Tapesearch Logo

Freakonomics, M.D.

Freakonomics Radio + Stitcher

Society & Culture, Science

4.8 • 1.1K Ratings


Each week, physician, economist, and author of "Random Acts of Medicine" Dr. Bapu Jena will dig into a fascinating study at the intersection of economics and healthcare. He takes on questions like: Why do kids with summer birthdays get the flu more often? Can surviving a hurricane help you live longer? What do heart surgery and grocery-store pricing have in common?

87 Episodes

The Economics of Everyday Things: Animal Urine

In the newest show from the Freakonomics Radio Network, host Zachary Crockett explores the hidden side of the things around us. This week: One creature’s trash is another’s cash. (Or, how one man found profit in pee.)

Transcribed - Published: 21 July 2023

Tom Brady, A.D.H.D., and a Really Bad Headache (Bonus)

A sneak peek at Bapu's new book, "Random Acts of Medicine," available now from Doubleday, and an announcement about the show.

Transcribed - Published: 11 July 2023

78. Do Kids Cause Divorce?

Couples get divorced for all kinds of reasons. Is having kids one of them? Bapu talks about research that investigates what happens to parents who unexpectedly have twins. Plus, an announcement about the future of the show.

Transcribed - Published: 31 March 2023

77. They Make Minimum Wage. They Could Save Your Life.

Doctors and nurses get most of the attention — but a new study suggests we can improve health care by raising wages for a group of workers who are often overlooked.

Transcribed - Published: 24 March 2023

76. Is a Spoonful of Sunlight the Best Medicine?

In hospitals, a softer pillow or a nicer room might be more than just amenities — they could improve outcomes for patients.

Transcribed - Published: 17 March 2023

75. What Is Sugar Really Doing to You?

Americans eat a lot of sugar — and it’s hard to determine how it affects our health. Bapu explains how a new study uses data from the 1950s to help solve the mystery.

Transcribed - Published: 10 March 2023

74. How Does Playing Football Affect Your Health?

It’s not a new question, but it’s a tricky one to study. Bapu explains why, and talks about how an N.F.L. labor dispute helped him get some answers.

Transcribed - Published: 3 March 2023

73. Who Pays for Multimillion-Dollar Miracle Cures?

The most expensive drugs in the world are treatments for genetic diseases. And more of these cures are on the horizon. How will anyone be able to afford them?

Transcribed - Published: 17 February 2023

72. What’s Stopping Us From Curing Rare Diseases?

Breakthroughs in biotech that seem like science fiction are becoming reality. Why aren’t more patients benefiting from them?

Transcribed - Published: 10 February 2023

71. What Do COVID-19 and Cancer Have in Common?

mRNA vaccines helped bring the pandemic under control. Could they also train the immune system to fight cancer?

Transcribed - Published: 3 February 2023

70. Why Are There Still So Few Female Surgeons?

Success and failure are hard to measure in medicine. Bapu looks at how surgeons are judged after a bad outcome — and whether men and women are treated the same.

Transcribed - Published: 27 January 2023

69. Home Sweet … Hospital?

We take it for granted that, when people are acutely ill, they should be in the hospital. Is there a better way?

Transcribed - Published: 20 January 2023

68. The E.R. Doctor’s Dilemma

Figuring out which patients to hospitalize and which to safely send home can be tricky. Is there a way to make this decision easier for doctors — and get better outcomes, too?

Transcribed - Published: 13 January 2023

What Can We Do About the Hardest Patients? (Ep. 51 Replay)

A small number of patients with multiple chronic conditions use a lot of resources. Dr. Jeffrey Brenner found a way to identify and treat them. Could it reduce health-care spending too?

Transcribed - Published: 6 January 2023

67. Why Did This 60-Year-Old Man Collapse at the Supermarket?

Bapu tries to stump master clinician Dr. Gurpreet Dhaliwal with a medical mystery.

Transcribed - Published: 30 December 2022

66. Does Health Insurance Make You Healthier?

It’s a surprisingly hard question to answer. Bapu talks with a health economist about a natural experiment that led to some unexpected findings.

Transcribed - Published: 23 December 2022

65. How Do Pandemics Change Health Care?

At the start of the 20th century, there weren’t many hospitals in the U.S. That changed in 1918, thanks to the Great Influenza pandemic. Its effects on health care are still being felt today. Which makes us wonder: will the impact of Covid-19 also be felt 100 years from now?

