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Music Enhances Feelings of Attraction

Feelings of Interest Among Singles’ First Meeting Increased Significantly If Music Was in the Background

Music might just be the food of love, a study found. Feelings of interest and attraction among single men and women increased significantly if music was playing in the background at their first meeting compared with no music, according to a report in the current issue of Psychology of Music.

Impressions of other character traits, such as openness and friendliness, also got higher ratings with background music.

First conversations are important and often indicate if a couple has a future relationship, the study said. Music affects neurochemical systems in the brain that may enhance the interpersonal impressions formed during those conversations, it said.

Japanese scientists recruited 32 students, 16 men and 16 women in their early 20s, for the study, which simulated a Japanese gokon party for konkatsu, or finding a marriage partner. Half were assigned to experiments with music and half without music. Four additional students, two men and two women who weren’t known to the subjects, acted as visitors.

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The experiments were conducted at two tables, each with two male and two female subjects and two opposite-sex visitors who sat and talked informally. After about 20 minutes, the visitors switched tables and conversed with four new subjects. In the music experiments, which were conducted separately, selections of rock, rap and classical music played from a small speaker on the table as visitors entered and left the room, and during the conversations.

Subjects in both groups rated 10 traits to describe their impression of the opposite-sex visitors, including confidence, patience, likableness and interest in dating, before and after the meetings. (The experiment was repeated twice for both groups.)

Average scores for all 10 traits were higher after conversations with music compared with no music, suggesting the music increased the participants’ feelings of attraction for the visitors, the researchers said. Likableness and interest in dating the person saw the greatest increases when accompanied by music.

Conversations without music also resulted in higher scores for most of the 10 traits, though the increase was less significant than with the music groups.

Caveat: Music may have altered the guests’ behavior and made them more charming, the researchers said. Potentially stronger effects might occur if subjects chose their own music, they said.

Title: Effects of background music on young Japanese adults’ impressions of opposite-sex conversation partners

Group care: Diabetic patients who participated in group medical appointments saw significant improvements in blood-sugar control and blood pressure compared with those who received one-on-one care, according to a meta-analysis in the current issue of the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Group clinics, called shared medical appointments, are a relatively new form of patient care in which small groups of 10 to 20 people with common medical conditions meet on a regular basis with health professionals. This study suggests shared appointments may reduce the risk of vascular complications associated with diabetes.

Researchers at the Department of Veterans Affairs and Duke University in Durham, N.C., pooled the findings of 17 separate U.S. and European studies that compared shared appointments with individual care in close to 3,500 patients, ages 29 to 70 years old. Most of the patients had Type 2 diabetes, and some had Type 1. The groups met regularly with teams of physicians, pharmacists and nurses. The sessions, which ranged from every three weeks to every three months, lasted two hours, on average.

Blood-sugar control was assessed with a test called A1C, which measures average blood-sugar levels over two to three months.

Group appointments were associated with an average A1C decrease of 0.6 percentage point, a statistically significant reduction comparable to 33% to 50% of the change that would likely be seen with medication, the researchers said.

Systolic blood pressure, the top number in a blood-pressure reading, decreased by five points, on average, which was statistically significant and comparable to 75% of the improvement expected after a year of hypertension medication, they said. Cholesterol levels also improved but not significantly.

The researchers said they couldn’t explain what makes a shared medical appointment more successful than an individual session, or what type of patient might be most suited to this type of care.

Caveat: Few studies examined patient satisfaction, access to group appointments and other patient-related outcomes, the researchers said. The quality of the studies varied.

Title: Shared Medical Appointments for Patients with Diabetes Mellitus: A Systematic Review

Misleading pain: Pain and inflammation in a small bony projection in the rib cage may be an often overlooked cause of chest pain that can lead to unnecessary diagnostic testing, including for possible heart problems, says a study in the current issue of the Journal of Musculoskeletal Pain.

The study found 3.3% of patients admitted to hospital with chest pain had a benign condition called xiphodynia, or pain in the xiphoid process, a small triangular protrusion extending downward from the breastbone.

