Health

Women’s Health: The Unfinished Revolution

The phrase “women’s health” slips off the tongues of clinicians, public health experts, community advocates and legislators with ease, but the ideological battles of the past three decades have clouded this once-useful term. Reproductive health services and access to family planning promote health and combat poverty, but they do not represent the sum of women’s health needs or rights. Women also differ from men in how they develop, age, and respond to treatment, yet the science of their unique characteristics is alarmingly incomplete. What is “women’s health” really about, and how we do re-imagine its future?

Jane Otai, Sisonke Msimang, Courtney E. Martin, Betty King

THE ASPEN LECTURE When Experts Disagree: The Art of Medical Decision-Making

Despite medical advances and the application of scientific principles to modern medicine, there seems to be increasing controversy about the “right” diagnostic and treatment choices, even for very common medical issues – such as how best to treat high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol, whether to take vitamins, especially vitamin D, and who should be screened for cancer with mammograms and PSA. And the debate is very public, fomenting confusion with almost daily stories in the media. Why are experts disagreeing? Why isn't there a clear “right” answer? And what support do patients need to make decisions in the face of such controversy?

Jerome Groopman, Pamela Hartzband

Colorado's "Right to Try" Law: A Lifeline or False Hope?

Colorado’s new “right-to-try” law, signed in May, allows terminally ill patients access to investigational drugs without federal approval. Similar legislation is being considered in other states. Supporters call it a ray of hope for people with few alternatives, while skeptics argue that the hopes could be false and the suffering worsened. The US Food and Drug Administration already has compassionate-use mechanisms in place, but action at the state level is a first. What are the clinical and ethical implications of Colorado’s action? Are states usurping federal authority? What are the rights of dying people here?

Elliot Gerson, Joe Garcia, Diane E. Meier

Amanda Boxtel, Bridging Bionics Foundation

Many people already use prosthetics to get around; now robotics is becoming another way to help people move. It’s already the case for a Basalt resident, Amanda Boxtel, who’s been paralyzed below her pelvis for decades. Boxtel is Executive Director of the Bridging Bionics Foundation. She says it’s been important to her to aim for the best quality of life possible. She talks with APR’s Elise Thatcher.

Stanford University School of Medicine

Research around mouse blood has been making the rounds in the news media lately. It even got a moment on NPR’s Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me earlier this month. Scientist and neurology professor Tom Rando is a key player in that research. He’s Director of the Glenn Laboratories for the Biology of Aging at the Stanford University School of Medicine. Rando spoke with APR’s Elise Thatcher, and says the blood research has taken nearly a decade.

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