Transcribed - Published: 16 December 2022

64. Is Facebook Bad for Your Mental Health?

Half the world's population uses social media — and a new study suggests that it causes anxiety and depression. Can anything be done, or is it too late?

Transcribed - Published: 9 December 2022

63. What Medicine Gets Wrong About Race

Some diagnostic tests give distorted results for Black patients. How are doctors trying to change that?

Transcribed - Published: 2 December 2022

Why Don’t We Have a Cure for Alzheimer’s? (Ep. 49 Update)

Promising drugs keep failing in trials. Allegations of fraud have cast a shadow over the field. An expert explains why Alzheimer’s treatments have been so hard to find — and why one clue may lie in the Andes Mountains.

Transcribed - Published: 25 November 2022

62. Dr. Ashish Jha Anticipated a Pandemic. He Didn’t Think It Would Look Like This.

Bapu talks to White House Covid Czar Dr. Ashish Jha about becoming a household name, studying pandemics, and the frustrations of politics. Also, when will he be out of a job?

Transcribed - Published: 18 November 2022

61. Should You Bother Getting a Colonoscopy?

Colonoscopy is strongly recommended for Americans over 45. But a new study suggests its benefits have been overstated. Should we change how we screen for colorectal cancer?

Transcribed - Published: 11 November 2022

60. The Doctor Is Out. The Physician Assistant Is In.

Chances are, at some point you’ll be treated by a nurse practitioner or a physician assistant instead of a doctor. Will your care suffer?

Transcribed - Published: 4 November 2022

59. The Most Valuable Resource in Medicine

Time is precious. How can doctors and patients make the best use of it — especially when there isn’t much left?

Transcribed - Published: 28 October 2022

58. How Important Is Breastfeeding, Really?

Can a clever new study shed light on one of parenting’s most elusive and contentious questions?

Transcribed - Published: 21 October 2022

57. Doctors Know They Prescribe Too Many Antibiotics. Why Don’t They Stop?

Antibiotics save lives. But what happens when we use them too much? Bapu looks at how changing physician behavior could help prevent a major public health disaster.

Transcribed - Published: 14 October 2022

56. Could Prison Be Good for Your Health?

Incarceration has been linked to infectious diseases, mental illness, cancer, and violence. But new research suggests it can extend some people’s lifespans. Bapu investigates the paradox of prison time.

Transcribed - Published: 7 October 2022

55. This Vaccine Lottery Seemed Like a Great Idea. Why Didn’t it Work?

Behavioral economists say “regret lotteries” are powerful motivational tools. When Philadelphia tried one in 2021, the results were disappointing. Bapu looks at how incentives can backfire — and what we can learn from failures.

Transcribed - Published: 30 September 2022

54. Will You Ever Go Back to Your Doctor’s Office?

When COVID hit, telemedicine use in the U.S. exploded. But how are we using it now? Bapu Jena explores the consequences of this evolving technology.

Transcribed - Published: 23 September 2022

53. Why Do Doctors Have to Play Defense?

After the Supreme Court’s abortion decision, doctors in some states are concerned that delivering treatment could put them in legal jeopardy. Bapu Jena looks at how the practice of “defensive medicine” can compromise patient care.

Transcribed - Published: 16 September 2022

52. Who Gets a Heart Disease Test?

Medical tests can save lives. So how do doctors decide who gets tested, and when?

Transcribed - Published: 9 September 2022

Why Fridays May Be Dangerous for Your Health (Ep. 9 Replay)

When researchers analyzed which day of the week most F.D.A. drug-safety alerts are released — and what it means for public health — they were stunned. So, what can we do about the “Friday Effect?”

Transcribed - Published: 2 September 2022

51. What Can We Do About the Hardest Patients?

A small number of patients with multiple, chronic conditions use a lot of resources. Dr. Jeffrey Brenner found a way to identify and treat them. Could it reduce health care spending too?

Transcribed - Published: 26 August 2022

50. What Happens When a Hospital Closes?

When a hospital closes in a rural area, it’s a big deal. But are all patients affected equally? We look at new research on the unexpected outcomes of traveling farther for care.

