Thursday, December 29, 2005

They Should Check The Stats

On coming back from the dead if they really want a disconnect from reality. I think One Life To Live had Victor Lord come back at least three times and then there was the bad guy who fell out of an airplane only to return a few years later with no injuries.

Best Place to Have a Coma: Soap Operas
Soap operas aren't medical documentaries, but media messages may subtly shape people's views, the researchers note.

"Although these programs are presented as fiction, they may contribute to unrealistic expectations of recovery" for patients in a coma, they write in BMJ.

Uncanny Survival

Casarett's team studied the depiction of comas on U.S. television soap operas from 1995-2005. During that time, 64 soap opera characters had what appeared to be comas.

Here's how those characters fared:

* Nearly nine out of 10 fully recovered
* 8% (five "patients") died
* 3% (two "patients") remained in a vegetative state

Those results are "unrealistically optimistic," write the researchers.

What's more, two of those deaths were faked so that the characters snuck away to live on. Viewers didn't know that right away, so the phony deaths were counted as actual deaths.

No word on how the comatose characters maintained perfect hair and makeup, whether actors' contract negotiations or TV ratings raised their risk of having a coma, or if the faked deaths prompted new storylines of lawsuits against the fictional caregivers.

Coma in the Real World

Here are some coma facts from Casarett and colleagues:

* Previous studies have shown survival rates of 50% or less for coma patients.
* Typically, less than 10% of patients recover fully from comas not caused by trauma. That's about nine times rarer than what happened on the soaps.
* Recovering coma patients often face subtle mental and functional deficits.
* Months of intensive physical and occupational therapy are usually needed after coma.

"Of course, soap opera storylines are not always written to reflect real life," the researchers write.
Good grief, I hope not. Otherwise I could have a kid show up that I never knew about because I had amnesia (and so did everyone else in town) and didn't remember giving birth to identical twins, one of which was raised as my baby brother and the other is the girl (small accident at birth) he met at college and is having an affair with her mother.

Did you get that?

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