Author Archives: Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of, coordinates social media efforts of AHCJ and assists with the editing and production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

Sullivan, autobiography recognized with NAACP Image Award

Photo: Len Bruzzese/AHCJ

Photo: Len Bruzzese/AHCJ

Louis W. Sullivan, who spoke to Health Journalism 2014 attendees about his just-released autobiography, has won an NAACP Image Award for the book.

Sullivan, the founding dean of the Morehouse School of Medicine – the first predominantly black medical school – served as secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under President George H.W. Bush from 1989-93. Continue reading

Journalists around the country track vaccination rates

As many are reporting, the measles outbreak has parents and officials questioning state laws that allow unvaccinated children to attend school, under religious or philosophical exemptions. Forty-eight states allow religious exemptions, according to this map from the National Conference of State Legislatures.

News organizations are compiling interactive maps, databases and other widgets to show vaccination rates by state and, sometimes county. Some allow searching for specific schools.

USA Today has searchable data on exemptions in 13 states, with more to come. The states it covers include California, Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, New York, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont and West Virginia. (Update: As of Feb. 9, it has added Arkansas, Georgia, Washington and Wisconsin.) Continue reading

Discount drug pricing: Cutting through the controversy

Image by Bill Brooks via flickr.

Image by Bill Brooks via flickr.

Independent journalist Lola Butcher reports that debate about the government’s 340B Drug Pricing Program continues to build as the program expands.

“Like all good controversies, this one has enthusiastic advocates and wild-eyed opponents, and it’s easy to get snagged by the passion of the partisans,” she writes in a new tip sheet. Continue reading

Precision Medicine Initiative: Some quick resources

The White House has announced its anticipated “Precision Medicine Initiative,” which it describes as an “emerging field of medicine that takes into account individual differences in people’s genes, microbiomes, environments, and lifestyles – making possible more effective, targeted treatments for diseases like cancer and diabetes. ”

Health Journalism 2014 featured a panel about personalized medicine and the presentations from “Getting personal: The medical and ethical challenges of using genetic information” may offer some story ideas and considerations for reporters who are explaining President Barack Obama’s proposal.  Continue reading

Panels, key speakers announced for Health Journalism 2015

California’s Silicon Valley – an intersection of health and technology – will be home to Health Journalism 2015, AHCJ’s annual conference scheduled for April 23-26.

Abraham Verghese

Abraham Verghese

Convening at the Hyatt Regency in Santa Clara, hundreds of journalists will visit area sites during field trips, hear from world-class speakers during panels, take part in skill-building workshops and more.

The  conference will help reporters, editors and producers cover the latest in medical research, health technology, public health  issues, the business of health care, health policy matters and journalism. Freelance members can meet face-to-face with editors during the popular PitchFest.

Deane Marchbein

Deane Marchbein

Conference spotlight speakers will include Stanford University physician and author Abraham Verghese, M.D.,  M.A.C.P.; Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald; and Deane Marchbein, M.D., the president of the United States’ board of directors for Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières.

Verghese, a bestselling author and medical school professor, will be the  conference kickoff speaker on the evening of April 23 .

His work includes advocacy for the value of bedside skills and physical diagnosis, skills he sees as waning in an era of increasingly sophisticated medical technology, diverting  physicians’  attention from patients. At Stanford, he was instrumental in development of the “The Stanford 25” initiative, which is designed to showcase and teach 25 fundamental physical exam skills and their diagnostic benefits to interns. Continue reading

Shared wisdom: Shooting video of older adults

Sue Scheible

Sue Scheible

Sometimes all we need is a quick suggestion from our peers to zero in on a good story. In the “Shared Wisdom” section of our core topic areas, we turn to front-line journalists for advice, some simple insight to add to our repository.

Today’s addition is from Sue Scheible of the Patriot Ledger in Massachusetts. Scheible (@sues_ledger) has been a staff reporter at the paper for 46 years and has a weekly column on aging. She offers some tips on filming video of older adults and why video can be so powerful. In one recent video that Scheible shot, an 85-year-old woman explained what she’s learned about talking to doctors.

See what wisdom Scheible offers fellow journalists.

Posts about Ebola, oral health, ethics and data among year’s top reads

As we close out 2014, take a look back at the most popular Covering Health posts of the year:

Thanks for reading and contributing ideas and comments this year!

Grant will allow comprehensive tracking of journal retractions

Adam Marcus

Adam Marcus

Ivan Oransky

Ivan Oransky

A $400,000 grant from the MacArthur Foundation will be used to create a database of retractions from scientific journals, extending the work done by  Adam Marcus and AHCJ Vice President Ivan Oransky on their Retraction Watch blog.

The grant was awarded to the Center for Scientific Integrity, a nonprofit organization set up by Marcus and Oransky. Continue reading

Contest entries provide insights, education into reporting

One of the most inspiring parts of my job comes every spring: That’s when I get to see the winning entries in the Awards for Excellence in Health Care Journalism.

Often they are pieces I’ve seen over the previous year – many of which I’ve blogged or tweeted about or we’ve had the reporters write about their work for us. But there are always a few surprises that I had missed when they were published or aired.

Andrew Holtz, a health news veteran and longtime contest judge, has had the same experience. “Like most AHCJ members, I follow health news closely. Still, several of the entries surprised me. Not only were they delightful pieces of journalism, they revealed stories I hadn’t known,” Holtz said in an email. Continue reading