Assorted Links

Thanks to Nicole Larkin and Tim Beneke.

10 Replies to “Assorted Links”

  1. Finland also has a very effective way of treating psychosis — far more effective than the standard practice (in most Western countries) of drugging people into oblivion:

    Open Dialogue Therapy in Western Lapland for Psychotic Patients

    In the Western World, Western Lapland in Finland has adopted a form of care for its psychotic patients that has produced astonishingly good long-term outcomes. At the end of two and five years, eighty percent of first-episode psychotic patients in Western Lapland are either employed or back at school. Only about one third of the patients are ever exposed to antipsychotic medications, and only 20% end up taking the drugs on a continual basis.


  2. That is an experimental therapy in Western Lapland where hardly any people live at all – not something that is used in all of Finland. Don’t get me wrong, I love Finland and am half-Finnish, but things are really not as rosy as painted in the articles here. Finland is just the current stop on the “Scandinavians are so happy” meme train.

    Seth: I am impressed that Finland is testing such a therapy. Nowhere in America, as far as I know, is it being tested.

  3. Mikael, most measures of economy, health care, education, crime, corruption etc show that Finland is doing very well. And unlike the rest of Scandinavia Finland doesn’t have immigrants patrolling certain suburbs and instructing women on how what clothes to wear, it doesn’t have riots, it doesn’t have Breivik etc.

  4. re: Mood benefits of fermented food

    The study was funded by Danone Research. Mayer has served on the company’s scientific advisory board. Three of the study authors (Denis Guyonnet, Sophie Legrain-Raspaud and Beatrice Trotin) are employed by Danone Research and were involved in the planning and execution of the study (providing the products) but had no role in the analysis or interpretation of the results.

  5. @Alex: “Some patients did do better on the drug, and indeed, doctors and patients insist that some who take Avastin significantly beat the average.” So some must have undershot the average i.e. have had their death brought forward by the Avastin?

  6. With respect to the medical price-fixing going on in the U.S., the author recommends more direct government intervention. To me, it seems from the evidence presented that price-fixing started when the federal government established the Medicare program (which, laughingly, was sold to the public as a way of saving money in the long run by making people healthier the same way the NHS was sold in Britain).

    Perhaps the simplest solution would be to go back to direct payments from patients to doctors, the way the system worked for hundreds of years, with the understanding that care would be provided to those unable to pay by charitable organizations (which would go back to collecting donations from the public at large instead of taking government fees) and physicians themselves, as a moral responsibility buttressed by the increased respect they would thereby earn from the public and their fellow professionals. Using the Web patients could shop around for general physicians or specialists, knowing up-front what the cost for visits or procedures would be – and having feedback to review from past patients. Hospitals, too, would post their charges up-front, so patients could decide where to go based on price versus perceived or actual quality of services.

    More attention should also be given by the press and other media to the results of Cochrane Collaboration mega-analyses of clinical trials data which show, for example, that annual physical exams by general practitioners or specialists are worthless (or even result in unnecessary and costly treatment). If people had to rely on their own decision-making, they would consider twice before following “doctor’s orders” blindly, as most people do nowadays. Most Medicare patients never inquire what the actual cost of a procedure is, they just want to know how much the co-pay amount would be – and since the physician wants the patient to remain on his books, he usually waives that piddling amount in any case.

    Seth: Your idea has some very good aspects — and a hospital in Oklahoma has started posting charges up front — but it does not address protect against catastrophic loss. If only one person in 1000 is going to need Expensive Procedure X, how shall X be paid for?

  7. Thank you for the response, Seth. I don’t think we need the government to handle the one person in 1,000 needing expensive procedure X – that is what “saving for a rainy day” is for those of us who can pay their own way, the use of high deductible insurance for unanticipated drastic events for the majority of the population, or the best use of charitable donations for those who can’t cope on their own. We will never have a perfect system, and we will never be able to keep everyone alive forever no matter how much money we spend.

    Seth: That makes sense — that only insurance with a high deductible should exist because otherwise doctors and hospitals will price-fix. However, I would like to know more about health care in Japan, where health is better than here and health care is much cheaper than here. I don’t know why. At Berkeley, at a psychology department meeting, there was a certain problem we needed to solve. Let’s see how other departments handle this, I said. I was told that such a thing was beneath us, We should be leaders.

  8. As few Westerners know Japanese, and it seems that few Japanese with English-language skills think Americans are interested in their health system, I fear that we may never have an opportunity to learn how the Japanese medical system compares to ours. My own guess would be that differences in health statistics between countries derive from (1) how the numbers are constructed (the different ways infant mortality is defined, for example) (2) the genetic makeup of the population, (3) the relative healthiness of the environment (levels of pathogens, heat and humidity), and (4) the quality of the health care and medical systems.

    It is sad to hear that things at Berkeley are as bad as you describe. It must be hard to cope in such an anti-intellectual environment. No wonder you run away to China!

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