Tag Archives: education

Diagnostic Overshadowing

Consultation liaison psychiatry services (CLPS) are, typically, based in a general hospital setting to provide the dual services of mental health clinical assessment/treatment and clinician support/education. The clinical and education roles overlap – a lot.

A significant part of the CLPS job is undiagnosing mental illness. Undiagnosis is often correcting a misdiagnosis, and also serves to validate the emotions and experiences of people (Patfield, 2011; Lakeman & Emeleus, 2014). It is not unusual for CLPS to be asked to see somebody who is emotionally overwhelmed or dysregulated. Sometimes this is in the context of mental health problems often in the context of significant stress. Naturally, we do not want to ‘psychiatricise’ the human condition. Of course, you cry when you are sad, and of course you are anxious when, like Courtney Barnett in ‘Avant Gardener’, you are not that good at breathing in. Of course, you’re frustrated when you are in pain or do not understand what’s going on.

Validating understandable and proportionate emotions is important.

It is equally important to make sure that somebody who has experienced mental illness previously does not have every presentation to the hospital/outpatient clinic seen through that lens. That is called “diagnostic overshadowing”; which is a significant problem.
Diagnostic overshadowing is where physical symptoms are overlooked, dismissed or downplayed as a psychiatric/ psychosomatic symptom. It must be one of the most dangerous things that happen in hospitals.

The President of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, Professor Malcolm Hopwood, said in May 2016, “I sometimes think that the worse thing a person can do for their physical health is to be diagnosed with a mental health disorder.” Prof Hopwood cited stigma and discrimination in the health sector as contributing problems to early mortality amongst people with mental health problems.

People, hospital clinical staff included, are often shocked when they find out that people diagnosed with mental illness die between 10 and 25 years younger than the general public. Although suicide is a contributing factor to high mortality rates amongst this part of the community, it is alarming to note that the overwhelming majority – 86% – of people with mental health problems who had a premature death did not die from suicide (Happell & Ewart, 2016).

About 60% of people who experience mental health problems experience chronic physical health problems too. Poor mental health is a major risk factor for poor physical health, and vice versa (Harris et al, 2018).

The lived experience

Diagnostic overshadowing happens outside of hospitals too. In the example below, understandable and proportionate human emotions were misinterpreted as psychopathology. The cascade of events that followed makes for a sobering read:

Eight years ago I was diagnosed with bipolar affective disorder (BPAD) and recovered enough to commence a PhD. Unable to obtain travel insurance for a conference due to my diagnosis, I disclosed the reason to my supervisor. Unfortunately, he began to see all stress (normal to a PhD student) as BPAD symptoms and decided I was incapable of completing the PhD and progressively began to discriminate against me. My mental health started to decline. I imagine this must have validated his belief that I was an unsuitable student.

I received some help from the university, with an advisor indicating that my supervisor was undermining my work. The advisor was promoted. Despite not knowing me, his replacement did not believe my account and disagreed with my psychiatrist’s assessment of my mental state. Other staff and graduate students joined the belief that I could not cope, alienating me from the entire department.

After almost 18 months of fighting, I was once again depressed and felt defeated. I left the degree and lost my scholarship. It was one of the hardest things I have done. After, I was unable to gain employment; overqualified for most positions, lacking experience for the rest, and no references. After five months of constant rejections and lingering grief from losing the PhD, my self-worth and coping ability were so diminished, I made a very serious suicide attempt. I was so distressed that I could not see another solution.

Seven months later and I still have no paid employment. I have been undertaking volunteer work to regain some meaning in my life and have set myself up for the long-term with a new field of study. However, this does not pay the bills, and living like this is taking its toll. Sometimes I do not know where my next meal will come from, I have lost friends because of their attitude towards mental illness, and have withdrawn from health-related activities because of a lack of finances. Most days I cope and can find meaning in what I do, some days are much harder.

Questions for Reflection

Assuming that you – the person reading this – is a health professional, we have some questions we would like you to reflect on.

Have I ever witnessed a person’s mental health history influence how their presenting complaint was investigated or treated?

How does my workplace prevent mental health stigmatising and diagnostic overshadowing?

