Opioid epidemic: Focus turns to how dentists are treating pain

Mary Otto

About Mary Otto

Mary Otto, a Washington, D.C.-based freelancer, is AHCJ's topic leader on oral health and the author of "Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America." She can be reached at mary@healthjournalism.org.

Photo: ME via Flickr

While oral health and dentist-use are generally similar in United States and England, U.S dentists write 37 times as many opioid prescriptions as their English counterparts, according to a newly published study.

The findings, reported in May in JAMA Network Open, highlight an ongoing concern about the prescribing habits of US health practitioners and how they may be contributing to America’s epidemic of opioid abuse. Continue reading

Should a presidential candidate’s age matter?

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News, the Connecticut Health I-Team and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University and co-produces the HealthCetera podcast.

President Trump is the record holder for becoming the oldest president at age 70.

If you’ve been watching the Democratic debates (and even if you haven’t), you know several candidates running for president in 2020 are 70 or older.

While there is a minimum age requirement to hold office, there is no upper limit. Should there be, given how physically and mentally grueling the job of president is? (Just look at before and after photos.) Is 75, or 80, or 85 too old to be president?

Continue reading

When reporting on efforts to reduce drug prices, be skeptical and follow the money

Joseph Burns

About Joseph Burns

Joseph Burns (@jburns18), a Massachusetts-based independent journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health insurance. He welcomes questions and suggestions on insurance resources and tip sheets at joseph@healthjournalism.org.

The Trump administration has been talking tough on drug prices for many months and, of course, pharmaceutical companies and other organizations have pushed back because they mostly oppose controls on the free market for prescription drugs.

For health care journalists covering these proposals, it’s essential to remain skeptical of any group that offers support or opposition and, as always, follow the money. Continue reading

Identity-first vs. person-first language is an important distinction

Tara Haelle

About Tara Haelle

Tara Haelle (@TaraHaelle) is AHCJ's medical studies core topic leader, guiding journalists through the jargon-filled shorthand of science and research and enabling them to translate the evidence into accurate information.

Photo: U.S. Army IMCOM via Flickr

Freelance journalist Cassandra Willyard recently asked me on Twitter about resources on the use of appropriate, respectful language when it comes to how we identify the people who are living with various conditions or disabilities.

It was in response to an excellent question by biomedical research writer Kim Krieger about the acceptability of referring to someone with a condition as a descriptor, such as “epileptic child” or “diabetic adults.” Those constructions are called “identity-first” language, as opposed to “person-first” language where the person literally comes first: “children with epilepsy” and “adults with diabetes.” Continue reading

Reporter takes deep dive into alternative Alzheimer’s therapy

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News, the Connecticut Health I-Team and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University and co-produces the HealthCetera podcast.

Photo: Joy Weinberg via Flickr

There’s no doubt that a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease is devastating for both the person who receives it and for their family.

Although it’s the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S., affecting nearly 6 million people, finding a cure or even a long-term treatment has proven elusive. Most drugs never make it out of Phase I or II trials. Continue reading

California reporter followed one lead after another to an award-winning series

Joseph Burns

About Joseph Burns

Joseph Burns (@jburns18), a Massachusetts-based independent journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health insurance. He welcomes questions and suggestions on insurance resources and tip sheets at joseph@healthjournalism.org.

Photo: Attila Malarik via Flckr

To some of us, this procedure might have sounded too good to be true: A national network of infusion clinics offers to relieve just about any complication from diabetes, including neuropathy, nephropathy, cardiovascular problems and erectile dysfunction. It can do so as long as each diabetes patient enrolled is willing to sit for four hours every week or two while a pump pushes insulin through the patient’s veins.

Offered by Trina Health, this procedure was said to mimic the effect of the pancreas. But there was no data showing it worked; only testimonials from people who said they had been patients. But, to some desperate patients, it seemed plausible. Continue reading