What We're Reading: Pain and Your Brain; Rural Hospital Closures; Organ and Tissue Donation

February 19, 2020
AJMC Staff

Our brains experience social and physical pain in much the same way; rural hospitals in the United States are increasingly at risk of closure; there is strong support for organ and tissue donation for research.

Social and Physical Pain Experiences Overlap in Our Brains

Our brains may process social and physical pain in different ways, but similar areas of the brain appear to be activated when both types of pain occur, according to Forbes. The anterior cingulate cortex and the right ventral prefrontal cortex of the brain showed increased activity during feelings of loss or exclusion, much as they do when we experience pain, finds additional research from the University of Michigan, and magnetic resonance imaging studies show neural overlap during times of emotional and physical pain.

Rural Hospitals Are Increasingly Vulnerable

In 2019, 19 hospitals in rural America closed—the most in a decade—and at present, 1 in 4 is in danger of closing, according to Vox. Key risk factors include the amount, or lack thereof, of revenue and beds occupied. Being in a Medicaid expansion state meant there was a 62% reduced likelihood of closure, while 75% of hospitals at risk of closure, as well as most that have closed in the past 10 years, were in non—Medicaid expansion states such as Texas, Oklahoma, and Alabama.

Most Americans Support Organ and Tissue Donation for Research

Sixty-two percent of Americans strongly agree that organ and tissue donation can lead to medical and health breakthroughs, while 51% concur that the public should be encouraged to become donors because there is a shortage of both available tissues and organs, according to National Disease Research Interchange. Support for donation is reflected across racial groups—white, Hispanic, African, and Asian Americans were surveyed—but reasons for those who are not registered to donate include that they don’t want to be disfigured after death, medical reasons, and it’s against their religion. Still, most support the practice if the research is done by a nonprofit organization.