Patti Neighmond

Award-winning journalist Patti Neighmond is NPR's health policy correspondent. Her reports air regularly on NPR newsmagazines All Things Considered, Morning Edition and Weekend Edition.

Based in Los Angeles, Neighmond has covered health care policy since April 1987. She joined NPR's staff in 1981, covering local New York City news as well as the United Nations. In 1984, she became a producer for NPR's science unit and specialized in science and environmental issues.

Neighmond has earned a broad array of awards for her reporting. In 1993, she received the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award for coverage of health reform. That same year she received the Robert F. Kennedy Award for a story on a young quadriplegic who convinced Georgia officials that she could live at home less expensively and more happily than in a nursing home. In 1990 she won the World Hunger Award for a story about healthcare and low-income children. Neighmond received two awards in 1989: a George Polk Award for her powerful ten-part series on AIDS patient Archie Harrison, who was taking the anti-viral drug AZT; and a Major Armstrong Award for her series on the Canadian health care system. The Population Institute, based in Washington, DC, has presented its radio documentary award to Neighmond twice: in 1988 for "Family Planning in India" and in 1984 for her coverage of overpopulation in Mexico. Her 1987 report "AIDS and Doctors" won the National Press Club Award for Consumer Journalism, and her two-part series on the aquaculture industry earned the 1986 American Association for the Advancement of Science Award.

Neighmond began her career in journalism in 1978, at the Pacifica Foundation's Washington D.C. bureau, where she covered Capitol Hill and the White House. She began freelance reporting for NPR from New York City in 1980. Neighmond earned her bachelor's degree in English and drama from the University of Maryland, and now lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two children.

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Shots - Health News
3:32 am
Thu May 14, 2015

Long-Term Depression May Boost Stroke Risk Long After Mood Improves

Originally published on Thu May 14, 2015 9:51 am

Medical researchers have known for several years that there is some sort of link between long-term depression and an increased risk of stroke. But now scientists are finding that even after such depression eases, the risk of stroke can remain high.

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Shots - Health News
3:23 am
Mon May 11, 2015

For Headaches, A Lifestyle Change May Be Better Than A Doctor Visit

Keith Negley for NPR

Originally published on Mon May 11, 2015 5:07 pm

Terri Bradford has suffered debilitating headaches all her life. Some days the pain is so bad, she says, "By 11 o'clock in the morning, I'm on the couch in a darkened room with my head packed in ice."

Over the years, Bradford, who is 50 years old and lives in Bedford, Mass., has searched desperately for pain relief. She's been to the doctor countless times for countless tests. "Everything I've had, I've had twice," she says. "I've had two spinal taps; I've had so many nerve blocks I've lost count."

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Shots - Health News
10:55 am
Fri May 1, 2015

Walking 2 Minutes An Hour Boosts Health, But It's No Panacea

Skopein Ikon Images/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon May 4, 2015 8:19 am

We know that sitting all day is hazardous to our health, increasing the risk of obesity, diabetes, hypertension, inflammation and atherosclerosis. It all sounds pretty dismal, since many of today's jobs require us to be nearly glued to our computer screens. But a tiny two-minute break may help offset that hazard, researchers say.

People who got up and moved around for at least two minutes every hour had a 33 percent lower risk of dying, according to researchers the University Of Utah School Of Medicine.

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Shots - Health News
3:48 am
Mon April 20, 2015

Mellow Pastimes Can Be Good For Your Health, Too

Painting
iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon April 20, 2015 10:11 am

This makes total sense: When you're engaged in an activity you truly enjoy, you're happy. And, when you're happy you're not dwelling on all the negative things in life, nor are you stressed about obligations or problems. Certainly this is a good thing from an emotional point of view, but it also has physical benefits.

We know exercise reduces stress, but it turns out that more simple stationary things, like doing puzzles, painting or sewing can help, too.

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Shots - Health News
3:27 am
Mon April 13, 2015

The Hidden Cost Of Mammograms: More Testing And Overtreatment

Originally published on Mon April 13, 2015 8:00 am

There's no question mammograms can save lives by detecting breast cancer early. But they can also result in unnecessary testing and treatment that can be alarming and costly.

In fact, each year the U.S. spends $4 billion on follow-up tests and treatments that result from inaccurate mammograms, scientists report in the current issue of Health Affairs.

