Tag Archives: public health

Living Longer and Happier Lives

As we age, we tend to question our mortality and how much longer we have left to live. Not that we can do much about this in order to extend our lives by this time, but if we question our health earlier, we may be able to affect positive change in order to have a longer and more productive quality of life. Dan Buettner (National Public Radio [NPR], 2008; TED, 2009) discusses how difficult it can be to control the effects of aging, but he also offers some options based on his observations of what are termed blue zones. Blue zones are geographic and cultural areas of the where people tend to live longer and healthier lives.

Buettner (NPR, 2008; TED, 2009) describes simple measures that can contribute to increasing a productive life. More importantly, he has uncovered what they do not do. The people who live in these blue zones, according to Buettner, do not tend to take daily supplements, pills, or extracts. Instead, continuous and simple movement for exercise coupled with a sensible cultural diet seems to have the biggest impact.

One of the observations that I have made over the years is that as physical movement declines, physical and emotional strength wane. For example, an otherwise healthy 70 year old woman who accidentally falls and breaks her hip decreases her life expectancy drastically unless physical rehabilitation is utilized to regain her activity level (Keene, Parker, & Pryor, 1993; Lyons, 1997). It is vitally important to maintain a healthy level of activity throughout life.

Diet is very important. Buettner (NPR, 2008; TED, 2009) credits adding nuts to the diet for an average increase of three years of life. The way in which our bodies use energy is very important, and we must supply it with a fuel that is efficient. A wholesome diet, I believe, is the best diet, especially if divided by five or more meals a day.

We cannot have a conversation about improving overall health without addressing some of the unhealthy vices that we tend to indulge in. Instead of outlining each and every thing that is detrimental to our health, I will say that moderation should be the way to combat the effects of vices. We need to enjoy life, and I feel that the mere enjoyment leads to a longer and healthier life; therefore, to strictly limit indulgences would seem to be counter-productive. Moderation should certainly be the way in which to address these issues.

We all want to live longer and healthier lives, but genetics does play a role. There are some aspects of our lifestyle that we are finding that we can change for the better, and the alternatives are not that bad. So long as we live healthy lives, we can enjoy life more completely.


Keene, G. S., Parker, M. J., & Pryor, G. A. (1993). Mortality and morbidity after hip fractures. British Medical Journal, 307, 1248-1250. doi:10.1136/bmj.307.6914.1248

Lyons, A. R. (1997). Clinical outcomes and treatment of hip fractures. American Journal of Medicine, 103(2), S51-S64. doi:10.1016/S0002-9343(97)90027-9

National Public Radio (Producer). (2008, June 8). Can ‘blue zones’ help turn back the biological clock? [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=91285403&from=mobile

TED (Producer). (2009, September). Dan Buettner: How to live to be 100+ [Web Video]. Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_buettner_how_to_live_to_be_100.html

Health Promotion: Workplace Health Screening

Cardiovascular disease (CVD), diabetes mellitus (DM), and colorectal cancer (CRC) are all significant health concerns facing us today (Anonymous, 2005; Bagai, Parsons, Malone, Fantino, Paszat, & Rabeneck, 2007; de Koning, 2009; Korhonen, Jaatinen, Aarnio, Kantola, & Saaresranta, 2008; Matthews, Nattinger, Venkatesan, & Shaker, 2007). In the U.S., CRC is estimated to kill 56,000 people per year, while, in the U.K., the numbers are around 16,000. (Anonymous, 2005). CVD is on the decline but is expected to continue to have a global impact, taking off the most years of life, and DM creates a 4-fold increase of dying from CVD (de Koenig, 2009).

Through efforts at targeting healthy lifestyle changes, the mortality of these diseases has decreased over the past few years, but the numbers remain high, and studies suggest that identifying those people with risk factors or early signs of disease helps to both treat for the disease effectively and decrease the overall incidence (Anonymous, 2005; Bagai et al., 2007; de Koning, 2009; Matthews et al., 2007).

As Bagai et al. (2007) point out, health promotion activities focused on screening are notably scarce within the workplace. Researchers, Hamashima and Yoshida, have shown that early detection of CRC is effective at decreasing overall morbidity (as cited in Bagai et al., 2009). Bagai et al. attempted to apply this reasoning within the confines of a typical Canadian work environment by introducing CRC screening to the men and women of the Toronto police force. With workplace screening programs being limited in Canada, Bagai et al. hoped to show the effectiveness of these screening programs, and they were successful, but unfortunately, the participation in the study was limited.

Another study (Matthews et al., 2007) aims at increasing CRC screening among the residents of the Midwestern States in the U.S. The literature seems to suggest that participation in screening procedures is contingent on education and insistence by the physician, specifically.

Not only does this correlate to the thought that the primary care physician has an important role in screening and detecting disease, but in order for workplace screening programs to be successful, the physicians need to make the recommendation that the patient uses the screening programs available to him or her.

