Monthly Archives: June 2017

Doctor Burnout

“In nothing do men more nearly approach the gods than in giving health to men.” —Cicero

The past year has seen a host of studies and articles releasing jarring statistics and anecdotes surrounding rates of physician ‘burnout’—commonly defined as a loss of enthusiasm and a low sense of accomplishment, coupled with feelings of exhaustion and ineffectiveness. The Archives of Internal Medicine conducted a 2012 study using a large sample of U.S. physicians from all specialty disciplines, and their findings depicted a gloomy picture of healthcare: not only were burnouts more common among physicians than other U.S. workers, physicians in specialties at the front line of care were also found to be at the greatest risk.

The 2015 Medscape Physician Lifestyle Report delivered similar findings, reporting that almost half of all physicians stated that they had experienced burnout. An analysis from researchers at the Mayo Clinic and the American Medical Association additionally indicated that doctors’ work-life balance is progressively worsening, further expressing that this “disturbing trend” could negatively impact patient care. Even more concerning is data reported in a study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, which found that the rate of depression among doctors in training was much greater than the general population, and statistics published that showed nearly 55 percent of physicians surveyed experienced at least one symptom of burnout.

The significant and growing problem poses a direct threat to quality of patient care. There must be a collective shift in order to move towards an optimal system of healthcare in which physicians feel continuously motivated and passionate, and transition away from the current, traditional practices that inevitably lead to doctor burnout. Join us on our mission to reinvigorate physicians in healing their patients. Rediscover the passion you once felt. Learn new and innovative methods to prevent disease before it has taken hold. Our Fellowship in Metabolic and Nutritional Medicine will help you be the change.

Contact one of our Educational Advisors to learn more about the program at info@a4m.com, or 561-997-0112.

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Yoga Treating Back Pain

A new study indicates that yoga may be as effective for back pain as physical therapy.

The yoga protocol utilized in the study was developed by researchers at Boston Medical Center, with additional input from yoga instructors, doctors, and physical therapists. The study included 320 participants with moderate to severe back pain, all of whom received one of three approaches over a three-month time span: weekly yoga classes, 15 physical therapy visits, and clinical education surrounding ways to cope with back pain.

The findings, published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine, are directly in line with new guidelines for treating back pain from the American College of Physicians. concluded that yoga was as effective as physical therapy, and both groups were 20% less likely to use pain medication than those patients solely receiving education.

Dr. Robert Saper of Boston Medical Center, one of the report’s authors, states: “Yoga was as effective as physical therapy for reducing pain intensity. Perhaps most importantly, reducing pain medication use.” At the outset of the study, 70% of the patients were taking a form of pain medication; at the end of three months, the percentage of yoga and physical therapy participants still taking pain medication dropped to 50%.

As opiate overdoses are now the leading cause of death for adults under age 50, the results offer compelling reasons to find approaches for chronic pain that do not involve narcotics–including tai-chi, yoga, and massage. Saper remarks that if research shows that yoga can be as effective, perhaps it should be considered as a potential therapy that can “be more widely disseminated and covered by insurance.”

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How to Save Your Brain

A report published yesterday by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) cites promising evidence indicating that active cognitive training, blood pressure management, and physical activity may collectively help stave off age-related cognitive decline and dementia.

In 2015, the Alzheimer’s Association released similar findings that identified two critical activities that could minimize the risk of cognitive decline: increasing physical activity, and improving cardiovascular health. Dan G. Blazer, a member of the NASEM committee that conducted the study and the J.P. Gibbons Professor of Psychiatry Emeritus at Duke University Medical Center, states: “What is good for the heart is good for the brain. Therefore, exercise and controlling high blood pressure are good for the brain.” While controlling blood pressure is good preventive practice to combat heart disease, it may also reduce memory less and dementia—likely because high blood pressure damages delicate blood vessels in the brain.

In terms of diet, a study released earlier this week by Temple University found that extra-virgin olive helped fend off Alzheimer’s in mice. The mice fed a diet rich in extra-virgin olive oil showed better learning and memory skills than those who did not receive the diet. While the evidence surrounding diet is not as conclusive and plentiful as the research regarding exercise, the panel singled out diets that emphasized whole grains, fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy, and lower levels of salts.

Cognitive training has been receiving more attention recently, referring to tools and tactics engineered to improve reasoning, problem-solving, memory retention, and processing speed. In a randomized control trial reviewed by the committee titled “Advanced Cognitive Training for Independent and Vital Elderly,” participants who received cognitive training in processing speed and reasoning deduction demonstrated less decline than those who did not, over a time span of ten years.

More than 5 million Americans have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia, and the number is only expected to increase as the population ages. Statistics show that by 2050, numbers could reach up to 16 million. There is no cure, and few effective treatments. Yet the evidence suggests that these lifestyle changes may actively reduce risk, or at least delay the onset of dementia. Dr. Richard Hodes, director of the National Institute on Aging, advised people to “Try and avoid the tendency to sit down, watch television for endless hours at night. Get out there, do something.”

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