Health

A Duke University study found a link between poverty and smoking in adolescents.
Valentin Ottone via Flickr, Creative Commons

A national study shows most Americans support raising the minimum age to purchase tobacco from 18 to 21.

The survey was conducted by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and East Carolina University.

photo of a unisex bathroom sign
Tombe / Wikipedia

North Carolina’s House Bill 2 has stirred up numerous conversations about the lives of transgender Americans. It has also illuminated many misconceptions about what gender identity is and how it is formed.

Groups of scientists have stood up in opposition to HB2, arguing that there are genetic and biological causes of gender differences, and for the vast majority of trans individuals, their gender identity is not a choice.

Hospital room
PROFotos GOVBA / Flickr Creative Commons

Note: This is a rebroadcast  

Visiting the hospital in a rural area can be a challenge for Medicare patients because of scattered locations and a lack of healthcare professionals. But returning to the hospital for a follow-up visit is even more difficult, according to a new study from researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 

'Boy Erased'

May 18, 2016
An image of author Garrard Conley
Colin Boyd Shafer

Growing up in a small town in Arkansas, Garrard Conley dealt with strict social codes on what it meant to be man and a Christian. He was outed as gay to his parents at the age of 19.

Alex Prolmos / Flickr Creative Commons

The latest numbers from the Pew Research Center show that the number of Americans who say they believe in God has declined in recent years. And millennials are much less likely than older Americans to belong to any religious faith.
 

But despite these trends, psychiatrist and researcher Harold Koenig argues that science shows that religious belief is good for mental and physical health.

Stethoscope
jasleen_kaur / Flickr Creative Commons

A new collaboration between SAS and the Duke Clinical Research Institute will provide researchers from around the world with an enormous database of patients who have suffered from heart disease.

Matt Gross is Director of Health and Life Sciences Global Practice at SAS.  He says the database is the largest cardiovascular database around and will eventually help find new ways to treat heart disease.

When Dawn Dreyer was diagnosed with Bipolar II disorder, her therapist suggested that she make drawings as a way to cope with her depression.

The drawings evolved into a comic strip about a superhero called Bipolar Girl and Kacey the Wonderdog, who are in constant battle with The Creature, a villain who represents shame, depression and perfectionism. 

Blue Cross and Blue Shield has said it might remove some of its health insurance policies under the Affordable Care Act.
Jed Record / Flickr Creative Commons

Nearly a hundred health care providers have filed complaints saying Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina has not paid their claims for months.

Ashley Rhodes-Courter

More than 400,000 children in the United States are living in foster care. The statistics about what happens to these children later in life are startling: only about 50 percent finish high school, less than 10 percent go on to higher education. Ashley Rhodes-Courter is an exception to this statistic, but she has devoted her life’s work to speaking out on behalf of her many former foster care siblings who continue to struggle.

photo of a unisex bathroom sign
Tombe / Wikipedia

Supporters of North Carolina's House Bill 2 say it protects public health and safety by requiring people to use public restrooms that correspond to the gender listed on their birth certificates.

But opponents point to research that says restrictions based on sexual orientation or gender identity worsen health outcomes among people in those communities. 

Host Frank Stasio talks with Shoshana Goldberg, a doctoral candidate at the UNC-Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health, about the public health implications of House Bill 2.

The book cover of 'By the Bedside of the Patient: Lessons for the Twenty-First Century Physician.'
UNC Press

The doctor-patient relationship should produce trust and reassurance, but Nortin Hadler, M.D., says this relationship has evolved to one where physicians have little incentive to spend quality time with patients.

Dorothy Managan, 93, served as an Army nurse in Tacoma, Wa. after World War II. She recently added her life story to her medical record at the Asheville, N.C. VA Medical Center.
Jay Price / American Homefront

 

For many health professionals, treating patients is a matter of assessing their ailments, making a diagnosis and prescribing treatment where it is required. Then it is on to the next patient. But a new program in VA medical centers aims to make connections between medical professionals and their patients through narratives.
 

An image of Wendee Wechsberg and a child
Wendee Wechsberg

Wendee Wechsberg has worked with drug addicts and HIV patients across the world, from urban North Carolina communities to rural South Africa. She has always done her research with the motto: "What can I do to help?"

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services says it's working to reduce the error rate in Medicaid payments to providers and hospitals.

A new report from State Auditor Beth Wood says North Carolina improperly spent $835 million last year.

Condoms
Inga / Wikipedia

Wake County reported more than 200 syphilis cases last year. Wake County's Public Health Director Sue Lynn Ledford says that's a big up-tick compared to fewer than 40 cases in 2003. A majority of new cases involve African-American men who are HIV positive.

An image of author Laura Wright
Ashley Evans

Note: this is a rebroadcast from November 5, 2015.

