Weekend reads

November 9, 2012

The Daily Briefing editorial team highlights several interesting health care stories and studies that didn't quite make this week's Briefing. What are you reading this weekend? Let us know in the comments.

Dan Diamond's picks

Do Starbucks employees have more emotional intelligence than your physician? Peter Ubel, a Duke University physician and behavioral scientist, certainly thinks so. That's partly because Starbucks baristas undergo training to deal with cranky customers, learning how to read and respond to individual moods—a type of training that most doctors just don't get.

Secrets from Obama's data-driven campaign. Combing through big data, looking for insights, isn't just a health care phenomenon. TIME magazine has a fascinating story on how the president's reelection campaign managers focused on consolidating their various databases, allowing them to microtarget TV ads, collect more donations, and turn out more voters. It's also striking as news trickles out about the Romney campaign's own data-driven get-out-the-vote effort, called Project ORCA, which fell apart on Election Day.

Paige Hill's picks

Put down the green tea. For all its health claims, green tea does not have the same diabetes-fighting properties as black tea. A new study (soon to be published in BMJ) found that the world's lowest type 2 diabetes rates are in countries where black tea consumption is highest. So make like the Brits, and pour yourself a cup of Earl Grey.

Should hospitals invest in urgent care clinics? This NPR “Shots” blog looks at how patients with a non-urgent care needs can be directed to one of the nearly 9,000 urgent care clinics in the United States. But going to another provider doesn’t mean the hospital has lost a patient—hospitals own more than 25% of these clinics. Check back on Monday for the Daily Briefing's deeper look at this story.

Neeraj Hotchandani's picks

Don’t stress out over stress. Writing in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine, Pennsylvania State University researchers found that how you react to stress your current environment can affect your health 10 years down the road. The researchers found that volunteers who were troubled by daily stressors and obsessed with them after the fact were more inclined to have chronic health problems a decade later.

Saving billions—and the planet. A Commonwealth Fund study last week found that hospitals’ environmental sustainability efforts could save the health care industry $15 billion over 10 years. Researchers examined nine hospitals and health systems that had implemented sustainability initiatives and found that they had realized significant savings as a result of their efforts.

Overweight job seekers need not apply. In Sweden, employers—especially at smaller companies—often decide not to hire job candidates who are overweight due to concerns about worker productivity, researchers say. In fact, researchers found that obese job seekers are 83% less likely to be offered a job than applicants of normal weight.

Juliette Mullin's picks

The Sandy Five. New York City residents who went without power for days have discovered an unexpected tightening of their waistbands in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. "[T]he extra pounds provided evidence of a disaster-psychology mind-set that took hold during Sandy: in times of crisis, New Yorkers discovered, food fills an emotional need, not just a physical one," the New York Times' Alex Williams writes. 

Medical research falls victim to Sandy. In the chaos of wind, flooding, and power outages during Superstorm Sandy, thousands of laboratory mice in medical research facilities at NYU Langone Medical Center may have drowned. According to CNN, it may take years to recover the lost research and get critical experiments back on track.

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