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April 2018 Connect with us Facebook Twitter Sign up  |  Archive  |  Advertise
Editor's e-Note
Social workers are well aware of the effect of social determinants on patients’ health; social determinants can undermine the effectiveness of treatments. One way to address this problem has been the creation of medical-legal partnerships—collaborative arrangements in which legal professionals are embedded in health care organizations to address the unmet social, civil, and legal needs of patients.

This month’s E-News Exclusive features new research on the effectiveness of medical-legal partnerships in addressing social determinants and ultimately improving health outcomes.

We welcome your comments at Visit our website at, like our Facebook page; and follow us on Twitter.

— Marianne Mallon, editor
e-News Exclusive
Medical-Legal Partnerships Can Promote Health Equity

Research published by the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership (NCMLP) at George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health in Washington, DC, shares how more than 300 hospitals, health centers, and clinics across the United States are using legal services to address patients’ unmet social needs. The research, published in Health Affairs, is part of the journal’s issue on advancing health equity; it highlights different approaches health care organizations take to implement medical-legal partnerships that place civil legal aid professionals into the health care setting to treat issues—e.g., housing, access to insurance, and stable guardianship—that drive health inequities.

The researchers drew on national survey findings and field research to identify multiple models for delivering legal services in clinical settings. They found that different health care organizations—from pediatric primary care clinics serving low-income neighborhoods to health centers with highly specialized programs for complex, chronic conditions—adapt medical-legal partnership services to meet the specific needs of their patients.

“For years, pilot studies have shown the extreme promise of medical-legal partnership to address some of patients’ most seemingly intractable social problems,” says Marsha Regenstein, PhD, a professor of health policy and management at Milken Institute School of Public Health and director of research for NCMLP. “What this research illustrates is that medical-legal partnership is a flexible intervention and that health care is figuring out a variety of different ways to leverage it to best serve the needs of different patient populations.”

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Tech & Tools
Virtual Reality: An Escape From Painful and Stressful Medical Treatments

Virtual reality (VR) technology allows users to immerse themselves in a three-dimensional computer-generated world, and, despite being originally developed as an entertainment tool, VR has found a variety of applications in health care over the last two decades. Among these applications, which include treatment of phobias and anxiety disorders, cognitive and physical rehabilitation, pain management, treatment of eating disorders and obesity, surgical training, and aid in surgical planning and performance, VR has shown promise in several clinical trials assessing its possible utility as a distraction tool to alleviate pain and distress during medical procedures.

A review article, recently published in The Clinical Journal of Pain, provides a comprehensive overview of the clinical studies using VR during several painful and stressful medical procedures, including burn injury treatments, chemotherapy, surgery, dental treatment, and other diagnostic and therapeutic procedures.

Read more »
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