This week in health news: Watch your wine servings

Use a narrow glass! Credit: Richer Pour.
Use a narrow glass!
Credit: Richer Pour

Watch how much wine you pour

Location of study: U.S.

Study subjects: 73 university students and staff members of legal drinking age; 46 females, 27 males

Results: People tend to pour less wine when they drink from a narrow glass rather than a wide one, say researchers at Iowa State and Cornell universities. In the study, which was published in Substance Use and Misuse, people poured around 12 percent more wine into a wide glass than a standard one. They also poured more when holding a glass as opposed to placing the glass on a table. A standard serving of wine is five ounces, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Significance: “People have trouble assessing volumes,” says Laura Smarandescu, study co-author and assistant professor of marketing at Iowa State. “They tend to focus more on the vertical than the horizontal measures. This helps us understand drinking behaviors to see how these cues influence individual pours. How people pour [gives] a more complete picture about how people drink.”

Noisy hospitals and busy staff might mean better health care

Location of study: U.S.

Study subjects: Data study

Results: Patient satisfaction may not be the best way to measure how good a hospital is, according to a study conducted by Philadelphia’s Thomas Jefferson University. Elements like noise or unresponsive nurses are common cause for complaint from patients, but the researchers point to studies linking doctors with high caseloads to better medical performance. The study will be published in Risk Management and Insurance Review.

Significance: The study’s lead author, Robert D. Lieberthal, assistant professor in the Jefferson School of Population Health, aims to provide an accurate gauge for insurance companies to set reimbursement rates for hospitals and decide which hospitals they should offer to patients for care. “Based on this study,” he says, “the hospitals that have the best survival outcomes are not doing the best job of satisfying patients.”

Older minority patients have a greater risk of post-operative complications than white patients

Location of study: U.S.

Study subjects: 587,314 white, black, and Hispanic patients 65 years and older who underwent general, orthopedic or vascular surgery in 600 hospitals.

Results: African-Americans and Hispanics have a greater risk of developing complications following surgery than Caucasians, and the difference can also be affected by a patient’s gender and pre-existing medical conditions, say researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing. These findings are published today in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. The study concludes that older minority patients are often sicker going into surgery and thereby at greater risk for complications.

Significance: Not all complications are the same: “The risk of developing certain post-surgical complications differs for men and women — even men and women of the same ethnic and racial backgrounds,” says lead author Dr. J. Margo Brooks Carthon.


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