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The puzzle of the placebo effect

The placebo effect remains an ‘incontrovertible part’ of what clinicians see on a daily basis and medicine should seek to understand why, according to Dr Paddy Barrett Be it immunotherapy, CRISPR gene editing or the Apple Watch ECG, there is little doubt we are firmly in the realm of a technology-based medical future. Thankfully, this…

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A threat to rest and recuperation?

George Winter questions whether bedside entertainment systems for patients may do more harm than good In The Convalescent (1825), Charles Lamb (1775-1834) writes: “If there be a regal solitude, it is a sick-bed.” The patient, says Lamb, “… has nothing to think of but how to get well… makes the most of himself… Sometimes he…

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Finding the balance in regulation

Regulation is tricky. On the one hand, standards should be idealistic and be a benchmark for services to aspire towards. On the other, a regulator needs to be pragmatic, which means recognising that the resources necessary for improvement are often not available and are outside the power of the individual service provider. Knowing where the…

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Meeting our patients eye-to-eye

Dr Neasa Conneally recounts a patient interaction from medical school that still sticks with her One of the great benefits of the GP training scheme is that the weekly teaching time is very protected in a way that teaching in other schemes often is not. As well as clinical cases and research, at least half…

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Colour – a matter of perception

Dr Muiris Houston writes about the challenge of being a colour-blind doctor and the meaning colours have in different cultures Does it matter if a doctor is colour-blind? I can think of a few situations where it might be a challenge. For instance, when your patient describes a tablet by its colour but with no…

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The puzzle of the placebo effect

The placebo effect remains an ‘incontrovertible part’ of what clinicians see on a daily basis and medicine should seek to understand why, according to Dr Paddy Barrett Be it immunotherapy, CRISPR gene editing or the Apple Watch ECG, there is little doubt we are firmly in the realm of a technology-based medical future. Thankfully, this…

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In pursuit of a life beyond medicine

If we wish to peak professionally, we need a matching valley for life outside of work, writes Dr Michael Conroy I wanted to start with a question. It’s one that niggles and nags at me, one I’ve started putting to other doctors when the conversation flags. Imagine you have a first date tomorrow. First impressions…

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The problem with Angola

In his time as Minister for Health, the former Taoiseach Brian Cowen once famously referred to the Department of Health as ‘Angola’. This was due to the number of political landmines that were ready to explode in the face of unsuspecting Ministers. The quip is regularly trotted-out by political reporters on the appointment of a…

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Science for everyone

Title: Humanology: A Scientist’s Guide to Our Amazing Existence Author: Prof Luke O’Neill Publisher: Gill Books, Dublin: 2018 Reviewer: George Winter “Achoo, awunchoo.” The MC taps the microphone. “Welcome, Prof Luke O’Neill and Humanology!” The guitarist bounds onstage … minus guitar? Well, today he’s on keyboards – a laptop – and his literary debut is…

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