Items in AFP with MESH term: Physician's Role
Where Family Physicians Dare - Editorials
ABSTRACT: The simple request for a sick note can disguise important medical, psychologic or social issues. Disability may be influenced by social and cultural factors as well as by patient expectations. Assessment of impairment and subsequent disability is best made on the basis of objective data by use of a biopsychosocial model to ensure that the expression of disability does not mask other unaddressed psychologic or social issues. Enabling prolonged disability in such a situation can be a dysfunctional physician response to a maladaptive process. The physician's role is to treat the condition, to fulfill the appropriate role of patient advocate, to facilitate health (including resumption of activity), to offer proactive advice on the basis of prognosis, to be familiar with the patient's social obligations and resources and to provide education about the therapeutic benefits of returning to optimal function. This factual, medical-based approach offers an effective preventive strategy that will save many patients from unnecessary disability and morbidity.
ABSTRACT: Obesity is a complex, multifactorial condition in which excess body fat may put a person at health risk. National data indicate that the prevalence of obesity in the United States is increasing in children and adults. Reversing these trends requires changes in individual behavior and the elimination of societal barriers to healthy lifestyle choices. Basic treatment of overweight and obese patients requires a comprehensive approach involving diet and nutrition, regular physical activity, and behavioral change, with an emphasis on long-term weight management rather than short-term extreme weight reduction. Physicians and other health professionals have an important role in promoting preventive measures and encouraging positive lifestyle behaviors, as well as identifying and treating obesity-related comorbidities. Health professionals also have a role in counseling patients about safe and effective weight loss and weight maintenance programs. Recent evidence-based guidelines from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, as well as recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists/American College of Endocrinology, American Obesity Association, U.S. Clinical Preventive Services Task Force, Institute of Medicine, and World Health Organization can be consulted for information and guidance on the identification and management of overweight and obese patients.
ABSTRACT: Basal cell nevus syndrome is an autosomal dominant condition with complete penetrance and variable expressivity. It is characterized by five major components, including multiple nevoid basal cell carcinomas, jaw cysts, congenital skeletal abnormalities, ectopic calcifications, and plantar or palmar pits. Other features include a host of benign tumors, ocular defects, and cleft lip and palate. Guidelines for diagnosis include a family history, careful oral and skin examinations, chest and skull radiographs, panoramic radiographs of the jaw, magnetic resonance imaging of the brain, and pelvic ultrasonography in women.
ABSTRACT: Although childhood discipline is an important issue for parents, this topic is seldom emphasized by family physicians during well-child examinations. Behavior problems are relatively common but frequently under-recognized by physicians. Opportunities to counsel parents about safe, effective methods of discipline are therefore missed. Discipline should be instructive and age-appropriate and should include positive reinforcement for good behavior. Punishment is only one aspect of discipline and, in order to be effective, it must be prompt, consistent, and fair. Time-out is frequently used to correct younger children, but because it is often enforced improperly, it loses its effectiveness. Corporal punishment is a controversial but common form of discipline that is less effective than some other types of punishment. Its use is linked to child and spouse abuse, as well as to future substance use, violent crime, poor self-esteem, and depression. Despite the possible negative effects of corporal punishment, it is still widely accepted in our society. Since discipline plays an important role in the social and emotional development of children, physicians should be trained to discuss this issue with parents during routine well-child examinations.
ABSTRACT: Ten percent of the population abuses drugs or alcohol, and 20 percent of patients seen by family physicians have substance-abuse problems, excluding tobacco use. These patients can be identified by relying on regular screening or a high index of suspicion based on "red flags" that can be noted in various clinical situations. The modified CAGE questionnaire is an excellent screening instrument, but several alternatives are available. The best screening test is one that the physician will routinely use well. Laboratory indicators such as gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase, mean corpuscular volume, and carbohydrate-deficient transferrin are nonspecific but can add to the evidence of alcohol abuse. If problem alcohol use is diagnosed, even brief physician advice can be helpful. If the problem has progressed to addiction, referral to an addiction specialist or treatment center is recommended. Special issues arise in dealing with substance abuse in adolescents, elderly patients, and patients with mental illness, but the family physician can play an important role in recognizing this common problem.
ABSTRACT: Childhood bullying has potentially serious implications for bullies and their targets. Bullying involves a pattern of repeated aggression, a deliberate intent to harm or disturb a victim despite the victim's apparent distress, and a real or perceived imbalance of power. Bullying can lead to serious academic, social, emotional, and legal problems. Studies of successful antibullying programs suggest that a comprehensive approach in schools can change student behaviors and attitudes, and increase adults' willingness to intervene. Efforts to prevent bullying must address individual, familial, and community risk factors, as well as promote an understanding of the severity of the problem. Parents, teachers, and health care professionals must become more adept at identifying possible victims and bullies. Physicians have important roles in identifying at-risk patients, screening for psychiatric comorbidities, counseling families about the problem, and advocating for bullying prevention in their communities.
The Patient with Daily Headaches - Article
ABSTRACT: The term 'chronic daily headache' (CDH) describes a variety of headache types, of which chronic migraine is the most common. Daily headaches often are disabling and may be challenging to diagnose and treat. Medication overuse, or drug rebound headache, is the most treatable cause of refractory daily headache. A pathologic underlying cause should be considered in patients with recent-onset daily headache, a change from a previous headache pattern, or associated neurologic or systemic symptoms. Treatment of CDH focuses on reduction of headache triggers and use of preventive medication, most commonly anti-depressants, antiepileptic drugs, and beta blockers. Medication overuse must be treated with discontinuation of symptomatic medicines, a transitional therapy, and long-term prophylaxis. Anxiety and depression are common in patients with CDH and should be identified and treated. Although the condition is challenging, appropriate treatment of patients with CDH can bring about significant improvement in the patient's quality-of-life.
ABSTRACT: The number one cause of death for children younger than 14 years is vehicular injury. Child safety seats and automobile safety belts protect children in a crash if they are used correctly, but if a child does not fit in the restraint correctly, it can lead to injury. A child safety seat should be used until the child correctly fits into an adult seat belt. It is important for physicians caring for children to know what child safety seats are available and which types of seats are safest. Three memory keys will help guide appropriate child safety seat choice: (1) Backwards is Best; (2) 20-40-80; and (3) Boost Until Big Enough. "Backwards is Best" cues the physician that infants are safest in a head-on crash when they are facing backward. "20-40-80" reminds the physician that children may need to transition to a different seat when they reach 20, 40, or 80 lb. "Boost Until Big Enough" emphasizes that children need to use booster seats until they are big enough to fit properly into an adult safety belt.
ABSTRACT: Most patients eventually must face the process of planning for their future medical care. However, few Americans have a living will or a durable power of attorney for health care. Although advance directives provide a legal basis for physicians to carry out treatment using a health care proxy or a living will, they also should reflect the patient's values and preferences. Family physicians are in a position to integrate medical knowledge, individual values, and cultural influences into end-of-life care. Family physicians can best respect the autonomy of patients by allowing the patient and family to prospectively identify relevant health care preferences, by sustaining an ongoing discussion about end-of-life preferences, and by abiding by the decisions their patients have made.