Being in class has opened my eyes to this new world of “consumers”. Now, this is not a new word to my vocabulary bank, but it does have a new meaning. Before now I didn’t really consider myself a consumer. I didn’t really consider myself much of anything. Now this idea of consumerism has been placed inside of my head, I think about it often. I consider if there is actually any consumer protection measures that are taken to ensure that consumers are not being bamboozled into buying useless products or being lied to. Laws have been implemented, but are these laws actually held up and honored the way they should be? Lets take food for example. Who protects consumers from eating fatty foods that are advertised as healthy? The USDA is there to ensure that companies are meeting standards and upholding said standards. These come in many forms of tests, product advertising, and ensuring that the truth is followed through. Without the USDA breathing down the neck of the companies that are handling the food that, we consumers, eat on a regular basis, who knows what it would be like. These consumer protective measures are implemented because it is what is deserved to the consumers themselves. We deserve the protection and the truth from the companies that are attempting to sell us something. It is not fair, ethical, or right to lie to the consumer. It is also the consumers job to be researching on their own time because although the USDA and other laws state that companies need to be truthful, there are many loop holes and although these companies are stating the truth, it may not be the whole truth or it is some version of the truth. Consumer protection is also up to the consumer themselves.
Consumer: “Economics. a person or organization that uses a commodity or service” Protection: “a thing, person, or group that protects
Standard: “something considered by an authority or by general consent as a basis of comparison; an approved model.”
USDA: United States Department of Agriculture
Dictionary.com. (n.d.). Retrieved November 19, 2017, from http://www.dictionary.com
I had a few ideas for this project, but I think the one I am going to go with is interviewing people. The questions I am set out to answer are: “How healthy is it?”, “Do I really know what I need to make a healthy choice?”, and “Why is it so difficult to be healthy/ easy to be unhealthy?”. What I plan to do is ask people (maybe 3-5) what their favorite “healthy” meal is and what is their favorite “unhealthy” meal. Then I will take their answers and get the calorie count through the online FoodTracker website. This answers the “how healthy is it” question.
Next I will ask them if they know what is needed to make a healthy choice. I’ll answer this question for myself first, then I will record their answers. I will be seeing if any of the answers are similar or if it really means something different to each person. I will also look up the available websites to people, how readily available nutrition facts are, ask how much they learned in school about making healthy choices, or how much research they have done to make healthy choices. Here I am looking for them to answer the question, and I am looking to see if they blame their healthy choices on themselves, or on outside sources.
Lastly, I will be asking what they think makes it so hard to be healthy and so easy to be unhealthy. I’ll ask about their lifestyle. The choices they make as adults, and the choices that were made for them as children. The types of foods that were made available at home, the snacks that were given, and how this either carried over into their adult life or they made the choice to be different than the way they were raised.
I will create a PowerPoint and will use quotes made by my interviewees, rather than recordings. I will post photos of the foods that were discussed, the websites that information could be accessed, and anything else I think needs to be added as I am carrying out my project.
Most people do not go into parenthood with enough information as it takes to make informed decisions about their own care and the care of their new baby. Which doesn’t seem too surprising as those who are becoming parents didn’t really plan to get pregnant. What does it mean to be informed, though? Informed about what exactly? Being informed is much more than preconception. Being informed is knowing the many options that are available to you, the risks and the benefits before and after pregnancy, all of it! Being one of those consumers who, yes has seen and experienced child birth through the eyes of others, had a lot to learn upon becoming pregnant. Preconception was the extent to my knowledge, and that simply means birth control and condoms. As it does to many people. But preconception is knowing the ways to care for your body and mind before a baby is made. This includes your partner as well. Your entire life changes upon conception and it changes fast. So, what now, now that you or your partner is pregnant? What are the options available? There’s classes that can be taken to teach about birth, should you save the umbilical cord blood? What if you need to get a caesarean or induced? Going into parenthood isn’t as black and white as people want to make it seem. It’s easy to see in others as the greatest time of their life and such joy and happiness! And trust me, it really is. But being informed about all things preconception really makes for an awakening that most people don’t get post-pregnancy, while most people need it. Become an informed consumer and learn what it is that needs to be learned, because it is the responsibility of the parents to be, or those that are trying to be.
Informed: “having or prepared with information or knowledge; apprised.”
Preconception: “occurring prior to conception”
Conception: “fertilization; inception of pregnancy.”
Caesarean section: “surgical incision through the abdominal and uterine walls in order to deliver a baby”
Induced: “to bring about, produce, or cause.”
Dictionary.com. (n.d.). Retrieved November 19, 2017, from http://www.dictionary.com
Consumers are often faced with issues such as illness, long-term care, and death and dying choices, but often times they are unsure what their options are. I recently became employed as an In-Home Care Aid with a company and actually found our states website to be very informative towards my career, and I could easily see it as a valuable resource for consumers looking for information on care resources. The Washington State Department of Social and Health Services is a valuable resource for the uninformed consumers of Washington state. Immediately going into the site, it lists links on home and community sources, residential services, long-term care options, the office for the deaf, and provides a link to report instances of adult abuse. The easy to navigate layout of the site is a plus as well as consumers of this site may be older or not as skilled with computers. While the site does have its advantageous parts, there are also gaps in the information provided. Price is the biggest thing missing from the site. There are possible services listed but there are no details on how much those services may cost the individual. This could potentially be problematic for consumers concerned over the monetary aspects of care. Another aspect on the site that is lacking is the exact details of what it takes to qualify for services such as the length of stay required for some of the programs, the visitation during the care, and how good the care actually is. One way to solve this issue is to look up reviews that other consumers have left about the service provider. I would suggest people to consider programs offered by community centers as well. Many local community centers offer area specific programs that lend assistance to those in need of all types of care.
