Archive for October 3rd, 2009
The prevalence of mental health disorders in this country has nearly doubled in the past 20 years. Who is treating all of these patients? Clinical psychologists and therapists are charged with the task, but many are falling short by using methods that are out of date and lack scientific rigor. This is in part because many of the training programs—especially some Doctorate of Psychology (PsyD) programs and for-profit training centers—are not grounded in science. A new report in Psychological Science in the Public Interest, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, by a panel of distinguished clinical scientists—Timothy Baker (University of Wisconsin-Madison), Richard McFall (Indiana University), and Varda Shoham (University of Arizona)—calls for the reform of clinical psychology training programs and appeals for a new accreditation system to ensure that mental health clinicians are trained to use the most effective and current research to treat their patients.
There are multiple practices in clinical psychology that are grounded in science and proven to work, but in the absence of standardized science-based training, those treatments go unused.
For example, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) has been shown to be the most effective treatment for PTSD and has the fewest side-effects, yet many psychologists do not use this method. Baker and colleagues cite one study in which only 30 percent of psychologists were trained to perform CBT for PTSD and only half of those psychologists elected to use it. That means that six of every seven sufferers were not getting the best care available from their clinicians. Furthermore, CBT shows both long-term and immediate benefits as a treatment for PTSD; whereas medications such as Paxil have shown 25 to 50 percent relapse rates.
The report suggests that the escalating cost of mental health care treatment has reduced the use of psychological treatments and shifted care to general health care facilities. The authors also stress the importance of coupling psychosocial interventions with medicine because many behavioral therapies have been shown to reduce costs and provide longer term benefits for the client.
Baker and colleagues conclude that a new accreditation system is the key to reforming training in clinical psychology. This new system is already under development: the Psychological Clinical Science Accreditation System (PCSAS www.pcsas.org).
The Wife and I like this particular Nigori sake. Very tasty.
The Agitator takes action to get to the root of a problem long ignored by the mainstream media:
This should help clean up some illegal dumping—businesses love illegal dumps because they reduce costs. Shanta Barley in New Scientist:
Move over, Erin Brockovich. Today’s environmental detectives can use radar, helicopters and even satellite images to help them spot illegal toxic waste dumps and help catch those responsible.
Ironically, the tightening of restrictions on waste disposal and the enforcement of new recycling laws have made illegal dumping more likely, turning it into big business for the criminals involved.
The trouble is digging up suspect dumps to investigate their contents can release toxins into local water supplies. But with new remote-sensing techniques, such as ground-penetrating radar (GPR), you can find toxic trash without disturbing the soil. Instead, you bounce microwaves off buried materials and the strength of returning signals provides clues to what they are.
Alastair Ruffell, a forensic geologist at Queen’s University, Belfast in the UK, has used GPR in 17 cases for the environment agencies of Scotland, the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Most are ongoing, however three have resulted in the culprits being jailed and fined.
Ruffell’s latest research shows that …
Continue reading. Note: Never ever trust a business to do what is ethical, moral, or legal: they must be watched like hawks because the invisible hand of the market is constantly pushing them to cut corners.
Interesting note by MacGregor Campbell in the New Scientist:
A virtual emergency response centre dubbed Collabbit could be just what relief agencies need to coordinate their aid efforts in the aftermath of a disaster when speed is crucial.
Collabbit is the handiwork of the Humanitarian Free and Open Source Software project (HFOSS). It acts as central repository for information, sending out project updates to workers via RSS or text message. Collabbit recently performed well in a simulated emergency.
William Anderson, an emergency coordinator contacted HFOSS after hearing about the work it had done in developing applications in response to the Asian tsunami. He had become frustrated with the available commercial software.
Those commercial packages are often an amalgamation of features that have been created for other projects, and the result, says Anderson, is bloated software which is difficult to use. "Collabbit has about a tenth of features," he adds, "and that’s on purpose."