Korhonen et al. (2008) used the waist circumference criteria (women: 88 cm; men: 102 cm) set forth by the American Heart Association and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to assess the effectiveness of at-home screening for CVD and DM risk by using a simple questionnaire and a tape measure. Taking very little time and requiring little expertise, this process could be incorporated with any workplace screening program to increase its efficacy.

Increasing these screening programs, particularly within the workplace, should target the population most at risk to CRC, CVD, and DM. Targeting specific risk groups to educate about these diseases should ultimately lead to a higher survivability, decreased incidence, and lower morbidity rates. More research should be aimed at studying the effects of more targeted workplace health screenings to understand how this tool could be best implemented to provide better screening for CVD, DM, CRC, and, perhaps, other pathological processes.


Anonymous. (2005). Colorectal cancer: Not an embarrassing problem. Lancet, 366, 521. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(05)67030-4

Bagai, A., Parsons, K., Malone, B., Fantino, J., Paszat, L., & Rabeneck, L. (2007). Workplace colorectal cancer–screening awareness programs: An adjunct to primary care practice? Journal of Community Health, 32(3), 157-167. doi:10.1007/s10900-006-9042-4

Cyranoski, D. & Williams, R. (2005). Health study sets sights on a million people. Nature, 434, 812. doi:10.1038/434812a

de Koning, H. J. (2009). Testing at home—the screening of the future? European Journal of Public Health, 19(1), 5–6. doi:10.1093/eurpub/ckn120

Geltman, P. L., & Cochran, J. (2005). A private-sector preferred provider network model for public health screening of newly resettled refugees. American Journal of Public Health, 95, 196-199. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2004.040311

Korhonen, P. E., Jaatinen, P. T., Aarnio, P. T., Kantola, I. M., & Saaresranta, T. (2008). Waist circumference home measurement – a device to find out patients in cardiovascular risk. European Journal of Public Health, 19(1), 95–99. doi:10.1093/eurpub/ckn090

Matthews, B. A., Nattinger, A. B., Venkatesan, T., & Shaker, R. (2007). Colorectal cancer screening among Midwestern community-based residents: Indicators of success. Journal of Community Health, 32(2), 103-120. doi:10.1007/s10900-006-9038-0

Smith, G. D., Ebrahim, S., Lewis, S., Hansell, A. L., Palmer, L. J., & Burton, P. R. (2005). Genetic epidemiology 7: Genetic epidemiology and public health: Hope, hype, and future prospects. Lancet, 366, 1484-1498. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(05)67601-5

Direct To Consumer Advertising: Patient Education

Today, we are familiar with mass-media marketing of prescription drugs not only to physicians but to patients as well, known as direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA). Though, many argue that a better informed patient allows for more autonomy in physcian-directed care (Buckley, 2004; Lyles, 2002; Sumpradit, Fors, & McCormick, 2002), “the evidence for DTCA’s increase in pharmaceutical sales is as impressive as is the lack of evidence concerning its impact on the health of the public” (Lyles, 2002, p. 73). Concerns abound regarding the ability of the physician to direct the care of a patient driven by DTCA. Many researcher’s, including Buckley (2004) and Green (2007) believe that many physicians prescribe medications solely on the request of the patient without providing guidance or education to the patient.

As a paramedic, I hear the concerns of patient’s regarding physician refusals to prescribe name-brand drugs to patients. These patients are almost militant about their beliefs of their illness and that the physician should honor the requests of their patients. While these patients never seem to find a resolution, I also see many people who trust in their physicians’ role and, with education, discuss with their physicians the possibilities and concerns of advertised medications. As one secondary data analysis (Sumpradit et al, 2002) suggests, though there is no demographic difference in the propensity of patients to ask their doctor for a medication based on DTCA alone versus seeking more information from their doctor, those with chronic conditions and who have poorer perception of health status tend to engage their physicians more often to clarify information garnered from DTCA’s.

I feel that DTCA is can be an empowering tool for the patient as long as it is educational, honest, and forthcoming. Empowering the patient to take an active role in his or her medical care is very important, but this empowerment comes with responsibility to be as fully educated as possible, allowing the physician his or her role in the relationship as the ultimate patient advocate, which some physicians lack.


Buckley, J. (2004). Pharmaceutical marketing: Time for change. Electronic Journal of Business Ethics and Organization Studies, 9(2), 4-11.

Green, J. A. (2007). Pharmaceutical Marketing Research and the Prescribing Physician. Annals of Internal Medicine, 146(10), 742-748.

Lyles, A. (2002). Direct marketing of pharmaceuticals to consumers [Abstract]. Annual Review of Public Health, 23, 73-91.

Sumpradit, N., Fors, S. W., McCormick, L. (2002). Consumers’ attitudes and behavior toward prescription drug advertising. American Journal of Health Behavior, 26(1), 68-75.

