Juliet Walker: BMJ in the news

Juliet WalkerMore than half of carers looking after relatives with dementia report acting abusively towards them according to a research paper published last week on bmj.com. The researchers, from University College London, found that a third admitted significant abuse, such as frequent insulting and swearing, and only 3 out of 220 carers admitted occasional physical abuse. The BBC has quoted an Alzheimer’s Society spokesman as describing these findings as “shocking”, but said that many carers were under great strain. The Daily Telegraph quotes one of the researchers as saying that, “the vast majority of family carers do a fantastic job under very difficult circumstances”. The UK government is currently consulting on revising its policy on abuse by paid carers, but the researchers say that this study demonstrates the need for governments to tackle elder abuse by family carers.

With the recent inauguration of President Obama, The Times has picked up on a Christmas BMJ about left-right discrimination in medicine. Obama is left handed and one of many US Presidents to be so. This has sparked the debate about whether left handed people are high achievers. However, there is no evidence to support this, and as Chris McManus argued in his BMJ paper, left handed surgeons are at a disadvantage as left handed instruments are not always available.

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 Juliet Walker is the Editorial Intern, BMJ