Red states have much higher teen birth rates than blue states

As promised in my previous article I have been working on my analysis of teen pregancy rates by state and compared them to the red state, blue state electoral votes in the Presidential election in 2004. The pundits claim the the voters who voted for Bush did so because of "values". However, if the behavior of the people who live in these states is any indication of what they value, it makes one wonder because what they say they value and what they do are quite at odds.

For example, divorce rates are higher in red states than blue states even though they passed resolutions banning gay marriage because they supposedly want to protect marriage which they don't practice.

Another indicator we might take a look at is teen pregnancy rates, and I predicted that teen pregnancy rates would be higher in red states than they are in blue states and I found this to be overwhelmingly true. So, it makes one wonder whether these folks "walk" the "talk". It doesn't appear that they do. And while they rail against the northeastern  and west coast "liberals", it appears when you look at the data that these "liberals" do walk the talk.

So, I found in my analysis that the first 16 states with the highest teen birth rates are red states with Mississippi leading the way with 64.7 teen births per 1,000 followed by Texas with 64.4 births per 1,000.

Nine out of ten the states with the lowest teen birth rates were blue states led by New Hampshire with a rate of 20.0 per 1,000 more than 2/3rds less than Mississippi and Massachusetts with a rate of 23.3 per 1,000. Clearly the "liberal states do much better on this indicator and other indicators of "family values" such as divorce rates than red states.

So, it appears when you look at the facts that there is a tremendous amount of hypocrisy in the United States because when you look at what people do, how they lead their lives, and the practices they engage in, it appears that people who live in blue states are more stable in their family and personal lives as indicated by divorce rates and teen birth rates.

I am going to be looking at other indicators to obtain further insight into the behavioral health of people in the United States. It is my hope that people will stop listening to the sound bites and the rhetoric of the demogogues and start to think critically and truthfully about the issues that affect their lives.

Link: Kaiser 50 State Comparisons: Teen Birth Rate, 2002.

Other components boost nicotine's effects

People in the sciences and the substance abuse field have known for years that tobacco companies add things to their tobacco mixture to make them more addictive and mood altering and thereby increasing appeal and dependence.

I have had people come out of rehab and tell me that their first cigarette was a bigger rush than any crack cocaine they ever smoked.

In the online journal, Neuropsychopharmacology there is a report that it is acetaldehyde that combines with nicotine that makes nicotine so addicting. This combination of acetabldehyde and nicotine is much more addicting than nicotine alone.

"Researchers report a chemical in tobacco smoke enhances the addictive properties of nicotine and teens are most vulnerable to the chemical combination.

Scientists doing animal studies were surprised to discover that nicotine by itself was not that addictive. However, when combined with acetaldehyde, one of the main chemical components of tobacco smoke, they found its addictiveness was increased."

MedlinePlus: Other components boost nicotine's effects

Leading Medical Journals Toughen Requirements for Publication

It may come as a shock to lay people that corporations have taken over the publication of medical studies in medical journals that show their products in the most advantageous light. They would write journal articles showing good results with their products and then pay physicians to publish these articles under their names to lend credibility. It's about time that the leading medical journals are finally putting an end to the practice of "ghost written" articles and studies and that scientific standards are being utilized once again.

The world's top-tier medical journals took a strong stand last month, announcing they would publish data only from registered clinical trials. Clinical trial registry has been an APA goal for several years.

Leading Medical Journals Toughen Requirements for Publication -- Rosack 39 (20): 2 -- Psychiatric News

As Liquor Prices Rise, Consumption Stalls

Public health afficiandos are well aware that when you raise the cost of something, access is decreased. So raising the price of cigarettes and alcoholic beverages is one way to decrease use/abuse because it decreases access or makes access more difficult.

An article in the Wall Street Journal on July 16th, reports that Diegeo PLC the distributers for Smirnoff's Vodka, Bailey's Irish Cream, and Captain Morgan Rum as well as other brands raised it's prices on some of its products. While Diegeo's revenue went up with the raised prices, the amount sold decreased.

Turns out that prevention science based on the public health model has further evidence that it's hypothesis about the relationship between cost and access is correct.

As Liquor Prices Rise, Consumption Stalls

Teens' TV Watching Leads to Disrupted Sleep Later

There is an interesting study in the June, 2004 issue of the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine which found that youth who watch more than three hours of TV per day have sleep problems, and other health problems, later in life.

"In the same way that teens should avoid cigarette smoking because it is associated with risk for a variety of health problems, heavy TV viewing -- i.e., more than 1 to 2 hours per day -- should also be avoided," study author Dr. Jeffrey G. Johnson told Reuters Health.

