Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Lessons for the coronavirus from the 1899 Honolulu plague

Public health officials all over the United States—indeed globally—are trying to decide how to deal with the world’s coronavirus pandemic.   They know the coronavirus originated in China, and they know they can identify it with certainty.  But they do not know what might kill it, and they have no cure for anyone who contracts […]

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Why doctors are like pilots

A recent analysis of the Boeing 737 Max disasters concludes that while technical malfunctions contributed to the crashes, “an industry that puts unprepared pilots in the cockpit is just as guilty.” Journalist William Langewiesche uses the term “airmanship” to encompass an array of skills and experience necessary to the safe and effective guidance of an airplane. “It includes a visceral sense of navigation, an operational understanding of weather and weather information, the ability to form mental maps of traffic flows, fluency in the nuance of radio communications and, especially, a deep appreciation for the interplay between energy, inertia and wings. Airplanes are living things.”

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How to write about science or technology clearly

Today, English is the international language of science and technology. People around the world read and write science or technical articles in English. A clear writing style helps to make your work easier to read, both for the colleague down the hall, and the one on the other side of the world. One key to […]

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Why the holidays are the loneliest time for seniors

The winter holidays are a time to celebrate family, friends, and community. But for the millions of older adults worldwide who have no family, few friends nearby, or are lonely and socially isolated, December is far from the most wonderful time of the year. A survey carried out by AARP in 2017 found that 28 percent of […]

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Connecting families through open adoption

The term “open adoption” is unfamiliar to much of the general public, and yet it describes the reality of adoption today. These are adoptions in which there is some contact or exchange of information between birth families and adoptive families, before or after the adoption. With growing awareness of the benefits of openness for children […]

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How meningitis has (almost) been conquered

Scientific discovery is often a messy affair. It’s sometimes intentional, sometimes accidental, sometimes cluttered with error, and always complicated. The ultimate value of scientific observations may not be recognized for many years until the discovery emerges to shed new insight on old problems and become etched in the scientific canon. Such is the story of the conquest of meningitis, a devastating infection of the brain that is usually fatal if not treated.

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Two years into the opioid emergency

Two years ago the Trump administration declared the opioid crisis in the United States a public health emergency, positioning federal agencies to respond to what has been called the public health crisis of our time. Congress followed, appropriating billions of dollars to federal agencies and state and local governments to support a variety of programs to address opioid addiction treatment and overdose prevention.

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Seven things you didn’t know could kill you

Medicine has advanced so much over the years, it’s hard to believe that some diseases still exist or don’t have a cure. Commonly known conditions such as cancer, stroke, and heart disease are scary enough, but there are plenty of other conditions that are potentially deadlier.

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Telling it like it is: opening up about my vulnerability

It was quite a shock for me when the independent psychiatrist asked me during my forced stay in the mental hospital what I thought of my diagnosis “schizophrenia”. It was the first time I heard my diagnosis. For the rest of our conversation the diagnosis “schizophrenia” echoed in my head. I associated “schizophrenia” with: being […]

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Music and spirituality at the end of life

Music and spirituality are two mediums frequently – almost ubiquitously – partnered in cultures around the world with the intention of enhancing engagement with the divine. Spiritual practices are infused with music to intensify the transpersonal components of worship, meditation, and ritual. Correspondingly, musical encounters are infused with spiritually-based beliefs and practices to provide individuals […]

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Looking back on 10 years of global road safety

According to the World Health Organization there were 1.35 million road traffic deaths globally in 2016 and between 20 and 50 million more people suffered non-fatal injuries and/or disabilities. Most of these collisions occurred in low- and middle-income countries and involved pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists. In addition, road traffic collisions are the leading killer of those between 15 and 29 years of age.

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Why hurricanes are deadly for older people

Meteorologists have pinpointed 10 September as the peak of hurricane season. September is the most active month of the year for Atlantic hurricane season, and 2019 is no exception. In early September, Dorian devastated the Bahamas, and wreaked havoc on the southeastern United States. Hurricane Maria battered Puerto Rico in September 2017, just weeks after Harvey […]

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Cancer patient or cancer survivor? Understanding illness identity.

The good news is that many people now survive their cancer. They are either cured or live with cancer as a chronic illness. However, life after cancer can vary between cancer survivors. Some are almost symptom free and return to a normal life after completion of treatment, while others could experience persistent side effects of cancer and treatment long after treatment has ended.

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It’s not just young people who are pre-drinking

Pre-drinking, the act of drinking at home before going out, is an issue of global concern due to its links with greater overall drinking across the night, and increased risk of assaults, injuries, and arrest. Generally people pre-drink due to the high cost of drinks in licensed premises, to socialize with friends, reduce social anxiety before going […]

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