Tag Archives: stress

Personal story helps illustrate physiological effects of stress

Joe Rojas-Burke

About Joe Rojas-Burke

Joe Rojas-Burke is AHCJ’s core topic leader on the social determinants of health, working to help journalists broaden the frame of health coverage to include factors such as education, income, neighborhood and social network. Send questions or suggestions to joe@healthjournalism.org or @rojasburke.

The idea that chronic stress can change how your body and brain work fascinated Dan Gorenstein, a radio reporter at Marketplace, and it sparked the idea for an affecting, memorable piece about poverty and health.

The report pivots on the story of a woman with a troubled past and a painful confession. How did Gorenstein find her, and persuade her to go public? How did he balance her interests with his potentially conflicting interest in pursuing a good story?

The piece also distills a lot of complicated research about chronic stress, decision making and health. But it remains a tight, fast-moving narrative. I talked to Gorenstein and got the inside story on how he did the reporting.

Workplace-based health initiatives target smoking, mental health, nutrition #ahcj13

Paula Burkes

About Paula Burkes

Paula Burkes is a business writer at The Oklahoman. She is attending Health Journalism 2013 on an AHCJ-Healthier Beat Fellowship, which is supported by The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.

Is your workplace making you sick?

Experts at Health Journalism 2013 in Boston said it can — and does.

Bad bosses can cause employees to lose sleep, while smoking blue-collar workers face the toughest challenge kicking their nicotine habits and the highest stress jobs are those that are highly psychologically demanding, but with little autonomy, they say.

In one Harvard School of Public Health study of nurses who work in nursing homes, those who had bosses with poor management skills on average got 30 minutes less sleep than those with good managers, said Cassandra Okechukwu, Ph.D., an assistant professor of social and behavioral services at Harvard. Continue reading

Medical, support network lacking for returning National Guard, reservists

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

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

National Guardsmen and reservists returning from duty in Iraq and Afghanistan “have been hastily channeled through a post-deployment process that has been plagued with difficulties, including reliance on self-reporting to identify health problems,” according to an investigation by graduate students in Northwestern University’s Medill School.

nat-guard-iraq

Photo by The National Guard via Flickr

Hidden Surge” found members of the National Guard must navigate disparate health care and support providers, made more difficult by the fact that many of them live in rural areas. Three of the stories were published in The Washington Post.

The reporters also found that, in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, most reservists were medically unready to deploy – an assessment made by a private contractor. “More than 2,400 Army Reserve soldiers were held back, at least temporarily, because of inaccurate assessments by the contractor, according to data provided by the Army Reserve Medical Command.”

Meanwhile, some soldiers with behavioral problems that could be aggravated by the stress of deployment and combat were improperly sent overseas.

The project, done by 10 students, was directed by faculty member Josh Meyer, who covered national security for the Los Angeles Times for 20 years. Students used video and interactive graphics to help tell the stories. A “How We Did It” sidebar says the students interviewed more than 150 people, reviewed documents and reports and traveled to nine states to do the reporting.

According to a press release, the Hidden Surge project is part of Medill’s National Security Journalism Initiative, funded by the McCormick Foundation.

Unlocking the brain’s response to trauma, violence

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

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

Scott Johnson of The Oakland Tribune writes about the science of chronic trauma and puts it in the perspective of Oakland, Calif., residents who are regularly exposed to chronic levels of stress and trauma. There were 95 homicides in Oakland in 2010.

brain

Photo by BlatantNews.com via Flickr

Scientists are finding that trauma affects how the brain functions and, especially in children, can create long-term debilitating problems, including anti-social behavior, dissociation, emotional numbness and trouble forming social relationships.

Fortunately, scientists also are finding there are therapeutic tools that can help.

The science around chronic trauma is evolving quickly and in exciting new ways. Even as scientists discover new evidence about what is happening in the brains of chronically traumatized people, intriguing new techniques are emerging for coping with the effects.

Johnson, the Oakland Tribune‘s Violence Reporting Fellow, is blogging at OaklandEffect.com, where he has written about his own experiences and about attending the recent “Healing Moments in Trauma Treatment” conference. Johnson’s position is funded by the California Endowment and he will be with the Tribune for a year, reporting on a wide range of issues, including those related to the impacts of violence on the mental health of Oakland residents.