Currently, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that young people watch no more than 2 hours of television every day."

I had an interesting discussion with two colleagues yesterday about whether people become addicted to TV. We concluded after sharing our experiences that people do become addicted. If you question this observation, you can do a little experiment yourself and ask families to give up TV for a week. Watch their reactions and resistance. If they eventually agree, which I have not found that people do easily, ask them to keep a log of family moods, interactions, behavior, thoughts over the week long period. It would be even better if people would give up TV for two weeks because it has been my experience that it takes about a week for withdrawal symptoms to subside and other more pleasant behaviors to take their place. If this hypothesis is correct, there will be a difference in the quality of mood, thoughts, behavior between week one and week two.

If you try this experiment, send your findings to me. I am very interested.

MedlinePlus: Teens' TV Watching Leads to Disrupted Sleep Later

Placebo Acts on Brain to Relieve Pain


Have you heard the saying that the sexiest organ in the human body is the organ that sits between the two ears?

It appears that our brains are magnificent organs, and thinking something does to a certain degree make it so. It looks like the placebo effect, while "all in your head", is real.

Reuters reports a study published in the February, 2004 issue of Science which describes what parts of the brain are effected by the placebo effect, and describes the mechanisms that make the placebo effect work.

MedlinePlus: Placebo Acts on Brain to Relieve Pain

Smoking Marijuana Lowers Fertility, Study Shows


This study is real. This is not satire. I am concerned that some of my regular readers will think that this is a piece of satire from the Onion or some such satirical source, but this is a real study, presented at the annual conference of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine in San Antonio. Basically it shows that "sperm in men who smoke marijuana regularly lose stamina and burn out, which may prevent conception."

Reminds me of the old line "Why do you suppose they call it 'dope'?". Cause if pot makes you dopey, maybe it makes your sperm act dopey, and maybe it's nature's way of saying that substance abusers shouldn't reproduce. That may seem harsh, but the Darwinian principal of survival of the fittest is probably still at work in the world of Mother Naure even though her children interferre and mess with it a lot.

MEDLINEplus: Smoking Marijuana Lowers Fertility, Study Shows

Negative emotions hurt immunity

According to this study which was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, people experiencing negative emotions did not develop as many antibodies from their flu shot as people experiencing positive emotions.

The psychoneuroimmunologists have been slowly mapping the effect of human emotions on our bodies. Here is a simple little study of 52 people that seems to demonstrate that there is some evidence for the old sayings "Mind over matter", and "Don't worry yourself sick."

MEDLINEplus: Negative emotions hurt flu immunity

Medical Ghostwriting: Articles in medical journals may be nothing more than "infomercials"

Thanks to a colleague, James V. for forwarding this story to me. It is a story done in Canada by the CBC back in March, 2003, about medical ghostwriting. The articles that your doctor is reading in the medical journals about current drugs may be nothing more than "infomercials" commissioned by the pharmaceutical companies. I feel like Diogenes with his latern wandering the world in search of an honest person. Click the link and read on

Marketplace - Canada's Investigative Consumer Program

Shifting Focus From Process to Outcome

What do we primarily measure in behavioral health, outputs or outcomes? Do we measure how many psychotherapy sessions or how many bed days we provided, or what difference those psychotherapy sessions and bed days made in the lives of our patients? If we are really good, we measure both.

I look at outcomes as a three legged stool. Stakeholders want good outcomes, that are customer satisfying, achieved in a cost efficient manner. Or as the bumper sticker says, "Good, fast, cheap: pick two." :-)

The paper linked below, printed in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, in August, 2003, points out that outcomes must meet the expectations and requirements of three primary stakeholders, administrators, clinicians, and patients. The expectations of these three stakeholder groups are sometimes in alignment and sometimes contradictory. Hopefully, as we craft our definitions of hoped for outcomes, and pick indicators to measure the degree of achievement of them, we will work together in cooperative and collaborative ways to achieve outcomes that are mutually satisfying.

The authors suggest a neat model for selecting outcome measures in psychiatry. The model is a pentagon with five domains: symptomatolgoy, patient functioning, patient satisfaction, quality of life, and cost.

The tools used to measure outcome indicators should possess seven characteristics: credibilty, comprehensiveness, suitability and meaningfulness, reliability, validity, amenable to statistical analysis and accurate interpretation, easy to administer and provide utility for improvement.

This article is worth a read. It gives a good overview and perspective on the art and science of improving quality of mangement of behavioral health services to better meet the needs of payors, clinicians, and patients.

Implementing Quality Management in Psychiatry: From Theory to Practice%u2014Shifting Focus From Process to Outcome