12 posts categorized "Psychology"


USciences to Host Panel on LGBT Healthcare on April 1

LGBTStriving to address the healthcare needs in the LGBT community, University of the Sciences has teamed up with local nonprofit organizations to host its first Panel on LGBT Healthcare on Wednesday, April 1, from 7-9 p.m., in Griffith Hall (43rd Street at Woodland Avenue).

“This event is intended to bring together students and community members to learn more about the unique needs and challenges faced by the LGBT community in regards to accessing healthcare,” said AJ Young, coordinator of the event at USciences.

Panelists from ActionAIDS, Philadelphia FIGHT, Mazzoni Center, GALAEI, and the Center for Advocacy for the Rights and Interests of the Elderly (CARIE) will give a brief overview of their organization’s work and mission, discuss current issues and pressing needs in LGBT healthcare, and share what they believe is important for future healthcare professionals to know about working with the LGBT community. There will also be time for questions from the audience.

Invited panelists, include:

  • Tiffany Thompson, Director, Youth-Health Empowerment Project at Philadelphia FIGHT
  • Elaine Dutton, Trans Clinical Services Coordinator, Mazzoni Center
  • Elicia Gonzalez, Executive Director, GALAEI
  • Jay Johnson, Volunteer Coordinator & PWA, ActionAIDS
  • Rosemary Daub, Medical Case Manager Coordinator, ActionAIDS
  • Han Meadway, Transportation Advocate, CARIE

“Our speakers are some of the most knowledgeable and passionate people in Philadelphia regarding LGBT issues, and they’re eager to highlight what future healthcare professionals should know to provide quality care that treats LGBT patients with respect and dignity, while addressing their unique and not-so-unique health concerns,” said Young.

This event is free and open to the public, and light refreshments will be served after the panel. For more information, contact Young at a.young@usciences.edu or 215.596.8734.


VIDEO: 6abc Highlights Students, Faculty at USciences Research Day

6abc showcased the diversity and growth of research pursuits at University of the Sciences during its 12th Annual Research Day and 27th Annual John C. Krantz, Jr., Distinguished Lecture on Thursday, April 10. Research Day recognizes and highlights the research efforts of faculty, as well as undergraduate and graduate students, to encourage and promote communication and collaboration among researchers.
USciences distinguishes itself by offering undergraduate students the opportunity to conduct research early in their academic careers. The diverse research activity that was on display spanned several aspects of the University’s scholarly pursuits, including:
  • Determining occupational therapists’ role in working with pediatric cancer patients
  • Discovering the personality traits that cause adolescents to kill
  • Using yoga to improve quality of life for patients with anorexia nervosa
  • Identifying predictors of successful post-secondary transitions for autistic students


Pharmacy, Health Policy Experts to be Featured on NBC10 @ Issue on Sunday

At issueThe U.S. Food and Drug Administration's approval of the potent opioid painkiller Zohydro ER has been met with fierce criticism, both locally and across the nation. Tune into Philadelphia's NBC10  @ Issue on Sunday, March 16, at 11:30 a.m., as University of the Sciences' pharmacy and health policy experts discuss this drug in further detail.

Andrew Peterson PharmD, PhD, Dean of Mayes College of Healthcare Business and Policy; and Dan Hussar, PhD, Remington Professor of Pharmacy, joined reporter Tracy Davidson for a discussion regarding the pros/cons of this drug, as well as its potential dangers and health implications.

NBC10 @ Issue is a weekly public affairs discussion program that takes an in-depth look at local, state and national issues and politics. Watch NBC10 @ Issue every Sunday at 11:30 a.m. on NBC10, or at 6:30 p.m., on NBC10.com


Getting 'Your Bell Rung' is No Music to the Ears, Says USciences Doc

AcquavellaAnthonyWhile concussions are most commonly associated with sports-related injuries, associate professor Anthony Acquavella, MD, at University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, says prevention and awareness begins by recognizing that these brain injuries can also result from slips and falls, playground injuries, and car accidents.

