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Medical students highly associated with alcohol abuse

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New Delhi: A team of US researchers has found that medical students, especially who are young, single and under high debt are twice as likely to abuse alcohol than their peers who are not attending medical school.

Burnout factors such as emotional exhaustion or feelings of depersonalization were highly associated with alcohol abuse or dependence among the medical students.

“Our findings clearly show there is reason for concern,” said Liselotte Dyrbye from Mayo Clinic in the US.

“We recommend institutions pursue a multifaceted solution to address related issues with burnout, the cost of medical education and alcohol abuse,” Dyrbye added in the paper published in the journal Academic Medicine.

The researchers surveyed 12,500 medical students and one-third of those responded. Approximately 1,400 of that subgroup experienced clinical alcohol abuse or dependence.

The results indicate three factors that were independently associated — a younger age than most peers in medical school, being unmarried and amount of educational debt.

No statistical difference was found between differing years of medical school or between men and women.

“In our paper we recommend wellness curricula for medical schools, identifying and remediating factors within the learning environment contributing to stress and removal of barriers to mental health services,” added first author Eric Jackson.(IANS)

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New Smart Speaker that Tracks Baby’s Breathing Using White Noise

Researchers, including one of Indian-origin from Washington University, develops a new smart speaker to monitor movement in babies

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Smart Speaker
Researchers, have developed a new smart speaker skill that lets a device use white noise to both soothe sleeping babies and monitor their breathing and movement. Pixabay

Researchers, including one of Indian-origin from Washington University, have developed a new smart speaker skill that lets a device use white noise to both soothe sleeping babies and monitor their breathing and movement.

White noise is a combination of different sound frequencies, which makes a seemingly random soothing sound that can help cover up other noises that might wake up a sleeping baby.

“If we could use this white noise feature as a contactless way to monitor infants’ hand and leg movements, breathing and crying, then the smart speaker becomes a device that can do it all, which is really exciting,” said Indian-origin researcher and study co-author Shyam Gollakota, Associate Professor at Washington University.

Smart Speaker
White Noise feature as a contactless way to monitor infants’ hand and leg movements, breathing and crying, then the smart speaker becomes a device that can do it all (Representational Image). Pixabay

To use white noise as a breathing monitor, the team needed to develop a method to detect tiny changes between the white noise a smart speaker plays and the white noise that gets reflected back from the infant’s body into the speaker’s array of microphones.

The prototype device, called BreathJunior, tracks both small motions — such as the chest movement involved in breathing — and large motions — such as babies moving around in their cribs. It can also pick up the sound of a baby crying.

The prototype device was first tested on an infant simulator showing the system could accurately detect respiratory rates between 20 and 60 breaths per minute.

BreathJunior was then tested on five babies in a neonatal intensive care unit, with the babies connected to wired respiratory monitors for comparison.

Again, the system proved accurate, tracking respiratory rates up to 65 breaths per minute, closely matching the rates detected by wired, hospital-grade devices.

“We start out by transmitting a random white noise signal. But we are generating this random signal, so we know exactly what the randomness is,” said study author Anran Wang.

“That signal goes out and reflects off the baby. Then the smart speaker’s microphones get a random signal back. Because we know the original signal, we can cancel out any randomness from that and then we’re left with only information about the motion from the baby,” Wang said.

Smart Speaker
Smart Speaker monitors Baby’s Breathing and Crying. Pixabay

“BreathJunior holds potential for parents who want to use white noise to help their child sleep and who also want a way to monitor their child’s breathing and motion,” Wang added.

While BreathJunior currently uses white noise to track breathing and motion, the researchers would like to expand its capabilities so that it could also use other soothing sounds like lullabies.

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The study is scheduled to be presented at the MobiCom 2019 conference in Los Cabos, Mexico on October 22. (IANS)