Public Health News Roundup: March 26
Media Coverage of Mass Shootings Harms Attitudes on Mental Illness
Media coverage of mass shootings by people with mental illness can increase support for policies to reduce gun violence, but can also increase the stigmatization of people with mental illness and lessens the chance they will seek help, according to a new study in the American Journal of Psychiatry. “The aftermath of mass shootings is often viewed as a window of opportunity to garner support for policies to reduce gun violence, and this study finds public support for such policies increases after reading news stories about a mass shooting,” said study author Emma E. McGinty, MS, a PhD candidate with the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, part of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “However, we also found that the public’s negative attitudes toward persons with serious mental illness are exacerbated by news media accounts of mass shootings involving a shooter with mental illness.” Read more on violence.
Study Links Excessive Television Viewing, Antisocial Behavior in Young Children
Antisocial behavior is more likely in young children who watch three or more hours of television a day, according to a new study in the Archives of Disease in Childhood. Researchers found that five-year-olds in that demographic were more likely to exhibit such behavior by the age of seven. Study author Alison Parkes, of the University of Glasgow in Scotland, said the findings support the decision by many parents to limit television time. Still, the researchers noted that this correlation does not equal causation. Excessive television watching by kids has also been linked to poorer physical health and performance in classrooms. Read more on mental health.
Cutting Medical Interns’ Hours Reduces Training Time, Increase Risks to Patients
Efforts to increase the amount of sleep by medical interns by reducing the number of continuous hours they work actually decreases the number of training opportunities and increases the risk to patients, according to a new study in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine. They also don’t get any more sleep in an average week. "Despite the best of intentions, the reduced work hours are handcuffing training programs, and benefits to patient safety and trainee well-being have not been systematically demonstrated," said study leader Sanjay Desai, an assistant professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and director of the internal medicine residency program at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. "We need a rigorous study. We need data to inform this critical issue." Read more on access to health care.