Inquiring Minds

Clash of Ideal and Real Stresses Med Students

Moral distress—negative feelings that arise when one knows the morally correct thing to do but cannot take action because of system constraints or hierarchies—had been highly studied in the nursing profession but never among medical students, until Vanderbilt University School of Medicine researchers tackled the subject. Dr. Bonnie Miller, associate dean for undergraduate medical education, leads the study, which has shown that episodes of moral distress are frequently experienced by VUSM students. Vanderbilt researchers have been awarded a $199,000 grant from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundation to further their work.

Sanctions Impact Iraqi Children with Leukemia

Iraqi children with leukemia paid a steep price for economic sanctions imposed by the United Nations against the Iraqi government, reveals a study led by Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center researchers. The sanctions were imposed in 1990 after the invasion of Kuwait and remained in effect until 2003. During that time a shortage of medications was widespread.

‘Dr. Haydar Frangoul, director of the Pediatric Stem Cell Transplant Program at Vanderbilt-Ingram, and colleagues from the Baghdad Medical College studied medical records of 651 children with acute lymphocytic leukemia. The proportion of patients receiving less than 50 percent of their prescribed chemotherapy because of medication shortages increased from 20.1 percent to 54.3 percent.
The findings were published in the July 24, 2008, issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
Szasz-Fabian Jozsef/istock  

Starbucks, Not Seagram’s

Not all recovering alcoholics smoke cigarettes, but almost all drink coffee, according to a study suggesting coffee could help addicts kick their habit. The results, by Dr. Peter Martin, director of the Vanderbilt Division of Addiction Medicine, and study co-author Michael Reich, a Vanderbilt medical student, were released online in July and featured in the October issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

The study found that 88 percent of the Alcoholics Anonymous participants surveyed drink coffee and 56.9 percent smoke cigarettes.

The study’s authors are now examining whether changes in coffee and cigarette use are predictive of recovery from alcoholism. The study was funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

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