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Recent research: six studies on couples - attraction, touch, viewpoint, comparison, empathy & sex

Here are half a dozen recent studies on men & women.  Elliot & Niesta found that red, relative to other colours, lead men to view women as "more attractive and sexually desirable".  Holt-Lundstad & colleagues randomized couples to a "support enhancement intervention" involving shared gentle massage for 30 minutes three times weekly or a control group.  There were encouraging effects of the "warm touch" on multiple stress-sensitive systems including husbands' blood pressure.  Koo et al found that writing about how something good might not have happened (e.g. how one might never have met one's romantic partner) produced more satisfaction (with the relationship) than writing about how the positive event actually had happened (e.g.

Excellent free information & advice on over 180 common medical conditions

Good stuff!  The British Medical Journal Group have just launched their Evidence Centre.  It's a fine evidence-based resource providing excellent information for doctors, patients and organizations.  Most of the services however seem to cost money to access.  The Best Health resource for patients, for example, costs £9.99 plus VAT for a 30 day subscription (or £3.00 plus VAT to look at information on a single condition).  The good news for searches to the Best Health resource from the UK and Republic of Ireland is that Boots have linked with the BMJ Group to give access to this service free of charge.  Visit Ask Boots to see how helpful this can be.  Key features include:

  • In-depth information on more than 180 common conditions
  • Evaluation of over 1500 treatments
  • Assessment of 23 common operations and tests
  • Decision-support guidelines to help patients assess their options
  • Search tips to help them navigate to the right information
  • Regular updates to include new evidence and drug guidelines


Recent research: seven studies on diet, supplements & smoking

Here are a couple of studies on smoking, a couple on B vitamins, a couple on vitamin D, and an intriguing study on iron.  The smoking papers underline the varieties of damage this habit produces.  So the Pasco et al study shows that, for women, being a smoker is associated with double the risk of developing subsequent major depression.  The Strandberg research challenges any notion of "Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die".  This study of 1658 men reports that "During the 26-year follow-up of this socioeconomically homogeneous male cohort, HRQoL (quality of life) deteriorated with an increase in daily cigarettes smoked in a dose-dependent manner.

Handouts & questionnaires for problem solving & behavioural activation

Here are a series of forms, questionnaires and handouts that I use regularly in my work.  The problem solving diagram is a recurring theme - both at the start of therapy and as a sheet to return to when reviewing and considering additional therapeutic options.  Other sheets are classic variants on the tools used by many cognitive behavioural therapists - with occasional alternatives and additions, that I've come up with over the years, thrown in as well.

The CAGE questionnaire as a screen for alcohol problems

An article in one of this month's editions of the Journal of the American Medical Association celebrates the publication of the CAGE alcohol screening questionnaire by Charles Ewing 25 years ago.  CAGE is a mnemonic to help remember the four simple questions.  "Have you ever ...

1.) felt the need to cut down your drinking?
2.) felt annoyed by criticism of your drinking?
3.) had guilty feelings about drinking?
4.) taken a morning eye opener?

An affirmative answer to 2 or 3 of these questions makes an alcohol problem likely, while a score of 4 suggests a diagnosis of alcoholism is almost certain. 

The questions can be used in most clinical settings to identify people who need to be checked out more fully.  In the United States, 30% of primary care physicians report  regularly screening for substance abuse.  Of these physicians 55% use the CAGE.  See too the January blog posting on The demon drink. 

Recent research: half a dozen studies on cognitive therapy

Here are half a dozen recent studies involving cognitive therapy (CBT).  The first by Craigie et al explores the use of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) to treat generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).  Although, as one would expect, MBCT helped GAD sufferers, it was noteworthy that results "fall well short of outcomes achieved by past research".  This adds to my concern that mindfulness training may at times be being over-hyped - see a blog I wrote in September for for more on this.  The next study by Cuijpers et al also suggests limitations to the march of CBT with interpersonal psychotherapy looking a somewhat better candidate for prevention of depression onset.  I guess one could argue that CBT can - and probably more often should - include  behavioural interventions to promote improved relationships.  Click here for tools that can help this approach.   The third piece of research by Grey et al is exciting.  It challenges the Alice in Wonderland dodo bird suggestion that "everyone has won, and all must have prizes"

Personality, extroversion & compassion 2

Having written the first blog posting on Personality, extroversion & compassion yesterday, I realized I wanted to add one or two further comments.  These comments are mainly about scores on the Big five aspects scales (BFAS) and about "personality" in general.  I've also made these comments downloadable as a BFAS background information sheet.