Some Physicians Referring Patients With Chronic Diseases To Support Groups

The Los Angeles Times (5/8, Karlamangla) reports some physicians are referring to their patients to peer support groups to help them cope with chronic diseases that can affect their lifestyles. The article highlights one such group in Los Angeles for patients with diabetes, and points out that the Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality recommends peer groups as a way to address concerns that might not be given adequate attention during a short visit with a physician.

Related Links:

— “Doctors turn to the power of peer groups to help diabetics,” Soumya Karlamangla, Los Angeles Times, May 8, 2017.

Proposed 2018 Budget Would All But Eliminate Funding For ONDCP

Healio (5/5, Polhamus) reported that President Trump’s proposed 2018 budget “would all but eliminate funding for the Office of National Drug Control Policy [ONDCP], the agency spearheading the fight against the national opioid epidemic, according to a report from Politico.” As it stands now, “the White House’s budget proposal allots $24 million for fiscal 2018, a 95% decrease from the $388 million in federal funds the office received in 2017.”

Related Links:

— “White House budget proposal slashes funding for drug control office by 95%,” Andy Polhamus, Healio, May 5, 2017.

Children Bullied In Fifth Grade May Be More Likely To Abuse Drugs In High School

HealthDay (5/8, Miller) reports that research suggests “a child bullied in fifth grade is more likely to show signs of depression in seventh grade, and abuse substances like alcohol, marijuana or tobacco in 10th grade.” Investigators came to this conclusion after studying approximately 4,000 children. The findings were published in Pediatrics.

Related Links:

— “Bullied in 5th Grade, Prone to Drug Abuse by High School,” Gia Miller, HealthDay, May 8, 2017.

Percentage Doubles Of Kids Ages 5 To 17 Hospitalized For Suicidal Thoughts & Actions

In continuing coverage, the Washington Post (5/8, Andrews) reports in “Morning Mix” that “from 2008 to 2015, the percentage of children ages 5 to 17 hospitalized for suicidal thoughts or actions more than doubled,” researchers found after examining “data on suicidal or self-harm diagnoses from 32 children’s hospitals across” the US. Included in the study were data on some 118,363 instances. The findings were presented at the 2017 Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting.

Related Links:

— “Percentage of teens and young children hospitalized for suicidal thoughts doubled from 2008 to 2015, study finds,” Travis M. Andrews, Washington Post, May 8, 2017.

Updated Quality Care Measures Issued For Care Of Patients With Dementia

Medscape (5/8, Brooks) reports, “Updated quality measures for the care of patients with dementia encourage physicians to disclose the diagnosis to patients and” those who provide their care. In a press release, the American Psychiatric Association acknowledged, “This is an ‘especially important and potentially controversial’ new addition to the measures on high-quality dementia care.”

The article quotes Robert Paul Roca, MD, MPH, “chair of the APA Council on Geriatric Psychiatry and co-chair of the working group that updated the dementia quality measures,” who said, “There is reluctance on the part of physicians to have this conversation because we really have no definitive disease-altering treatments, so physicians are concerned about the impact of the diagnosis on patients and caregivers.”

He added, “But we know that people want to know what ails them. They don’t want diagnoses withheld from them, so we felt it was important to include a measure that would prompt people to disclose the diagnosis,” he said.

The updated quality care measures were published online May 1 in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

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Severe Mental Illness Appears Not To Be A Barrier To Undergoing Bariatric Surgery

Medscape (5/3, Davenport) reports, “Severe mental illness need not be considered as a barrier to undergoing bariatric surgery,” researchers found after studying “patients who underwent bariatric surgery in 2012–2013 in seven US healthcare systems in the Patient Outcomes Research to Advance Learning (PORTAL) network.”

The study revealed that “patients with preexisting mental-health disorders can achieve comparable weight loss to those without mental illness.” The findings were published in the May issue of Obesity. The author of an accompanying editorial wrote that a diagnosis of mental illness “can no longer be considered a viable exclusion criterion.”

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Virginia Residential Treatment Programs Expand Significantly for Medicaid

STAT (5/3, Joseph) reports there are now 71, up from four, residential treatment programs for substance abuse for Medicaid beneficiaries in Virginia, “made possible in part by a new type of ‘waiver’ from federal rules that has dramatically expanded treatment options.” According to STAT, up to 200,000 of Virginia’s “1.1 million Medicaid beneficiaries have a substance use disorder, and fatal opioid overdoses doubled from 2010 to 2016.” The “growing opioid epidemic…stirred federal Medicaid officials to take action and widen access to care.”

Related Links:

— “How Virginia dramatically expanded treatment options for addiction (and skirted federal law),” ANDREW JOSEPH, STAT, May 3, 2017.

Gender Differences In Depression Diagnosis, Symptoms May Start To Appear Around Age 12

HealthDay (5/2, Dallas) reports, “Gender differences in depression diagnosis and symptoms start to appear around the age of 12,” researchers found after “reviewing existing studies that involved a total of about 3.5 million people from more than 90 countries.” The meta-analysis revealed not only that “depression affects significantly more women than men,” but also that “the gender gap appears two to three years earlier than previously thought.” The findings were published online April 27 in the Psychological Bulletin.

Related Links:

— “Depression’s Gender Gap Shows Up in Pre-Teen Years,” Mary Elizabeth Dallas, HealthDay, May 2, 2017.

Mental Health Myths, Stigma Still Common Among Americans

HealthDay (5/2, Preidt) reports that a Michigan State University survey indicates “ignorance, myths and stigma are still common among Americans when it comes to mental health.” The online survey of approximately 4,600 people nationwide found, among other things, that “most people don’t know what to do about depression even if they recognize it.” Meanwhile, “nearly 80 percent don’t believe prescription drug abuse is a treatable problem.”

Related Links:

— “Mental Health Myths Abound in the U.S.,” Robert Preidt, HealthDay, May 2, 2017.

Los Angeles County Adapts Policies To Provide Psychiatric Treatment to Inmates

The AP (4/29, Balsamo) reported from Los Angeles, CA that “the Twin Towers Correctional Facility is home to about 4,000” inmates with mental illness, about 30% of the inmate population there. That increase in prisoners with mental illness “has led the sheriff’s department to adapt its policies as deputies and clinicians work to treat people dealing with both psychiatric disorders and substance abuse.”

In fact, “over the past year,” the Los Angeles County “sheriff’s department has rolled out new training programs that focus on de-escalating potentially violent situations and teach deputies to handle mentally ill inmates…said” Kelly Harrington, “the assistant sheriff in Los Angeles who oversees the county jail system.” What’s more, “county officials have launched a program to transition” inmates with mental illness and comorbid “substance abuse problems to continue their treatment in community programs so they don’t return to a life of crime to get quick cash to buy drugs.”

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