The Rundown | Week of 6.4.18

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Pride Month Primer

In celebration of Pride month, we thought we’d take a moment to share tips for doctors who want to ensure their practices are inclusive spaces. To start, consider displaying a rainbow flag sticker on the door, posters of same-sex couples, brochures about LGBTQ health concerns, or other materials that are relevant to the LGBTQ community and signal your office is a safe space. With intake forms, change “marital status” to “relationship status,” and allow for patients to write in their own gender and preferred pronoun. Above all, be respectful, but don’t be afraid to ask for clarification of terms with which you’re unfamiliar. List your practice in the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association Provider Directory to find patients who value high-quality, discrimination-free care.
>>Read More: Creating an LGBTQ-friendly practice

Skyrocketing Suicide Rates and Possible Solutions

Alarming data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates the suicide rate has increased 25 percent nationwide — and more than 30 percent in half of the states —  between 1999 and 2016. The sharpest spike, 46 percent, was in adults between 45 and 64. As mentioned in our Men’s Health Month post on mental health, particularly white men over the age of 85. However, mental illness is not the only, or sole, culprit; researchers cited health, housing, employment, legal problems, substance abuse, and recent or impending crisis as predictors. Despite the harrowing statistics, the numbers can inform and catalyze solutions. Principal Deputy Director of the CDC Dr. Anne Schuchat recommends a program such as the US Air Force Suicide Prevention Program, which led to a 33 percent fall in suicide by addressing key topics such as social support, social skills, and help-seeking. “This program … shifted the culture of the Air Force away from viewing suicide as an individual-oriented concern to a larger, service-wide problem that impacts the whole community,” she says.
>>Read More: CDC: U.S. suicide rates have climbed dramatically

Information Overload at the National Institute of Health

The National Institute of Health (NIH) is stymied by the demands of big data. The costs of securing and managing the data, lack of interoperability, siloing, and other issues hinder research and access to resources. To fix this issues, NIH devised a strategic plan that divides the Gordian knot of data problems into five categories for improvement: data infrastructure; modernized data ecosystem; data management, analytics, and tools; workforce development; and stewardship and sustainability. The plan further contributes a “FAIR” criteria, which specifies that in order to be effective, data must have systems in place that allow it to be findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable. The report states, “NIH envisions that implementation of the NIH Strategic Plan for Data Science will be equally consultative with NIH stakeholders toward. The report concludes that the end goal of NIH’s initiative is “enhancing the scientific community’s ability to address new challenges in managing, integrating, accessing, analyzing, and making reusable the huge amounts of data being generated by the biomedical research ecosystem.”
>>Read More: NIH lays out strategic plan for evolving field of data science

Research in Chemotherapy Provides New Measure of Certainty

A difficult choice for patients and oncologists is whether or not to pursue a chemotherapy plan, the infamous side effects of which rival those of many diseases. However, a recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine discovered that for women with certain non-metastasized breast cancers, chemotherapy may be waived. The study concluded that women with early-stage invasive breast cancer who score within a certain range on a genomic test can opt out of chemo in favor of hormone therapy alone. The genomic test assesses 21 genes found in biopsied tumor tissue to anticipate the risk of recurrence. Those who are deemed low-risk are advised to forgo chemotherapy. Of the 135,000 new cases of breast cancer, approximately 70 percent of patients fall within this safe range.
>>Read More: For some breast cancer patients, the chemo decision just got easier

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