What can I do to support good holistic patient care without falling into the trap of diagnostic overshadowing?

References

Happell, B. & Ewart, S. (2016). ‘Please believe me, my life depends on it’: Physical health concerns of people diagnosed with mental illness. Australian Nursing and Midwifery Journal, 23(11), 47.

Harris, B. Duggan, M. Batterham, P. Bartlem, K. Clinton-McHarg, T. Dunbar, J. Fehily, C. Lawrence, D. Morgan, M. Rosenbaum, S. (2018). Australia’s mental health and physical health tracker: Background paper. Australian Health Policy Collaboration issues paper no. 2018-02, Melbourne, AHPC.

Lakeman, R. & Emeleus, M. (2014). Un-diagnosing mental illness in the process of helping. Psychotherapy in Australia, 21(1), 38-45.

Patfield, M. (2011). Undiagnosis: An Important New Role for Psychiatry. Australasian Psychiatry, 19(2), 107–109.

Seriously mentally ill ‘die younger’. (2016, May 10). SBS News. Retrieved from https://www.sbs.com.au/news/seriously-mentally-ill-die-younger

PDF version

A one page PDF version [suitable for printing] is available here: DiagnosticOvershadowing

Citation

McNamara, P. & Callahan, R. (2018). Diagnostic Overshadowing. News, Summer 2018 edition (published December 2018), Australian College of Mental Health Nurses, page 17.

End Notes

The article above is a tidied-up version of a blog post that Bec and I collaborated on in October 2018 (see meta4RN.com/shadoworiginal). This is not called self-plagiarising, it’s more like doing a studio version of a demo tape. 🙂

Many thanks to Sharina Smith for encouraging us to submit the article to ACMHN News.

Paul McNamara, 15 December 2018

Short URL meta4RN.com/shadow

 

 

Diagnostic Overshadowing [original, now updated]

Source: I had a black dog, his name was depression https://youtu.be/XiCrniLQGYc

I work in a general hospital doing mental health clinical work and education. The two roles overlap. A lot.

A significant part of the job is undiagnosing mental illness. It’s not unusual for us to be asked to see somebody who is emotionally overwhelmed or dysregulated. Sometimes this is in the context of mental health problems, often it’s in the context of significant stress. We don’t want to psychiatricise the human condition. Of course you cry when you’re sad. Of course you’re anxious when, like Courtney Barnett in ‘Avant Gardener‘, you’re not that good at breathing in. Of course you’e frustrated when you’re in pain and/or don’t understand what’s going on.

It’s important to validate understandable and proportionate emotions.

It’s equally important to make sure that somebody who has experienced mental health problems previously doesn’t have every presentation to the hospital/outpatient clinic seen through that lens. That’s called “diagnostic overshadowing”. It’s a real problem.

Diagnostic overshadowing is where physical symptoms are overlooked, dismissed or downplayed as a psychiatric/psychosomatic symptom. It must be one of the most dangerous things that happens in hospitals. The President of the Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, Professor Malcolm Hopwood, said in May 2016, “I sometimes think that the worse thing a person can do for their physical health is to be diagnosed with a mental health disorder.”

It often comes as a shock to people when they find out that those diagnosed with mental illness die between 10 and 25 years younger than the general public. The next shock comes when discovering suicide accounts for only about 14% of premature death. [source: ‘Please believe me, my life depends on it’: Physical health concerns of people diagnosed with mental illness]

It’s a big deal. About 60% of people who experience mental health problems experience chronic physical health problems too. Poor mental health is a major risk factor for poor physical health, and vice versa. [Source: Australia’s mental and physical health tracker 2018]

Diagnostic overshadowing happens outside of hospitals too. In this example, understandable and proportionate human emotions were misinterpreted as psychopathology. The cascade of events that followed makes for a sobering read:

Questions for Reflection

Assuming that you – the person reading this blog post – is a nurse, midwife or other health professional, I have some questions I’d like you to reflect on.

Have I ever witnessed a person’s mental health history influence how their presenting complaint was investigated or treated?

How does my workplace prevent mental health stigmatising and diagnostic overshadowing?