Summary – Public Health Theory: Social Cognitive Theory

Building on Social Learning Theory, Social Cognitive Theory (SCT) (as cited in Bandura, 1989; U.S. Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute, 2005) has been a mainstay in psychology since 1986 when Albert Bandura explored the relationship between the individual, his or her personal traits, the physical environment, and society, and how each of theses factors impact and influence the others. Since this time, SCT has shown to have increasing applicability across the spectrum of health education. Using SCT to focus on these relationships, the health practitioner can understand that individuals are able to overcome obstacles to their health with an increased sense of responsibility, motivation, and control (U.S. Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute, 2005). By allowing an individual to understand that they can shape their environment just as their environment shapes them, the individual regains their locus of control, motivation, and sense of self.

A dynamic process, SCT has been used successfully to assess treatment techniques, improving on areas lacking in benefit. Brand and Nyland (2009) identify that 30-35% of patients with anterior cruciate ligament repair do not recover to their preinjury level of activity participation; however, they have identified that, using SCT, bolstering pre- and postoperative self-efficacy levels could ultimately improve a patient’s return to the preinjury activity level. Analyzing and identifying psychological factors which inhibit a sense of self-efficacy, allow the health practitioner more opportunity to improve overall success in surgery and rehabilitation.

In recent years, innovative researchers have been exploring other positive roles where SCT may be employed, including the creation of internet-based grief counseling programs. Dominick et al., (2009) show that identification of an individual’s grieving style can assist with forming adaptive cognitive therapies which, even provided in an online format, can assist the uncomplicated griever by positively affecting attitude, self-efficacy, and increasing knowledge about their personal grieving style.

SCT’s adaptive and dynamic nature allows for the health practitioner to analyze a problem and apply the theory’s constructs to change as much or as little as necessary for the development of a working solution with specific focus and control. In this way, SCT allows program development to follow a structured and informed methodology allowing a higher percentage of success.


Bandura, A. (1989). Social cognitive theory. In R. Vasta (Ed.), six theories of child development. Annals of child development, 6, 1-60. Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.

Brand, E. & Nyland, J. (2009, May). In D. L. Johnson (Ed.), patient outcomes following anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction: the influence of psychological factors. Orthopedics, 32(5), 335-340.

Dominick, S. A., Irvine, A. B., Beauchamp, N., Seeley, J. R., Nolen-Hoeksema, S., Doka, K. J., Bonanno, G. A. (2009). An internet tool to normalize grief. Omega: Journal of Death & Dying, 60(1), 71-87. doi:10.2190/OM.60.1.d

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute. (2005, September). Theory at a Glance: A Guide for Health Promotion Practice (NIH Publication No. 05-3896). Retrieved from http://www.cancer.gov/PDF/481f5d53-63df-41bc-bfaf-5aa48ee1da4d/TAAG3.pdf

Revisiting My Goals

When I applied to Walden University, there were some choices that I needed make in regards to which program I would enroll in. I relied on my past experience and some of my current goals to direct me to the Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Information Systems (BSCIS) with a concentration in Information Systems Security (ISS), a process which truly motivates me. Revisiting my goals and lending them power to help navigate the world of academia, I needed to ensure that these goals still held true. The first assignment in the Introduction to Information Systems class afforded me the opportunity to do just that, while this assignment will allow me to review my goals once again.

My affinity towards positive social change (Schadone, 2009) is unwaivering, as is my desire to achieve a position in the field of disaster management. I do feel, however, that my chosen degree program is ill-prescribed to prepare me for such ambitions. Though there has been a great incentive to involve the engineering sciences into public policy administration (Connolly, 2009), my experience with the BSCIS degree, even with the ISS concentration, leads me to believe that the curriculum does not satisfy my current needs or goals. I do believe that a career in Information Systems Security would provide an opportunity to reach many of my goals, but other academic directions would provide a more solid foundation for me to build upon.

As of this writing, I have decided to research other avenues of academia which might be better suited to providing the core educational opportunities that would benefit me the most. I have decided that the B.S. in Health Studies with a concentration in Health Administration would be a better fit at this time. I hope to use this degree to propel me forward into an opportunity to earn an MPH with a concentration in Emergency Management and, ultimately, a Ph. D. in the same.

As the H1N1 influenza virus reminds us all about the 1918 “Spanish Flu,” there is an undertone of personal responsibility and preparedness in the event of a pandemic (Bornstein & Trapp, 2009), of which conditions are favorable. I plan to take personal responsibility in this and other potential disasters to position myself as an expert in the field helping to promote plans and policies to mitigate and respond effectively to such incidences. Though, I am versed in the computer sciences, I feel that my position as a health official would be better utilized in these times of crisis. Perhaps one day in the future I will return my focus on computing, but until then, my social conscience and sense of community seem to be my only defining factors.


Bornstein, J., & Trapp, J. (2009, June). Pandemic Preparedness: Ensuring Our Best Are Ready to Respond. IAEM Bulletin, 26(6), pp. 6, 14. Retrieved August 22, 2009, from http://www.iaem.com

Connolly, J. (2008, September). Bridging the gap between engineering and public policy: A closer look at the WISE program. Mechanical Advantage, 19. Retrieved August 22, 2009, from http://www.asme.org

Schadone, M. F. (2009). Information Systems and Me: My Professional and Career Goals. Minneapolis, MN: Walden University.