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Be Well

Kind children happier, more accepted by peers, study finds

Elementary school children who perform acts of kindness are happier and more likely to be accepted by their peers, according to a new study by researchers at the University of British Columbia and the University of California-Riverside.

The four-week study looked at 400 students aged 9 to 11 from Vancouver elementary schools, half of whom were asked by their teacher to perform three acts of kindness such as sharing their lunch and hugging their mothers. The other half were asked to keep track of pleasant places they visited. Both groups then rated their own happiness level and were asked to pick out other students they would like to work with on a school activity.

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Both groups reported that their happiness levels increased over four weeks. However, those who performed acts of kindness were more likely to be chosen to participate in a peer activity group than those who simply visited happy places.

The study suggests that children who are kind to others, rather than bullies, may be more popular in school and are more likely to be accepted by their peers, the researchers said.

BOTTOM LINE: Elementary school children who perform acts of kindness are happier and more likely to be accepted by their peers.

CAUTIONS: The study looked at a group of students in one city so the results may not apply to a wider group of children.

WHERE TO FIND IT: PLoS ONE, Dec. 26

US cancer screening rates dropped over last decade, study finds

Fewer Americans are getting screened for cancer, and it may be due to confusion over conflicting cancer screening recommendations among different organizations, a new study suggests.

The study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, analyzed data from the US National Health Interview Survey of nearly 175,000 Americans between 1997 and 2010 who were screened for colorectal, breast, cervical, and prostate cancers. Nearly 7,500 of the participants were cancer survivors.

Besides colorectal cancer screenings, most Americans, including cancer survivors, did not meet the recommended cancer screening goals set by the US government’s national disease prevention initiative “Healthy People 2010,” the study found.

In general, cancer survivors had higher screening rates than the general population. However, the study found that the number of screenings among cancer survivors dropped over the last three years, and cervical cancer screening rates among survivors dropped 78 percent over the decade.

Recommendations differ among different groups including the American Cancer Society and the US Preventative Task Force in terms of the frequency of screenings and the appropriate age for routine tests, which may confuse many people about whether they should undergo screening at all, the researchers said.

BOTTOM LINE: Fewer Americans are getting screened for cancer, and it may be due to confusion over conflicting cancer screening recommendations among different organizations.

CAUTIONS: The study relied on responses from a survey rather than medical records to confirm actual screening frequency. As a result, the findings may overestimate or underestimate the rate of cancer screenings.

WHERE TO FIND IT: Frontiers in Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention, Dec. 27

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