April 28, 2017

Weekend reads: The doctor who went to jail for patient confidentiality

Daily Briefing

The Daily Briefing editorial team highlights several interesting health care stories and studies that didn't quite make this week's Briefing. What are you reading this weekend? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter.

Sam Bernstein's reads

Are you smarter than a 4-year-old? You almost certainly are—except when it comes to memorizing rhymes, Jesse Singal reports for New York Magazine's "Science of Us." According to a new, small study published in Development Science, preliterate 4-year-olds outperform their parents and young adults when it comes to memorizing previously unfamiliar short rhymes. The researchers hypothesize "that kids get deeply attuned to these sorts of rhymes since so much culture is transmitted to them that way," Singal writes.

A mental health pioneer passes away. Joseph Lifschutz, who passed away on April 15 at 92, had a career full of clinical accomplishments—but he might be better remembered for the weekend he spent in jail in 1969, defending his claim that the legal privilege of confidentiality should be afforded to psychotherapists. Lifschutz had been asked to provide his notes from his sessions with a patient who was suing a third-party in an unrelated matter, but Lifschutz refused to share his files or even confirm that he treated the patient. "His principled stand eventually established a legal precedent and influenced a Supreme Court decision asserting that the right of confidentiality that applies to lawyers, clergy members and married couples also extends to psychotherapists," Sam Roberts writes for the New York Times.

Rachel Schulze's

How many breakfasts did you have today? It's becoming more popular for Americans to eat breakfast twice—an Instagram search for #secondbreakfast turns up 87,000 posts. While second breakfast has "long been popular" in Europe, the trend is a relatively recent development in the United States, Ellen Byrne reports for the Wall Street Journal. Darren Seifer of the NPD Group, a market research group that tracks when people eat, said the trend reflects a change from one, large breakfast to multiple, smaller morning meals—and according to Jeanine Bassett, vice president of global consumer insights at General Mills Inc., that second breakfast is usually smaller and a little more savory than the first.

College debt and older Americans. Older U.S. residents are increasingly carrying student loan debt—but it's not theirs. A recent Washington Post report spotlights a fourfold increase over the past decade in the number of U.S. residents older than age 60 who have student loan debt—and the amount owed has doubled. But according to the Post, the older people carrying debt aren't "onetime hippies still paying off" old debt," but rather "baby boomers covering education for their children and grandchildren." 

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