How Ethical Are WE Healthwise?

Would you inform your boss about a chronic illness before its effects are visible?

Interesting question, right? “How Ethical Are WE Healthwise?”

We often criticize others in the health professions for actions we consider inappropriate. Yet, we rarely question our own behavior.

With this in mind, here are excerpts from a recent Sunday NY Times’ ethicist column written by Kwame Anthony Appiah.

What Would YOU Do?

Excerpts of Question (name withheld): 

During my brief tenure, my boss has increased my responsibilities, promoted me, and proposed changing my position to be more in line with my previous employment. In essence, he is slowly transforming my work into the dream job I discussed during my interview. I suspect he has done so to ensure that I remain, not knowing that I am ill.”

“I have yet to tell my boss about my diagnosis. Legally, I suspect I am not obligated to, unless I need to take leave from my job. Yet morally, should I not at least advise my boss, particularly given his mentorship of me? I recognize that some of the potential requirements of my new job — frequent travel, increased responsibilities, extended time away from my instrumental supports — may be unsustainable 12 months from now, if not sooner. However, I am currently able to perform. What is my duty here?”

Excerpts of Response from the Ethicist (Kwame Anthony Appiah):

“As an employee, you are entitled to keep your diagnosis to yourself until it impairs your performance; and as long as you can fulfill the essential functions of your position, your employer must make reasonable accommodations for your emerging disabilities.”

“But as you’re well aware, you have another morally relevant relationship with your boss. This is someone you care about and who cares about you. That personal relationship brings burdens as well as benefits. On the one hand, your personal bond with him gives you the reasonable expectation that he won’t exploit what you tell him to your disadvantage, at least to an extent consistent with his duties as your boss. On the other hand, it also places a special demand on you to speak with him honestly. You may feel that you owe it to him to give him time to plan for your eventual decline and departure. More time, perhaps, than you would if you were dealing with a faceless institution.”

Click the image to read the full Q&A.

How Ethical Are WE Healthwise?
Illustration by Tomi Um.

 

Food and Arthritis

Food do’s and don’ts for those with arthritis.

Do you have arthritis? If yes, do you have questions about what you eat?

Consider the following information from a recent article by Amanda Barrell, writing for Medical News Today:

“Many people find that making changes to their diet can help with osteoarthritis symptoms, which include pain, stiffness, and swelling. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, affecting over 30 million adults in the United States. It develops when the cartilage in the joints breaks down over time.

“This article will look at which foods people with osteoarthritis should include in their diet and which they should avoid. We also bust some common food myths regarding arthritis.”

“It is not possible for specific foods or nutritional supplements to cure osteoarthritis, but, according to the Arthritis Foundation, certain diets can improve people’s symptoms.”

Some foods have anti-inflammatory capabilities which can help reduce symptoms while other foods may amplify them. The right diet can help to improve osteoarthritis in the following ways.”

Click the image to learn about some do’s and don’ts.

Food and Arthritis
 

Coronavirus Thoughts from a High-Risk Perspective

As older and less-healthy adults, what are we to do?

On Tuesday, we looked at the coronavirus in terms of facts versus myths. Now, we offer coronavirus thoughts from a high-risk perspective.

As those of you who read Living Well While Surviving Cancer already know, the author of this blog (Joel Evans) is a pancreatic cancer survivor with a compromised immune system. As well as a Type I diabetic. And a senior citizen. That puts me in the highest-risk category if I contract COVID-19.

Something else to worry about. Or not. After all, what am I supposed to do now? I refuse to lock myself in my house. But what smart things should I do?

Psychologically, I was fine until the CDC issued an advisory for older adults. According to a CNN report:

[On Thursday March 5, 2020] “Amid a coronavirus outbreak in the United States, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is encouraging older people and people with severe chronic medical conditions to stay at home as much as possible.'”

“This advice is on a CDC Web site, according to a CDC spokeswoman. Early data suggest older people are twice as likely to have serious illness from the novel coronavirus, according to the CDC.”

“The CDC guidance comes as two top infectious disease experts with ties to the federal government have advised people over 60 and those with underlying health problems to strongly consider avoiding activities that involve large crowds. Dr. William Schaffner, a Vanderbilt University professor and longtime adviser to the CDC, said these two groups should consider avoiding activities such as traveling by airplane, going to movie theaters, attending family events, shopping at crowded malls, and going to religious services.”

Also, check out the CNN video.

My Advice to Myself

In light of the CDC’s warning and my health status, what am I to do? My answer for ME (which may be different than your advice for YOU) is to BOTH be smart and live life every day.

I will go out to restaurants, but not to movie theaters. Linda and are rethinking our vacation plans and not going on the cruise we were planning. Also, the thought of air travel does not excite me. I will wash my hands more often and more thoroughly.  I will continue my volunteer work at United Cerebral. I guess I will fist pump rather than shake hands, even though this seems somewhat silly to me.

