Treating Cyberchondria ….

…or How Healthcare Professionals Calm Online Self-Diagnosers!

Cyberchondia infographic

For all those that now have their new smartphone or tablet in hand and ready to browse for medical information online, how do those in the medical profession best deal with patients that walk in with their own “diagnosis?” Here’s a take on the “Cyberchondria” syndrome from a doctor’s perspective.


You spent years going through the rigors of med school and dealing with the grueling demands of residency. Not to mention, you’ve probably provided quality care to countless patients during your time practicing medicine. Why then, are so many patients combative of your diagnoses?

One study points to the Internet as the leading cause of patient dissent. According to data gathered in the 2010 Pew Internet and American Life Project, eight in 10 Americans use the Internet to research symptoms online.

So as a 21 century physician, how are you supposed to contest the opinion of the all-knowing Web without insulting your patients? Well, it’s going to take a little patience and plenty of communication.


While online searches can occasionally lead to correct self-diagnosis, many times they just cause anxiety or what’s referred to as cyberchondria: an unfounded anxiety about one’s wellness brought on by self-diagnoses from information and medical websites. Continue reading Treating Cyberchondria ….

A Sweet Trick to Help You Conquer Cravings

Christmas milkshaBy Johannah Sakimura

Published Dec 16, 2013

Researchers are now using a powerful tool to investigate the science behind food cravings: the chocolate milkshake.

Scientists have long known that foods — particularly high-fat and high-sugar foods — activate reward pathways in the brain, which may explain why some treats (including a decadent chocolate milkshake) can be so downright irresistible. Now, a research team at the Oregon Research Institute is looking at whether sugar or fat is the primary driver of cravability. To study this relationship, researchers compared participants’ brain activity after tasting four different formulations of milkshakes: a low-fat/low-sugar milkshake, a low-fat/high-sugar milkshake, a high-fat/low-sugar milkshake, and a high-fat/high-sugar milkshake. (The researchers upped the fat content by replacing 2% milk with half and half and increased the sugar content by adding more sugar syrup.)

Their findings, published this month in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, suggest that sugar may be the bigger concern if you’re struggling to control your appetite. The high-sugar/low-fat milkshake and low-sugar/high-fat milkshake were nearly equivalent in calorie content, but the high-sugar milkshake caused greater activation in areas of the brain associated with reward and motivation — the regions that may prompt you to keep sipping even though you’re no longer truly hungry. Further, increasing the sugar content of the milkshake while keeping the fat content the same increased the brain’s response, while increasing the fat content when the sugar content was stable had no effect. While both sweet and fatty foods can be very rewarding to your brain, it appears that sugar may be the stronger temptation.

Take a Sugar Inventory

If you struggle with food cravings and overeating, reducing your sugar intake may be a good place to start. Not only could it help you stay in better control of your eating, it can also reduce your risk for heart attack, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and other diseases that have been linked to a sugary diet. Continue reading A Sweet Trick to Help You Conquer Cravings

7 Easy Tips for Reducing Back Strains

7-minute workout poster
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July 2, 2012 by Rebecca Shafer, J.D.
I think every person has experienced a lumbar strain at some point in their lives.  Whether it be from an acute trauma such as a fall or impact, or from simply lifting too much too fast, the end result is no fun. Lumbar strains are very common workplace injuries, if not the most common injury. These strains cost the employer thousands of dollars in claims expense and lost productivity.

So how do you address this problem?  It would be fantastic if there were some sort of universal answer, but sadly there is not.  Every employer is different, and more importantly every employee is different.  Everyone brings different risk exposures to the table, so you have to look within your own shop and see where to try and reduce the risk.  We list seven factors to take into account.

1. Rotate job duties and staff tasks

If an employee’s job is to lift 10lb boxes off the line and place onto a pallet to wrap up and take to shipping, after a few hours that 10lb box feels like it weighs 50lbs.  Then imagine that is your job day in and day out, week after week, month after month.  Combined with the lifting are the ergonomic factors, body habitus, and overall strength. So just lifting what seems to be a “light weight” box is more complicated than it seems.

A lot of companies have started job rotation. This means that every hour or two, employees move to another part of the plant and do a different type of job for a while, and then they move again and so on until the end of the day.  The list could change every week, and the duration and job lists change, so each employee is not doing the exact same thing at the exact same time every day.