Transcribed - Published: 19 August 2022

49. Why Don’t We Have a Cure for Alzheimer’s?

Promising drugs keep failing in trials. Allegations of fraud have cast a shadow over the field. An expert explains why Alzheimer’s treatments have been so hard to find — and why one clue may lie in the Andes Mountains.

Transcribed - Published: 12 August 2022

48. The Hidden Consequences of School Shootings

Beyond the immediate casualties, school shootings have costs — for survivors, and for the rest of us.

Transcribed - Published: 5 August 2022

47. Should We Trust Hospital Rankings?

Hospitals compete for prime spots on the "U.S. News" rankings — but could those lists be doing more harm than good?

Transcribed - Published: 29 July 2022

How Does Retirement Affect Your Brain? (Ep. 17 Replay)

Our cognitive health can change as we get older. So, does leaving the workforce make problems like memory loss and difficulty focusing worse? We investigate the research, and Bapu asks: is it time for his dad to retire?

Transcribed - Published: 22 July 2022

46. Could Long Covid Help Treat Other Chronic Illnesses?

Chronic fatigue syndrome looks remarkably similar to Long Covid, but has been ignored by the medical community. Could patients finally get some answers to their debilitating illness?

Transcribed - Published: 15 July 2022

45. Why Is July a Bad Month to Visit the Hospital?

Learning requires practice — and if you visit a teaching hospital in July, there’s a good chance your doctor hasn’t had much of it. So, will your care suffer? The dean of a medical school, an economist, and a hospital administrator help Bapu Jena find out.

Transcribed - Published: 8 July 2022

44. Office Hours with Bapu

Can you diagnose cancer too early? Do in-flight medical emergencies vary by location? We asked you to send Bapu your questions, and this week he tries to answer them. We’d love to get to the bottom of even more topics. Send your voice memos to [email protected]

Transcribed - Published: 1 July 2022

43. The Comedian-Ophthalmologist Will See You Now

Dr. Will Flanary, a.k.a Dr. Glaucomflecken, has always been a comedy fan. During the pandemic, he found an audience. But should doctors be funny with their patients? Bapu Jena asks when laughter is — and isn’t — the best medicine.

Transcribed - Published: 24 June 2022

42. Your Doctor Has to Go Home. Now What?

When a doctor’s shift ends, or a physician retires, are patients left in the lurch? Bapu Jena looks at the challenge of managing medical transitions.

Transcribed - Published: 17 June 2022

41. Is Rainy Day Joint Pain All in Your Head?

You’ve heard that the weather can make your joints hurt. Maybe you’ve even felt it yourself. But, is it true? Bapu Jena looks at why we think we know certain things in medicine, even when the data don’t agree.

Transcribed - Published: 10 June 2022

40. How Will We Handle the Heat?

The world is warmer than ever, and getting hotter. Bapu Jena looks at how heat affects our bodies and our behavior — and how we might adapt to rising temperatures.

Transcribed - Published: 3 June 2022

A Shave, a Haircut, and a Blood Pressure Test (Ep. 6 Update)

For Black men, the barbershop is a neighborhood hub. It could also be a place for them to get medical care. Plus: What happens to patients when affirmative action ends?

Transcribed - Published: 27 May 2022

38. Pfizer’s CEO on the Big Gamble That Brought Us the COVID Vaccine

Bapu Jena talks with Albert Bourla about his unusual path to the top, developing a life-saving vaccine in record time, and the second-hardest decision he made along the way.

Transcribed - Published: 20 May 2022

37. Can Fear Be Good Medicine?

Fear is a popular tool in public health campaigns. But is it an effective one? Bapu Jena discusses new research on whether we can — and should — scare people into being healthier.

Transcribed - Published: 13 May 2022

36. Bad News — It’s Your Surgeon’s Birthday

Distractions are everywhere — including in the operating room. So, what happens if a surgeon loses focus? A tap dancer, a health researcher, and a surgeon help Bapu Jena find out.

Transcribed - Published: 6 May 2022

35. Are More Expensive Hospitals Better?

For lots of things, price is an indicator of quality. But what about in health care? Bapu Jena gets some clues from Steve Levitt’s wine tasting experiment, and looks at why shopping for health care is so hard.

Transcribed - Published: 29 April 2022

Disclaimer: The podcast and artwork embedded on this page are from Freakonomics Radio + Stitcher, and are the property of its owner and not affiliated with or endorsed by Tapesearch.

Copyright © Tapesearch 2024.