Jun 26 2014

RWJF Scholars in the News: Unemployment and suicide, prescription painkiller abuse, veterans’ care, and more

Around the country, print, broadcast, and online media outlets are covering the groundbreaking work of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) leaders, scholars, fellows, alumni, and grantees. Some recent examples:

More generous unemployment benefits can lead to lower suicide rates, according to a study co-authored by RWJF Health & Society Scholars program alumna Maria Glymour, MS, ScD. The Huffington Post covers the study, describing it as the first of its kind to reach that conclusion. Glymour and colleagues speculate that higher benefits help mediate some of the stressors that contribute to suicide.

A survey of licensed nurses in Wyoming examines factors involved in their decisions about whether to continue their education. In a Wyoming Business Report story, Mary Burman, PhD, RN, an alumna of the RWJF Executive Nurse Fellows program, notes that the Institute of Medicine’s Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health report recommends that 80 percent of nurses have baccalaureate degrees or higher by 2020. She says findings from the new survey point to strategies that might help achieve that goal, noting “the positive role that employers can play by encouraging and supporting nurses to return to school for their baccalaureate degree.” Burman is dean of the University of Wyoming’s Fay W. Whitney School of Nursing, which collaborated on the survey.

Nicholas King, PhD, MA, an RWJF Health & Society Scholars program alumnus, investigates the sharp increase in deaths from prescription painkillers in the United States and Canada over the past 20 years, reports Medical Xpress. King and colleagues analyzed research about the “epidemic,” concluding that Internet sales and errors by doctors and patients have not played a significant role in the increase. Rather, they “found evidence for at least 17 different determinants of increasing opioid-related mortality, mainly, dramatically increased prescription and sales of opioids; increased use of strong, long-acting opioids like OxyContin and methadone; combined use of opioids and other (licit and illicit) drugs and alcohol; and social and demographic factors.” Outlets covering King’s work include the Toronto Sun, Fast Company, and the National Pain Report

According to the Institute of Medicine, only 53 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) last year received the therapy recommended to them, reports PostCrecent.com. Sandro Galea, MD, MPH, DrPH, recipient of an RWJF Investigator Award in Health Policy Research and chair of the study, says there is not enough tracking of which treatments patients are receiving and if those treatments are working.

Lynn Babington, PhD, MN, RN, an RWJF Executive Nurse Fellow alumna and dean of Fairfield University’s School of Nursing, is quoted in the New Haven Register about a new Connecticut law requiring hospitals to ask patients if they are military veterans. Babington says  “the health care needs of veterans and their families are different from the needs of the general population,” and that if patients are not asked about military service, certain health issues could be overlooked.

A Greater Cincinnati Community Health Status Survey finds that minorities and people who are poor are more likely than others to report that race, ethnicity, and lack of insurance are barriers to finding a health care provider who is trusted, reports the Cincinnati Enquirer. Greer Glazer, PhD, RN, CNP, FAAN, associate vice president for health affairs at the University of Cincinnati and dean of its College of Nursing, reports that the level of trust between a patient and provider affects compliance with medical recommendations. Glazer is an RWJF Executive Nurse Fellow alumna.

One in eight children suffers from maltreatment – emotional, physical, or sexual abuse, according to research by Hedwig Lee, PhD, an RWJF Health & Society Scholars alumna. Seattle National Public Radio member station KPLU covers the study, which also found that economic inequality puts minority children at even greater risk because it denies parents the economic and social supports that would help them care for their children.  

A New York Times Opinionator piece about how casinos operate cites the work of Natasha Dow Schüll, PhD, MA, an RWJF Health & Society Scholars program alumna. Schüll has studied how casinos and their machines are designed to encourage customers to immerse themselves in slot machine play, with the goal of gradually separating them from their money, simply by keeping them playing.

Research by Eran Magen, PhD, examines the dynamics of delayed gratification. The RWJF Health & Society Scholars program alumnus found that when choices are articulated explicitly, people are more likely to choose larger rewards down the road, passing up immediate but smaller gain. In a Yahoo! News story, Magen says the findings provide guidance on how to present choices in a form that helps people weigh important decisions that will help them achieve long-term goals—financial and health choices, for instance. Medical Xpress also covers Magen’s research.

Tags: Executive Nurse Fellows, HC Website Feature, Health & Society Scholars, Investigator Awards in Health Policy Research, Media Coverage, Nursing, Nursing schools, Prescription drugs, Research, Social determinants of health