“Concussions are a force to be reckoned with because they are traumatic brain injuries that need to be identified and treated as soon as they occur to help prevent further complications, or even death,” said Dr. Acquavella, who also serves as a physician for the University’s student health service.

While March is designated as National Brain Injury Awareness Month, Dr. Acquavella said concussions and head injuries affect hundreds of individuals each day. Approximately 1.7 million people suffer from traumatic brain injuries each year, and concussions represent about 75 percent of those injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Earlier this year, a USciences student suffered a concussion from a fall significant enough to take a medical leave from school, as concussion treatment requires thorough brain rest,” said Dr. Acquavella.

While concussions are typically caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head, they can also occur from impact to the body that causes the head and brain to move quickly back and forth, such as an injury suffered during a car accident. Observed signs of head injuries, includes individuals appearing dazed or stunned, forgetful, clumsy, and moody. Additionally, symptoms reported by individuals, includes headaches, nausea or vomiting, dizziness, blurred vision, and sensitivity to noise and light.

As of 2011, Pennsylvania has a law on the books which mandates that student athletes exhibiting concussion symptoms cannot return to play until cleared by appropriate healthcare professionals. But Dr. Acquavella said concussion awareness also needs to be a household conversation.

“I worked as a sideline physician for young athletes early in my career, and it was alarming how parents minimized the severity of head injuries in their children,” he said. “Concussion awareness begins by getting students, parents, teachers, and coaches on the same page with the causes, symptoms, and outcomes of head injuries.”


There is ‘No Face to Eating Disorders,’ Says USciences Psychology Prof

Despite the common misconception that eating disorders affect primarily young women, prevention and awareness toward these diseases starts by recognizing that they do not discriminate by gender or age, said C. Alix Timko, PhD, director of the graduate psychology and Eating Disorder Research programs at University of the Sciences in Philadelphia.

As part of the upcoming National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, Feb. 23 to March 1, Dr. Timko emphasized that an estimated 25 million Americans suffer from eating disorders, a Timkond nearly 25 percent of those suffering are male.

“Eating disorders are not personal choices, diet fads or phases; they are severe and can be fatal,” said Dr. Timko, an international researcher who has written and spoken extensively on this topic. “In fact, anorexia nervosa has one of the highest overall mortality rates and the highest suicide rate of any psychiatric disorder.”

The American Psychiatric Association recognizes four primary eating disorders, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge-eating disorder, and eating disorder not otherwise specified.  While these disorders seem vastly different due to the difference in symptoms, individuals and their families face similar psychological, physical, and emotional challenges. Researchers have not established a single cause of an eating disorder, but they have identified numerous biological, social, psychological, and interpersonal factors that contribute to its development, said Dr. Timko.

There is no guaranteed way to identify if a friend of family member is at risk for eating disorders; however, there are a variety of easy-to-overlook signs that might help spot an eating disorder — or disorder in the making — sooner, including:

  • Dramatic weight loss and refusal to eat
  • Retreating to the bathroom for long periods of time after meals
  • Excessive exercise
  • Poor body image and negative comments about oneself

Under the direction of Dr. Timko, USciences’ Eating Disorder Research Program studies the development, treatment, and prevention of eating disorders. This program also aims to train new clinicians in the most evidence-based treatments for adolescents and adults with eating disorders. The University also offers students suffering from eating disorders counseling from therapists with a focus on health psychology; however, these services are not affiliated with Dr. Timko’s research program.

A variety of studies investigating eating disorders, body image, and eating behavior are currently underway by students and faculty at USciences, including Acceptance-Based Separated Family Treatment for Adolescents with Eating Disorders, Understanding Differences in Body Image in Women of Different Ethnic Groups, Psychosocial and Cultural Factors Influencing Craving, and Understanding Eating Behavior in College Students.