What can I do to support good holistic patient care, without falling into the trap of diagnostic overshadowing?

End

Sincere thanks to Bec (aka @notesforreview on Twitter) for giving permission to share her tweets re mental health stigma and diagnostic overshadowing. Her first-hand account is a powerful cautionary tale.

Paul McNamara, 1st October 2018

Short URL meta4RN.com/shadoworiginal

Update as at 15th December 2018

Bec and I tidied-up this blog post and it’s now been published.

See meta4RN.com/shadow

Sex Essentials – The Fairy Tale

On Friday 18 May 2018 the Cairns Sexual Health Service hosted their seventh Sex Essentials education day for nurses, GPs, youth workers, allied health, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers, educators and community workers. These annual education days are famous in FNQ and beyond for being energetic and fun. Each Sex Essentials day has a different theme, the 2018 theme was “The Fairy Tale”.

Regular visitors to meta4RN.com know that I’m a fan of taking health education beyond the classroom/conference walls by using social media. While readily acknowledging that there’s no way to capture the whole day on a web page, hopefully this collation of Tweets gives a taste of the creative, inspiring, fun and educational event that was Sex Essentials – The Fairy Tale:

1.

More info re #SMACC (Social Media and Critical Care) here.
More info re #FOAMed (Free Open Access Meducation) here.
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This is not an exaggeration. For example, watch this short presentation about how FNQ is home to Australia’s first Hep-C free prison here.
Vimeo

AVHEC 2017 – Darren Russell “Keynote 11 – Eliminating Hepatitis C – The Cairns Experience” from ASHM on Vimeo.

8.

You know what bear means, right? If not, have a quick read here.
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Sincere thanks to Max for an excellent keynote presentation, and agreeing to this Tweet being in the public domain.
Also, my mistake: that should read cisgender/cisgendered.
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URL to the How Much Do You Know? podcasts: eastsidefm.org/howmuchdoyouknow
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URL to Cairns Sexual Health Service: www.health.qld.gov.au/cairns_hinterland/html/shealth
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This session was facilitated by psychologist Suzanne Habib, and drew on the lived experience and generous wisdom of three remarkable people who shared their stories and answered our (sometimes a bit dumb) questions.
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Finishing-Up

For the sake of posterity, here are pics of the program.

Morning

Afternoon
Also for posterity, and by way of thanks to the slightly crazy, but very fun, staff of Cairns Sexual Health Service, here is the way the day started:

More info re Cairns Sexual Health Service here.

Visit the their Facebook page for more photos and info re future Sex Essentials days – health education done right.

End 

As always, comments are welcome in the section below.

Paul McNamara, 19 May 2018

Short URL: meta4RN.com/sex

Delirium Risks and Prevention

Tweets re the guest lecture by Prof Sharon Inouye at Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital (and Cairns via videolink) on 16th October 2017.

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Explanation

These Tweets were initially compiled using a social media aggregation tool called Storify https://storify.com/meta4RN/delirium-risks-and-prevention

Unfortunately, Storify is shutting-down on 16 May 2018 and all content will be deleted.

I’m using my blog as a place to mimic/save the Storify pages I created and value.

End

As always, please use the comments section below for any feedback/questions.

Paul McNamara, 10th March 2018

Short URL: meta4RN.com/delirium

Social Media and Digital Citizenship: A CL Nurse’s Perspective

This post is a companion piece to my keynote presentation at the 5th Annual Queensland Consultation Liaison Psychiatry Symposium “Modern Approaches in CL Psychiatry”, on 2nd November 2017,

The function of this page is to be a collection point to list references/links that will be mentioned in the presentation. The Prezi is intended as an oral presentation, so I do not intend to include a full description of the content here.

Click on the picture to see the Prezi

Bio/Intro (you know speakers write these themselves, right?)

Paul McNamara is a CL CNC in Cairns.

Paul has been dabbling in health care social media since 2010. He established an online portfolio in 2012 which includes Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and a Blog.

In 2016 Paul was appointed to the Editorial Board of the International Journal of Mental Health Nursing specifically because of his interest in social media.

