Leading Stories, Articles

January 1st, 2010

Health care quality progress slowed in ‘08

By Nan Shnitzler

A report released this past October by the private, non-profit National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) finds that the overall quality of health care delivered through both commercial and public health plans was static in 2008.

“This breaks a 12-year run of significant progress. While it could be a one-year blip, I fear it may be the beginning of a troubling trend,” writes Margaret E. O’Kane, NCQA president, in the annual “State of Health Care Quality” report.

NCQA estimates that if every health plan performed as well as those ranked in the top 10 percent, up to 115,000 lives and $12 billion in medical costs and lost productivity could be saved per year.…

January 1st, 2010

Report reveals alarming child death statistics

By Phyllis Hanlon

On October, the Every Child Matters Education Fund (ECMEF) released eyebrow-raising findings, based on data obtained from the Department of Health and Human Services: 10,440 children died between 2001 to 2007 from abuse and neglect. Approximately 75% of those children were under age four. Even more alarming than this report are other studies that indicate this statistic may fall short of the actual number of child deaths.

Michael Petit, president of Every Child Matters and former commissioner of Maine’s department of health and human services, notes that inattention to this serious issue prompted the report.…

January 1st, 2010

Study shows Americans are sleep deprived

By Catherine Robertson Souter

Some say that Americans are less productive than their counterparts in other developed countries, are far too overweight, don’t exercise enough and now, to top it off, don’t sleep enough.

A recent study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found that 41 percent of Americans report that they have not had sufficient sleep for nearly half of the past month. Worse, up to 11 percent claim they have not slept enough for any of the past 30 days. Only one-third of adults claim they are getting enough sleep every night.…

January 1st, 2010

Westborough State Hospital to close ahead of schedule

By Elinor Nelson

In a money saving plan expected to help meet the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health’s $14 million shortfall entering fiscal year 2010, the state will be closing Westborough State Hospital in April, two months ahead of schedule. The plan to close the hospital and build a new state-of-the-art facility on the campus of Worcester State Hospital has been in the works for about eight years, and the new hospital is expected to open in 2012.

At the moment, the Department of Mental Health is “in the middle of transition and discharge plans for [Westborough State’s] patients” until patients can be placed at the new Worcester facility, according to DMH Office of Communications and Community Engagement Director Anna Chinappi.…

January 1st, 2010

McLean’s coaching program offers new opportunity for psychologists

By Jennifer E Chase

Institute of Coaching at McLean Hospital in Massachusetts opened in early 2009 and is quickly becoming a reliable resource for psychologists wanting to add the skills of life coaching to their professional toolbox. Its 1,200 plus member listserv was largely created by Internet information seekers looking for more data.

Thanks to a $2 million gift from Ruth Ann Harnisch, a certified professional coach and founder of the Harnisch Foundation, McLean launched the IoC – a first-of-its-kind center for coaching-related research, practice and education – to advance excellence in research and practice within the growing field of coaching, a practice that optimizes human potential and performance in arenas like leadership, healthcare and public service.…

January 1st, 2010

Stress impacting teens too

By Pamela Berard

The dismal economy has not only affected American adults – teens and tweens are feeling the pressure, too.

Stress related to family finances has grown among youth in the past year, according to a new survey released by the American Psychological Association (APA). Youth are also stressed about school and other issues and their parents are underestimating the toll such pressures are having on them.

Nearly half (45 percent) of teens ages 13-17 surveyed said that they worried more this year than last year, but only 28 percent of parents reported that they think their teen’s stress increased.…

January 1st, 2010

Stress on campuses also on the rise

By Ami Albernaz

As enriching as the college years are for most students, they undeniably come with some stress, as students are – for the first time, in many cases – squarely in charge of their routine, and are forging an identity away from the familiar strictures of hometown and family. Recently, the economic downturn has added another layer of pressure, as students worry both about their prospects for work after college and how they or their parents will afford ever-climbing tuition bills.

“I’m surprised at the number of students who tell me one or both of their parents are unemployed,” says Tom Lavin, Ph.D.,…

January 1st, 2010

Tips offered to psychologists to cope with trying times

By Ami Albernaz

As clients have cut back on the frequency of sessions, or in some cases, ended them altogether to save money, psychologists, too, have felt the pain of the financial crisis. For those just starting their practices, the downturn may be especially difficult to weather. A few seasoned psychologists around New England offered some tips for making it through these trying times, and even thriving in them. If some of the tips sound familiar, it may be because they’re similar to advice you would likely give your clients

Keep a cool head.…

January 1st, 2010

Psychologists’ research focuses on metaphors

By Catherine Robertson Souter

Human language is rife with metaphors. We label an easy work assignment as a “piece of cake” and call a difficult task an “uphill battle.”

In fact, metaphors are so common in the way we talk that we don’t really notice them – or attach much importance to them.

There’s a movement within social psychology to take a closer look at those metaphors we so casually toss around like a football at a backyard picnic. Current research into the metaphors we use most often, for instance that a person can be “warm” or “cold,” or that we can feel “close” to them emotionally, has shown that the physical world is much more at play in a human’s emotional and psychological state than was previously thought.…