The theory behind this is in different tasks, at different times, one can only exert certain muscles while giving other muscles a much needed break, especially in a heavy manual labor type job.  Companies that have implemented this theory have had decreases in injuries, and better work performance.

2. Teach proper lifting techniques

Every employer I have been to has a sign on the wall by the loading dock that talks about using smart lifting techniques.  “Lift with your legs, not your back” the sign might say, or my personal favorite, “work smarter not harder.”  Getting employees to utilize proper lifting techniques is not an easy task, but it is something that must be a constant reminder re-enforced with proper training.  Make another employee the “lifting coach” so workers can go to them with questions or concerns.  Have a contest to see who can catch the first person lifting with an improper technique and hand out a gas card as a reward.  There is a large variety of ways to get workers involved and you will see reduced claim activity because of it.

3. If that fails, bring in a therapist or physician to review ergonomics

Sometimes workers will not listen to anything you have to say about lifting techniques.  Sometimes the only way a person learns is by experiencing it themselves.  To avoid this have a therapist or doctor come in to talk about the importance of exercises and stretching before heavy work commences.  They could also talk about lifting techniques and the risks involved if these techniques are not followed.  If only 2-3 workers get the hint and take it to heart, you may see 2-3 less serious back injury claims.

4. Pre-employment physicals

If there is heavy work that needs to be done on a regular basis, properly screen candidates to see if they can do this work without difficulty before starting the job.  I have seen several claims in the past where people are injured because they weigh 140lbs, are 5’6”, and are trying to manually lift and move 150lbs. There is no way lifting more than your body weight is safe, no matter how great of shape you are in.  So before assigning workers to certain jobs, get a physical to better understand their capabilities. The employee will be grateful if there is a way to prevent them from injuring their back or from sustaining a hernia.

5. Palletizing

This is pretty simple, instead of moving box after box after box onto your trucks for delivery, always stack them on a pallet and get a pallet jack or hi-lo to load the pallet onto the truck.  This way workers are not going in and out of the truck a million times not carrying various weights, which could lead to injury.  Being able to palletize will depend on the product and demand, but may be an idea not implemented before.

6. Use boxes that have reinforced handles.

If there is a decent amount of boxed weight or you have had a problem with handles breaking or ripping in the past, consider moving the product to a box or packing material with reinforced handles. A lot of distributors make this an option these days and the costs associated are not as bad as one would think.  Do research, trend injuries, and try some products out to see if a difference is made.  At the very least it does not hurt to have a more-stable product that workers can easily maneuver.

7. Reduce weights or products from suppliers

I know of grocery stores that had constant problems with 80-100lb boxes of meat because the handles constantly kept ripping or breaking, leading to shoulder injuries.  They saw many problems they demanded their meat provider break the boxes down to 40-50lb with reinforced handles, or else they were going to be searching for a new meat provider.  Sure enough, the provider did as they demanded and the grocery store saw a significant decrease in the amount of shoulder and back strains.

Providers may have this option available, but because you never asked, they never gave it to you.  Now this does not mean to call up your providers and demand that they do whatever you say, just ask them if they have any other packing options, or packaging options, and see what they say, then go from there.


Use this as a To-Do list to investigate what options exist for reducing your strain injuries in your workplace.  Remember to keep track of the numbers, and see which techniques help and which ones do not.  This will vary per employer, so think about where your high risk areas are and what you can do to reduce your exposure.  Any safety implementation is better than nothing at all.
Author Rebecca Shafer, JD, President of Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is a national expert in the field of workers compensation. She is a writer, speaker, and website publisher. Her expertise is working with employers to reduce workers compensation costs, and her clients include airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality, and manufacturing. She is the author of the #1 selling book on cost containment, Manage Your Workers Compensation: Reduce Costs 20-50% www.WCManual.comContact:

Editor Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher.





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Turn It Down! And Save Your Hearing

Man wearing large hearing protection headset holding earbudsIt’s not smart to pump music from your smartphone or mp3 player into your ear buds a high volumes.

Today’s ubiquitous MP3 players permit users to listen to crystal-clear tunes at high volume for hours on end – a marked improvement on the days of the Walkman. But as per Tel Aviv University research, these advances have also turned personal listening devices into a serious health hazard, with teenagers as the most at-risk group.