This morning’s presentation “Social Media & Digital Citizenship: A CL Nurse’s Perspective” aims to encourage the converts, enthuse the curious, and empower the cautious.

Disclaimer/Apology/Excuse

Regular visitors to meta4RN.com will recognise some familiar themes.

Let’s not call it self-plagiarism (such an ugly term), I would rather think of it as a new, funky remix of a favourite old song.

Due to this remixing of old content I’ve included lots of previous meta4RN.com blog posts on the reference list.

This, in turn, makes the reference list look stupidly self-referential. #TrumpBrag

 

Anyway, with that embarrassing disclosure out of the way, here is the list of references and links cited in the Prezi prezi.com/user/meta4RN

References + Links

Altmetric Attention Score [example] https://wiley.altmetric.com/details/23964454

Australian College of Nursing (n.d.) Social media guidelines for nurses. Retreived from http://www.rcna.org.au/WCM/…for_nurses.pdf

Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency. (2014, March 17). Social media policy. Retrieved from http://www.ahpra.gov.au/News/2014-02-13-revised-guidelines-code-and-policy.aspx

Casella, E., Mills, J., & Usher, K. (2014). Social media and nursing practice: Changing the balance between the social and technical aspects of work. Collegian, 21(2), 121–126. doi:10.1016/j.colegn.2014.03.005

Facebook. (2015). Facebook logo. Retrieved from https://www.facebookbrand.com/

Ferguson, C., Inglis, S. C., Newton, P. J., Cripps, P. J. S., Macdonald, P. S., & Davidson, P. M. (2014).  Social media: A tool to spread information: A case study analysis of Twitter conversation at the Cardiac Society of Australia & New Zealand 61st Annual Scientific Meeting 2013. Collegian, 21(2), 89–93. doi:10.1016/j.colegn.2014.03.002

Fox, C.S., Bonaca, M.P., Ryan, J.J., Massaro, J.M., Barry, K. & Loscalzo, J. (2015). A randomized trial of social media from Circulation. Circulation. 131(1), pp 28-33

Gallagher, R., Psaroulis, T., Ferguson, C., Neubeck, L. & Gallagher, P. 2016, ‘Social media practices on Twitter: maximising the impact of cardiac associations’, British Journal of Cardiac Nursing, vol. 11, no. 10, pp. 481-487.

Instagram. (2015). Instagram logo. Retrieved from https://help.instagram.com/304689166306603

Li, C. (2015). Charlene Li photo. Retrieved from http://www.charleneli.com/about-charlene/reviewer-resources/

lifeinthefastlane. (2013). #FOAMed logo. Retrieved from http://lifeinthefastlane.com/foam/

My Tweets = my lecture notes. Other people’s Tweets also = my lecture notes. 🙂

McNamara, P. (2017, October 16) Delirium risks and prevention. Tweets re the guest lecture by Prof Sharon Inouye at Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital (and Cairns via videolink) collated on Storify. Retrieved from https://storify.com/meta4RN/delirium-risks-and-prevention

McNamara, P. (2016, November 18) Twitter is a Vector (my #ACIPC16 presentation). Retrieved from https://meta4RN.com/ACIPC16

McNamara, P. (2016, October 21) Why on earth would a Mental Health Nurse bother with Twitter? (my #ACMHN2016 presentation). Retrieved from https://meta4RN.com/ACMHN2016

McNamara, P. (2016, October 15) Learn about Obesity (and Twitter) via Nurses Tweeting at a Conference. Retrieved from  https://meta4RN.com/obesity

McNamara, P., & Meijome, X. M. (2015). Twitter Para Enfermeras (Spanish/Español). Retrieved 11 March 2015, from http://www.ausmed.com.au/es/twitter-para-enfermeras/

McNamara, P. (2014). A Nurse’s Guide to Twitter. Retrieved from http://www.ausmed.com.au/twitter-for-nurses/

McNamara, P. (2014, May 3) Luddites I have known. Retrieved from http://meta4RN.com/luddites

McNamara, P. (2013) Behave online as you would in real life (letter to the editor), TQN: The Queensland Nurse, June 2013, Volume 32, Number 3, Page 4.