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Shots - Health News
3:40 am
Mon March 30, 2015

Sure, Use A Treadmill Desk — But You Still Need To Exercise

NPR senior Washington editor Beth Donovan walks on a treadmill desk in her office in Washington, D.C.
Meredith Rizzo/NPR

Originally published on Tue March 31, 2015 5:31 pm

First off, I need to be upfront: I have a treadmill desk. I got it about two years ago, prompted by all the studies showing the dangers of sitting all day. The idea is to get people more active and walking while working. The problem is, I don't use it. In fact, I probably only used it for a few months. I still stand all day, but I'm not walking.

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Shots - Health News
3:51 pm
Tue March 17, 2015

Workplace Suicide Rates Rise Sharply

Originally published on Thu March 19, 2015 8:30 am

Suicide rates in the U.S. have gone up considerably in recent years, claiming an average of 36,000 lives annually.

Most people take their lives in or near home. But suicide on the job is also increasing and, according to federal researchers, suicide risk changes depending on the type of work people do.

Researchers from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health analyzed census data and compared suicide rates among different occupations.

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Shots - Health News
3:37 am
Tue March 3, 2015

Improving Housing Can Pay Dividends In Better Health

Uzuri Pease-Greene, right, leads a walk through the public housing complex in the Potrero Hill neighborhood of San Francisco where her family lives. She is working to have the old buildings replaced.
Talia Herman for NPR

Originally published on Tue March 3, 2015 5:20 pm

Faiza Ayesh giggles with delight as she describes her brand-new two-bedroom apartment in Oakland, Calif. She shares her home with her husband and three little girls, ages 3, 2 and 5 months. Ayesh, 30, says she just loves being a stay-at-home mom. "It's the best job in the world."

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Shots - Health News
4:06 am
Mon March 2, 2015

People With Low Incomes Say They Pay A Price In Poor Health

Hanna Barczyk for NPR

Originally published on Tue March 3, 2015 7:39 am

When you ask people what impacts health you'll get a lot of different answers: Access to good health care and preventative services, personal behavior, exposure to germs or pollution and stress. But if you dig a little deeper you'll find a clear dividing line, and it boils down to one word: money.

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Shots - Health News
5:34 am
Sat February 7, 2015

To Get Parents To Vaccinate Their Kids, Don't Ask. Just Tell

Gary Waters Getty Images/Ikon Images

Originally published on Tue February 10, 2015 1:56 pm

As California's measles outbreak continues to spread beyond state borders, many doctors nationwide are grappling with how best to convince parents to have their children vaccinated. Inviting a collaborative conversation doesn't work all that well, many are finding. Recent research suggests that being more matter-of-fact can work a lot better.

Pediatrician Eric Ball, who practices in southern California, says, in his experience, the families skeptical of vaccines can be divided into two types.

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Shots - Health News
5:50 pm
Wed February 4, 2015

Pediatricians Pressured To Drop Parents Who Won't Vaccinate

Dr. Eric Ball examines a healthy 5-day-old patient in his office in Ladera Ranch, Calif. Ball and colleagues decided this week to take only patients whose parents follow the recommended vaccine schedule.
Courtesy of Eric Ball

Originally published on Thu February 5, 2015 8:15 am

Dr. Bob Sears, a pediatrician in Capistrano Beach, Calif., says that he strongly believes in the protective power of vaccines to save lives. But he's also well-known in Southern California as a doctor who won't pressure parents who refuse to vaccinate their children, or who refuse some vaccines, or who want to stray from the recommended schedule of vaccinations.

"They all come to me because, I guess, I'm more respectful of their decisions, more willing to listen to them," Sears says, "[and to] discuss pros and cons and acknowledge that there are some side effects to vaccines."

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Around the Nation
4:59 am
Thu January 22, 2015

Measles Outbreak At Disneyland Spreads To Other States

Originally published on Thu January 22, 2015 1:49 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Shots - Health News
3:33 am
Mon January 19, 2015

When Bariatric Surgery's Benefits Wane, This Procedure Can Help

Originally published on Mon January 19, 2015 7:37 am

For most of her life Fran Friedman struggled with compulsive eating. At 59 years old she was 5 foot 2 and weighed 360 pounds. That's when she opted for bariatric surgery.

The surgery worked. Friedman, who is now 70 and lives in Los Angeles, lost 175 pounds. "It was a miracle," Friedman says, not to feel hungry. "It was the first time in my life that I've ever lost a lot of weight and was able to maintain it."

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Shots - Health News
10:33 am
Wed January 14, 2015

Working Longer Hours Can Mean Drinking More

It's been a long day. Time to unwind.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu January 15, 2015 12:21 pm

People who try to reduce the stress of a long work day with a drink or two, or three, may be causing more health problems for themselves.

