Search the Site

Bapu Jena

Ruth L. Newhouse Associate Professor of Health Care Policy, Department of Health Care Policy, Harvard Medical School; Associate Professor of Medicine and Assistant Physician in the Department of Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital


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.

10/6/22
28:43

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.

9/29/22
32:17

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.

9/22/22
32:22

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.

9/15/22
31:09

Who Gets a Heart Disease Test?

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

9/8/22
35:37

Why Fridays May Be Dangerous for Your Health (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?”

9/1/22
23:30

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?

8/25/22
30:22

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.

8/18/22
27:46

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.

8/11/22
33:09

The Hidden Consequences of School Shootings

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

8/4/22
29:16

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?

7/28/22
32:38

How Does Retirement Affect Your Brain? (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?

7/21/22
24:46

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?

7/14/22
33:28

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.

7/7/22
33:15

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 bapu@freakonomics.com

6/30/22
37:25

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.

6/23/22
36:48

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.

6/16/22
32:38

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.

6/9/22
32:37

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.

6/2/22
26:27

A Shave, a Haircut, and a Blood Pressure Test (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?

5/26/22
29:46

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.

5/19/22
34:48

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.

5/12/22
28:42

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.

5/5/22
34:13

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 healthcare is so hard.

4/28/22
30:27

Should We Have to Pay for Our Sins?

Taxes on alcohol and tobacco promise to make people healthier and raise public funds. But can they backfire? Bapu Jena looks at the complicated economics of sin taxes.

4/21/22
26:30

What Do a Full Moon, the Super Bowl, and Tax Day Have in Common?

Tax deadlines can stress us out. But do they also influence our conscious — and subconscious — behavior? Bapu Jena looks at why, with our health, timing is often everything.

4/14/22
29:52

What is a Good Death — and Why Do So Few of Us Get One?

When it comes to end-of-life medical care, getting it right can be hard — even for doctors. Bapu Jena discusses surprising research on how we can live better — and maybe longer — before we die.

4/7/22
24:05

Should You Trust Angelina Jolie or Your Doctor?

Celebrities influence the clothes we wear and the books we read. Do they also affect our health decisions? Bapu Jena looks at what happens when people take medical advice from movie stars.

3/31/22
26:58

How Do We Know if Alcohol Is Bad for Us?

Getting solid answers in medicine can be hard — especially when the normal tools are off-limits. Dr. Bapu Jena discusses a research method that’s helping to solve some of science’s most challenging questions.

3/24/22
32:42

How to Save a Stranger’s Heart

Cardiac arrest is one of the leading causes of death globally. What if it doesn’t have to be that way? Bapu Jena walks us through some solutions that can help save lives — and explores why change in medicine can be hard.

3/17/22
32:15

The Freakonomics Radio Network

Follow this show
646 Episodes
Follow this show
125 Episodes
Follow this show
96 Episodes
Follow this show
59 Episodes

How to Listen

You want to listen to Freakonomics Radio? That’s great! Most people use a podcast app on their smartphone. It’s free (with the purchase of a phone, of course). Looking for more guidance? We’ve got you covered.

Learn more

Freakonomics Radio Network Newsletter

Stay up-to-date on all our shows. We promise no spam.