Happily Hospitalized, Unfatigued By Fish, Etc.

it’s more fun to be hospitalized than one would have supposed, evidently. In a survey by J.D. Power and Associates of adults who were recently discharged from the hospital, 32 percent declared themselves “delighted” with the overall experience, rating it a 10 on a scale of 1 to 10. “An additional 42 percent of patients indicate they were ‘pleased’ with their hospital stay, rating it either an 8 or a 9.” Just 12 percent of those surveyed “expressed dissatisfaction with their hospital experience.” (The patients who never got discharged would presumably be even more displeased.) The research firm notes that ex-patients’ level of satisfaction is considerably higher than that of hotel guests and wireless-phone users vis-à-vis those industries. It’s not as if the high scores for hospitals merely reflect respondents’ relief to have made it out alive. The report points out that hospitals have been making an effort to improve customer satisfaction now that consumers spend more of their own money for the service and, therefore, exercise more personal choice. “While 26 percent of study respondents indicate their doctor chose the hospital, 60 percent said it was either a joint decision with their doctor or they chose the hospital themselves.” Like other industries, hospitals depend on repeat business. And they’re likely to get it: 65 percent of the ex-patients said they’d return to the same hospital if the need arose; 59 percent said they would recommend it to their family and friends.

You know we’re a nation of workaholics when a brand called La-Z-Boy brags of its role in keeping office workers chained to their desks. Another ad in the series notes that “55 percent of Americans regularly come into work on weekends”—speculating that some can’t stay away from the “gas lift height adjustment” feature of their La-Z-Boy office chairs. Likewise, CEOs spend an extra 25 hours per week in their executive chairs due to the “allure of leather piping.” Point to Point Communications of Cleveland created the ads—doubtless toiling long hours to do so.

When they have a choice in the matter, what motivates people to carry a cell phone? Given a brief menu of choices in a Harris Interactive survey, 74 percent of adults said they do so “for a sense of safety and security.” Fifty-six percent said they carry one “to stay connected.” Fewer do so “to keep informed” (11 percent), out of “social necessity” (11 percent) or “for entertainment” (2 percent).

We’re not tired of fish. We just don’t eat much of it. At least, we don’t eat nearly as much as the Europeans and Japanese do. According to a report from Mintel, Americans consume an annual per capita average of 15.6 pounds of fish and seafood. By contrast, consumers in Europe pack away 37.4 pounds and those in Japan eat 88 pounds. The relatively low level of fish and seafood consumption in the U.S. means Americans are not suffering from fish fatigue. When asked to say which kind of flesh they’re most tired of eating, just 7 percent of Americans cited fish/seafood, while 40 percent pointed to poultry and 23 percent waved a jaded fork toward red meat. This means fish and seafood have ample growth potential in the U.S., Mintel remarks. The research firm forecasts that sales will reach $26.8 billion in 2009, up 21 percent from this year.

Does good weather really put people in a good mood? It does if they’re outdoors, according to research by some University of Michigan psychology professors. But the study also found that “spending time indoors when the weather outside was pleasant actually decreased mood and narrowed cognitive style”—i.e., “openness to new information and creative thoughts.” It turns out “the optimal temperature for mood for most Americans is 72 degrees, about room temperature, with mood decreasing if temperatures became significantly higher or lower.”

When executives and managers lose their jobs, must they settle for lower salaries to get hired elsewhere? Not according to research by outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. Though it took them an average of four months to find work, 87 percent of executives and managers who got new jobs in the third quarter said the salaries are equal to or higher than what they were getting in their old jobs. That’s the highest proportion since the third quarter of 2001. The study’s respondents reported new salaries averaging $78,000, vs. $71,000 in Challenger’s polling during the third quarter of 2003.

At first blush, it looks like good news: In the past two decades, says the National Center for Health Statistics, there’s been only a slight rise in the percentage of American adults who are overweight but not obese. (That is, their body mass index is at least 25 but less than 30.) But that’s because of the bad news in the NCHS report: The increase in the percentage of people who weigh too much is accounted for almost entirely by those who are out-and-out obese. The numbers: In a study spanning 1988-94, 56 percent of Americans age 20-74 were classified as overweight, including 23 percent who were obese; in research spanning 1999-2002, 65 percent were classified as overweight, including 31 percent who were obese. Thus, even if people begin to get their weight under control, we won’t necessarily see much of a decline in the proportion of Americans who weigh too much. For the foreseeable future, a weight-loss trend (if it occurs at all) is quite as likely to mean a reduction in the number of people who are obese and an equivalent rise in the number who are overweight but not obese.

It’s probably too late to revoke the 19th Amendment, but women continue to be less knowledgeable than men about the the presidential election campaign. Polling conducted for the Annenberg Public Policy Center administered an eight-item test about the stances of John Kerry and George W. Bush on some major issues. On average, women answered 3.6 of the questions correctly, while men got an average of 4.2 questions right. That’s consistent with another of the findings, in which people were asked how much of the time they follow what’s going on in public affairs. Forty percent of men said they do so “most of the time,” vs. 28 percent of women. Women were more likely than men (26 percent vs. 16 percent) to say they follow such news “only now and then.”

Is Red Wing Shoes subtly pandering to European distaste for the supposed “cowboy” tendencies of current U.S. foreign policy? So one might infer from the headline of a new ad that promotes Red Wing’s work boots in Europe: “The men who built the West didn’t wear cowboy boots.” Actually, a note from the shoe company’s ad agency (Colle + McVoy of Minneapolis) claims that fashion-conscious Europeans have developed a taste for these American work boots, presumably because of the proletarian chic they confer. And while it’s hard to pretend you’re a real cowboy while strolling down a European boulevard, you could plausibly pretend to be a real worker.