News and Updates

My friend Peter Conrad published a remarkable paper in 1985 entitled The Meaning of Medications: Another look at compliance. Peter is a Professor of Sociology at Brandeis University who is interested in social aspects of health. In his paper, he was trying to understand why people with epilepsy took or did not take their medications. What were their reasons and what were they trying to achieve? In contrast to prior theories of compliance which focused on the doctor-patient relationship, Peter was trying to understand the patient’s experience of taking medication – and he called this “medication practice”, i.e. how did the patient approach the daily practice of taking medication? “Medical practice offers a patient-centered perspective of how people manage their medication, focusing on the meaning and the use of medications”. In other words, he was interested in the relationship between a patient and their medications. Recall that Peter was interested in people with epilepsy. One could imagine that people with epilepsy would, of course, take their medication religiously since their medication would reduce or eliminate their seizures – and who would want to have seizures if they could be avoided? But Peter found something much more interesting.
Looking for relief from anxiety, depression or stress? If you live in one of the 80 million U.S. households with a pet, you may be able to find help right at home in the form of a wet nose or a wagging tail. You can call it the pet effect. Any pet owner will tell you that living with a pet comes with many benefits, including constant companionship, love and affection. It’s also no surprise that 98% of pet owners consider their pet to be a member of the family. Not only are people happier in the presence of animals, they’re also healthier. In a survey of pet owners, 74% of pet owners reported mental health improvements from pet ownership, and 75% of pet owners reported a friend’s or family member’s mental health has improved from pet ownership.
Mental health is an integral part of children’s overall health. However, strong mental health starts prior to stepping into a therapist’s office. Children who practice mental health skills regularly could reduce their risk for mental illness and relapse.
Research is no longer solely the province of the lab coat-wearing scientist. People diagnosed with mental illnesses, their family caregivers, healthcare providers, and social workers all can play a role in the research that affects the treatment of mental health. The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, or PCORI, is spearheading efforts to ensure the meaningful involvement of patients and other healthcare stakeholders throughout the research process. In the area of mental health, a patient-centered approach is critical.