Cannabis treatment can significantly help with chronic pain, according to a new study conducted by Harvard Medical School and McLean Hospital in Boston.
Thirty-seven patients enrolled in the study with various chronic pain conditions such as neuropathy, joint pain and arthritis, reports Pain News Network. The group was observed for six months while taking cannabis products. Patients had either never used cannabis, or sustained from using it for a minimum of one year prior to the research.
The study revealed that those who used medical cannabis daily for six months experienced notable advancements in their overall health status: less pain and anxiety, better sleep and mood.
What’s more, patient usage of opioids dropped by 13% and 23% on average after three and six months of medical cannabis treatment, respectively.
The drop in opioid usage wasn’t enough to be marked as fundamental, the report said.
“This naturalistic study of medical cannabis (MC) patients with chronic pain provides preliminary evidence that ‘real world’ MC treatment may be a viable alternative or adjunctive treatment for a least some individuals with chronic pain,” wrote lead author Staci Gruber, Ph.D., associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.
“As results also revealed that individual cannabinoids appear to exert unique effects on pain and comorbid symptoms, more research is needed to potentially optimize cannabinoid-based treatments for pain.”
TCH For Pain Relief, CBD For Mood Enhancement
The study found that higher THC consumption was connected to pain relief, while CBD intake was related to mood improvement.
“Interestingly, we have found that many patients aim to achieve symptom alleviation without experiencing the intoxicating effects of THC. Therefore, it is likely that patients are able to achieve adequate pain relief using lower doses of THC over time than initially utilized,” said Gruber, who heads the Marijuana Investigations for Neuroscientific Discovery program at McLean Hospital.
The study ran a control group with nine patients also suffering from chronic pain who didn’t use medical cannabis, and the group did not show a similar improvement, according Pain News Network.
Researchers said more exploration and larger studies are needed to confirm the findings and further explore further the effects THC and CBD have on pain and mood.
Plan now to complete your Annual Health and Medical Record for this summer
To participate in Scouting events, campouts and high-adventure trips, Scouts and Scouters must complete the Annual Health and Medical Record. Now is the time to make sure your and your Scout’s records are up-to-date and complete, especially if your unit has summer activities scheduled.
The Annual Health and Medical Record has three different parts:
- Part A is an informed consent, release agreement and authorization that needs to be signed by every participant (or a parent and/or legal guardian for all youth under 18).
- Part B is a self-reported general information and a health history.
- Part C is your pre-participation physical exam completed by a certified and licensed health care provider.
Parts A and B must be complete for all activities; Part C is required for events lasting longer than 72 hours. Again, this year, all parts must be current through the end of the adventure in order to participate. Review and complete the AHMR fully and carefully; take a look at this instruction page. If you have more questions, refer to this BSA Safety Moment or look at these frequently asked questions. Remember, these completed forms must be secure, so they are not to be digitized, scanned, emailed or stored electronically by unit leaders.
Because the pandemic is not over, it might be a good idea to schedule an appointment soon for the pre-participation exam rather than waiting until summer. When you meet with your medical provider, bring the AHMR form, and it’s advised, especially if you or your Scout will be attending a BSA high-adventure base, to bring the risk advisory associated with that base. That way, your medical provider can better understand any strenuous activities involved. Council-run high-adventure camps might also have required risk advisories to review and complete. Check with the camp you are attending for any additional forms, such as COVID-19-related forms for high-risk individuals, that are necessary this year.
You should also alert Scout adult leaders of plans to address individual risk factors or medication use. When filling out the AHMR, include all medications; you can include a separate sheet if you run out of room.
AFSP Chief Medical Officer Addresses Congressional Committee on Mental Health Policies
WASHINGTON (APRIL 16, 2021) – On Thursday, April 15 the House Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee during a hearing titled Meeting the Moment: Improving Access to Behavioral and Mental Health Care interviewed Dr. Christine Yu Moutier, Chief Medical Officer from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention(AFSP). Her testimony included the following:
“Research shows that when primary care and health systems embrace mental health and substance use disorders as integral targets of healthcare delivery, many health outcomes improve. There are enormous economic benefits for societies that prioritize mental health and there is a proven return on investment for each dollar spent on mental health promotion and prevention – in many ways, we cannot afford inaction.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, data show 50-70% of the population report elevations in experiences of depression, anxiety, trauma, loss, and increased substance use. Suicidal thoughts are also much more prevalent during this time especially among young people with 25% of young adults reporting suicidal ideation. As the pandemic has progressed, the proportion of respondents with detrimental effects on their mental health continued to rise. There are reasons to be especially concerned about particular populations: minoritized communities, essential and frontline health workers, caregivers, youth, rural residents and LGBTQ people.
Despite the evident need for broad and equitable access to mental health care, many are having trouble accessing care. These challenges have worsened during the pandemic, despite greater access via telehealth services. The Subcommittee is asked to consider efforts that would support enhanced mental health parity enforcement, to ensure that coverage for mental health care is no less restrictive than medical or surgical care. Recent analyses found evidence of lack of parity in behavioral health services compared with medical/surgical in terms of high out of network use and lower reimbursement for behavioral health services – and these disparities are trending in the wrong direction.
There must be much more accountability and oversight of parity to ensure that mental health conditions are not being discriminated against. In closing, I urge the subcommittee to consider legislation and policies to: ensure effective enforcement of mental health parity and broaden access to mental health care generally; support a robust, diverse mental health workforce; integrate mental health and suicide prevention in health systems, workplaces and schools, as critical touchpoints that can establish a culture that is responsive to mental health needs.
The steps we take in the aftermath of the pandemic will set the trajectory for the Nation’s mental health for years to come. Parity must be enforced, and disparities must be addressed to ensure equitable access and care for those in need.”
