Category: Research

The decline of white women's health

published date
April 12th, 2016 by


The Washington Post (A great divide in American death: Statistics show widening urban-rural gap) examined death statistics and found that death rates for white women –especially rural white women– have been climbing fast. Key culprits? Self-destructive behavior such as over-eating, opioid abuse, heavy drinking, smoking, and suicide. White women still live longer than other groups, but the trend for them is bad.

According to the Post:

In at least 30 counties in the South, black women in midlife now have a lower mortality rate than middle-aged white women, The Post found. That’s up from a single such county in 1999.

Among them is Newton County, Ga., southeast of Atlanta, where the death rate for black women ages 35 to 54 dropped from 472 per 100,000 to 234. The rate for white women went the other way, from 255 to 472.

The article cites researchers who speculate that new sources of stress are contributing to poor health and higher death rates.

The Post also connects areas with rising white death rates to those supporting Donald Trump’s presidential bid. That makes intuitive sense to me, although I don’t know whether there’s a causal link. What I will say is that those who vote for Donald Trump are going to be disappointed that he won’t be a stress reliever, even if he is somehow elected.

Image courtesy of Ohmega1982 at

By healthcare business consultant David E. Williams, president of Health Business Group.

Vision Zero: The poem

published date
April 5th, 2016 by
Oops, didn't see that coming
Oops, didn’t see that coming

My father, Allan F. Williams is a renowned highway safety expert, sometimes called the Grandfather of Graduated Licensing. He retired from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety as Chief Scientist in 2004.

Recently he told me about Vision Zero, a Swedish notion, now popular in the US, that there should be no deaths or serious injuries on the highways. But one problem with this idea is that about three-quarters of people think they are superior drivers and that the highway safety problem is due to the “other” driver.

He wrote a little poem to explain what’s happening on the roads.

Good Driver, Bad Driver

I’m a highly skilled driver, and you are not,

I know, I’ve seen enough of your lot.

You bumble around, get in my way,

Your feeble talents on full display.

Rules of the road are meant for you,

Whereas I can flout them, and often do

I speed, I phone, I drive with flair

And never, ever, make any error

Vision zero is a reality,

With fewer of you and more drivers like me.

Allan Williams, 4/4/16

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono at

By healthcare business consultant David E. Williams, president of Health Business Group.

Second breakfast: The Hobbits were on to something

published date
March 18th, 2016 by

From MedPage Today (For Kids, Two Breakfasts Healthier Than None)

Middle-school students who routinely ate two breakfasts — one at home and one at school — were still more likely to maintain a healthy body weight than those who skipped breakfast, a longitudinal study found.

Previous studies have shown a link between skipping breakfast and weight gain, but the mechanisms behind this phenomenon are not well understood either, Schwartz and colleagues said. One reason may be reverse causality: Overweight individuals skip breakfast thinking it will help them lose weight. Another theory is that skipping breakfast leads to overeating later in the day.

I’m a breakfast eater, so such studies validate my own biases, much as the frequent articles about the health benefits of coffee, chocolate and alcohol warm the souls of those substances’ partisans.

But this study reminded me of the wisdom of the Hobbits, who seemed to be a happy, healthy lot. They had breakfast and second breakfast, plus five meals beyond that. Any good researcher knows to end his/her paper with a call for further research. In this case I think a study of Elevenses would make a good follow-on.



By healthcare business consultant David E. Williams, president of Health Business Group.

Collaboration in pre-clinical and clinical development: interview with Dalvir Gill

published date
March 16th, 2016 by



TransCelerate BioPharma is a pharmaceutical company collaboration that addresses key issues in clinical development that benefit everyone. Now six members have decided to extend the concept to the pre-clinical realm by establishing BioCelerate. Their goal is to compress time to market, reduce cost, and increase the predictive value of preclinical data.

I spoke recently with TransCelerate’s CEO Dalvir Gill about TransCelerate and the new BioCelerate initiative. As CEO of both organization, he’s in a good position to comment. Here’s what we discussed:

  1. (0:10) What is Transcelerate?
  2. (1:13) How did it get started? These entities compete with one another so how did they decide to get together to work on something?
  3. (4:46) When the organization was launched there were a few specific projects. What can you say about the project and the results achieved?
  4. (8:19) Can you talk about your interactions with non-members, including regulators?
  5. (11:43) What financial commitment do you expect from members? How do you avoid the freeloader problem?
  6. (13:45) You’ve grown your membership and initiated new projects. You’ve now initiated Biocelerate. What is it and why are you setting it up as its own entity?
  7. (16:06) Tell me about the initial project, which is focused on toxicology.
  8. (18:13) Are there more projects that are lined up for Biocelerate?

By healthcare business consultant David E. Williams, president of Health Business Group.

Most young men don't know about emergency contraception. Is that ok?

published date
March 3rd, 2016 by


About 40 percent of adolescent boys and young men know about emergency contraception, aka the “morning after pill” or Plan B according to a Journal of Adolescent Health study. Women who take the pill within a few days of unprotected sex or a condom break can avoid an unwanted pregnancy because emergency contraception prevents ovulation.

So how should we think about the 40 percent number?

The authors are pleased that the number is as high as it is, and take it as proof that educational campaigns are working. They’d also like to see the number go higher so that boys and men take responsibility for contraceptive planning. In an ideal world that’s undoubtedly true, but I wonder whether it would be better if men were less aware of emergency contraception rather than more.

After all, the possibility of pregnancy is not the only reason to avoid unprotected sex. Prevention of sexually transmitted diseases is right up there as well. If boys and men know that emergency contraception is an option, they may be less careful about protection and more likely to pressure their partners into having unprotected sex in the first place.

I’m not actually advocating for purposefully keeping people in the dark, but I’d focus the awareness message heavily on girls and women.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

By healthcare business consultant David E. Williams, president of Health Business Group.