For my photovoice project, I will be answering two questions: How healthy is it? And Why is it so difficult to be healthy/easy to be unhealthy. I will create a PowerPoint slide that will contain an image of a healthy home-cooked meal. I will list all the ingredients that I need to create the meal as well as the cost of each ingredient. My second image will have unhealthy foods that can be purchased for the same price as the one healthy home-cooked meal.
There is so much information out there about health services that it can be hard to dig through what is fact or fiction. When there is not enough services or personnel in the first place, it makes it hard to get accountable, easily accessible information to the consumer. There does not seem to be many options available for long-term care, especially for those who do not qualify for financial aid. As consumers, we need to push for better options in health care. As a nation, we need to address the severe shortage of health workers /services and the ridiculous cost of health services.
Myth 1: We have enough health care workers to meet the demands of the aging population.
There is an increasing demand for health services due to the increased incidence of chronic illness and a large aging population. The number of people over the age of 65 is expected to double between 2000 and 2030. This has led to a shortage of healthcare workers as there is not enough to meet the increasing demand. Physicians and nurses are being hit especially hard. By 2025, the AAMC estimates we will have a shortfall of 46,000 to 90,000 physicians. Between 2014 and 2020, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports there will be over 1 million vacancies in nursing. This growing lack of services and personal has led to concerning healthcare challenges.
Myth 2: We have adequate care for our aging generation.
The U.S population might be living longer, but the quality of life for many of the elderly is low. Our society does not currently have the resources to deal with the increasing number of older adults, many of whom have serious health problems and risks. Health care is extremely expensive, in 2010 people age 65+ spent an average of $18,424 on health care services in the United States. This financial burden is particularly concerning for the middle class, who make too much to qualify for aid but not enough to pay for long-term care services. In addition to the increasing cost of care, we simply lack the compacity to care for our aging population.
Myth 3: The DSHS has high standards and requirements for adult family homes.
Reading this article made me sick. I was shocked that we did not have higher criteria or rigorous inspections of these homes. People who have not read this article most likely believe that the DSHS has a rigorous application process and frequent expectations. This might be similar to how people believe the FDA conducts its own testing on products since its purpose of these agencies is to provide safe service/products and protect the consumer. It is terrifying to think that, so much abuse goes unnoticed and undealt with because we do not have the personal or facilities to deal with the increasing elderly population. Consumers need to push for higher standards and better options.
Before reading this, I had no idea what DTC adds were. I am aware of the ads on television about certain medications but I had no idea what they were called and never really paid any attention to these ads. After reading these slides I have come up with some points to summarize this advertising practice and why this practice may need a change.
Firstly, the FDA does not require companies to provide an exhaustive and detailed list of side effects in their infomercials. This leaves out certain side effects that may be harmful to the consumer depending on their present medical status and their way of living. Hopefully, if these medications are prescription only medications, then the prescribing doctor would look at the patients’ medical history before prescribing a drug that may have harmful side effects. However, the patient may be resistant to go on other drugs that they have not heard of due to fear of the unknown, so they may only want to take a drug that they have seen in an infomercial. The FDA also reports in a survey that many physicians felt pressure to prescribe a DTC ad drug when a patient brought it up. Secondly, a change for the DTC advertising took place in 2008, when the pharmaceutical industry pledged to not allow actors to play doctors and to make sure that anyone endorsing their product had actually used their product. This does pose a slight problem in that just because someone is endorsing a product does not mean that it worked for them. They are required to have had to try the product, but their opinion on it may be swayed by the amount of money offered to endorse the product. Lastly, DTC ads are putting more prescription drugs and companies under criticism. DTC has reportedly increased demand, but it has also made companies and their products open to criticism that they are trying to maximize profits rather than actually help consumers. This poses a problem when law firms put on commercials stating that a certain prescription drug may cause a serious illness and that the consumer should sue the prescribing doctor and the company who produced the drug. These kinds of ads make consumers wary of companies and drugs and may deter them from getting the help that they need. While one kind of drug may not have worked for one person, it may work for a different person.
An acceptable public health solution is to require companies to provide and exhaustive and detailed list of the side effects to consumers and to only allow endorsements from patients with which the drug has succeeded in doing its job. For providing a list of side effects, the FDA needs to change its requirement back to that of the 1980’s when DTC was first legalized. As for real endorsements, that is slightly trickier as patient confidentiality and HIPPA laws come into play. Patients would have to reach out to pharmaceutical companies themselves to tell the companies if the product worked for them, and from there on the company could ask the patient to publicly endorse their drug.
On the FDA website I found that some of the information was consumer friendly while other information was not. The first link I clicked on was the getting consumer input link. That took me to a section that discussed why listening to the consumer is important. It also stated that “This site was developed as a collaborative effort between FDA and EthicAd to educate consumers about DTC prescription drug advertisements”. I believe that this is a good start to being more consumer friendly. However, I know that not all people have the same education level or understanding of health terminology which can limit how well someone understands what is said during drug advertisement. The website also had a question tab for frequently asked questions about the FDA and its regulations which I believe would be very helpful for someone that may not have the same knowledge of health and medication as a more health educated person.
Consumers are still at risk for many reasons. They may not understand their own health and believe an advertised medication may help them but in reality it could harm them. I also believe that the lack of education I discussed earlier is a huge danger to people. The long lists of possible side effects are daunting and can frighten people away from medication that could help them. Many of them do not understand that the drastic side effects have only occurred in such a minuscule percentage that the likelihood of it happening to them is next to none but companies are required to put all known side effects in the open.