When I started thinking about doing this post, I looked for information from AARP. And as expected, it has a terrific section of its Web site devoted to COVID-19:

“Older Americans and adults who take routine medications to manage chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, should make sure they have ‘adequate supplies’ on hand as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases continues to climb in the U.S.”

“Avoiding sick people and washing your hands often are two preventive strategies public health experts have been pushing to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Older Americans living in areas that are experiencing spikes in coronavirus cases may also need to think about the actions they take to reduce exposure to the virus.  This may include social distancing strategies, such as teleworking and avoiding large public gatherings.”

“Health officials also advise taking everyday steps that can prevent the spread of respiratory viruses. Wash your hands often with soap and water (scrub for at least 20 seconds), and use alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap is not an option. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. And cover your coughs and sneezes. “

Click the image to read a lot more from AARP.

Coronavirus Thoughts from a High-Risk Perspective

Easy-to-Use Health Quizzes for YOU

See how much YOU know.

Last month, we provided a cancer prevention checklist from the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR).

Today, we present easy-to-use health quizzes from AICR. They’re quite informative. See how well you do.

Easy-to-Use Health Quizzes for YOUEasy-to-Use Health Quizzes for YOU

Easy-to-Use Health Quizzes for YOU

 

Another Great Resource – Healthy People

Terrific government Web site that covers a wide range of health topics.

HealthyPeople.gov is another great resource to add to our library: “

“Healthy People provides science-based, 10-year national objectives for improving the health of all Americans. For 3 decades, Healthy People has established benchmarks and monitored progress over time in order to: Encourage collaborations across communities and sectors. Empower individuals toward making informed health decisions. Measure the impact of prevention activities.’

First, click the image to visit the home page.

Another Great Resource - Healthy PeopleThen, visit the part of the site dedicated to having healthier people in 2030.

Another Great Resource - Healthy People
 

Annual U.S. Report on the Status of Cancer

The 2019 report with topical links.

Each year, the National Cancer Institute at  NIH (National Institute of Health) produces a report on the status of cancer in the United States.

Here are a few highlights from the 2019 report:

    • Overall cancer death rates continue to decrease in men, women, and children for all major racial and ethnic groups.
    • Overall cancer incidence rates, or rates of new cancers, have decreased in men and remained stable in women.
    • In adults ages 20 to 49, women have higher cancer incidence and mortality rates than men.
    • This year’s Special Section focused on cancer trends among adults ages 20 to 49.
      • For all age groups combined, incidence and death rates were higher among men than women, but among adults 20-49 years, incidence and death rates were lower among men than women.
      • The most common cancers in this age group were:
        • Breast, thyroid and melanoma of the skin for women, with breast cancer far exceeding any of the other cancers; and
        • Colorectal, testicular and melanoma of the skin for men.

To learn more, click on these images.

Annual U.S. Report on the Status of Cancer
                                                            RESOURCES

Annual U.S. Report on the Status of CancerAnnual U.S. Report on the Status of Cancer
 

Be Careful Selling YOUR Health Data

Know you privacy rights!

To sell us more goods and services, companies of all types really want a hold of our health date. Some firms will even pay us for data. But should you do this? Is the exchange worthwhile? Our data in trade for a fee.

This practice is the opposite of our goals in a prior post. Getting Your Health Care Provider to Be More Responsive

So, let’s consider these observations by Thorin Klosowski, writing for the NY Times: 

“If you work for a company with employer-sponsored health insurance, there’s a chance you’ve come across wellness programs such as UnitedHealthcare MotionHumana Go365Attain by Aetna, and Vitality (The New York Times offers Vitality to its employees).”

“Each program works similarly, offering some type of discount or financial incentive in exchange for reaching goals, usually verified by requesting health data collected by a phone or fitness tracker. Insurance companies offer these programs to encourage people to begin or maintain healthy habits, like eating well and exercising, thus reducing health care costs. Employers offer them as a way to provide financial rewards you can use toward the cost of insurance or gift cards.”

But, should you sell your health data?

“The health information you share with insurance companies, HMOs, health care providers, or company health plans is protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which helps keep your data private. But not all workplace wellness programs are covered by HIPAA.”

“Pam Dixon, executive director of World Privacy Forum, says, ‘The best thing to do is take a close look at the privacy policy for that program. If it is a HIPAA-covered program, they’re going to have a Notice of Privacy Practices.’ Look for phrases like ‘your rights under HIPAA,’ ‘Notice of Privacy Practices,’ or ‘NPP’ in the privacy policy. If you see the term ‘we are HIPAA-compliant, the basic rule of thumb is the program does not fall under HIPAA. ‘”

Click the image to learn more.

Be Careful Selling YOUR Health Data
Image by Yann Bastard.