Honesty at Home

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I came across a survey done that I believe has some problems with it:

Source: http://www.ox.ac.uk/media/news_stories/2012/121114.html

The biggest thing is that there is no way to check and see if people really are telling that truth or not, so there is no way to tell if their data is truly accurate. People may also lie about where they are, and thus not be at home. If they conducted the survey through random digit dial, most people no longer have home phones, and it forces the participants to dial cell phones, which increases the chance that people won't be at home.

A Look At Driver Distraction

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Although I believe this study is accurate, they do not say much about where/how they chose the people to participate in the study. They have a lot of data and statistics could be accurate, even a little conservative, but I think a cross-sectional survey would be important to use to compare multiple variables within the survey.

Source: http://on.wsj.com/11Hq5ou

E! News

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E! News reported this poll on their show last night about Taylor Swift and Harry Styles:

Research news.tif

I believe the data is bias because only people that really care about the subjects are likely to respond to the poll. It's also a convenience survey because the people that watch E! News and go to their website are the only ones that are going to see the survey. This is a very specific audience that likely have the same interests, so the results will be bias.

Minnesota Daily Poll

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When looking around the Minnesota Daily's website, I came across their daily poll:

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I thought that the answers were somewhat confusing, the second answer that reads, "No, it is an unreasonable goal and the U should focus on other goals" is somewhat of a loaded answer. People answering may believe that it is an unreasonable goal, but don't agree that the U should focus on other goals - then what would they answer?

Cosmopolitan Research

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I came across a study that found the most popular days and times that couples are most likely to break-up with their significant other.

Source: http://bit.ly/VmNpkH

This study immediately struck me as bias because there are many variables that are left out that could skew the data. The first is that they are using convenience sampling to get their data by using only people that are on Facebook. Furthermore, they can only use those that list their relationships on Facebook. This leaves out the people that are still in relationships, but choose not to list it. This study will not use those people, and thus manipulate the data. There are many people that are married and their spouse is not on Facebook, so they don't list their relationship status on the website. There are also those millions of people that are not on Facebook, and thus we do not know their trends.

Pilow Survey for Honors Thesis

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After reviewing the survey that a fellow SJMC student had put together, I thought that some of her questions and the way they were formatted were a little off. Overall, the flow and structure of the survey was good, but I don't believe all the questions should be open-ended. As someone taking the study, when I saw that all of the questions were open-ended, I immediately wanted to exit out and not take it. It was only because of the fact that I was getting extra credit and I could possibly win a Target giftcard that I finished it.

I think that most of the questions should be likert scale or multiple choice, with a few open-ended. This would increase the number of surveys completed.

Emotions Aren't All In The Face

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I came across this study regarding how people read others, and the fact that people use body cues more than facial expressions. They pasted faces from tennis placers onto other bodies and vise versa to see how people interpreted the motions. Their findings were that people used the body cues to decipher whether the athletes were winning or losing, rather than facial expressions.

Source: http://www.npr.org/2012/11/30/166184008/victory-or-defeat-emotions-arent-all-in-the-face

A 'Party Drug' May Help the Brain Cope With Trauma

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I came across a study that deals with using a usual party drug to help with post traumatic stress, especially in soldiers, veterans and those who have been involved in very traumatic situations. The experimenters are using the drug MDMA, more commonly known as Ecstasy. Although some participants have stated that it works very well, I was immediately torn on both the legality of the subject, as well as the ethicality.
In 1985 the drug was criminalized, placing it on a list of prohibited substances. Presently, MDMA is not approved for any medical uses, which makes me wonder how they're getting away with this in the US in the first place. They are following protocol with the Food and Drug Administration with an experimental drug, but it doesn't take away from the ethical issues that arise.
People are quoted stating that we need to leave the politics out of it and focus on the needs of this group that have dealt with unimaginable traumatic situations. I feel if this drug would become legalized for medical uses, it would have its fair share of abusers, like Ritalin and marijuana. MDMA can also have serious side effects that could make the people's symptoms worse than before. It makes me wonder if the benefits truly outweigh the costs with this drug.

See article: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/20/health/ecstasy-treatment-for-post-traumatic-stress-shows-promise.html?pagewanted=1&_r=0&ref=research

Hundreds of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans with post-traumatic stress have recently contacted a husband-and-wife team who work in suburban South Carolina to seek help. Many are desperate, pleading for treatment and willing to travel to get it.

The soldiers have no interest in traditional talking cures or prescription drugs that have given them little relief. They are lining up to try an alternative: MDMA, better known as Ecstasy, a party drug that surfaced in the 1980s and '90s that can induce pulses of euphoria and a radiating affection. Government regulators criminalized the drug in 1985, placing it on a list of prohibited substances that includes heroin and LSD. But in recent years, regulators have licensed a small number of labs to produce MDMA for research purposes.

"I feel survivor's guilt, both for coming back from Iraq alive and now for having had a chance to do this therapy," said Anthony, a 25-year-old living near Charleston, S.C., who asked that his last name not be used because of the stigma of taking the drug. "I'm a different person because of it."

