Society of Family Planning interim clinical recommendations: Self-managed abortion

“While the medical risks of SMA [self-managed] may be few, the legal risks for people attempting SMA may be significant. Although only three states currently have laws explicitly criminalizing SMA, almost half of U.S. states have at least one law in place that could be used to prosecute people attempting or assisting with SMA. These policies include legislation explicitly banning SMA, criminalizing harm to the fetus, and criminalizing abortion. For those who have been targeted with criminalization for SMA, many came into contact with law enforcement following interactions with healthcare professionals. However, to date, legal experts are unaware of any … Read More

We’re Expecting the Wrong Things from the CDC: If you want the CDC to be apolitical, you’re missing the point of public health

Excerpt – No public health decision is purely scientific, so the agency cannot avoid the small-p politics of health policy. No matter what we may yearn for, there is no ethereal scientific plane the CDC can ascend to. “The ‘politicization’ accusation implies that we should just isolate the CDC and let it do its work by itself,” said Gil Eyal, a sociology professor at Columbia University. “But I think that’s wrong. I don’t think we know of an obvious way to organize the relationship between science and politics.” That is, they are always intertwined, especially when it comes to the … Read More

My Father, The Fool: I’d run out of sympathy for COVID skeptics. Then I remembered my father’s stiff neck.

“One of the problems with screaming “How could you be so stupid?” at people who behave stupidly is that we too often think of the question as rhetorical when it isn’t. Though vaccine hesitancy is often seen as purely political, that’s not necessarily the case. It also correlates to lack of health care, which means that when public-health officials urge the unvaccinated to consult their family doctors (on the assumption that they might be more persuasive than government agencies), they’re assuming facts not in evidence. If you can’t afford health insurance, you probably can’t afford a doctor either, and if … Read More

The Biden Administration Killed America’s Collective Pandemic Approach

“Coronavirus case numbers are in free fall; vaccines and, to a lesser degree, viral infections have built up a wall of immunity that can blunt the virus’s impact overall. Several experts stressed that certain aspects of the CDC’s new guidelines are genuinely improving on the framework the country was using before. “The timing feels right to make some kind of change,” Whitney Robinson, an epidemiologist at Duke University, told me. But protection against SARS-CoV-2 isn’t spread equally. Millions of kids under 5 are still ineligible for shots. Vaccine effectiveness declines faster in older individuals and is patchy to begin with … Read More

It’s only fake-believe: how to deal with a conspiracy theorist

“Since many conspiracy theories arise from feelings of uncertainty and fear, an angry debate will only cement the ideas, and open ridicule is even less constructive. Instead, the research shows that you should try to focus on the rhetorical devices and tricks of persuasion that have been used to spread the ideas in the first instance. “People seem receptive to you exposing the ways in which they may have been manipulated,” explains Dr Sander van der Linden at Cambridge University, who has pioneered research into the spread of misinformation and the ways to stop it. [..] five most common fallacies … Read More

Weight-Focused Public Health Interventions—No Benefit, Some Harm

“findings in these articles are consistent with literature on the adverse impact of weight stigma, which may be exacerbated by the increased focus on weight. Specifically, health promotion approaches that focus on obesity and target the individual perpetuate weight stigma and fail to address the profound inequities that drive disparities in health and weight. For example, BMI report cards, a widely used school-based childhood obesity intervention, inform parents of their child’s weight status and increase parents’ weight-related anxiety but provide little guidance about evidence-based health promotion strategies and offer no structural support for behavior change. Furthermore, weight-focused health promotion approaches … Read More

How might a mask mandate play out? Look to the battle over seat belt laws

“If public health officials want to get people to wear masks to curb the spread of Covid-19, they might take a lesson what is now a widely accepted aspect of American life: buckling up. [..] Fred Rivara, an injuries expert and professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington, remembers an unsubstantiated claim that any positive effects would be cancelled out by people dying when they couldn’t escape fiery cars. [..] After years of pressure, President Johnson signed legislation in 1966 that required seat belts in all passenger vehicles and created a national traffic safety agency. Rivara credits science for … Read More

Offline: Managing the COVID-19 vaccine infodemic

“In their 2019 book, The Misinformation Age, Cailin O’Connor and James Owen Weatherall explain how false beliefs persist and spread. They emphasise the social character of fake news. The connections between us in groups or networks enable the propagation of misleading evidence as well as true beliefs. Models of communication show the importance of trust in shaping the spread of beliefs. The greater the distrust among those with different views, the greater the risk of permanent polarisation. We are also prey to conformity bias—a desire to agree with others and to trust the judgments of others. Our predilection to conformity … Read More

Tribal Truce — How Can We Bridge the Partisan Divide and Conquer Covid?

“Masks have become a flash point in our culture wars: as a symbol of either a commitment to public health or an infringement on basic liberties, the mask encapsulates the politicization of science. But since human behavior — including wearing or shunning masks — will determine the pandemic’s ultimate toll, communication strategies that bridge our partisan divide over science may prove as important as any novel therapeutic. Beyond the near complete failure of U.S. federal leadership in combating the pandemic, one significant problem, according to Harvard epidemiologist Marc Lipsitch, has been the absence of consistent communication from nonpartisan experts. During … Read More

Suboptimal US Response to COVID-19 Despite Robust Capabilities and Resources

“As measured by the GHS [Global Health Security] Index, the US was better positioned than most other countries to respond to COVID-19. The Index includes 140 questions that assess national capacities or abilities among 6 categories: (1) prevention of the emergence, release, or spread of pathogens; (2) early detection and reporting for epidemics of potential international concern; (3) rapid response to and mitigation of the spread of an epidemic; (4) sufficient and robust health system to treat affected patients and protect health workers; (5) commitments to improving national capacity, financing plans to address gaps, and adhering to global norms; and … Read More