Friday, June 12, 2009

Basic anatomy baffles Britons. Would USAians do any better?

From Reuters:

Felix Salmon

not short

June 12th, 2009

Friday links have a few surprises

Posted by: Felix Salmon
Tags: remainders

Nafta infoporn

Pie charts: Pretty boring things. But add some white dots and some black dots, and they become videogametastic!

Foreign holdings of US debt are staying high

Finally: “We should stop using the metaphor about the war on drugs,” says the drugs czar. Next up: the “czar” metaphor

Current TV censors its own employees

The NYT Article Skimmer is better than ever, make sure to play around with the Settings. I love it!

GM CDS auction looks to settle around 11 cents on the dollar

Citi’s bond traders’ salaries should be capped at whatever traders at Freddie Mac are making, it’s all you need to pay

A cute counterintuitive empirical analysis of the effect of new tennis balls

Is Murdoch selling the Weekly Standard to ensure that Wendi doesn’t get the opportunity to kill it when he dies?

Basic anatomy baffles Britons. Would USAians do any better?

The official Ecuador success rate on its bond exchange was 91%. Lower than I expected, but still a win.

“The Bloodcopy blog has attracted more than 11m page views” — Can this possibly be true?"


I’m just about finished with the second draft of my vampire novel. Is all this publicity about vampires going to help me sell my book or hurt me? It’s hellish being a novelist, but I’ve yet to find a way to make money posting comments on blogs. In fact, I’ve yet to find a way to get positive feedback about my posting on blogs. Of course, I’ve yet to find a way to make money writing novels. I’ve written an enormous amount of text for no fee, and seem unable to stop.

Good work on that anatomy headline. I had to read the story to see if Brits couldn’t tell their heads from their…Well, I think you’re correct. We in the US wouldn’t do much better on that test.

Is it just me, or did other readers laugh uncontrollably at those drawings with the choices? Of course, I’ve had ten kidney stones. I wonder how the ovaries percentage broke down between the sexes? It’s hard to believe that more men know where their ovaries are than their lungs. Or did I read that graph wrong?

How could people not find their heart and lungs and stomach? That defies belief. Couldn’t they jog in place, hear and feel their heart and lungs. Then eat a candy bar, and try to determine where it’s heading?

- Posted by Don the libertarian Democrat

Location of heart

Many people in the UK are unable to identify the location of their major organs, a study suggests.

A team at King's College London found public understanding of basic anatomy has not improved since a similar survey was conducted 40 years ago.

Less than 50% of the more than 700 people surveyed could correctly place the heart, BMC Family Practice says.

Under one-third could place the lungs in their correct location, but more than 85% got the intestines right.

There are concerns that a poor grasp of anatomy could potentially compromise patient care.

Location of kidneys

The researchers asked more than 700 people to look at outlines of both a male and female body and identify which of several shaded areas was a particular organ.

Those asked included apparently healthy members of the public and then people undergoing treatment for a problem that affected specific organs.

Even those for whom the organ was particularly relevant often performed poorly - more than half of those with renal problems did not correctly identify the kidneys.

Fewer than 30% of the general population were able to do so.

But liver patients did better, with 75.3% identifying the organ compared with 46% of the general population.

The researchers said they had aimed to update a similar piece of research carried out in 1970, in which just over half of all the questions were correctly answered.

Location of pancreas

But with an average of 52.5% correctly answered, the results have barely changed.

"We thought that the improvements in education seen since then, coupled with an increased media focus on medical and health-related topics and growing access to the internet as a source of medical information, might have led to an increase in patients' anatomical knowledge," said lead researcher John Weinman.

"As it turns out, there has been no significant improvement in the intervening years."

There was little difference between men and women, although women did perform better when a female body image was used.

Unsurprisingly, the better educated identified more organs correctly.

Communication concerns

The researchers said their findings did raise concerns about doctor-patient communication and possibly therefore the quality of care.

Who got the answers right

Don Redding, head of policy at the Picker Institute Europe, a patient research group, agreed.

"There is a real problem with health literacy - people's ability to understand and process health information - which this study is indicative of.

"It really does matter, particularly as we look ahead to an NHS where resources are ever tighter.

"If people are going to use the NHS in an effective way they need to be able to communicate and understand what is said to them - this way we avoid repeat referrals, unnecessary hospitalisations.

"Everyone involved has to think harder about how to engage people in their own health - it's the only way."

Ellen Mason, from the British Heart Foundation, said: "Ideally the public would have a better knowledge of the location of their major body organs than this study suggests.

"This would hopefully produce a more meaningful dialogue with their doctor when something goes wrong with one of these organs.

"However, it is ultimately more important to know how to look after your heart than where it is in your body."

Answers: Heart - C, Kidneys - D, Pancreas - B.

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