, 2015 Comments off

Preferred Women’s Waist-to-Hip Ratio Variation over the Last 2,500 Years
Source: PLoS ONE

The ratio between the body circumference at the waist and the hips (or WHR) is a secondary sexual trait that is unique to humans and is well known to influence men’s mate preferences. Because a woman’s WHR also provides information about her age, health and fertility, men’s preference concerning this physical feature may possibly be a cognitive adaptation selected in the human lineage. However, it is unclear whether the preferred WHR in western countries reflects a universal ideal, as geographic variation in non-western areas has been found, and discordances about its temporal consistency remain in the literature. We analyzed the WHR of women considered as ideally beautiful who were depicted in western artworks from 500 BCE to the present. These vestiges of the past feminine ideal were then compared to more recent symbols of beauty: Playboy models and winners of several Miss pageants from 1920 to 2014. We found that the ideal WHR has changed over time in western societies: it was constant during almost a millennium in antiquity (from 500 BCE to 400 CE) and has decreased from the 15th century to the present. Then, based on Playboy models and Miss pageants winners, this decrease appears to slow down or even reverse during the second half of the 20th century. The universality of an ideal WHR is thus challenged, and historical changes in western societies could have caused these variations in men’s preferences. The potential adaptive explanations for these results are discussed.

The Rise of Partisanship and Super-Cooperators in the U.S. House of Representatives

July 9, 2015 Comments off

The Rise of Partisanship and Super-Cooperators in the U.S. House of Representatives
Source: PLoS ONE

It is widely reported that partisanship in the United States Congress is at an historic high. Given that individuals are persuaded to follow party lines while having the opportunity and incentives to collaborate with members of the opposite party, our goal is to measure the extent to which legislators tend to form ideological relationships with members of the opposite party. We quantify the level of cooperation, or lack thereof, between Democrat and Republican Party members in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1949–2012. We define a network of over 5 million pairs of representatives, and compare the mutual agreement rates on legislative decisions between two distinct types of pairs: those from the same party and those formed of members from different parties. We find that despite short-term fluctuations, partisanship or non-cooperation in the U.S. Congress has been increasing exponentially for over 60 years with no sign of abating or reversing. Yet, a group of representatives continue to cooperate across party lines despite growing partisanship.

No Easy Talk: A Mixed Methods Study of Doctor Reported Barriers to Conducting Effective End-of-Life Conversations with Diverse Patients

July 9, 2015 Comments off

No Easy Talk: A Mixed Methods Study of Doctor Reported Barriers to Conducting Effective End-of-Life Conversations with Diverse Patients
Source: PLoS ONE

Though most patients wish to discuss end-of-life (EOL) issues, doctors are reluctant to conduct end-of-life conversations. Little is known about the barriers doctors face in conducting effective EOL conversations with diverse patients. This mixed methods study was undertaken to empirically identify barriers faced by doctors (if any) in conducting effective EOL conversations with diverse patients and to determine if the doctors’ age, gender, ethnicity and medical sub-specialty influenced the barriers reported.

Mixed-methods study of multi-specialty doctors caring for diverse, seriously ill patients in two large academic medical centers at the end of the training; data were collected from 2010 to 2012.

Doctor-reported barriers to EOL conversations with diverse patients.

1040 of 1234 potential subjects (84.3%) participated. 29 participants were designated as the development cohort for coding and grounded theory analyses to identify primary barriers. The codes were validated by analyses of responses from 50 randomly drawn subjects from the validation cohort (n= 996 doctors). Qualitative responses from the validation cohort were coded and analyzed using quantitative methods. Only 0.01 % doctors reported no barriers to conducting EOL conversations with patients. 99.99% doctors reported barriers with 85.7% finding it very challenging to conduct EOL conversations with all patients and especially so with patients whose ethnicity was different than their own. Asian-American doctors reported the most struggles (91.3%), followed by African Americans (85.3%), Caucasians (83.5%) and Hispanic Americans (79.3%) in conducting EOL conversations with their patients. The biggest doctor-reported barriers to effective EOL conversations are (i) language and medical interpretation issues, (ii) patient/family religio-spiritual beliefs about death and dying, (iii) doctors’ ignorance of patients’ cultural beliefs, values and practices, (iv) patient/family’s cultural differences in truth handling and decision making, (v) patients’ limited health literacy and (vi) patients’ mistrust of doctors and the health care system. The doctors’ ethnicity (Chi-Square = 12.77, DF = 4, p = 0.0125) and medical subspecialty (Chi-Square = 19.33, DF = 10, p =0.036) influenced their reported barriers. Friedman’s test used to examine participants relative ranking of the barriers across sub-groups identified significant differences by age group (F statistic = 303.5, DF = 5, p < 0.0001) and medical sub-specialty (F statistic =163.7, DF = 5, p < 0.0001).

Conclusions and Relevance
Doctors report struggles with conducting effective EOL conversations with all patients and especially with those whose ethnicity is different from their own. It is vital to identify strategies to mitigate barriers doctors encounter in conducting effective EOL conversations with seriously ill patients and their families.

Home Foreclosure, Health, and Mental Health: A Systematic Review of Individual, Aggregate, and Contextual Associations

July 1, 2015 Comments off

Home Foreclosure, Health, and Mental Health: A Systematic Review of Individual, Aggregate, and Contextual Associations
Source: PLoS ONE

The U.S. foreclosure crisis intensified markedly during the Great Recession of 2007-09, and currently an estimated five percent of U.S. residential properties are more than 90 days past due or in the process of foreclosure. Yet there has been no systematic assessment of the effects of foreclosure on health and mental health.

Methods and Findings
I applied systematic search terms to PubMed and PsycINFO to identify quantitative or qualitative studies about the relationship between home foreclosure and health or mental health. After screening the titles and abstracts of 930 publications and reviewing the full text of 76 articles, dissertations, and other reports, I identified 42 publications representing 35 unique studies about foreclosure, health, and mental health. The majority of studies (32 [91%]) concluded that foreclosure had adverse effects on health or mental health, while three studies yielded null or mixed findings. Only two studies examined the extent to which foreclosure may have disproportionate impacts on ethnic or racial minority populations.

Home foreclosure adversely affects health and mental health through channels operating at multiple levels: at the individual level, the stress of personally experiencing foreclosure was associated with worsened mental health and adverse health behaviors, which were in turn linked to poorer health status; at the community level, increasing degradation of the neighborhood environment had indirect, cross-level adverse effects on health and mental health. Early intervention may be able to prevent acute economic shocks from eventually developing into the chronic stress of foreclosure, with all of the attendant benefits this implies for health and mental health status. Programs designed to encourage early return of foreclosed properties back into productive use may have similar health and mental health benefits.

Past Water Patterns Drive Present Wading Bird Numbers

June 30, 2015 Comments off

Past Water Patterns Drive Present Wading Bird Numbers

Wading bird numbers in the Florida Everglades are driven by water patterns that play out over multiple years according to a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey and Florida Atlantic University. Previously, existing water conditions were seen as the primary driving factor affecting numbers of birds, but this research shows that the preceding years’ water conditions and availability are equally important.