McNamara, P. (2013, October 25) Professional use of Twitter and healthcare social media. Retrieved from http://meta4RN.com/NPD100

McNamara, P. (2013, October 23) A Twitter workshop in tweets. Retrieved from http://meta4RN.com/tweets

McNamara, P. (2013, October 1) Professional use of Twitter. Retrieved from http://meta4RN.com/poster

McNamara, P. (2013, July 21) Follow Friday and other twitterisms. Retrieved from http://meta4RN.com/FF

McNamara, P. (2013, June 29) Thinking health communication? Think mobile. Retrieved https://meta4RN.com/mobile

McNamara, P. (2013, June 7) Omnipresent and always available: A mental health nurse on Twitter. Retrieved from http://meta4RN.com/twit

McNamara, P. (2013, January 20) Social media for nurses: my ten-step, slightly ranty, version. Retrieved from http://meta4RN.com/rant1

Moorley, C., & Chinn, T. (2014). Using social media for continuous professional development. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 71(4), 713–717. doi:10.1111/jan.12504

Nickson, C. P., & Cadogan, M. D. (2014). Free Open Access Medical education (FOAM) for the emergency physician. Emergency Medicine Australasia, 26(1), 76–83. doi:10.1111/1742-6723.12191

Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (2010, September 9) Information sheet on social media. Retrieved from http://www.nursingmidwiferyboard.gov.au/documents/default.aspx?record=WD10%2F3224&dbid=AP&chksum=qhog9%2FUCgKdssFmA0XnBlA%3D%3D

Office of the eSafety Commisioner (2017). eSafety logo. Retrieved from https://www.esafety.gov.au

Read, J., Harper, D., Tucker, I. and Kennedy, A. (2017), Do adult mental health services identify child abuse and neglect? A systematic review. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/inm.12369/abstract

Screenshot 1 “Trump: Twitter helped me win but I’ll be ‘restrained’ now” from http://money.cnn.com/2016/11/12/media/donald-trump-twitter-60-minutes/

Screenshot 2: “Melania Trump rebukes her husband “all the time” for Twitter use” from http://www.cbsnews.com/news/donald-trump-melania-trump-60-minutes-interview-rebukes-twitter-use/

The Nurse Path (facebook) https://www.facebook.com/theNursePath

Tonia, T., Van Oyen, H., Berger, A., Schindler, C. & Künzli, N. (2016). International Journal of Public Health. 61(4), pp 513-520. doi:10.1007/s00038-016-0831-y

Twitter. (2015). Twitter logo. Retrieved from https://about.twitter.com/press/brand-assets

Wilson, R., Ranse, J., Cashin, A., & McNamara, P. (2014). Nurses and Twitter: The good, the bad, and the reluctant. Collegian, 21(2), 111–119. doi:10.1016/j.colegn.2013.09.003
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1322769613000905

Wozniak, H., Uys, P., & Mahoney, M. J. (2012). Digital communication in a networked world. In J. Higgs, R. Ajjawi, L. McAllister, F. Trede, & S. Loftus (Eds.), Communication in the health sciences (3rd ed., pp. 150–162). South Melbourne, Australia: Oxford University Press

End 

Finally, a big thank you to the organisers of the 5th Annual Consultation Liaison Psychiatry Symposium, especially Stacey Deaville for suggesting this session, and Dr Paul Pun for pulling on all the right strings.

That’s it. As always your comments are welcome.

Paul McNamara, 19th October 2017

Short URL: meta4RN.com/CLPS

The Broken Leg/Psychosis Metaphor

Preamble

Below is a metaphor I heard in 1994 via an impressive man called Greg Holland. Greg is retired now, but when I met him he was a CNC with a public community mental health service. Even after all the years that have followed, Greg remains one of the most skilled communicators and mental health nurses I’ve ever worked with.

