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This Week in JAMA
April 7, 2004

This Week in JAMA

JAMA. 2004;291(13):1535. doi:10.1001/jama.291.13.1535
Home-Based Depression Treatment for Older Adults

Chronically ill, homebound older adults have a higher risk of depression, but being diagnosed and receiving treatment may be less likely than among socially integrated adults in the same age group. Ciechanowski and colleaguesArticlereport results of a randomized trial of a brief home-based psychotherapy program to detect and treat minor depression and dysthymia in low-income, homebound, chronically ill older adults. At a 12-month follow-up, patients in the intervention group were more likely to have complete remission from depression, experience a reduction in depressive symptoms by at least 50%, and report significantly improved functional and emotional well-being compared with patients in the usual care group. In an editorial,ArticleLyness discusses the efficacy and challenges of depression treatment in later life.

Ejaculation Frequency and Prostate Cancer Risk

Several studies have sought to determine whether sexual activity is associated with prostate cancer risk with mixed results. Leitzmann and colleagues compared data on ejaculation frequency during 2 decades of adulthood and in the past year with incident prostate cancer to examine whether sexual activity is related to prostate cancer risk. They found no association of ejaculation frequency with subsequent risk of prostate cancer.

Treating Pharyngitis

Guidelines for the treatment of pharyngitis vary in their recommendations for throat cultures and prescription of antibiotics. McIsaac and colleagues compared several alternative strategies for the diagnosis and treatment of acute sore throat and assessed diagnostic sensitivity and specificity, the total and unnecessary antibiotics prescribed, and the treatment of group A streptococcus pharyngitis at the initial visit. They found that strategies including throat cultures had the highest sensitivity and specificity; in adults, a clinical prediction rule to select patients for throat cultures had high sensitivity and specificity. Unnecessary antibiotic use was minimized when prescription followed a positive rapid antigen test or throat culture result.

Recovery From Disability Among Older Adults

Elderly individuals may have episodes when they need assistance in accomplishing basic activities of daily living (ADLs), but information on the likelihood and time course of recovering independence is lacking. Hardy and Gill report results of a prospective study of initially ADL-independent older adults of whom slightly more than half experienced disability during the study and in whom the time course of recovery and recovery-related factors were assessed. Among those who became newly disabled, 81% recovered their independence within a year and the majority remained independent for at least 6 months. Three or more months of disability, cognitive impairment, frailty, and disability in 3 or 4 ADLs were associated with a diminished likelihood of recovery.

Inhaled Nitric Oxide in Acute Lung Injury

Inhaled nitric oxide improves oxygenation in patients with acute lung injury, but whether it benefits longer-term clinical outcomes has not been clearly demonstrated. Taylor and colleaguesArticle report results of a randomized trial of low-dose inhaled nitric oxide compared with nitrogen gas administered to patients with moderately severe acute lung injury and without sepsis or nonpulmonary organ dysfunction. The study failed to document a beneficial effect of nitric oxide on any of the outcome variables including days alive and eligible for extubation, mortality, or adverse events. In an editorial,Article Adhikari and Granton discuss why nitric oxide is unlikely to improve long-term clinical outcomes in patients with acute lung injury or acute respiratory distress syndrome.

A Piece of My Mind

"Had Mr B had a stroke? Was he competent—and so can legally refuse all procedures as he is doing? Or was he incompetent—and can't consent to any procedure?" From "Name Brand Medically Necessary: Do Not Substitute."

Medical News & Perspectives

Advocates of stenting to treat carotid artery stenosis are clashing with those who say that endarterectomy should remain the standard of care.

Clinician's corner

Scientific Review/Clinical Applications
The efficacy and adverse event profiles of 2 estrogens commonly prescribed to treat postmenopausal hot flashes are reviewed in Part 1Articleof this article. Part 2Articlediscusses initiating estrogen therapy for a perimenopausal woman with symptoms and discontinuing treatment for a long-term user.


Relating basic science to benefit for individual patients.

JAMA Patient Page

For your patients: Information about sore throat.