Originally created 02/10/00


Family matters

When it comes to helping children weather adolescence, parents may play a more important role than they think.

A five-year study of 1,725 children found that although peer and school influences increase during adolescence, parental influence does not decline, said sociologist Sung Joon Jang of Ohio State University.

"Parents tend to perceive (themselves) as likely losers in the competition with their children's friends over influencing adolescent behavior. But this study shows parents still have an impact throughout adolescence on whether their children become involved in delinquent behavior," he reported in the journal Criminology.

Dr. Jang measured parental influence during the adolescent period by asking how close teen-agers felt to their parents and how frequently they participated in family activities.

Rest in peace

Only 17 percent of people die at home. However, a study by the Yale University School of Medicine suggests that if people were given a choice that number could be 2 1/2 times higher.

Of those who die somewhere other than home, two-thirds die in hospitals and the rest in nursing homes, a practice that may ignore the wishes of terminally ill patients, Terri R. Fried reported in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

A study of 246 recently hospitalized patients showed that while 48 percent would prefer to die in a hospital, 43 percent preferred home terminal care.

Those who chose home care generally said they wanted to be with their families, while those who preferred hospital care said that they didn't know if they could get adequate end-of-life care at home and that they didn't want to be a burden to their families.

Drinking age

One way to reduce suicides significantly among young people is to keep the legal drinking age at 21.

Between 1970 and 1990, suicide rates of 18- to 20-year-olds in states with a drinking age of 18 was 8 percent higher than in states with a drinking age of 21, said Johanna Birckmayer of the Harvard School of Public Health.

"We estimate that lowering the drinking age from 21 to 18 years in all states could increase the number of suicides in the 18- to 20-year-old population by approximately 125 each year," she reported in the American Journal of Public Health.

Women sports

Elite college female athletes derive a significant amount of their self-esteem from their athletic competence, according to researchers at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York.

As female athletics increase on college campuses, it's important for doctors to keep this in mind because even a simple injury that sidelines a player can have emotional side effects, Dr. Deborah Saint-Phard reported in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

Thirty-two women who participated in college gymnastics, cross country and track and field were compared to 13 nonathletes.

"Clinicians should bear in mind the relative importance of athletics to young female athletes and the relationship of perceived athletic ability to self-worth when treating these individuals," she said.


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