Public Policy is social agreement written down as a universal guide for social action. We at The Policy ThinkShop share information so others can think and act in the best possible understanding of "The Public Interest."

Coping with Grief and Loss: A guide to healing when mourning the death of a loved one – Harvard Health Publications

Perhaps one of the most terrible things about life is that it ends.   At the same time, the fragility of life is perhaps what also makes it beautiful and precious for many of us.  And so, it is perhaps most painful when we have to see others die than it is to finally succumb ourselves.  In the behavioral health profession this process of experiencing the death of others is referred to at grief and loss…  Most of us do not handle it very well.  Both the lead up to it, the moment when it happens and then our often long process of trying to understand and deal with it.

The Policy ThinkShop recommends the following Harvard medical resource to help you broaden your perspective on death and dying–the inevitable crisis we often face more than once in our lives.


“Compassionate advice for dealing with the loss of a loved one. The loss of a loved one can be a profoundly painful experience. The grief that follows may permeate everything, making it hard to eat, sleep, or muster much interest in the life going on around you.

This emotional maelstrom can affect behavior and judgment. It’s common, for example, to feel agitated or exhausted, to sob unexpectedly, or to withdraw from the world. Some people find themselves struggling with feelings of sorrow, numbness, anger, guilt, despair, irritability, relief, or anxiety.

While no words can erase grief, Coping with Grief and Loss can help you navigate this turbulent time.

In its pages, you’ll find advice on comforting yourself, commemorating your loved one, and understanding the difference between grief and depression. You’ll also find special sections on coping with the loss of a child, parent, or spouse.

Coping with Grief and Loss also includes information on navigating life when a loved one is terminally ill, on end-of-life planning, and on ways to talk about death.

Loss affects people in different ways. There is no “right” way to grieve, and no timetable or schedule for grieving. This Special Health Report aims to help you cope with the loss of a loved one at your own pace and in your own way. It offers numerous physical, emotional, and social strategies that help healing take place.”

More via Coping with Grief and Loss: A guide to healing when mourning the death of a loved one – Harvard Health Publications.

Filed under: access to education, Aging, Behavioral Health Outcomes, Blogosphere, Death and Dying, News

Gallup’s Top 10 U.S. Well-Being Discoveries in 2013

The Policy ThinkShop team wishes you and all of our visitors this year a happy holiday season and a prosperous new year!

Here are some fun facts about our health that will get us thinking about a healthier future and a happy 2014 from the Gallup organization:

Highlights from the health and well-being findings published in 2013

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Gallup published nearly 100 unique articles in 2013 about Americans\’ health and well-being. Through its daily surveys, conducted year-round, the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index uncovers new insights and provides the most up-to-date data available on Americans\’ mental state, exercise and eating habits, healthcare coverage, physical health, and financial well-being. The following list represents Gallup editors\’ picks for the top 10 most important findings from this year.

Lacking employment is most linked to having depression: For Americans, being unemployed, being out of the workforce, or working part time — but wanting full-time work — are the strongest predictors of having depression. Gallup found that these relationships hold true even after controlling for age, gender, income, education, race and ethnicity, marital status, having children, region, obesity, having health insurance, and being a caregiver. Bonus finding: Depression costs U.S. employers $23 billion in absenteeism each year.

Obesity is a growing problem for Americans: The adult obesity rate has been trending upward in 2013 will likely surpass rates since 2008, when Gallup and Healthways began tracking. The obesity rate has increased across almost all demographic groups.

Those who are actively disengaged at work are more likely to smoke: Eighteen percent of actively disengaged workers — those who are emotionally disconnected from their jobs — light up vs. 15% of other workers. Bonus finding: Workers who smoke cost the U.S. economy $278 billion annually.

Female veterans have a more optimistic life outlook: Female veterans of the U.S. military have a much more optimistic outlook on their lives than their male counterparts do. Female veterans\’ future life ratings are similar to those of women in the general U.S. population, but male veterans\’ ratings trail behind other men\’s ratings.

Heart attacks hit women harder, emotionally speaking: American women who say they have had a heart attack at some point in their lives have an average Emotional Health Index score that is eight points lower than the average score among women who have not had a heart attack. In comparison, the average Emotional Health Index score among men who have had a heart attack is four points lower than it is among men who have not.

