:: to the teeth ::    thoughts on social justice, medicine, race, hope and beats

"Another world is not only possible, she is on her way.
On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." :: Arundhati Roy ::

"The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any." :: Alice Walker ::
Friday, September 17, 2004  

Social contact -- a win-win solution for patients and hospitals!

In my time working with patients in the hospital this month, during my acting internship (where I'm a 4th year med student "acting" like and taking on some responsibilities of a 1st year medical resident), I've found that patients often are stuck in a plain hospital room by themselves for several days, while medical tests are performed and docs and nurses come and see them for a bit each day. Some patients have the wonderful luck of having loving families or friends around who can visit them and share the love. Others don't, and I can't help wondering if their relative isolation and lack of contact with people are either not helping or outright worsening their medical situation. A friend forwarded me an article about a recent study published in the journal (get this...) Psychoneuroendocrinology, in which hamster wound healing times were measured when amounts of social contact were varied. It would be neat to see more hospitals implementing proven programs for increasing social contact with patients -- possibly through volunteers who could "hang" with patients; pet therapy; touch therapy; massage therapy, etc... Here's some info from the study:
The researchers conducted a series of experiments to learn how social interaction affects health, and to better understand the mechanisms by which it does so. Female Siberian hamsters were housed with a sibling or isolated during the three-week study. All animals received minor skin wounds about the size of a sunflower seed on the backs of their necks. The researchers photographed and measured the wounds each day...

Hamsters were separated into four groups for one of the experiments: socially isolated, non-stressed; socially isolated, stressed; paired, non-stressed; and paired, stressed. As soon as a single day after injury, the wounds on the socially isolated, stressed animals remained about 25 percent larger than the wounds of the other three groups, and stayed this way for about a week.

posted by Anjali Taneja | 9/17/2004 03:43:00 PM | |


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