In a paper posted online Tuesday by the Journal of Psychopharmacology, Michael and Ann Mithoefer, the husband-and-wife team offering the treatment -- which combines psychotherapy with a dose of MDMA -- write that they found 15 of 21 people who recovered from severe post-traumatic stress in the therapy in the early 2000s reported minor to virtually no symptoms today. Many said they have received other kinds of therapy since then, but not with MDMA.

The Mithoefers -- he is a psychiatrist and she is a nurse -- collaborated on the study with researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina and the nonprofit Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies.

The patients in this group included mostly rape victims, and experts familiar with the work cautioned that it was preliminary, based on small numbers, and its applicability to war trauma entirely unknown. A spokeswoman for the Department of Defense said the military was not involved in any research of MDMA.

But given the scarcity of good treatments for post-traumatic stress, "there is a tremendous need to study novel medications," including MDMA, said Dr. John H. Krystal, chairman of psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine.

The study is the first long-term test to suggest that psychiatrists' tentative interest in hallucinogens and other recreational drugs -- which have been taboo since the 1960s -- could pay off. And news that the Mithoefers are beginning to test the drug in veterans is out, in the military press and on veterans' blogs. "We've had more than 250 vets call us," Dr. Mithoefer said. "There's a long waiting list, we wish we could enroll them all."

The couple, working with other researchers, will treat no more than 24 veterans with the therapy, following Food and Drug Administration protocols for testing an experimental drug; MDMA is not approved for any medical uses.

A handful of similar experiments using MDMA, LSD or marijuana are now in the works in Switzerland, Israel and Britain, as well as in this country. Both military and civilian researchers are watching closely. So far, the research has been largely supported by nonprofit groups.

"When it comes to the health and well-being of those who serve, we should leave our politics at the door and not be afraid to follow the data," said Brig. Gen. Loree Sutton, a psychiatrist who recently retired from the Army. "There's now an evidence base for this MDMA therapy and a plausible story about what may be going on in the brain to account for the effects."

In interviews, two people who have had the therapy -- one, Anthony, currently in the veterans study, and another who received the therapy independently -- said that MDMA produced a mental sweet spot that allowed them to feel and talk about their trauma without being overwhelmed by it.

"It changed my perspective on the entire experience of working at ground zero," said Patrick, a 46-year-old living in San Francisco, who worked long hours in the rubble after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks searching in vain for survivors, as desperate family members of the victims looked on, pleading for information. "At times I had this beautiful, peaceful feeling down in the pit, that I had a purpose, that I was doing what I needed to be doing. And I began in therapy to identify with that," rather than the guilt and sadness.

The Mithoefers administer the MDMA in two doses over one long therapy session, which comes after a series of weekly nondrug sessions to prepare. Three to five weeks later, they perform another drug-assisted session; and again, patients engage in 90-minute nondrug therapy before and after, once each week.

Most have found that their score on a standard measure of symptoms -- general anxiety, hyperarousal, depression, nightmares -- drops by about 75 percent. That is more than twice the relief experienced by people who get psychotherapy without MDMA, the Mithoefers said.

The couple works as a team, sitting with the patient for as long as the altered state lasts. "It's very much a nondirected therapy," Dr. Mithoefer said. "We're with them for 8 to 10 hours, usually, and we alternate between having them talk to us and having them focus on the trauma. Part of what we're trying to do is help the person stay with the memory even if it's difficult."

For many people, the experience in treatment is emotionally vivid, Dr. Mithoefer continued. The drug does not produce a "high," but it usually brings some tranquillity.

Studies of people taking MDMA suggest that the drug induces, among other things, the release of a hormone called oxytocin, which is thought to increase sensations of trust and affection. The drug also seems to tamp down activity in a brain region called the amygdala, which flares during fearful, threatening situations.

"The feeling I got was nothing at all for 45 minutes, then really bad anxiety, and I was fighting it at first," said Anthony, the Iraq veteran, who patrolled southwest of Baghdad in 2006 and 2007 amid relentless insurgent harassment and attacks with improvised explosive devices. "And then -- I don't know how to put it, exactly -- I felt O.K. and messed up at the same time. Clear. It was almost like I could go into any thought I wanted and fix it."For instance, he could think and talk about an attack that occurred in a town near Baghdad, in which Iraqis posing as allies -- and who had been armed by the American military -- turned their guns on American troops, killing several. The unit could not quickly evacuate its wounded because of weather conditions. Anthony's rage and grief were so overwhelming that he had to suppress them and did so for years.

"The military does a great job of turning you into a soldier, of teaching you how to control your reactions, and it is hard to turn those habits off," Anthony said.

He said he no longer struggled with post-traumatic anxiety or guilt, more than a year after undergoing the MDMA-assisted treatment. In the new report, the Mithoefers write that they found 80 percent of the patients treated in the early 2000s reported that much or all of the initial benefit they achieved on this standard test persisted a year to five years after the therapy ended.

If the results among veterans are anywhere near as powerful and lasting, researchers said, it is likely that the government would be willing to pay for a larger trial.