In June, students from Wesleyan University and Trinity College in Connecticut teamed up with representatives from municipal and volunteer agencies including the American Red Cross, The Salvation Army and Catholic Charities USA to design Collabbit.
A team of students built a prototype system in just three weeks, then relief agencies modelled …
Although conservatives seem quite happy that the US will not host the Olympics, most of us are somewhat taken aback at the speed of the rejection. Andrea Nill at ThinkProgress discusses one possible reason for the decision:
In spite of President Obama’s lobbying efforts, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) may have chosen to reject hosting the 2016 summer Olympic games in Chicago due to the post-9/11 visa tourist policies established by his predecessor, George W. Bush. Michael Froomkin, Professor at the University of Miami School of Law, is convinced that the “the same stupid anti-visitor policy that is destroying American higher education” also sunk Chicago’s Olympic bid. Chicago was eliminated during the first round and received the fewest votes. A New York Times article points out:
In the official question-and-answer session following the Chicago presentation, Syed Shahid Ali, an I.O.C. member from Pakistan, asked the toughest question. He wondered how smooth it would be for foreigners to enter the United States for the Games because doing so can sometimes, he said, be “a rather harrowing experience.”
A “harrowing experience” may be an understatement. Immediately after 9/11, the Bush Administration began requiring fingerprints and photographs of tourists from all but 28 countries entering the US. President Bush required that all foreigners register online within three days of travel. Thirty-five (mostly European) countries now participate in the US Visa Waiver program, however tourists from the rest of the world still have to jump through the following hurdles:
- Pay hefty visa processing and issuance fees.
- Undergo an interview by a visa officer at the US Embassy.
- Provide evidence which shows the purpose of the trip, intent to depart the United States, and arrangements made to cover the costs of the trip may be provided.
- Present convincing evidence that an interested person will provide financial support if the applicant does not have sufficient funds to support him or herself.
The average wait for a US visa has risen to about three months. Brazil, which will host the 2016 Olympic summer games in Rio de Janeiro, has a reciprocal visa policy with all countries. US tourists are required to have a $130 advance visa before entry into the country and are fingerprinted and photographed upon arrival — matching US requirements for Brazilians.
The US no longer welcomes foreign visitors because we’re afraid of them.
Ardi has an entire issue of Science, and this post explains how that came about:
This introduction has been a long time coming. Some 4.4 million years ago, a hominid now known as Ardipithecus ramidus lived in what were then forests in Ethiopia. Fifteen years ago, Tim White of Berkeley and a team of Ethiopian and American scientists published the first account of Ardipithecus, which they had just discovered. But it was just a preliminary report, and White promised more details later, once he and his colleagues had carefully prepared and analyzed all the fossils they had unearthed. “Later,” it turned out, meant 15 years.
I’ve mentioned before how unfashionable this slow-cooked style of science can be. But sometimes, it’s the only way to do things right. Getting clues about HIV by observing sick chimpanzees in the wild takes years. And so does reconstructing a fossil–particularly one as delicate as Ardipithecus happened to be. Today, the journal Science has handed many of its pages over to White and his colleagues, who have filled them with lots of details about Ardipithecus, plus a couple excellent articles by writer Ann Gibbons. Ardipithecus has gone from being an enigmatic collection of bones to a new touchstone for our early hominid ancestors.
To appreciate the importance of this new look of Ardipithecus, you have to step back into the history of hunting for hominid fossils. In the early 1970s, Tim White was part of a research team that found what was, at the time, the oldest hominid known: a 3.2 million year old fossil of Australopithecus afarensis. What made their discovery particularly spectacular was that they found a fair amount of a single A. afarensis individual, whom they named Lucy.
Combined with other A. afarensis fossils, paleonthropologists got a pretty decent picture of what hominids looked like. Lucy was a chimpanzee-sized ape with a brain that was only a little bigger than a chimp’s. She still had long arms and curving hands and other traits hinting that she could still climb in trees. But she also had feet with stiff, forward-facing toes, an adaptation for walking on the ground.
So things stood for about 20 years. But then …