The Health Show

Ever wonder what it’s like to raise two autistic children? Do dementia medications really make a difference? How does music help people with traumatic brain injuries?

These are questions recently posed by The Health Show, a nationally syndicated radio program broadcast on 160 U.S. radio stations and available online for free. Co-hosted by veteran radio personality Bob Barrett and gastroenterologist Nina Sax, the broadcast covers a range of topics, frequently exploring mental health and neuroscience issues such as autism, addiction and the aging brain.

The show doesn’t simply provide overviews of various topics; it explores what happens behind the scenes for both doctors and patients. The hosts aren’t afraid to ask probing questions and challenge the status quo. In a recent sequence, for instance, psychologist Ira Rosofsky questioned the common practice of treating elderly patients with expensive antidementia drugs such as Aricept and Namenda. He argued that although the drugs make little difference in patients’ lives—improving cognitive test scores by only 4 percent—doctors choose to medicate them anyway because it’s easy. “Why not admit the failure of medication and, instead, spend some of those billions of dollars on more staff to hold the hands of both patients and their families?” he asked.

In addition to its excellent reporting, The Health Show shines because it frequently deviates from the popular talk show question-and-answer format in favor of having guests share their personal stories in touching vignettes. Listeners feel like they are part of the experience as they gain not only a nuanced understanding of complex health problems but also a profound respect for the people who are fighting them.