I know, I know – we’re all too busy, no time to read etc – but here are a few articles from recent times that are worth the effort, if you haven’t spotted them already. They cover everything from the health impacts of inequality to mental health, alcohol policy, and the ties that bind pharma and medicine.
• A terrific piece bringing some much-needed perspective to discussions about mental illness, especially in the wake of recent murders. By Dr Tanya Ahmed, a registrar in psychiatry and a principal of the health and communications consultancy RaggAhmed.
• More than a million premature deaths across 30 OECD countries could be prevented each year if income inequality was reduced. That’s the best guess of a meta-analysis of studies involving around 60 million people, reported in the BMJ. The authors note that there are many caveats to their findings, including a lack of evidence from developing countries, but say their results have “potentially important policy implications for population health”. Meanwhile, I’m heartened to read that a fellow Crikey blogger is also putting inequality on the public agenda.
• When the law meets public health – Simon Chapman, professor of public health at the University of Sydney, considers the implications of a recent High Court judgment. It dismissed a duty of care negligence claim against a Tasmanian hotel owner who handed back motorcycle keys lodged for safe-keeping to an insistent, belligerent patron who on leaving the pub was killed in a crash while showing a blood alcohol level of 0.253.
• Investigating the ties between drug companies and doctors – A group of researchers from Australia, Canada and the US have done an indepth analysis of disclosures of pharmaceutical sponsorship of gifts and educational events, as has been required of Medicines Australia members since 2007. They conclude that the disclosure does not go far enough and also give some interesting examples of how companies are wooing doctors. Novartis, for example paid flights, accommodation, food, beverages, and conference registration fees for six ophthalmologists to attend a two-day conference in Spain, at a cost of AUD$10,993 per person. For those who follow this field, it will come as no surprise that the researchers include Ray Moynihan, Lisa Bero and David Henry. The other authors are Jane Robertson and Emily Walkom from the University of Newcastle.