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Dr Petra’s pick of the week

December 20th, 2004

Dr Petra

Every week we see countless stories in the papers about sex and relationships. Many of these aren’t based on reputable research, and some really good studies get missed out as a consequence. Here are the sex and relationships studies just published in academic journals that have caught my eye. They won’t have appeared in the mainstream press, and they could make great story ideas. More angles soon, so be sure to bookmark this page…

Sticking to the health rules
Research by Lindsey and others, published in the Western Journal of Nursing Research, showed women who had survived breast cancer felt positive about their health and well-being, and had adopted some healthy living strategies, but weren’t adhering to all of the American Cancer Society guidelines for cancer risk reduction. The researchers suggested for cancer survivors to have positive health experiences, they need to make changes to their diet, exercise and lifestyle, as well as adhere to their treatment plan.
Use this story to:
Talk about how people cope after surviving cancer, and explain to those who have survived a serious illness how thinking positive is only one way to improve health. You could write a feature that discusses the many ways health could be improved via diet, exercise and lifestyle changes.

Are women more stressed than men?
The journal of Personality and Individual Differences, published a paper by Matud, which revealed in a study of 1566 women and 1250 men (aged 18 and 65) that women scored higher for chronic stress. Whilst men and women had experienced a similar number and type of life events in the previous two years, women consistently rated them as being more stressful and less under their control. They found family and health related events difficult, whilst men struggled with work, relationships, and financial worries.
Use this story to:
Discuss gender and stress. We often assume men have more stressful life events, so a feature for a woman’s page or magazine outlining the stress faced by women could help readers. This study may have shown that men are less likely to admit to stressful situations, so a piece for a men’s magazine about how stressors in men’s lives, and how masculinity can stop men seeking support, could help guys.

Do web pages work?
Research from the journal of Medical Informatics and the Internet in Medicine by Bucksch, Kolip and Deitermann evaluated the coverage of post-menopausal hormone therapy on gynaecologist’s websites. The study indicated that although there are risks involved with taking hormone therapy, and the web is a much-used source of health information, the 97 websites analysed provided poor advice that wasn’t evidence based.
Use this story to:
Discuss health information on the Internet. Give your readers ideas on how to spot a good site, and how to report inaccurate or fraudulent web pages. For a guide on good web practice for health sites, visit the Health on the Net Foundation

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