Beth and Sister Thèrése Looking Down at Their Phones Like All the World (Photo: Nick Davila)

When Christmas rolled around last week, perhaps some thought of Jesus or maybe the Pope, various elders and priests. All those men preaching from pulpits about being good Christians.

But I thought of Sisters Kapinga and Thèrése, two of the hundreds of thousands of Catholic nuns who work tirelessly behind the scenes and then sit quietly in the pews around the world.

These two sisters — each heading up the two competing Catholic orders in my former Peace Corps Village — are anything but quiet. They do more in one day than most of the village men accomplish in a…


Nick Davila sets up his video gear in 2016 as Caitlin waits to be interviewed for our Kickstarter video.

I hadn’t been in Kamponde more than 10 minutes when one of my students from long ago approached, welcomed me with back with a double-fisted handshake, then looked over my shoulder and asked: “Where is Caitlin?”

One by one, over those first few hours back in my Peace Corps village in the heart of Congo, people approached me and asked to meet my daughter. I was hoping they had forgotten.

I had pledged during my last visit in 2006 to bring Caitlin back with me 10 years later, once she had turned 18, so that they could bless her, like…


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By Krysten Crawford

Published by Stanford Health Policy on Oct. 22

When it comes to rooting out wasteful spending in federal entitlement programs, attention has long focused on preventing beneficiaries from gaming the system.

A new Stanford study identifies a fresh cause for concern: the for-profit companies that the U.S. government increasingly tasks with providing benefits to Americans who are often poor, elderly or both.

In a new working paper, Maria Polyakova, an assistant professor of medicine, finds that outsourcing public assistance services to third parties can lead to unanticipated effects on prices as well as on which beneficiaries gain…


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By Beth Duff-Brown

Published by Stanford Health Policy on Oct. 21, 2019

Global warming and more days of extreme heat are exacerbating the health risks of pregnancy, particularly among African-American women, according to new Stanford-led research.

The maternal mortality rate among all women in the United States is already the worst of any industrialized nation. And black women are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related problems than white women.

“It is truly a crisis that in America, one of the wealthiest countries in the world, more women are dying from pregnancy or childbirth complications than in…


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Published by Stanford Health Policy on Sept. 9, 2019

I always find it hard to believe so many people are living in poverty: some 39.7 million Americans, or 12.3% of the population. It’s such a wealthy country, yet so many are poor.

In a twist that could be interpreted as good news — it doesn’t seem fair to say there is anything positive about living in poverty — I recently learned that older, low-income Americans tend to be healthier if they live in more affluent areas of the country.

Not only are they healthier, but their physical well-being is better…


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Published by Stanford Health Policy on Aug. 27

A task force of national health experts has released a draft recommendation to screen all adults 18 to 79 years for the hepatitis C virus (HCV), noting the opioid epidemic has fueled what has become the most common chronic bloodborne pathogen in the United States.

Cases of acute HCV have increased 3.5-fold over the last decade, particularly among young, white, injection drug users who live in rural areas. Women aged 15 to 44 have also been hit hard by the virus that is spread through contaminated blood.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task…


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Published by Stanford Health Policy on Aug. 8

Americans have witnessed repeated mass shootings. The carnage in Texas and Ohio last weekend claimed another 31 lives and has left the nation stunned and angry.

Many are demanding that members of Congress pass tougher gun-control laws; others blame mental health and violent video games for the rampant shootings.

Stanford Health Policy’s David Studdert — an expert on the public health epidemic of firearms violence — acknowledges that mass shootings are on the rise in the United States.

“It’s been a horrific weekend,” said Studdert, a professor of law at Stanford Law…


Photo: Unsplash/Paul Felberbauer

Published by Stanford Health Policy on July 25, 2019

Many primary-care physicians continue to join multispecialty group practices, such as the Palo Alto Medical Foundation and Stanford Health Care, instead of working in their own solo practices or in practices with only other primary care doctors.

Physicians in practices of nine or fewer dropped from 40% in 2013 to 35% in 2015; the rate of those in practices of 100 or more increased from 30% to 35% during the same period.

But is this growing trend having a positive impact on health-care use and spending?

Stanford Health Policy’s Loren Baker


By May Wong

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(First published May 31, 2019)

A new study by Stanford economists shows that giving fathers flexibility to take time off work in the months after their children are born improves the postpartum health and mental well-being of mothers.

In the study, slated for release by the National Bureau of Economic Research on June 3, Petra Persson and Maya Rossin-Slater examined the effects of a reform in Sweden that introduced more flexibility into the parental leave system. The 2012 law removed a prior restriction preventing a child’s mother and father from taking paid leave at the same time…


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(First published May 16, 2019)

U.S. government aid for treating children and adults with HIV and malaria in developing countries has done more than expand access to lifesaving interventions: It has changed how people around the world view the United States, according to a new study by researchers at the School of Medicine.

Compared with other types of foreign aid, investing in health is uniquely associated with a better opinion of the United States, improving its “soft power” and standing in the world, the study said.

Favorability ratings of the United States increased in proportion to health aid from 2002…

Beth Duff-Brown

Journalist for Stanford Health Policy

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