A week ago, André Picard published a column in the Globe and Mail entitled “How many people actually suffer from mental illness?” and later he tweeted his thanks to readers for making that column the publication’s most-read story of the day. The column may have been well-read - it certainly sparked controversy on social media - but it wasn't because Picard had anything very profound to say. In fact the piece was based on an epidemiological faux pas, which is why I called it a nothingburger.
Commenting on the findings of a poll commissioned by Sun Life Financial Canada, which found that 49% of Canadians have “experienced a mental health issue” at some point in their lives, ...continue reading →
Rising awareness of the toll that physician burnout is taking on our profession and our healthcare services has inspired numerous organizational physician wellness initiatives and resilience courses aimed at individual physicians. Yet, as experts discuss the relative merits of the system-level approach vs. the individual-wellness-training approach to addressing burnout, one key element seems to be all-but ignored: the healing power of the relationship between physicians and the patients they serve.
Dr. Tom Hutchinson, in his book, Whole Person Care: Transforming Healthcare (Springer International Publishing AG, 2017), suggests that we have lost touch with “the interior processes of healing and growth in the individual patient and the practitioner that give meaning to illness and to healthcare,” ...continue reading →
This post really needs no introduction. First came #WomenBoycottTwitter when Twitter straightjacketed Rose McGowan and women reacted angrily to what they felt was unfair ‘victim silencing’. But many pointed out the irony and probable ineffectiveness of self-imposed silence to protest enforced silence. Then yesterday my social media feeds were full of the hashtag #MeToo along with story after story after story from women friends, of sexual harassment, abuse and unwanted physical attention. Women I look up to; tough women…the sort about whom you might think, “It would never happen to them.” Lawyers, a chemistry professor, a neuroscientist, respected colleagues in medical research.
Last week, writer Anne Donahue tweeted, “When did you meet YOUR Harvey Weinstein? I’ll go first…,” which has tens of thousands of replies and ‘quote’ retweets and prompted Trevor Noah to tweet"The number of replies to this tweet is insane. As men we have to do better to stop this."
In the last two weeks I’ve attended three very different scientific conferences on behalf of the CMAJ Group. In fact you couldn’t get more different than the 33rd International Conference on Pharmacoepidemiology and Therapeutic Risk Management (ICPE - all Big Data and massive record linkage aimed at finding out more about the benefits and harms of medicines and devices) and the 5th Canadian Conference on Physician Health (mainly focusing on the major problem of physician burnout and what we should do about it). And yet the same study was mentioned by plenary speakers at both conferences to support the same message: that physicians are overburdened by administrative and data-capture demands. Across four medical specialties, “for every hour physicians provide direct clinical face time to patients, nearly 2 additional hours is spent on EHR and desk work within the clinic day,” ...continue reading →
Kirsten Patrick is Deputy Editor at CMAJ. She is currently attending the North American Primary Care Research Group (NAPCRG) annual meeting in Colorado Springs, CO.
In the plenary session on providing primary care for refugees, one of the speakers, Kim Griswold, shared an image, now familiar to many, that is designed to help people to understand the difference between equality and equity. It demonstrates how some people start off at a relative disadvantage and need extra help to be able to achieve or access things that more advantaged people are able to experience easily. This image, and similar ones, have been criticized by some social justice thinkers who point out that ...continue reading →
Yes I did wake up at 3 am today and think, "I'll just check the U.S. election results..." and boy do I regret not going to bed earlier because there was no sleeping after that. Since 3am I’ve read at least a hundred articles analyzing the election’s outcome. I’ve been openly “with her” throughout the campaign. I’m a UK citizen living in Canada so nobody cares, but I'm a woman and the misogyny that the campaign has brought into sharp focus has upset me greatly, so I care. It means I’ve been zipping back and forth through the stages of loss for the past few hours. ...continue reading →
For the past two-and-a-bit days I’ve been privileged to be able to attend the Canadian Paediatric Society annual meeting. I love this community of physicians. They come across as the most optimistic, caring and forward-thinking group. Participants always come with families and even small babies in tow. They seem to be, without exception, interested in improving the wellbeing of every child not just some kids. I always leave the conference feeling uplifted by what I have heard and learned, and hopeful about the strategies being developed by the CPS.
This morning I woke up to discover that #Brexit was no longer something abstract that I was pretty sure couldn’t possibly happen, but something real that a 52% majority of people in a country of which I am a citizen decided was something they’d like to try. My social media feeds were full of peoples’ shock and disbelief; clearly my friends and acquaintances voted as I did ...continue reading →
Much as I love the Harry Potter books and love reading them to my kids, they’re a little too fictional for my taste, and I’m not talking about the magic. Thing is… kids who grow up with the chronic stress of abuse and near-starvation in their formative years seldom – actually pretty much never - go on to be high-functioning, top-of-their-class children with great self-restraint and a well-functioning moral compass. If you heap adversity on a child you’re more likely to get a Neville Longbottom / Tom Riddle mix, not our beloved Harry. So there’s something about me that feels awkward about feeding the Harry Potter fiction to my kids.
This morning I swam at my local YMCA with Canada’s Minister for the Environment and Climate Change. Minister McKenna and I belong to the same Masters Swim Club. I don’t see her as much as I used to….well, I see a great many photos of her on my Twitter and Facebook feeds, but I don’t see her much in the pool. She's a busy lady and last week she attended the ceremony for the signing of the Paris Climate Change Agreement on behalf of Canada at UN Headquarters in New York. It was Earth Day – 22 April – and 175 Parties (174 countries and the European Union) signed up to the agreement that day. This number of signatories far exceeded the historical record for first-day signatures to an international agreement. It was joyous occasion in which Canada could and did participate with pride. Like a wedding on a perfect spring day.
But just as a wedding is an ideal thing and marriage a real thing, and confusing the ideal with the real never goes unpunished ...continue reading →
What sort of research would we be doing if medical research were crowdfunded? Sarah Knowles from Manchster believes that too much research money is wasted on studies that don’t deliver. Some don’t even manage to recruit the desired number of participants. Many funded research studies aren’t studying a question that is of importance to patient stakeholders. Sarah, a researcher in primary care mental health (“We compete with disability research for who gets the least funding!”) strongly advocates for crowdfunding of research. Think Kickstarter. She says it’s the way to ensure public engagement and patient voice in medical research; she points out that whenever she mentions it to other researchers they usually balk. She thinks this probably has to do with fear that we don’t possess adequate ability to communicate why our research is important and to make a compelling case for funding.
Sarah was the last of a panel of speakers at a session on day 2 of #sapcasm entitled “Dangerous Ideas”. The session was modeled on the reality show Dragons’ Den. Speakers pitched their ideas at the audience for five minutes and then the audience had five minutes to throw questions and comments at the speakers (to which they could respond).