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Public health, population health, and mHealth

The stabilizing prevalence of asthma and the origins of the disease Statistics Canada recently reported that the prevalence of asthma among 2-7 year old children had declined to its lowest level in more than 10 years, from 13.2 percent in 2000-01 to 9.8 percent in 2008-09, the most recent year for which data are available. […]

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Economist on low cost medical innovation

This week, the Economist has two brief overviews of low cost medical technology innovation in China and India and the potential implications for health care in these countries and in high income settings. See How China and India can help cut Western bills and Frugal Healing. The articles offer some interesting insight into how joint […]

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The limits of retrospective health survey questions

The Health Interview Survey, conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics, asks respondents: “Now, I’d like to read you a short list of different kinds of pain. Please say for each one, on roughly how many days–if any–in the last 12 months you have had that type of pain…How many days in the last […]

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Directed, cooperative exploration of health data

This is an update and expansion of a post I wrote for the Health 2.0 Developer Challenge earlier this summer. The original is here. With the recent launch of the Community Health Data Initiative (CHDI) and the emergence of a growing number of health apps, the magnitude of health data and the variety and number […]

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Oxygen is an essential medicine: A call to international action (Now only $29.27)

The International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, the journal of the International Union, just published an article I was really happy to see. It argues that while hypoxemia is a big public health problem in developing countries, a lack of access to oxygen treatment and pulse oximetry gets “little or no attention” in global […]

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Imagining a meaningful future for payphones

According to the FCC, in the last ten years the number of payphones in the US has declined from more then 2 million to around 700,000. So far this disappearance has occurred almost without capturing any of my attention. Only recently, in traveling across the US, have I started to run across decommisioned pay phones […]

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Hosted survey platforms need tools for panel studies

I use SurveyMonkey and a few other hosted survey platforms for a number of projects. Generally, these are great tools and I recommend them routinely to others. One significant limitation is that they assume that the group of respondents completing a survey is unrelated to the group completing another survey. In my work, this is […]

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Tracking asthma-related absences from school

Maybe the most ubiquitous, and slippery, statement about asthma is that it is the primary cause of absence from school. For example: “Asthma is considered the leading cause of school absence among children 5-17. It accounts for an estimated 14 million missed days of school each year.” Asthma absences are considered an important surveillance indicator […]

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Building CAPTCHAs for public health

Over the weekend, I came across a project that teaches a little bit of electrical engineering through CAPTCHAs – the challenge-response test used across the web to determine that a response is not generated by a computer. The open source project, call Resisty, is a WordPress plugin that requires a person visiting a blog determine […]

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The declining height of African-American women

According to a recent analysis of data from NHANES surveys, the height of black women in the United States has been declining substantially both absolutely and relative to the height of white women in recent decades. “Such a steep decline in height is practically unprecedented in modern history except during wartime,” writes the author, John […]

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