For author Laura Wright, being a vegan is a choice in diet and identity. It shapes what she eats and wears, as well as how she is perceived in a culinary culture that revolves around meat.

Image of Kate Bowler with her son and husband
Courtesy of Kate Bowler

When Kate Bowler was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer last year, she thought, “well, isn’t this ironic?” Bowler is a scholar of the prosperity gospel, the theology that those with the right kind of beliefs will receive God’s grace. As she grapples with her diagnosis, she reflects on life, death, and where faith fits into the picture. She wrote about it in the New York Times, "Death, The Prosperity Gospel, And Me."

The Aedes aegypti mosquito is known as the primary carrier of the Zika virus.
U.S. Department of Agriculture

The Wake County Health Department confirmed another case of the Zika virus this week.

It is the fifth confirmed case in North Carolina since the outbreak in Brazil. But scientists here say differences in mosquito species, climate and lifestyle make it much more difficult for the virus to spread. 

Host Frank Stasio talks with Michael Reiskind, entomology professor at North Carolina State University, about why he thinks a Zika outbreak in North Carolina is not likely.

Is Medical Marijuana Safe?

Feb 19, 2016
Dank Depot / Flickr Creative Commons

RTI International scientists say better labeling and governmental regulations are needed for medical marijuana.

Each state creates its own regulations, and products can vary a lot. The researchers say many medications are poorly labeled with misleading information about chemical contents. 

Blue Cross and Blue Shield has said it might remove some of its health insurance policies under the Affordable Care Act.
Jed Record / Flickr Creative Commons

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina CEO Brad Wilson recently told the News and Observer that the company might have to consider pulling some of its health insurance policies offered under the Affordable Care Act.

Wilson cited financial losses of more than $100 million in the first year of ACA coverage.

The popularity of the tiny house such as this one has grown in recent years due to its exposure on television. Thava Mahadevan sees a purpose for tiny houses in mental healthcare.
Tammy Strobel / Flickr Creative Commons

A village of tiny homes to house people with mental illnesses could be coming to northern Chatham County.

Many people with mental illnesses live on a federal income of about $750 per month, called the Supplemental Security Income, which creates a challenge for them to find safe and affordable housing.

Sarah Razak / Flickr Creative Commons

Water contamination in Flint, Mich., is perhaps the most prominent minority health crisis in America right now. It is affecting a majority African-American city, and raising questions about whether state leaders disproportionately distributed resources.

This type of intersection between public health and social justice is the theme of this year's Minority Health Conference at UNC-Chapel Hill. 

North Carolina is considering changes to state health insurance plans that would eliminate the 80/20 plans.
TaxRebate.org.uk / Flickr Creative Commons

The Board of Trustees that manages the state health insurance plans for government employees is considering major changes to the state health plan.

The board is considering proposed elimination of the 80/20 plan. The measure is in response to a legislative order to reduce costs for the more than 690,000 employees and retirees who receive health benefits through the state. 

Aedes aegypti mosquito
James Gathany / CDC

Health care professionals and researchers across the state are ramping up to assist in the fight against the mosquito-borne Zika virus. 

Infections in pregnant women in Brazil are thought to be behind a steep increase in cases of microcephaly  in that country.  The condition results in babies having abnormally small brains and heads.

A picture of vials of blood for testing.
GrahamColm / Wikipedia

Doctors may soon be able to conduct a blood test to determine if a patient needs an antibiotic. 

Researchers at Duke Health have developed a process that identifies markers in the blood of patients with respiratory complaints. They show the difference between a viral infection and one that's caused by bacteria.

Image of Ken Dodge, professor of public policy at Duke
Duke University

Note: This is a rebroadcast from last year.

There is a common metaphor in the scientific community that uses flowers to describe children’s sensitivity to their environments. A child like a dandelion will turn out fine despite the circumstances she is raised in, while a child like an orchid will flounder without a nourishing environment, but blossom with care and support. 

A picture of a dog standing in snow.
Poligraf Poligrafovich / Wikipedia

Temperatures are holding steady at freezing and below. So animal advocates and veterinary professionals are urging owners not to leave pets outside if they can avoid it.

Latino child
Lillian Zepeda / Flickr Creative Commons

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has helped close the health insurance gap for North Carolina's Latino children, according to a national report.

A stamp of heroin.
Psychonaught / Wikipedia

Nash County Sheriff Keith Stone suspects five deaths in his eastern North Carolina county in the past two weeks were caused by unintentional drug overdoses.

Don Taylor is a professor of public policy at Duke University.
Duke University

Eighty percent of people who die in the United States are on Medicare, making end-of-life policies a crucial component of the Medicare system.

This month marks a number of significant changes to Medicare’s policies including the once-controversial funding for physicians to discuss end-of-life issues with their patients as well as updates to the hospice payment system. 

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