Depression rate drops in areas hardest hit by Sandy: One year after Superstorm Sandy, reports of clinical depression among those living in the hardest hit areas have mostly recovered to levels seen before the storm. But reports of anger in the most affected areas have increased. Bonus finding: More residents smoke and fewer eat healthily than before the storm.

Income more to blame for obesity than food deserts: In a first-of-its-kind study exploring the relationship between adult obesity and food deserts, Gallup found that lack of access to grocery stores alone doesn\’t matter in terms of obesity; it only matters when Americans also have low incomes. But being low-income is associated with higher obesity rates, regardless of access to food.

Engaged employees have a healthier lifestyle: Employees who are engaged at work are more likely to report eating healthier, exercising more frequently, and consuming more fruits and vegetables than workers who are not engaged or who are actively disengaged.

Single-parent households struggle more to afford food: Thirty-one percent of single-parent households said there were times in the past 12 months when they struggled to afford food, compared with 19% two-parent households. Younger parents and parents with three or more children also had more trouble affording food at times.

Among U.S. workers, lack of exercise is linked more to obesity than eating habits: Exercising fewer than three days a week is more closely linked to U.S. workers being obese than any of 26 other behavioral factors, including healthy eating. This held true even while controlling for age, ethnicity, race, marital status, gender, income, education, region, and religiosity.

via Gallup’s Top 10 U.S. Well-Being Discoveries in 2013.

Filed under: Aging, Behavioral Health Outcomes, Blogosphere, Death and Dying, Happy New Year!!! From The Policy ThinkShop, Health and Exercise, Health Literacy, Health Policy, Healthcare Reform

Popular Article on Healthcare: Views on End-of-Life Medical Treatments | Pew Research Center’s Religion & Public Life Project

An aging America may not necessarily be a quiet and content America.  People born in the post war boom, challenged religion, government and authority in all their forms.  As an aging generation, they want the healthcare system to take care of them.

Baby boomers have grown up in what can be termed the age of technology and optimism, with mankind at the center of the universe and economic progress an ever churning engine.  Much of the healthcare conversation in America is not about doctors and patients but about costs and insurance.  Americans spend a great deal of money on healthcare.  All the recent talk about healthcare seems to be impacting expectations on the role of doctors and healthcare outcomes.  Americans expect doctors to save lives.

One of the challenges of healthcare in America is getting people to understand it, to connect their behavioral choices with healthcare outcomes and to value wellness over consumption.  Feeling good does not always lead to feeling well.  America can be an indulgent society and today’s youth want it all and they want it now.  Americans do not value their healthcare until it is a problem they can feel or until they understand what is happening to them as something that can threaten their mortality.  Americans want to live for ever and their attitudes regarding the role that a physician should play regarding preserving life is moving in that direction.

“At a time of national debate over health care costs and insurance, a Pew Research Center survey on end-of-life decisions finds most Americans say there are some circumstances in which doctors and nurses should allow a patient to die. At the same time, however, a growing minority says that medical professionals should do everything possible to save a patient’s …”

via Views on End-of-Life Medical Treatments | Pew Research Center’s Religion & Public Life Project.

Filed under: Aging, Blogosphere, consumers, Death and Dying, Demographic Change, Health Policy, Healthcare Reform, Medicare, News, Public Health, Public Policy

HealthThinkShop « Health Matters: Think About It …

Pain is as old as complex cell organisms and greed is as old as the cave man.

What is relatively new is how scientists, corporations, (and even physicians trained to help people), engage the business of creating, distributing and profiting from medicines intended to help people but marketed to make money.

The company that reinvented and re-marketed the long used chemical compound called Oxycodone (Oxycodone is an analgesic medication synthesized from poppy-derived thebaine. It was developed in 1916 in Germany, as one of several new semi-synthetic opioids in an attempt to improve on the existing opioids: morphine, diacetylmorphine (heroin), and codeine.) as the new Oxycontin (a synthetic analgesic drug that is similar to morphine in its effects and subject to abuse and addiction.) has unleashed an epidemic that was inherent in a drug that needs much closer control and should be prescribed by properly trained physicians.

So the issue is …

via HealthThinkShop « Health Matters: Think About It ….