One in four teens is in danger of early hearing loss as a direct result of these listening habits, says Prof. Chava Muchnik of TAU’s Department of Communication Disorders in the Stanley Steyer School of Health Professions at the Sackler Faculty of Medicine and the Sheba Medical Center. With her colleagues Dr. Ricky Kaplan-Neeman, Dr. Noam Amir, and Ester Shabtai, Prof. Muchnik studied teens’ music listening habits and took acoustic measurements of preferred listening levels.

The results, reported in the International Journal of Audiology, demonstrate clearly that teens have harmful music-listening habits when it comes to iPods and other MP3 devices. “In 10 or 20 years it will be too late to realize that an entire generation of young people is suffering from hearing problems much earlier than expected from natural aging,” says Prof. Muchnik.

Hearing loss before middle age. 

Hearing loss caused by continuous exposure to loud noise is a slow and progressive process. People may not notice the harm they are causing until years of accumulated damage begin to take hold, warns Prof. Muchnik. Those who are misusing MP3 players today might find that their hearing begins to deteriorate as early as their 30’s and 40’s – much earlier than past generations.

Continue reading Turn It Down! And Save Your Hearing

In Nova Scotia The Eyes Have It.

Safety goggle poster by WPAHalifax, NS ( – Nova Scotian employers and employees are reducing workplace eye injuries by participating in interactive training.

More than 4,400 Nova Scotian employers and employees have been trained on how to protect their eyes through workshops offered by the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) in the last two years.

“Everyone deserves to come home safely from work,” said Labour and Advanced Education Minister Kelly Regan. “These eye-safety workshops have been making a significant difference and the province’s participation is just one more way to encourage everyone to start thinking and caring more about workplace safety.”

The 90-minute motivational workshop features real-life stories, emotional visuals, and interactive exercises. As a result of this training, 92 per cent of participants said they would support wearing eye protection in the workplace.

“The workplace safety strategy calls for more education and training,” said Workers’ Compensation Board CEO Stuart MacLean. “These workshops will have a real impact on the number of eye injuries around the province. Employers and workers understand the risk and are making changes.”

Heritage Gas has had zero eye-injury incidents since it began participating in this training two years ago and started requiring employees to wear protective eyewear at all times.

“These workshops have helped our employees realize just how traumatic an eye injury can be and understand how to prevent them,” said Steve Clouthier, director of health, safety, environment and operations with Heritage Gas. “As a result, we have adopted a holistic approach to eye safety in the workplace and we also encourage our people to apply that knowledge in their personal lives.”

The CNIB offers workshops throughout Atlantic Canada.

“A few devastating seconds is all it takes to go from 20/20 vision to no vision when a worker isn’t wearing protective eyewear,” said Clarissa Harris LeBreton, vision health promotion and marketing co-ordinator with CNIB. “Through our ongoing training and education efforts, CNIB is helping to reduce workplace eye injuries one workshop at a time.”

The province is stepping up its safety efforts by hiring more safety inspectors, working with industry to ensure officers are getting to more high-risk workplaces, and improving documentation and follow-up of compliance orders. 

Covered California Launches Small Business Health Insurance Portal

Covered California logo with photo of woman holding "We're Open" signLOS ANGELES ( — Small business owners can now get coverage for their employees via California’s health insurance exchange that will kick in as early as Jan. 1, 2014.

The Small Business Health Options section of Covered California launched Monday, allowing small business owners with up to 50 eligible employees to shop for coverage effective as soon as New Year’s Day.

“Covered California has created the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) to help the small business owners to get the best value for themselves and their employees,” said Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California. Lee says more than 1,500 small business owners have been exploring whether SHOP is their best option.

Eligible employees work an average of 30 hours a week, but business owners can choose to offer coverage to part-time employees who work at least 20 hours.

Starting in 2014, purchasing health insurance through Covered California will be the only way small business owners can access federal tax credits to help offset contributions toward employee premiums. Small businesses are eligible for these federal tax credits if they employ fewer than 25 full-time-equivalent employees, pay employees an average of less than $50,000 annually and contribute at least 50 percent of their employees’ premium cost.

“For example, a beauty shop with 10 full-time employees and total wages of $250,000 that purchases insurance through Covered California’s SHOP may be eligible for a $35,000 tax credit in 2014,” Lee said. “We know that the tax credit is meaningful for a lot of small business that have been struggling to obtain quality, affordable coverage for their employees.”

Special Bulletins

SHOP Webinar: 
Online Enrollment & Quoting
November 25th, 2013; 3 pm – 4:30 pm
View Recorded Webinar
PowerPoint Presentation