Category Archives: Public policy

Oct 15 2014

Let’s Have a Conversation about Food that Goes Beyond Restriction and Restraint—and Resonates with Real People

Sonya Grier, PhD, MBA, is an associate professor of marketing at the Kogod School of Business at American University in Washington, D.C., and an alumna of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Health & Society Scholars program (2003-2005).

Sonya Grier Sonya Grier, PhD, MBA

Human Capital Blog: Congratulations on receiving the Thomas C. Kinnear award for your 2011 article in the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing on food well-being! Please tell us about the award.

Sonya Grier: The award honors articles published in the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing (JPP&M) that have made a significant contribution to the understanding of marketing and public policy issues. This year, eligible articles needed to have been published between 2010 and 2012. The marketing community was called upon to nominate articles for the award. JPP&M editorial review board members and associate editors then voted among the nominees.

Generously funded by Thomas C. Kinnear, his colleagues, friends and former students, and administered through the American Marketing Association  Foundation, the award’s purpose is to recognize authors who have produced particularly high-quality and impactful research in marketing and public policy.

HCB: How did your article do that?

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Sep 29 2014

Intimate Partner Violence: What We Tell Our Children Can Make a Difference

A. Monique Clinton-Sherrod, PhD, is a 2008 alumna of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s New Connections program. She is an RTI research psychologist with extensive experience in prevention research associated with a variety of psychosocial issues.

Monique Clinton-Sherrod

Recently while watching ESPN with my two children, we saw nonstop coverage of the Ray Rice incident, including the video of Mr. Rice violently assaulting Janay Palmer, his then-fiancée. I was peppered with questions from my children. 

“Did he get arrested? Why did he do that? What did she do? Is that something they shouldn’t show on television because it’s private?”

The recurring images and my children’s questions were all the more jarring because I recently lost a sorority sister in a murder-suicide by her former husband. These experiences have served as an unfortunate but teachable moment for my daughter and son, and reinforced the importance of my life’s work—both for my children and for society as a whole. 

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Aug 11 2014

Quotable Quotes About Nursing, August 2014

“Wearable tech will provide nurses with virtual personal assistants that remind them of appointments and meetings, log professional conversations, maintain notes and serve up data and information in a matter of seconds. If nurses need to perform a procedure, wearable computers will remind them of specific steps and risks via links to videos or instant messages shared by nursing colleagues. Although wearable tech comes with limitations related to power, privacy, interface and connectivity, nurses will benefit from this game-changing innovation.”
-- Susan Sportsman, RN, PhD, ANEF, FAAN, director, Academic Consulting Group, a service of Elsevier, Nurses Will Reap the Benefits of Wearable Tech,, August 5, 2014

“Nurses save lives and deal with complications every day. It can be a very intense and stressful work environment, which is why humor and a good mood are integral to the nursing profession. As a nurse, it’s an art to keep your smile, which helps ensure an excellent connection to patients. Designing affordable space that is conducive to the work is a smart way to bring positive mood—like laughter— into the workplace.”
--Rana Zadeh, MArch, PhD, assistant professor, Cornell University’s College of Human Ecology, On the Sunny Side, Nurses Dispense Better Care, Cornell Chronicle, July 31, 2014

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Jul 3 2014

Reengineering Medical Product Innovation

Arthur Kellermann, MD, MPH, an alumnus of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Clinical Scholars and Health Policy Fellows programs, is professor and dean of the F. Edward Hébert School of Medicine, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, MD. He is co-author of the new RAND report, “Redirecting Innovation in U.S. Health Care: Options to Decrease Spending and Increase Value.” Here, he shares recommendations for a brave new world of medical technology.


Americans take justifiable pride in our capacity for innovation. From putting the first men on the moon to developing the Internet, we lead the world in developing innovative technologies. Health care is no exception. The United States holds more Nobel prizes in medicine than any other nation.

Novel drugs, biologics, diagnostics, and medical devices have transformed American health care, but not always for the better.

Some innovations have made a big difference. Combination antiretroviral therapy changed HIV infection from a death sentence to a treatable, chronic disease. Before an effective vaccine was developed, Hemophilus Influenze type b, a bacterial disease, was a major cause of death and mental disability in young children. Today, it is virtually eradicated here and in Western Europe.

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Jun 16 2014

Should There Be Public Access to Data from Clinical Trials?

Michelle Mello, JD, PhD, is a professor of law and public health at the Harvard School of Public Health, and a fellow with the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University. She is a recipient of a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Investigator Award in Health Policy Research.

Michelle Mello

For years, pharmaceutical companies have been lambasted in the media and government prosecutions for concealing information about the safety and efficacy of their products. In one particularly splashy example, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) agreed to pay $3 billion in 2012 to settle criminal charges that it failed to report safety data concerning its antidepressant drug, Paxil, and its diabetes drug, Avandia, and engaged in unlawful marketing of these products and one other drug. One mechanism proposed for avoiding such problems is to establish a system through which participant-level data from clinical trials, stripped of identifying information about patients, would be available to the public.

A potential benefit of sharing clinical trial data would be that independent scientists could re-analyze data to verify the accuracy of reports prepared by trial sponsors, which might deter sponsors from mischaracterizing or suppressing findings. Data sharing would also allow analysts both within and outside drug companies to pool data from multiple studies, creating a powerful database for exploring new questions that can’t be addressed within any given trial because the sample is too small to support such analyses. 

The potential value of shared data in improving our understanding of the safety and efficacy of drugs, medical devices, and biologics has sparked considerable discussion about how to make data sharing happen. Earlier this year, the European Medicines Agency—the counterpart to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the European Union—decided to start making data from trials of approved products available in 2014. This begs the question, should the FDA follow suit?