The Biggest Mistakes Transfer Students Make

Viggiani_aimeeChoosing which college to attend is a huge decision for students. Whether they’ve earned their associate’s degrees from community colleges and ready to move on to earn their bachelor’s degrees, or currently enrolled in four-year schools that aren’t the right fit, one-third of all students transfer at least once before earning a degree.

Aimee Viggiani, associate director of transfer admissions, was recently featured in two articles which provide helpful tips for transfer students. She said, "All too often, students wait until too late in their college careers to ask why a certain class didn't transfer. Even if you don't need the credit right away, you may need it in the future. So ask transfer credit questions as soon as possible."


Forecasting Medication Non-Adherence: A Profitable Approach That Helps Patients

$290 billion a year—a study by the New England Healthcare Institute found this to be the amount spent in the United States as a result of medication non-adherence and other avoidable issues. An analysis by Capgemini Consulting estimated that $188 billion account for pharmaceutical industry losses in the United States for the same reason. With such considerable monetary losses in addition to the health risks associated with non-adherence, the profitable future for health information technology (health IT) is becoming increasingly apparent.

After recognizing the significant financial costs associated with non-adherence, many insurance providers are utilizing new initiatives based on health IT that aim to predict non-adherence in an effort to proactively address the issue. In early 2011, CVS Caremark introduced its Pharmacy Advisor™ Program, which pays special attention to patients with chronic conditions like diabetes, who are likely to be non-adherent.  In April of 2012, Express Scripts® launched a similar predictive tool called ScreenRx, which detects risk for medication non-adherence and then subsequently provides personalized interventions for those patients. Additionally, companies like RxAnte© and Allazo Health© apply behavioral science, predictive analytics and claims data to formulate algorithms that will allow them to determine which patients would be at an increased risk for non-adherence. They then take it a step further by tailoring interventions according to patient characteristics.

So since there’s no magic crystal ball one can look into to predict medication non-adherence, how do these companies determine who to monitor and intervene with? The key to the above-mentioned initiatives is the incorporation of patient behavior in forecasting non-adherence.

One commonly used model in analyzing health behavior is the Health Belief Model (HBM). This model explains that a patient’s behavior when it comes to health is motivated and influenced by varying perceptions. In essence, the HBM finds that perceived susceptibility, perceived benefits, perceived barriers and perceived seriousness all contribute to decision making when it comes to health, which in this case, would be in reference to taking their medications.

So how relevant is patient behavior when it comes to medication non-adherence? Express Scripts® found that 69% of medication non-adherence was attributed to patient behavior factors including simple procrastination and forgetfulness. With even more advancements in health IT, providers will be able to dissect and rationalize reasons for non-adherence and further analyze patient behavior to formulate optimal regimens that will save billions of dollars all while promoting better health outcomes.

 Anita A. Pothen, PharmD’14


Drugs Don’t Work in Patients Who Don’t Take Them

These are the words of former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop. While the concept is simple, practitioners have been researching and implementing innovative methods to get the point across. Before we look at this, let’s first define the terms.

Adherence, persistence, and compliance—in reference to patients taking their meds, these all mean the same thing right? Not necessarily. These seemingly synonymous words have their distinct differences and varying methods of measurement that should be considered. Simply put, compliance is represented by a percentage of doses taken as prescribed in respect to timing, dosage and frequency. On the other hand, persistence counts the days a patient has had their medications over time. If a patient is considered persistent, we can confirm that they have been taking their medications for “x” number of days. What we do not know is if they are adherent. Just because a patient is persistently taking their medication, we cannot assume they are following the regimen from their doctor. Adherence suggests that a patient sticks to their drug regimen as prescribed with respect to the drug, dosage, and frequency. Sounds like compliance right? While the terms are similar, compliance has a more passive connotation whereas adherence aims for a coordinated effort between the doctor and patient.

