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Eight broadcasts featuring Leonard A. Jason from the Science to Patients Netherlands Program
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LaVome Robinson is proving the adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” in her work with African-American adolescents in Chicago.
Backed by a five-year grant of nearly $3 million from the National Institutes of Health, the professor of psychology is making a difference in the lives of at-risk teens through an intervention program—Success over Stress (S.O.S.)—which gives them skills in reducing stress, anxiety and aggression. S.O.S. includes 15 weekly group sessions during which the students learn to identify stress, understand its symptoms and causes, and manage it with a range of strategies.
“We give them strategies they can put in action—problem-solving strategies, relaxation strategies, thought-stopping strategies, and alternative-thinking strategies—so they can gain some control,” says Robinson. “By the end of the sessions, the teens can monitor their stress levels day-to-day, put a strategy in place when they need to, and generally maintain their equilibrium.”
Robinson and her research partner, Leonard Jason, designed S.O.S. to work for these kids, in this place, at this time. “The life of an African-American child in Chicago is radically different from the life of a white child in Chicago and even of an African-American child in other cities” says Robinson. “Yes, like other kids they worry about their grades or about their social lives, but the biggest thing they worry about is their safety in the midst of potentially explosive situations. Generic stress reduction programs just won’t help. So, we made sure that everything in the S.O.S. program—the identified sources of stress, the examples and case studies, the language used by the group facilitators—is relevant to these specific teens.”
Is it possible that a disease as impairing as Type II diabetes mellitus, congestive heart failure, multiple sclerosis, and end-stage renal disease could be repeatedly belittled and delegitimized by scientists and health care professionals? Tragically, this is the case for a devastating illness affecting over one million Americans, and these patients have been deprived of their basic rights to respect, appropriate diagnosis, and humane treatment.
In the beginning, patients with this illness had a credible name, myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), and diagnostic criteria that had been developed by the distinguished British physician, Dr. Melvin Ramsay. Yet, in 1988, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) renamed this illness chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Patients were unanimous in their disdain for this trivializing term, but they were no match for the supreme power and authority of the CDC. The new name placed patients around the world in a compromised position, as they were now forced to use a degrading and stigmatizing term in explaining their illness to family members, friends, work associates and medical personnel.
Click here to read more on Leonard Jason’s blog for Oxford University Press.