Greg was talking with a couple of young fellas who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia. Greg was explaining the importance of trying to avoid relapses of psychosis. The key messages for these young blokes was to keep taking the prescribed medications, and stay away from things that make psychosis more likely: things like cannabis, amphetamines or heaps of alcohol. That’s when Greg used this metaphor (his verbal version was shorter than my written version, but the general story is the same):

The Broken Leg/Psychosis Metaphor

If you accidentally broke your leg skateboarding or playing football, you’d have to have your leg in plaster for about 6 weeks. You would have to be really careful with it during that time, and it would probably get really uncomfortable and itchy most days. Then, if there were no complications, after 6 weeks you’d be able to get the plaster cast off, and start building up your strength in that broken leg. A physio might recommend some exercises, but you probably wouldn’t get back to playing football or skateboarding for a few months. Rehabilitation takes a bit of time and effort, but as a young fit man you’ll make a full recovery. No worries.

If you broke the same leg again, it might be more of a big deal. You might need surgery, and they might need to strengthen the bone with steel plates or rods and screws. Sometimes people need to have external fixation: metal devices that are screwed into the bones, but sit outside the body, above the skin to stabilise the fractures. It will be messier, more painful, take longer to get out of hospital, and your leg muscles will get pretty weak. You’ll probably make a full recovery still, but it will just take more time and effort.

If you break your leg a third time, the orthopaedic nurses and doctors are going to think you’re either really unlucky or stupidly reckless. They’ll suggest that you stop skateboarding and playing football altogether. Your leg will get operated on, and the fractures will get stabilised, but the recovery will be really slow. You could end-up with a bit of a limp.

If you keep on breaking the same leg over and over again, say five, six, seven times, you will definitely end up with a limp. Might need a walking stick or something.

If you break the same leg often enough and bad enough you’ll probably end up lame: permanently disabled and unable to walk. You’ll wish you’d listened to the orthopaedic nurses and doctors, and had never gone back to skateboarding or playing football.

It’s kind of the same with psychosis.

If you lose touch with reality once or twice you’ll probably make a full recovery.

But if you keep on having psychotic episodes your brain might develop a bit of a “limp” – it will still work, but not as good as it used to work.

If you have lots of psychotic episodes you might end up disabled and unable enjoy life to the fullest. You’ll wish you’d never gone back to smoking gunja or getting pissed.

That’s why I’m working with you to prevent or cut down on psychotic relapses. Does that make sense to you?

End

I really like the broken leg/psychosis metaphor. I use a shortened version of the above script a fair bit at work, and people usually respond well to it. I’m very grateful to Greg Holland for introducing the analogy to me. It’s a good metaphor that I hope that others will find useful to use/adapt in their clinical practice too.

As always, your feedback is welcome in the comments section below.

Paul McNamara, 17th November 2016

Short URL: meta4RN.com/leg

Learn about Obesity (and Twitter) via Nurses Tweeting at a Conference

If you read this I guarantee that you will learn 4 things in 5 minutes:

  1. How obesity works
  2. How Twitter at a healthcare conference works
  3. How an aggregation tool like Storify can add value to Twitter content
  4. How nurses can be simultaneously generous, incisive and funny

 

Small sample of conference Tweets. Click to see the whole story

Small sample of conference Tweets. Click to see the whole story: https://storify.com/meta4RN/obesity-personal-or-social-responsibility

So What?

Sometimes I have trouble explaining to health professionals how Twitter works at conferences. It’s easier to show an example, rather than just chin-wagging and flapping-about like a chook in a cyclone. That’s why I have created this example: https://storify.com/meta4RN/obesity-personal-or-social-responsibility

Haven’t I Seen This Before?

Maybe. Back in 2013 this example was buried about halfway through a long blog post called #ICNAust2013: Looking Back at a Nursing Conference through a Social Media Lens, At time of writing this self plagiarising (yet again!) post, the original post has been read 578 times, and the Storify version has been viewed 595 times. You may be one of the lucky few to have seen it before. 🙂

Huh? I Don’t Get It.

Follow this link: https://storify.com/meta4RN/obesity-personal-or-social-responsibility, take 5 minutes to read through the collated Tweets, and then you’ll get it. Promise.

End

As always, you’re very welcome to leave feedback/suggestions/questions in the comments section below.

Paul McNamara, 15 October 2016

Short URL: https://meta4RN.com/obesity