Around the world, people working long hours are more likely to drink too much, according to a study that analyzed data from 61 studies involving 333,693 people in 14 countries.

They found that people who worked more than 48 hours a week were 13 percent more likely to engage in risky drinking than people working 35 to 40 hours a week.

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Shots - Health News
3:58 am
Tue December 30, 2014

Traffic Stops Persuade People To Avoid Drinking And Driving

Police officers check drivers at a sobriety checkpoint in Escondido, Calif.
Lenny Ignelzi AP

Originally published on Wed December 31, 2014 10:55 am

It's a big concern during the holiday season — drunken drivers on the roads and highways. Every year, 10,000 people are killed in crashes in the United States involving a driver under the influence. Now researchers say there are steps communities can take to decrease the number of drivers who are drunk.

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Shots - Health News
3:24 am
Mon December 15, 2014

To Stop Teen Drinking Parties, Fine The Parents

Maria Fabrizio for NPR

Originally published on Sun January 4, 2015 3:18 pm

When it comes to teenage drinking, the typical venue is a party — where some teens play drinking games and binge. It may surprise you to learn that the majority of parents are aware that alcohol is flowing at these events.

On any given weekend, some teenagers receive three to four text messages about parties, says Bettina Friese, a public health researcher at the Prevention Research Center in Oakland, Calif.

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Shots - Health News
11:20 am
Mon December 8, 2014

Doctors Are Slow To Adopt Changes In Breast Cancer Treatment

New evidence on the effectiveness of medical treatments can take a long time to influence medical practice.
Damian Dovarganes AP

Originally published on Tue December 9, 2014 4:58 pm

Cancer doctors want the best, most effective treatment for their patients. But it turns out many aren't paying attention to evidence that older women with early stage breast cancer may be enduring the pain, fatigue and cost of radiation treatment although it doesn't increase life expectancy.

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Shots - Health News
3:24 am
Wed December 3, 2014

CDC Considers Counseling Males Of All Ages On Circumcision

Originally published on Thu December 4, 2014 8:18 am

Draft federal recommendations don't usually raise eyebrows, but this one certainly will — that males of all ages, including teenage boys, should be counseled on the health benefits of circumcision.

In the past 15 years, studies in Africa have found that circumcision lowers men's risk of being infected with HIV during heterosexual intercourse by 50 to 60 percent. Being circumcised also reduces men's risk of infection with the herpes virus and human papillomavirus.

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Shots - Health News
3:41 am
Mon November 17, 2014

The Power Of Suggestion Could Trigger Asthma — Or Treat It

Daniel Horowitz for NPR

Originally published on Mon November 17, 2014 4:41 pm

Lots of things can trigger an asthma attack, but one of the most common causes is odor — anything from the heavy scent of perfume to a household cleaner.

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Shots - Health News
5:37 pm
Thu November 6, 2014

Flu Season Brings Stronger Vaccines And Revised Advice

Which flu vaccine should you get? That may depend on your age and your general health.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Originally published on Thu November 6, 2014 6:33 pm

The symptoms of the flu are familiar: fever, chills, cough, congestion, feeling very, very tired. If you're a healthy adult under 65, you'll most likely recover in a week or two.

But for those older than 65, things can get worse fast, says Dr. H. Keipp Talbot, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University.

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Shots - Health News
4:36 am
Mon October 27, 2014

Corneal Implants Might Make Reading Glasses Obsolete

A corneal inlay next to a contact lens.
Courtesy of John Vukich

Originally published on Tue October 28, 2014 9:03 am

For Lori Bandt, who works as a medical technician and an EMT in a suburb of Madison, Wis., the print on vials of medication has become so difficult to read that if she forgets her reading glasses she has to resort to having a younger EMT worker read the directions. The 45-year-old says: "I'm just stuck."

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Shots - Health News
5:19 pm
Thu October 16, 2014

Women Can Freeze Their Eggs For The Future, But At A Cost

A doctor uses a microscrope to view a human egg during in vitro fertilization (IVF), which is used to fertilize eggs that have been frozen.
Mauro Fermariello ScienceSource

Originally published on Thu October 16, 2014 6:35 pm

Until recently, freezing a woman's eggs was reserved mainly for young women facing infertility as a result of cancer treatments like chemotherapy.

But recent advances in technology have made freezing eggs easier and more successful, and likely have a lot to do with the recent decisions by Facebook and Apple to offer female employees a health benefit worth up to $20,000 to freeze their eggs.