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Jun 11 2014

Social Media Use in Health Policy Research

Health policy researchers shy away from using social media to share findings with policy-makers, according to a study published online by Health Affairs. Only 14 percent of the 215 researchers surveyed reported tweeting, and 21 percent reported blogging about their research or related health policy in the past year.

Compared with communications channels such as traditional media and direct outreach, social media were not perceived as ineffective, but survey respondents rated social media lower in three key areas: self-confidence to use social media, peer respect, and perceptions of social media in academic promotion.

“We were encouraged by the view that researchers thought social media could be an effective way to communicate research,” David Grande, MD, MPA, the study’s lead author, said in an interview. “But we were surprised by the fears we heard many people express, particularly about making mistakes with social media and getting into trouble with their academic institutions for doing so.”

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Jun 9 2014

Seeing the Human Impact of Climate Change in Bangladesh

Sabrina McCormick, PhD, is a sociologist, filmmaker, and an associate professor of environmental and occupational health for Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University. She is an alumna of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholars program.

Sabrina McCormick

I spent almost a month in Bangladesh producing a story starring Michael C. Hall for the last episode of the Years of Living Dangerously, a documentary series on climate change. In this blog post, I’m going to tell a story that came up in the research phase and one that highlighted, for me, what is possibly the biggest obstacle to getting anything done on this issue.

As someone who’s been studying social movements for a long time, I’ve seen that social change hinges on the tangibility of an issue and sometimes how well you can prove its existence. Yet, most scientists say climate change is invisible, that no one event can be pointed to and called an impact of climate change.

Working on the Years series highlighted this issue all the more since TV and film must show more than it tells. I was in a particularly difficult position trying to tell stories about climate change as a scientist, being bound by this adage that we can’t see it. Yet, when I went to Bangladesh, that adage stopped making sense. It’s not that my scientific mind retreated, but rather that my imagination was able to connect the dots of science in a way it couldn’t without putting science in a specific context, a place where people might already be affected.

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May 14 2014

Mentors Can Help Young Nurses Grow into Leaders

National Nurses Week just ended, but several nurses are continuing the conversation, blogging about the reasons they aspire to leadership. Chelsea Savage, RN, MSHA, CPHRM, is a professional liability investigator at Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center in Richmond, Va., and was recognized in 2011 as a young nursing leader by the Virginia Action Coalition.


Like many nursing advocates, I internalized my interest in social justice through my personal history. I was raised by a single mother on welfare, and my childhood had the added stress of an educational disadvantage. My mother, motivated by strong religiosity and the isolation from society characteristic of this construct, took me out of school in sixth grade and forced me into a passive homeschool process. I was given curricula, but not a teacher, so I taught myself and passed the General Educational Development test, better known as the GED, at 15.

I was introduced to nursing while volunteering at a hospital for two–and-half years and pursued an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN) for a year at age 16. Later, though, I dropped out of the ADN program. At 26, then a step-mom of three and a biological mom of one, I went back and earned my nursing degree.

Having said goodbye to my cultish upbringing, I was now driven by an insatiable curiosity and felt limitless educational potential. I went on to pursue a bachelor’s degree in philosophy, a graduate degree in health administration, and a fellowship in health law. I am now earning my doctorate in nursing practice (DNP) and am seen by some as a nursing leader.

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May 12 2014

Two Nurses Serving in Congress Discuss Nurse Leadership

National Nurses Week HC Blog Logo

For National Nurses Week, two nurses who serve in the U.S. House of Representatives share their views on nurse leadership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Human Capital Blog. Lois Capps, D-Calif., has served in the House since 1998; and Diane Black, R-Tenn., since 2011.

Capps: We Must Increase Our Nursing Workforce

Human Capital Blog:
Prior to running for Congress, you worked as a nurse and a nursing instructor. How does your background as a nurse help shape your agenda on Capitol Hill?

Lois Capps

Rep. Lois Capps: When I began my career as a nurse, I never imagined I would become a member of Congress. But when my husband passed away shortly into his first term in Congress, I was encouraged by my friends and neighbors to run, and I won the seat in a special election. Despite the fact that nurses and other health care professionals often never think about engaging in policy-making careers, I knew my experience as a nurse would make me a great advocate for the health community in Congress. Just as nurses are the best advocates on behalf of our patients, we are naturally inclined to be the best advocates on behalf of our patients in the Capitol.

HCB: You have made addressing the nursing shortage a priority. What has Congress done so far to address past shortages, and what needs to be done to curb future ones?

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May 9 2014

Bringing the Caring Touch to Leadership Tables

Susan B. Hassmiller, PhD, RN, FAAN, is senior adviser for nursing at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and director of the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action.

Sue Hassmiller

I flew to Florida years ago to be with my father at the end of his life. He lay in a hospital bed, at times conscious of the family members gathered at his side and other times unaware of his loved ones surrounding him. I watched a nurse I didn’t know lean over and kiss his forehead.

At another hospital bed years later, I watched a nurse comfort my daughter as she labored to bring my first granddaughter into the world. “You’ll be okay,” she whispered to my daughter, giving her a hug.

The end of life and the beginning of life, marked by a compassionate nurse keeping vigil and offering comfort.  In the midst of machines, a nurse provides a human touch and caring to patients and their family members.

National Nurses Week HC Blog Logo

The essence of caring is what first attracted me to the nursing profession. Now, more than 35 years later, the essence of caring still propels me in my work as the director of the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action, a joint initiative of RWJF and AARP to transform health through nursing. One of the Campaign’s major focus areas is promoting nursing leadership. 

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