Eyespy: December 2016
Pocket personality—Does the phone you own reflect your personality? According to a study published in Cyberpsychology, Behaviour, and Social Networking (http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/pdf/10.1089/cyber.2016.0324), there might be more of a link than you’d think. Overall, 576 self selected participants completed an online survey—186 of whom were men and 378 women, with an age range of 15 to 74 years (mean age 29 years). Information on current smartphone ownership was collected: 54.1% of the study group owned an iPhone, 38.1% an Android, 3.0% a smartphone that ran Windows, 0.6% an “other” smartphone, 2.6% a mobile phone that was not a smartphone, and 0.5% did not own a mobile phone. For the purposes of the study, only iPhone and Android users (92.3% of the sample) were analysed, and three participants who identified their gender as “other” were excluded, leaving a sample size of 529. Participants filled out a series of online questionnaires designed to measure socioeconomic status and personality. The study found that women were 2.25 times more likely to own an iPhone compared with men (P<0.01). Android users displayed higher levels of honesty-humility(P<0.01), which according to the study’s authors meant that they were more likely to “avoid manipulating others for personal gain, feel little temptation to break rules, are uninterested in lavish wealth and luxuries, and feel no special entitlement to elevated social status.” iPhone users displayed higher levels of emotionality (P<0.01) and were more likely to view their phone as a status object (P<0.01) compared with Android users. Next time you get your phone out in public, be mindful what it is saying about you.
Harbinger of heartbreak—Medical students are well known for being anxious about their health, but a BMJ Open study (doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2016-012914) suggests that the phenomenon is not just an in joke and could result in serious health problems. Health anxiety was defined as a “persistent preoccupation of having or acquiring a serious illness, misattribution of bodily symptoms and urge to seek medical advice in the absence of physical pathology” and was quantified using the Whiteley Index, a self report screening tool. In this study, the incidence of ischaemic heart disease (IHD) was studied among 7052 participants during 12 years of follow-up. The study found that “6.1% of health anxiety cases developed IHD compared with 3.0% of non-cases, yielding a gender adjusted hazard ratio of 2.12 (95% confidence interval 1.52 to 2.95).” The authors conclude that their findings “illustrate the dilemma for clinicians between reassuring the patient that current physical symptoms of anxiety do not represent heart disease, contrasted against the emerging knowledge on how anxiety, over time, may be causally associated with increased risk of IHD.”
Hold still—Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) is a common condition that crops up in medical school examination vignettes, but who knew that having a surgical procedure could precede its development? A study published in Neurology Clinical Practice (10.1212/CPJ.0000000000000329) retrospectively looked at medical records of patients with a diagnosis of GBS between January 1995 and June 2014 at Mayo Clinic, and collected information on basic demographics, medical history, and surgical history. The study group was defined as those patients “who developed post surgical GBS, defined as GBS symptom onset within eight weeks of a surgery or procedure.” These patients were compared with patients with GBS with no surgical history. Overall, 208 patients met the inclusion criteria, 31 of whom developed post-surgical GBS (15%), which according to the study’s authors was “unexpectedly high.” Factors associated with GBS after surgery were age (P=0.003), malignancy (P=0.0001), active malignancy (P=0.05), or pre-existing autoimmune disorder (P=0.001). It’s important to remember that during the study period more than 50 000 procedures were performed, making the occurrence of GBS after surgery a rare complication. However, the study authors said that for patients who experience GBS symptoms within eight weeks of a procedure “a search for malignancy or autoimmune disease might be warranted.”
Journey to weight loss—The daily commute is a miserable daily chore for many, but what if we changed the way we see it? A longitudinal study published in Lancet Public Health (doi:10.1016/S2468-2667(16)30006-8) suggests that the mode of transport selected for daily travel to work has an impact on body mass index (BMI), which has implications for overall health. In this study, 5861 participants provided a set of baseline data and a set of repeat assessment data a median of 4.4 years later. The study found that “individuals who transitioned from car commuting at baseline to active or public transportation modes at follow-up had a decrease in BMI of −0.30 kg/m (95% CI −0.47 to −0.13; p=0.0005). Conversely, individuals who transitioned from active commuting at baseline to car commuting at follow-up had a BMI increase of 0.32 kg/m (0.13 to 0.50; p=0.008).” Hypothesised confounding factors for the association between commute mode transition and BMI change, such as socioeconomic data and type of job (eg, sedentary or active) were adjusted for in statistical analyses. People who use public transport might think that their commute is quite sedentary; however, the study’s authors point out that “the incidental physical activity associated with the use of public transport, such as walking to and from transit stops, might play an important part in obesity prevention.” Having to stand up when you can’t get a seat on the bus doesn’t seem so bad anymore.
Compiled by Katy Bettany