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Shots - Health News
3:31 am
Mon October 6, 2014

Social Media, The New Weapon In The Battle To Lose Weight

Photos from Liz Paul's blog entries on Prior Fat Girl. The blog chronicles women's weight loss journeys.
Courtesy of Liz Paul/PriorFatGirl.com

Originally published on Tue October 21, 2014 2:25 pm

On a recent Sunday night, Liz Paul was tired. She'd worked in the morning, spent a full day with her family and she did not feel like going out for her daily jog.

"I tweeted out, 'Well, it's 9 p.m. on Sunday and I didn't work out,' " she says, "I really shouldn't go run in the dark should I?"

The response was immediate. The network of people Paul is relying on to help in her battle to lose weight chimed in with advice. Some tweeted back, "Yes, get out and run." Others offered alternatives like a video workout. But everyone said, "Do something!"

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Shots - Health News
3:30 am
Mon September 22, 2014

Best To Not Sweat The Small Stuff, Because It Could Kill You

Keith Negley for NPR

Originally published on Tue September 23, 2014 8:21 am

Chronic stress is hazardous to health and can lead to early death from heart disease, cancer and of other health problems. But it turns out it doesn't matter whether the stress comes from major events in life or from minor problems. Both can be deadly.

And it may be that it's not the stress from major life events like divorce, illness and job loss trickled down to everyday life that gets you; it's how you react to the smaller, everyday stress.

The most stressed-out people have the highest risk of premature death, according to one study that followed 1,293 men for years.

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Shots - Health News
3:22 am
Mon September 8, 2014

Cheap Drinks And Risk-Taking Fuel College Drinking Culture

Rob Donnelly for NPR

Originally published on Wed February 4, 2015 6:33 pm

There's no question that alcohol is a factor in the majority of sexual assaults on campus. And alcohol is abundant and very present at most colleges today.

In fact, federal health officials say more than 80 percent of college students drink. And about half say they binge drink. This means more than four drinks for women and more than five drinks for men, within a two-hour time frame.

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Shots - Health News
3:28 am
Mon August 11, 2014

A Coping Plan Can Help Fend Off Depression From Vision Loss

One of the scariest parts of advanced macular degeneration can be losing the ability to read facial expressions.
Maria Pavlova iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon August 11, 2014 2:56 pm

When people lose their vision as they get older, they lose a lot of other things, too. They lose their ability to do the things they love.

"You can't read, you can't cook, and you can't socialize — and as a result, you may become demoralized, withdrawn and depressed," says Dr. Barry Rovner, a geriatric psychiatrist at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia.

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Shots - Health News
3:17 am
Mon August 4, 2014

What Makes Us Fat: Is It Eating Too Much Or Moving Too Little?

Maria Fabrizio for NPR

Originally published on Tue August 5, 2014 11:35 am

We're constantly hearing messages that we're eating too much and not moving around enough. Now researchers suggest that we're actually not eating more than we did 20 years ago, it's that we're much less active. And that includes not just middle-aged workers tied to their desks, but also young men and women who spend their days sitting in front of their laptops.

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Shots - Health News
5:00 am
Mon July 28, 2014

People Who Feel They Have A Purpose In Life Live Longer

Maria Fabrizio for NPR

Originally published on Mon July 28, 2014 7:37 pm

We know that happiness and social connection can have positive benefits on health. Now research suggests that having a sense of purpose or direction in life may also be beneficial.

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Shots - Health News
4:47 pm
Mon July 21, 2014

High-Performing Charter Schools May Improve Students' Health

Researchers are just starting to look at how school choice affects health.
romester/iStockphoto

Many people are intensely interested in how publicly funded charter schools affect children, and that includes not just their academic achievement but their health.

Researchers from UCLA and the Rand Corp. wanted to know whether attending a high-performing charter school reduced the rates of risky health behaviors among low-income minority teenagers.

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Shots - Health News
3:28 am
Wed July 16, 2014

Want More Stress In Your Life? Try Parenting A Teenager

Amy Myers talks with her son Kamron, 18, in the backyard of their home in Boise, Idaho. She has found raising a teenager to be extremely stressful.
Kyle Green for NPR

Originally published on Wed July 16, 2014 10:32 am

If anyone can handle the stress of parenting in the teen years, you'd think it would be a high school teacher.

That's how Amy Myers felt. She teaches high school English in a suburb of Boise, Idaho, where she says she has "pseudo parented" about 3,000 teenagers "who I have talked to, given advice to, guided, directed, even lectured about teenage issues," she says.

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