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide. AFSP creates a culture that’s smart about mental health through education and community programs, develops suicide prevention through research and advocacy, and provides support for those affected by suicide. Led by CEO Robert Gebbia and headquartered in New York, with an Advocacy office in Washington, DC, AFSP has local chapters in all 50 states with programs and events nationwide. Learn more about AFSP in its latest Annual Report, and join the conversation on suicide prevention by following AFSP on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.
Contact: Alexis O’Brien, 347-826-3577, firstname.lastname@example.org
Cure the common code: OpenMRS aims to improve medical record systems in developing countries – GeekWire
Consider the difficulties many of us face when we need medical procedures, tests or referrals. Now imagine you lived in a developing country where these challenges can be significantly greater.
For instance, getting a critical blood test might mean being given an informal slip of paper you have to take to a lab somewhere on the other side of town. After traveling for two hours, you wait another three hours to have your blood drawn, then are told to come back two days later for the results. When you return, you collect the handwritten results which you have to deliver back to your referring practitioner two hours away. Clearly, there are many points where the lines of communication could break down.
Unfortunately, such challenges have long been the reality in many parts of the world. That’s largely due to the costs and other demands of establishing standardized electronic medical records systems that can be reliably and securely used by practitioners in low-income developing countries.
This was some of the motivation behind OpenMRS, an open-source medical record system that launched in 2004 to improve healthcare delivery in resource-constrained environments. The program is supported by funding from the Gates Foundation through the PATH Digital Square funding program; U.S. Centers for Disease Control; Mozilla Foundation; Pineapple Fund; Rockefeller Foundation; and others.
The project was initially conceived as a way of improving existing records systems for managing critical healthcare initiatives in developing countries. The program has since expanded to become the world’s largest open-source digital health community and is supported by institutes and teams from around the world.
OpenMRS initially launched to support a clinical care and treatment project in Kenya called AMPATH, an Academic Model for the Prevention and Treatment of HIV/AID project.
“It was modeled in a way that made sense for global health specifically, so people in other low resource settings started adopting it,” said Jan Flowers, chair of the board of directors for OpenMRS.
Flowers is also the faculty co-lead and founder with Dr. Nancy Puttkammer of DIGI (Digital Initiatives Group at I-TECH), the global health informatics center at University of Washington. Over the years, Flowers has been involved in national-scale health informatics projects based in Mozambique, Kenya, Cote d’Ivoire, Haiti, Vietnam, and Namibia.
Today, OpenMRS has been installed at more than 6,520 healthcare clinics, serving 12.6 million patients in 40 countries. These numbers are even more impressive when you consider how much difference exists between healthcare systems around the world. Beyond just the matter of the local language itself, medical terminology, lab test results, billing codes and local regulatory requirements can all differ widely, calling for a system that is highly customizable.
OpenMRS achieves this through its modular construction, the use of what are known as standard concept dictionaries and an Open Concept Lab that enables further customization. This allows each site installation to standardize its different concepts and medical terminology in order to meet local needs without having to alter the program’s core code or back-end structure.
In the end, the primary goal is to enable better, more efficient healthcare around the world, a goal that’s been a huge inspiration for the open-source component of the project.
“Around 2010, we suddenly started to see national-scale implementations of OpenMRS,” said Jennifer Antilla, the organization’s director of community who is also based in Seattle.
While the OpenMRS software makes all of this possible, as a matter of principle, the organization doesn’t perform the clinic installations itself. Instead, they generally partner with other organizations, such as DIGI, to support health ministry’s wanting to use OpenMRS.
The managing partner then teams up with developers and implementers in the country where the installation site is located. This allows the software to be customized and contextualized on the ground. That’s essential because each country’s health ministry has different regulations, different governance, different languages, and different data collection elements they want to monitor and measure.
All of that has to be thought through with those who will actually be working with the system. This often means training local developers and IT professionals, raising their skill levels and building the available talent pool that can later be tapped into for other types of projects.
“At OpenMRS, we’re really committed to equality and making sure that people feel equal, that we’re all peers,” said Flowers. “So, part of our mission is to equip these ministries and organizations with the skillsets and systems that they need to own and sustain the systems themselves for the long term.”
Beyond this, the project connects the end users to an open-source community that has grown to approximately 5,000 members with 75-to-100 main developer contributors consistently active in core activities of the software.
The OpenMRS community has even extended to Google’s Summer of Code (GSoC), which has been involved with the project for several years. The people coming through GSoC or those who are just interested in contributing to the community, either as developers or software engineers, are supported by the OpenMRS fellowship program. That program provides mentors to bridge the gap between how far people get with GSoC and the more advanced skill sets that OpenMRS implementers need. This allows them to advance from junior-level to mid-level developers to eventually become the OpenMRS gurus who actually perform implementations in the field.
The success of the program in developing countries has been extensive, benefiting patients, facilities, tech ecosystems and communities. It’s also demonstrated the many advantages electronic records keeping can offer.
For instance, Haiti has used OpenMRS nationally for its HIV program for many years. When the COVID outbreak hit in 2020, they used their records to determine that issues around COVID were actually interrupting many patient’s HIV treatments. This kind of disruption can have a huge impact and without good records management, they wouldn’t have been able to tell whether people had maintained and adhered to their treatments. Better records management made it possible to do case follow-ups to make sure patients didn’t become infectious and contribute to new infections.
Seventeen years ago, no one imagined how much of an impact this software project would have one day. Literally millions of lives have been improved and made healthier because of this single idea and the commitment of a talented community that wants to improve the world by coding for good.
OpenMRS was founded by Paul Biondich and Burke Mamlin of Indiana University’s Regenstrief Institute; Hamish Fraser of Partners in Health; and Chris Seebregts of JEMBI Health Systems in South Africa.
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