Xiphodynia may affect more than 3% of patients hospitalized for chest pain, researchers said. Heavy work or a cough can irritate the xiphoid process, and symptoms often worsen after large meals or activities involving bending and twisting, the study said.

Researchers in Israel reviewed the medical records of 428 patients with chest pain who were admitted to hospital over an 18-month period. Ten had risk factors for cardiovascular disease and three had a history of heart disease. The patients’ xiphoid process was examined after one physician read a case study of xiphodynia. The condition was subsequently diagnosed in 14 patients—10 men and four women—age 21 to 88 years old.

Eight of the patients with xiphodynia were treated with injections of a local anesthetic and steroids directly into the most painful region of the xiphoid process and six received nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for about two weeks. The treatments provided relief to most patients, researchers said.

Before the diagnosis of xiphodynia, the 14 patients underwent a combined total of 25 diagnostic procedures that included cardiac catheterization, CT scans, cardiac ultrasounds or echocardiograms, and stress testing. Hospital stays averaged 4.5 days.

Caveat: Patients were from one ward in a large university hospital.

Title: Xiphodynia: An Easily Diagnosed but Frequently Overlooked Cause of Non-cardiac Chest Pain

Canker risk: College students who regularly went to bed after 11 p.m. were 16 times as likely to develop painful canker sores as those with earlier bedtimes, according to a study in the February issue of Oral Surgery, Oral Medicine, Oral Pathology and Oral Radiology.

Canker sores, called recurrent aphthous stomatitis, are small mouth ulcers that often develop during stressful situations, though the actual cause isn’t known, the researchers said. They are different from cold sores, or fever blisters, which are caused by a virus.

Sleep disruption caused by chronic late nights can affect immune response and increase susceptibility to canker sores, the study suggests.

Researchers in China in 2013 surveyed 1,006 university students. Just over half, 53.2%, reported having canker sores, and 96% of this group routinely went to bed after 11 p.m. That compared with 69% of students without cankers who had bedtimes after 11 p.m. About 70% of both groups had a family history of canker sores. Students with cankers were prone to head colds: 22% had three or more colds a year compared with 12% of students without cankers.

Canker sores were more common during both exam and non-exam periods in students with bedtimes after 11 p.m., compared with students who only stayed up late during exams or those who regularly had earlier bedtimes. Students with cankers tended to have poor relationships with roommates. Cankers weren’t associated with age, gender or field of study.

Caveat: Information about canker sores was self-reported by students.

Title: Effect of bedtime on recurrent aphthous stomatitis in college students

Away from home: Weekly commuting back and forth to work may take a greater toll on workers’ health and home life than frequent business travel, says a study in the February issue of the Scandinavian Journal of Psychology.

Most studies on the effects of excessive business travel have focused on the amount of traveling instead of travel patterns, the researchers said. This study suggests exposure to new places and cultures may be a positive aspect of long-distance travel and provide opportunities for relaxation.

But commuters who travel to and from their workplace on a weekly basis may not get the same break from their work environment, which could increase physical symptoms and family disruptions, the study said. Weekly commuting can be common among two-career couples and in some professions in remote locations.

Researchers in Norway used a database for a large oil-and-gas company to identify 2,093 workers, mainly men, who traveled frequently during a six-month period in 2011. Most of the workers, 69%, were classified as national travelers, 24% traveled internationally and 7% commuted weekly to work.

On average, the commuters weren’t at home 87 nights during the study period compared with 33 nights for international travelers and 27 for those staying within country. Emotional exhaustion, work-family conflicts and health complaints were reported on questionnaires.

Travel-related absences interfered with family life in all travel groups but commuters reported significantly higher work-family conflicts than the national and international travelers. Emotional exhaustion and musculoskeletal pain was significantly greater among commuters. No gender differences were found.

Caveat: Health symptoms were self-reported at one time point. The study only included workers from one occupational sector.

Article by Ann Lukits, Posted in wsj.com