"That is really what we're aiming for, and we're doing it carefully," said Rick Doblin, the executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, which financed the MDMA study. "After all this cultural turmoil, the split between the military and the psychedelic community, it would really be something if we could come together and use some of these drugs to help people."

I believe that this study was okay, but there could be many lurking variables within their findings. For example, these findings are only based off of one country, so it is difficult to make those conclusions for everyone who has ADHD. I think that it would also be important to look at the city/area of Sweden they were using for their study. If it is generally a more dangerous area, it would make sense that those evaluated would have a criminal background.
I think it would be better if they would have examined the top five countries that prescribe ADHD medication, and then look at their criminal background.
There are also many people that are misdiagnosed for ADHD, and therefore their findings could be uncontrollably skewed since some of the people studied may not actually have ADHD.

see article: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/22/health/adhd-study-suggests-medication-may-reduce-crime.html?ref=research&_r=0

A large study suggests that people with serious attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are less likely to commit crimes when taking medication.

The study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, examined records of 25,000 people in Sweden to see if those with A.D.H.D. had fewer criminal convictions when taking medication than when they were not.

Of 8,000 people whose medication use fluctuated over a three-year period, men were 32 percent less likely and women were 41 percent less likely to have criminal convictions while on medication. Patients were primarily young adults, many with a history of hospitalization. Crimes included assault, drug offenses and homicide as well as less serious crimes. Medication varied, but many took stimulants like Ritalin.

"The study adds a lot," said Dr. Gabrielle Carlson, director of child and adolescent psychiatry at Stony Brook University medical school, who was not involved in the study. "Cutting the crime rate, that's not trivial. Maybe it will get some help for people in jail. It gives people who were on the fence maybe a little more confidence in this treatment."

Studies suggest that people with A.D.H.D. are more likely to commit crimes. And while people, especially boys, are often prescribed medication as children, they often resist taking it as teenagers. Studies have not shown that medication has long-term effects on symptoms.

Dr. Paul Lichtenstein, a study author and a professor at Karolinska Institute, cautioned against concluding that everyone with A.D.H.D. should be continuously medicated.

"There are pros and cons to medication," he said. But "in young adults, the age where criminality is most common, you should consider medication because it is more harmful for these people to be involved in criminal activities. Also for prisoners and people who have left prison."

Researchers said that correlations between medication and decreased crime held regardless of the type of medication or crime and the presence of other disorders. They tried to determine if patients stopped treatment because of criminal convictions, but found that treatment itself appeared linked to fewer crimes.

Among psychiatric experts, when, and sometimes whether, to prescribe A.D.H.D. medication is still debated. Drugs do not work for everyone, and side effects can include jittery feelings and suppressed appetite and growth.

William Pelham, director of the Center for Children and Families at Florida International University, said nondrug therapies like behavioral modification worked as well as medication in the short run. He said that the study did not prove that medication caused less criminality, and because most subjects were seriously ill adults, the results were irrelevant for most American children.

Jason Fletcher, an associate professor at the Yale School of Public Health, said that despite some weaknesses, the study provided a "very suggestive piece of evidence" supporting medication. "Because crime is so expensive, if you can reduce it, even by half of what they're saying, you might still say this is really effective medication."

He did wonder if medication is reducing crime or "making better criminals," who avoid arrest. Dr. Lichtenstein deemed that unlikely. "I don't think you would commit the crime," he said, "and then just not get caught."

Job Loss Raises Threat of Heart Attack

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I found this article to be very interesting in the correlation between job loss and heart attacks. After adjusting for establishing heart-attack risks, researchers found that being unemployed also increased the risk of a heart attack, by an average of 35 percent.
Although I believe that their execution and practices were good, I wish that they would have cross-studied the correlation between age, sex, income, etc, with that of job loss and then with heart attack. This would have helped give an all around better understanding of the effect those may have on job loss as well.

See article: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/26/job-loss-raises-threat-of-heart-attack/?ref=research

Unemployment increases the risk of heart attack, a new study reports, and repeated job loss raises the odds still more.

In a prospective analysis from 1992 to 2010 with interviews every other year, researchers tracked job history and heart attacks among more than 13,000 people ages 51 to 75. The study, published online Nov. 19 in The Archives of Internal Medicine, recorded 1,061 heart attacks over the period.

After adjusting for well-established heart attack risks -- age, sex, smoking, income, hypertension, cholesterol screening, exercise, depression, diabetes and others -- the researchers found that being unemployed also increased the risk of a heart attack, by an average of 35 percent.

Beyond the first year, the length of time unemployed was not significantly associated with increased risk, but repeated job loss was. Losing one job was linked to a 22 percent increase in heart attack risk, losing two jobs with a 27 percent increase, three jobs with a 52 percent increase, and a loss of four or more jobs with a 63 percent increase.

The magnitude of these risks for heart attack, the authors write, is similar to that of smoking, diabetes and hypertension.

"We don't know what the mechanisms are," said the lead author, Matthew E. Dupre, an assistant professor of medicine at Duke. "But until we do, it's important to be aware of what the stress of a job loss might do, and that people who experience more than one loss might be at even higher risk."