In particular, adherence can be cumbersome for patients who have suffered a myocardial infarction. Seeing that less than 50% of patients follow their heart medications as prescribed, the University of Pennsylvania Health System was awarded a grant from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that aims to improve adherence in these patients with an estimated savings of over $2.7 million over 3 years. As an incentive, patients are able to win money based on a lottery system with the caveat being that the patient must have had taken their medication the day before in order to be eligible. This will be determined by electrical signals sent from the bottle to the doctor, which seems similar to devices like MEMSTM products. If patients do not take their meds, they risk not receiving a cash reward. By incentivizing compliance with partial reinforcement, researchers may make taking medications a little more enticing.

While this is only one approach, it is the overall goal of this study as well as many others to stress the importance of adherence, even if it means incorporating positive reinforcement. As indicated by the collaborative connotation of the word, the success of adherence lies on the input from the provider and the motivation of the patient.

Anita A. Pothen, PharmD ‘14


Medication Adherence—There’s An App For That Too!

Medication adherence has been a topic of interest for health care providers, caregivers and third-party providers alike. While practitioners work hard to select optimal drug therapy for their patients, clinical improvements may not always result as expected. This inefficacy in treatment often stems from the inability of patients to adhere to the treatment regimens set forth by providers. While many patients struggle to adhere to their  regimens for a number of reasons, technology-centered initiatives like the MediSafe© Project are taking advantage of the utility of smart phone applications to steer consumers towards better adherence. MediSafe® allows patients to scan drug barcodes, add directions and set alerts so that they are reminded to take them in a timely manner. If patients still fail to take their medication on time, the app can be synced to a loved one or caregiver so that they are alerted that the patient did not follow the regimen as indicated. iPharmacy© is another app available at no cost that offers additional features along with medication reminders.  Some of these tools include a pill identifier, access to information pertaining to drug recalls and a pharmacy locator.

So what if the patient is not particularly keen on the idea of using a smart phone? After all, widespread popularity with smart phones lies predominantly with younger generations. While MediSafe© in particular is working towards improving accessibility by implementing low-tech solutions, there are additional options already in place. EMMA®, (Electronic Medication Management System) is an in-house, FDA-approved comprehensive management system for patients with complex medication regimens. EMMA® houses blister cards of medications that are inserted into the machine like compact discs and can be remotely controlled by pharmacists. The system collects more accurate adherence information, which pharmacists and physicians can access. Though this technology provides considerable accuracy in adherence measurement, it is not a guarantee that all patients will be eligible for coverage and thus may not be able to afford the machine.

While all these approaches differ in one way or another, there is a common theme—improvement in adherence by means of a more involved and integrative strategy that aims to bridge the gap between practitioner initiatives and patient implementation. While finances and the adaptation of the senior population to advances in technology remain as limitations, there is a great deal of progress, such as NCPIE’s National Action Plan that paves the way for better adherence and ultimately, better health outcomes.

Anita Pothen

Pharm.D Candidate 2014


New Medication Bottles and Labels Improve Patient Compliance/Adherence

So does a new and improved label for a prescription bottle really improve patient compliance?  Similarly, does a flattened (versus a round) bottle make a patient take their medication more consistently? Would having all medications packaged in a blister pak alleviate the ailment of medication forgetfullness?   This Wall Street Journal article suggests that it does.  In fact, the research it points to does show that there is improved medication taking behavior.  But hold on, for those patients on multiple medications multiple times a day, would having 5-10 different sets of blister packs really help?  It might, but then again so would a well designed pill box with the days/times labeled and a translucent cover so that you can see if the medications were taken or not fairly readily.  These inexpensive boxes are reusable and do not increase the carbon footprint already associated with medications. 

As for the improve labels and bottles that are more easily readable - I am all for it!  As my eyes tire from writing this blog, I can only imagine how difficult it is to read the label on an 8 dram (very small) prescription bottle that is only ~2 inches high. 

My recommendation to anyone who takes a medication - be sure to incorporate it into your daily life - leave it near your toothbrush or take it with your meal (if OK with your pharmacist) or leave it by your bedside.  And if you need help on how to take your medication, ask your pharmacist. 

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