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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Guidelines for Best Practices in Electronic Communications

Ontario Psychological Association
February 2015


Preamble Technology has been changing communication between psychological service providers and patients, referral sources, other healthcare providers and third-party payers. Members may be aware of websites, applications, and email communication tools that can be used to improve the delivery of patient care. Many of us use email extensively because it is fast, reliable, and convenient. These same characteristics, however, bring legal and liability risks, including a higher potential for privacy breaches.

As regulated health professionals, we have an obligation to maintain the confidentiality of our patients' personal health information (PHI) and to comply with privacy regulations (see Appendix A). Members need to consider how to communicate with and about patients while still protecting patient privacy. While email is fast and convenient, it also is often the least secure and the least private way to communicate.

 We are aware that many larger healthcare and academic settings now have policies stating that email should not be used to transmit any PHI. We are also aware that general guidelines for use of email suggest that it is not a secure form of communication for any personal information. Most guidelines for general email use suggest that information that is sensitive, confidential, potentially embarrassing, proprietary, personal, or classified should never be sent through email.

While members practicing within healthcare and academic settings may be familiar with their institution’s policies, those in community-based practice may not be as familiar with regulations and expectations regarding electronic communication. To clarify the responsibilities of members, the Ontario Psychological Association’s Communication and Member Services Committee is providing the following Guidelines for Best Practices in Electronic Communications.

The entire helpful guide is here.

Homeopathy not effective for treating any condition, Australian report finds

Report by top medical research body says ‘people who choose homeopathy may put their health at risk if they reject or delay treatments’

By Melissa Davey
The Guardian
Originally published March 11, 2015

Homeopathy is not effective for treating any health condition, Australia’s top body for medical research has concluded, after undertaking an extensive review of existing studies.

Homeopaths believe that illness-causing substances can, in minute doses, treat people who are unwell.

By diluting these substances in water or alcohol, homeopaths claim the resulting mixture retains a “memory” of the original substance that triggers a healing response in the body.

The entire article is here.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Mental health coverage unequal in many Obamacare plans

By Laura Ungar and Jayne O'Donnell
USA Today
Originally posted March 9, 2015

Insurance coverage for mental and physical illness remains unequal despite promises that Obamacare would help level the playing field, mental health advocates and researchers say.

A new study by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that consumer information on a quarter of the Obamacare plans that researchers examined appeared to go against a federal "parity" law designed to stop discrimination in coverage for people with mental health or addiction problems.

This makes it nearly impossible for consumers to find the best plan to cover their mental health needs, the research suggests.

The entire article is here.

Immune from Cyber-fire? The Psychological and Physiological Effects of Cyberwar

By Michael L. Gross, Dapna Canetti, & Israel Waismel-Manor
In: Binary Bullets: The Ethics of Cyberwarfare.
Edited by Fritz Allhoff, Adam Henschke, and Bradley Jay Strawser.
Oxford: Oxford University Press, forthcoming

Here is an excerpt:

Following an overview that describes the challenge that cyber-operations pose for the principle of noncombatant immunity, the following sections map out and analyze the harms of cyberwarfare. Consider, first, physiological harm.  Although no person has lost his life or suffered any kind of physical injury from a cyber-attack to date, the literature is replete with scenarios of death and devastation.  These come in the course of cyber-attacks on vital infrastructures that disrupt air and
rail transportation or poison water supplies. In many ways, these are similar to the consequences of conventional war. For the most part, however, modern cyberwarfare causes no physical injury. As a result, one may reasonably ask whether noncombatants enjoy protection from cyber-attacks that disrupt telecommunications, disable social media, or destroy, disclose or steal financial data and personal information. The answer hinges upon the psychological harm that victims suffer, particularly if belligerents target civilians and civilian infrastructures directly.  Extrapolating from studies of cyber-bullying, identity theft and ordinary burglary, and building upon the effects of simulated cyber-terrorism in the laboratory, we explore the psychological harms of cyberwarfare. Cyberwarfare is not benign but causes stress, anxiety and fear. Such mental suffering threatens to disrupt routine life, impair educational and workplace performance, impact significantly on the poor
and elderly, and increase public pressure on the government to act. Although most forms of psychological suffering are not as intense, prolonged or irreversible as bodily injury or loss of life, our analysis suggests that the psychological harm of cyberwar can affect well-being nonetheless.

The entire article is here.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Ethics and Psychology App will no longer function after April 1, 2015.

Due to cost factors, the Ethics and Psychology Android app will be discontinued.

Unfortunately, there has not been much interest.

The Growing Risk of Suicide in Rural America

Young people in the countryside have more guns, fewer doctors, and are more isolated than their urban counterparts—and a new study says they're killing themselves in greater numbers.

By Julie Beck
The Atlantic
Originally published March 10, 2015

In rural America, where there are more guns, fewer people, and fewer doctors than in the urban U.S., young people are at particular risk of suicide.

A study published Monday in JAMA Pediatrics analyzed suicides among people aged 10 to 24 between 1996 and 2010, and found that rates were nearly doubled in rural areas, compared to urban areas. While this gap existed in 1996 at the beginning of the data set, it widened over the course of this time period, according to Cynthia Fontanella, the lead author on the study, and a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center.

The entire article is here.

The Kids Are All Right

Have we made our children into moral monsters?

By Daniel Engber
Originally published March 16, 2015

We’re in the middle of a moral panic—a panic over morals. An op-ed posted Monday in the New York Times warns that our children don’t believe in moral facts. They don’t get that things are right or wrong; they don’t accept the inner truth of values. Should a person lie or cheat or kill to get ahead? Kids today, these kids today, they couldn’t say for sure. I mean, aren’t ethics just, like, a matter of opinion? Everyone totally gets to have their own opinions, amirite?

This Village of the Damned scenario, laid out by Fort Lewis College philosopher Justin McBrayer, has clearly struck a chord. As of Thursday, it sat among the Times’ five most emailed, viewed, and shared articles of the week, and has inspired more than 1,800 comments. McBrayer’s most alarming claim—the one that pushed his essay into Facebook feeds and Twitter timelines—tells us how the nation’s youth came to be so dissolute. If millennials haven’t learned respect for ethics, it’s because we grown-ups let them down.

The entire article is here.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

What is Free Will?

Closer to Truth
Interview with John Searle
PBS Series

What is Free Will? Our host Robert Lawrence Kuhn poses the question to John Searle, in an interview from our series "Closer To Truth," currently airing on PBS stations nationwide. Check your local listings for times.

Closer to the Truth web site.

Ethics, self-disclosure and our everyday multiple identities

APA’s Ethics Code speaks to our psychologies — and our clients’ psychologies — on many levels.

By Stephen Behnke, JD, PhD, MDiv
March 2015, Vol 46, No. 3
Print version: page 70

Here is an excerpt:

Here our profession's rather rigid history with multiple relationships may get in the way of good ethical thinking. The belief that all multiple relationships are unethical may lead a student to conclude that a rigid demarcation among identities is preferable or necessary. Of course, such demarcations are not possible and attempting to behave as though they are is futile, counterproductive and painfully distracting. Although a psychologist who is a parent is not parenting during psychotherapy, such a psychologist nonetheless remains a parent during the session. Standard 3.05 offers a way to think about this intra-psychic conundrum.

The entire article is here.