Filed under: Behavioral Health Outcomes, Blogosphere, Community Tragedy, consumers, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Culture Think, Death and Dying, Health Literacy, Health Policy, Parenting, Policy ThinkShop Comments on other media platforms, Public Health, Public Policy, , , , , , , , , ,

Stem-cell therapies: Prometheus unbound | The Economist

Greek myths, philosophy and architecture are often presented as the wellspring of Western civilization.  However, science and reason are universal–so this time the wellspring is Yokohama City University in Japan.

The most hopeful use of stem cell research thus far and a breakthrough in growing cells in a way that now promises the increased possibility of full organ growth, brings us the amazing potential of curing much disease that currently cuts lives short.

“PROMETHEUS, a Titan bound to a rock by Zeus, endured the daily torture of an eagle feasting on his liver, only to have the organ regrow each night. Compared with this spectacle, a video on the website of Nature this week seems decidedly dull. It shows a collection of pink dots consolidating into a darker central glob.But something titanic is indeed happening. The pink dots are stem cells, and the video shows the development of a liver bud, something which can go on to look and act like a liver. Takanori Takebe and Hideki Taniguchi of Yokohama City University, in Japan, who made the video, have created working human-liver tissue.”

via Stem-cell therapies: Prometheus unbound | The Economist.

Filed under: Blogosphere, consumers, Death and Dying, Health Literacy, Health Policy, Medical Research, News, , ,

Healing the Overwhelmed Physician – or Rescuing healthcare practice from the solo provider?

Individualism, the heroic individual, the leader, the father, the head of an organization and Norman Rockwell’s idilic physician all have one thing in common: the increasingly untenable belief that individualist leadership is the optimal form of guidance and decision making to meet our collective or individual needs.

Enter the case of the solo physician trying to navigate the increasingly complex internal and external realms of his/her medical practice.

The variables under consideration regarding an individual’s health status, those variables needed to understand the internal medical practice resources involved in assessing that status, those variables involved in the dynamics of the outside world of lifestyle and behavior causing or maintaining that status, and, perhaps more importantly, the complex healthcare system supporting the physician and the patient’s experience addressing the numerous communicative, behavioral and resource utilization issues involved in addressing that health status are as complex and exhausting as this very sentence.

Such is the healthcare system today.  Hard to argue that we have not made progress from the days of low life expectancy, high child mortality and when, by today’s standards, low level infections caused serious health problems and even death.

The problem today seems much more complex and overwhelming as healthcare knowhow has become an information management problem.  Computers and medical records do not seem to be helping much yet and the individualism involved in our national culture of choice and personal control seems to be militating against group progress.

The NYTs published a worthwhile article to get us thinking on this topic.  The Policy ThinkShop recommends reading it and further discussion–discussion we can continue here at your Public Policy Blog …

“We physicians are susceptible to a kind of medical Stendhal syndrome as we confront the voluminous evidence about the clinical choices we face every day. It would take dozens of hours each week for a conscientious primary care doctor to read everything he or she needed in order to …”

via Healing the Overwhelmed Physician –

Filed under: access to education, Behavioral Health Outcomes, Blogosphere, Death and Dying, Health and Exercise, Health Literacy, Health Policy, Healthcare Reform, News, Public Health, Public Policy, , , , , ,

“Killer drones: Out of the shadows” or are they?

Technology is changing war but legal concepts and international law are not as mutable.  As governments and leaders enthusiastically move forward with technological efficacy, the legal morass and moral quandary caused by social, psychological and economic destruction promises to create new problems that may haunt us for generations.  But technology moves fast, corporate America knows how to package and sell it, and the American public is the last to weigh in.  Democracy is increasingly purchased in the ongoing divided American electorate and the internecine warfare election politics now represent.  Like the proverbial Pyrrhic victory, we crush and pick off our enemies as the facts of our deeds slowly leek out and we potentially stand in ubiquitous and unforgiving popular judgement at home and abroad.

We seem to be getting farther and farther away from “though shall not kill” and “violence begets violence”

At last we have a technological equivalent to hackers threatening social and economic information exchange where the government is “anonymous” and civilization itself is the victim.  It is legion, expect it…

“WHEN it comes to lethal drone strikes against foreign targets, America’s government and Congress should be aware that “what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander”, says …”

via Killer drones: Out of the shadows | The Economist.

