Valentine's Day warning from scientists says stop sexting
Plus, a drug might extend life, but is it worth it? Ask the patient
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Put the smartphone down!
By Kas Roussy
To save the romance, research says stop sexting.
That's what Adam Galovan would like to share with sexters.
You know the ones. They send sexually explicit messages or images via their smartphones to their partners.
Since practically everyone owns a smartphone these days, Galovan, a family scientist in the department of Human Ecology at the University of Alberta, wanted to find out how the gadgets are changing the way we interact in our relationships.
For this study, he and his colleagues surveyed 615 adults. (Half were Canadian). All were in committed relationships, both heterosexual and same sex.
Actually make love, don't send the sext.— Michelle Drouin
They found that those who sexted the most — categorized as "frequent" or "hyper" sexters — reported that the provocative texting spiced up their sex lives. But here's the downside: Sexting undermined other aspects of a healthy relationship.
These super sexters felt less secure in their relationship, had commitment issues and were more likely to watch porn.
"Short term, they're getting that boost in sexual satisfaction," Galovan told CBC News. "But they aren't having benefits in other areas of their relationship."
It might seem like a "fast and easy solution to spice up a sex life," said co-author Michelle Drouin, a professor of psychology at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne.
But she describes sexting as "risky behaviour."
"People have to be aware. Sexting isn't the future of what we see as a normal healthy relationship."
But Ruth Neustifter, a sexuality therapist at the University of Guelph, sees it differently. She says sexting is an opportunity to do something in a fun and flirty way.
"I certainly wouldn't want to discourage people from using this for positive goals in their relationship," she said.
"Certainly throughout human history we have sent each other sexual messages in art, in letter writing, in stories. This is just another medium for what people have been doing all along."
With Valentine's Day just around the corner, Drouin has advice for couples.
"Actually make love, don't send the sext. I think face-to-face intimacy is far more valuable for a relationship than any technology-communicated tokens of love."
A drug might extend life, but is it worth it? Ask the patient
By Brandie Weikle
Clinical trials reveal important information about how well new drugs work to fight disease or extend life. What they don't do is tell us much about whether those treatments make life for the patient any better or even worth living at all.
That's why a group of researchers published recommendations this week aimed at gaining insight about the impact of new treatments on patients and their quality of life.
"Traditionally, clinical trials are designed to evaluate whether some sort of intervention benefits the patient in some way," says Dr. An-Wen Chan, a Toronto surgeon and one of the study's co-authors.
"With the medical model of thinking, the measurements have been on hard data like whether they die or not, or whether their blood pressure improves — something we can measure objectively."
He says that a shift to more patient-focused care in recent years has yielded new interest in making sure that research data actually reflects how patients feel and how they view their conditions.
"That's arguably more important than what the numbers say or the lab test," says Chan, also an associate professor in health policy management at the University of Toronto.
Palliative care physician Dr. James Downar of Toronto's University Health Network agrees. He says these patient-reported outcomes — or PROs, as they're called — can provide critical information for prescribing physicians.
Take a late-stage cancer patient under the care of an oncologist or palliative care physician, for example.
"It's very easy to show a slight mortality benefits for people at or near the end of life," says Downar. What clinical trial results haven't been able to get at so far is whether or not those extra weeks or months of life a new treatment may allow come with too much sacrifice to quality of life.
"The terms of survival are not acceptable to them, or the quality of life they currently enjoy is not one that they value," he says. That could be the difference between spending one's final weeks sharing stories and card games with loved ones, rather than being crippled by brutal side-effects.
"If we're not improving the life of the patient, then what is the point?"
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