The Goldwater Rule has long-banned mental health professionals from weighing in on public figures. But experts say the evidence they can gather through public speeches, behavior and tweets is actually more reliable than in-person evaluations. In other news: asthma hot spots, temporary doctors, the ethics of uterine transplants, germs in the International Space Station, and more.
Stat: Experts Challenge Ban On Psychiatrists Discussing Politicians’ Mental Health
A prohibition against psychiatrists discussing the mental health of public figures — a rule that has become especially controversial, and sometimes flouted, since the inauguration of President Trump — is “premised on dubious scientific assumptions,” researchers concluded in an analysis scheduled for publication in a psychology journal. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) defends its “Goldwater rule” by arguing that an in-person psychiatric examination is the gold standard for diagnosing mental illness and psychological traits — given that there are no blood tests or brain scans for psychiatric disorders. (Begley, 12/6)
Kaiser Health News: Hospitals Find Asthma Hot Spots More Profitable To Neglect Than Fix
Keyonta Parnell has had asthma most of his young life, but it wasn’t until his family moved to the 140-year-old house here on Lemmon Street two years ago that he became one of the health care system’s frequent customers. “I call 911 so much since I’ve been living here, they know my name,” said the 9-year-old’s mother, Darlene Summerville, who calls the emergency medical system her “best friend.” (Hancock, Bluth and Trielli, 12/6)
Kaiser Health News: Attack On Asthma: Scrubbing Homes Of Allergens May Tame Disease And Its Costs
After years of studying the causes of asthma, a pediatrician-turned-public health sleuth thinks there’s a way to substantially reduce its impact. But the approach faces a big hurdle: getting someone to pay for it, said Dr. Elizabeth Matsui, a professor at Johns Hopkins medical school in Baltimore. Matsui, who suffered from asthma as a child, has spent much of her career studying the link between poor housing and asthma in low-income neighborhoods. (Birch, 12/6)
The New York Times: Air Pollution May Harm Babies Even Before They Are Born
Air pollution may be harmful to babies even before they are born, a new study has found. Researchers in London calculated mothers’ exposure to air pollution and traffic noise in various parts of the city from 2006 to 2010. Then they amassed data on birth weights of 540,365 babies born during those years to women who lived in those areas. (Bakalar, 12/5)
Stat: Temporary Doctors Are No Worse For Patients’ Health, Study Finds
Doctors who are employed under short-term contracts — called locum tenens (Latin for “to hold a place”) — provided a similar level of care as staff doctors, a study published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association found. Researchers came to that conclusion after analyzing 1.8 million Medicare patients hospitalized between 2009 and 2014 who were treated by general internists. No significant difference in 30-day mortality rates was seen between patients treated by temp physicians compared to those treated by staff physicians. That finding could help dispel the stigma that temp doctors have long faced, researchers said. (Blau, 12/5)
WBUR: First Baby Born To U.S. Uterus Transplant Patient Raises Ethics Questions
Beautiful. Pure. Natural. Medicine at its pinnacle. Those were the words of Dr. Giuliano Testa this week — the principal investigator of a clinical trial with ten women underway at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas. He was talking about the birth of a baby boy to a mother who underwent a uterus transplant last year. It’s a first in the U.S., but in Sweden, eight babies have been born to mothers with uterus transplants. (Jochem, 12/5)
The Washington Post: The International Space Station Is Super Germy
Thousands of species have colonized the International Space Station — and only one of them is Homo sapiens. According to a new study in the journal PeerJ, the interior surfaces of the 17-year-old, 250-mile-high, airtight space station harbor at least 1,000 and perhaps more than 4,000 microbe species — a finding that is actually “reassuring,” according to co-author David Coil. (Kaplan, 12/5)
Miami Herald: Clinical Trial For Zika Vaccine Shows Promise. But Will It Prevent Infection?
An experimental Zika vaccine developed by scientists at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is safe and induces an immune response in healthy adults, according to findings from an early stage clinical trial published Monday in The Lancet, a medical journal. The DNA-based experimental vaccine is now in the second phase of clinical trials to determine its safety and effectiveness at preventing infection with Zika virus. (Chang, 12/4)
Orange County Register: Here’s A Look At The Stats Around Flu Season, Plus Tips To Avoid Getting Sick
Influenza activity is rising across the U.S. with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting recent widespread activity in several states. Serious outcomes of flu infection can result in hospitalization or death. The CDC and the California Department of Public Health are recommending everyone over six months old get vaccinated. (Snibbe and Goertzen, 12/4)
Health News Florida: Experts And Activists Coincide: Conversations About HIV/AIDS Should Go Beyond World AIDS Day
World AIDS Day has been celebrated every Dec. 1 since 1988 as a day of remembrance for those whot have died of and those who are living with the disease. There were many events to mark the day in South Florida, from open-air concerts to free testing. But experts and activists agree that the discussions about treatment and prevention of HIV should be part of an ongoing conversation in the community and not a once-a-year affair. (Garcia, 12/4)
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.