Filed under: Blogosphere, Changing Media Paradigm, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Culture Think, Death and Dying, drone attacks, News, Policy ThinkShop Comments on other media platforms, political plots, Political Violence, propaganda and spin, symbolic uses of politics, symbols as swords, Technology and You, waging war, WeSeeReason, , ,

Medication vs. stents for heart disease treatment – Harvard Health Publications

What’s the best way to “fix” a narrowed coronary artery? That question was the crux of a multimillion-dollar trial dubbed COURAGE, short for Clinical Outcomes Utilizing Revascularization and Aggressive Drug Evaluation. Its results, presented in the spring of 2007, stunned some doctors and seemed to shock the media, but we hope they won’t come as a surprise to readers: For people with stable coronary artery disease (clogged arteries nourishing the heart), artery-opening angioplasty was no better than medications and lifestyle changes at preventing future heart attacks or strokes, nor did it extend life.

via Medication vs. stents for heart disease treatment – Harvard Health Publications.

Filed under: Aging, Blogosphere, consumers, Death and Dying, Health and Exercise, Health Literacy, Health Policy, Healthcare Reform, Medical Research, News

States’ Policies on Health Care Exclude Poorest –

It is dumbfounding!   It paralyzes the brain, the heart and almost all hope–without need for audacity.

Ph.D.s, advocates, health professionals, and good old moms and dads come to the agreement that healthcare needs changing and that sick people should get help–especially those who have difficulty getting it.  Presumably, it is logical and reasonable to think that many of these people are what we, all of us for hundreds of years, have called “the poor.”

Yet for as long as there have been those with and those without, those with often have the efficacy to get more and those without, perhaps by definition, get even less–always…

So here we are well into healthcare reform and the NYT is sounding the whistle on the haves once again–millions have been spent and the poor are somehow invisible once again when it comes to targeting the needs of those who are hurting and are having a difficult time getting good, reliable, continuos, patient centered, medical home care!  Go figure… or better yet, go read the New York times…

“The refusal by about half the states to expand Medicaid will leave millions of poor people ineligible for government-subsidized health insurance under President Obama’s health care law even as many others with higher incomes receive federal subsidies to …”

More via States’ Policies on Health Care Exclude Poorest –

Filed under: access to education, Aging, Behavioral Health Outcomes, Blogosphere, Children and Poverty, consumers, Death and Dying, Economic Recession, Feminization of Poverty, Health and Exercise, Health Literacy, Health Policy, Healthcare Reform, Maternal and Child Health, Medical Research, Medicare, News, Parenting, Policy ThinkShop Comments on other media platforms, Public Health, Public Policy, Public Service, WeSeeReason, , ,

Could Statins Raise Diabetes Risk? – WebMD

Drugs have serious, and sometimes fatal, side effects and too often unintended consequences.  But we are sick, and health professionals somehow perform a cost benefit analysis and risk assessment and recommend that we take this drug or that to help us deal with our health condition or else.

Medicine is evolving, medicines are just one variable in a complex medical intervention process and people simply do not behave well or as needed very often.

Like variables that are introduced to repair a broken swiss watch, drugs enter our body system and fix some things yet disturb others.

Medical interventions, as drug therapies, change our blood chemistry and many of the vital functions of our major organs and personal health processes in some way…

As our body systems and organs fail under the weight of heredity, diet, behavior, etc., scientists perform research and through trial and error attempt to produce substances that can be introduced into our sick body systems to address a needed substance or desired cause and effect to make us better.

Our lives and bodies are similar, so research  has some success, in a controlled experiment, showing that symptoms can be changed or controlled.  However, implementing these medical solutions in the daily routine of our unique yet complex lives is another story.

Diet, exercise and behavior in general are also modified when we become sick and our body changes due to powerful drugs we are advised to take.

As each of us goes through life experiencing disease, we benefit from therapies, if we are “lucky” enough to have access to them, in varying ways.

“Certain statins — the widely used cholesterol-lowering drugs — may increase your chances of developing type 2 diabetes, a new study suggests.

The risk was greatest for patients taking atorvastatin (brand name Lipitor), rosuvastatin (Crestor) and simvastatin (Zocor), the study said.

Focusing on almost 500,000 Ontario residents, researchers …”

More via Could Statins Raise Diabetes Risk? – WebMD.

Filed under: Aging, Behavioral Health Outcomes, Blogosphere, Cancer Treatment & Success, consumers, Death and Dying, Health and Exercise, Health Literacy, Health Policy, Healthcare Reform, Medical Research, Medicare, News, Public Health, , , , , , , ,

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