Jan 10 2013

Human Capital News Roundup: Study partners for Alzheimer's patients, medication color changes, the 'bystander effect,' 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 and grantees. Some recent examples:

The Chronicle of Philanthropy named RWJF President and CEO Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, MBA, one of the “Five from the Nonprofit World Who Will Influence Public Policy in 2013.” She was also featured in a profile in the Newark, New Jersey, Star-Ledger, as part of a series profiling “some of the people who make the Garden State special.”

RWJF Senior Communications Officer Linda Wright Moore wrote a piece for Ebony.com about the work of Debbie Chatman Bryant and Ifeanyi Anne Nwabukwu, who were honored last year as RWJF Community Health Leaders for their work to fight cancer. Bryant cares for the underserved in the Low Country of South Carolina, and Nwabukwu helps African immigrant women in the Washington, D.C. area.

John R. Lumpkin, MD, MPH, senior vice president and director of the Health Care Group at RWJF, and Susan Bakewell-Sachs, PhD, RN, program director of the New Jersey Nursing Initiative (NJNI) and interim provost of the College of New Jersey, published a guest editorial in the Newark Star Ledger about NJNI’s work to solve the state’s nurse faculty shortage. Since its launch in 2009, NJNI has supported 61 New Jersey Nursing Scholars, providing tuition and other support while they pursue master’s or doctoral degrees that qualify them for faculty positions. NJNI is a program of RWJF and the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

“I have a lot of experience when patients of mine come and say, ‘I was taking a green pill and now it’s pink. What's going on?’” Aaron Kesselheim, MD, JD, MPH, an RWJF Investigator Award in Health Policy Research recipient, told Reuters. Kesselheim’s new research finds that patients are less likely to take their medication if the color changes, which often happens when they switch from a brand-name to a generic drug. The findings were also covered by the New York Times Well blog, CBS News, and Health Canal, among others. Read more about Kesselheim’s work here and here.

The Social Security Administration underestimates how long Americans will live because it omits crucial health and demographic factors, RWJF Health & Society Scholars alumnus Samir Soneji, PhD, writes in a New York Times op-ed about research he co-authored.  Soneji warns that the Social Security trust fund will run out two years earlier than the government has predicted. The Daily Beast and MSN are among the outlets that also reported on Soneji’s research. Read more about Soneji’s work here and here.

Alzheimer’s patients are less likely to complete a clinical trial if the “study partner” they enroll with is not a spouse caregiver, according to a study led by Investigator Award recipient Jason Karlawish, MD. The researchers found that Alzheimer's patients were 70 percent more likely to drop out of the trial if they had another study partner, such as an adult child. Among the outlets to report on the findings: McKnights Long-Term Care News, Health Canal, and Medical News Today.

RWJF/U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Clinical Scholar Jason Lott, MD, MSHP, is co-author of a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine that finds having too many specialists on a case can lead to worse care for a patient because the resulting "diffusion of responsibility" among providers hampers coordination and makes it less likely that an individual provider will take action in an emergency. The authors draw a comparison to the psychological phenomenon known as the “bystander effect,” in which witnesses to crimes fail to help victims because they assume someone else will take responsibility, ABC News reports.

“The fact is, fear and loathing of fat are real, and American attitudes about fat may be more dangerous to public health than obesity itself,” RWJF Scholar in Health Policy Research alumna Abigail Saguy, PhD, writes in an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times about weigh discrimination. “The answer is to call for increasing tolerance and appreciation of diverse body types.”

RWJF Nurse Faculty Scholar Matthew D. McHugh, CRNP, PhD, JD, MPH, is the lead author of a study that finds a good work environment for nurses is linked to lower hospital readmission rates. Medicare patients treated in hospitals with a good work environment for nurses had up to 10 percent lower odds of readmission than those treated in hospitals with a poor work environment, Nurse.com reports. Becker’s Hospital Review and Health Day also reported on the findings.

Investigator Award recipient Greg Duncan, PhD, commented to the New York Times on the growing role education plays in preserving class divisions. “Everyone wants to think of education as an equalizer—the place where upward mobility gets started,” Duncan said. “But on virtually every measure we have, the gaps between high- and low-income kids are widening. It’s very disheartening.”

Sarah Gollust, PhD, an alumna of the Health & Society Scholars program, was a guest on the Access Minnesota radio program to discuss public opinion toward obesity prevention. Read more about Gollust’s research on public opinion and health inequalities.

A column in The News & Observer cited research compiled by Investigator Award recipient Susan Mettler, PhD, to make an argument for more accurate representation of how many Americans are dependent on the federal government. Mettler found that instead of the 47-percent figure popularized during the recent presidential campaign, 96 percent of Americans receive a federal subsidy, in one form or another.

Scholar in Health Policy Research alumna Kimberly Morgan, PhD, wrote a piece for Foreign Affairs [subscription required], in which she analyzes the American social welfare system and calls for reform in the ways the system distributes funds.

Children with food allergies “are more prone to anxiety and depression because they are often teased, bullied, and harassed by their peers because of their allergy,” according to research led by RWJF Physician Faculty Scholar Ruchi S. Gupta, MD, MPH. An estimated 8 percent of children have some type of food allergy, The Examiner reports. Read more about Gupta’s research on—and personal experience with—child food allergies.

In the wake of the Newtown, Conn., school shooting tragedy, Scholar in Health Policy Research alumnus Harold Pollack, PhD, blogged for The Nation, discussing what drives people to feel the need to protect themselves and their homes with firearms. Pollack used data from researchers at the Chicago Police Department and the University of Chicago Crime Lab to illustrate the relationship between violent crime and home invasion.

The work of Investigator Award in Health Policy Research recipient Gary A. Taubes, MSE, MS, was referenced in a post on VOXXI about the Argentinian health ministry’s decision—in an attempt to control salt intake and help prevent obesity—to ban table salt from 20,000 dining establishments in the Buenos Aires province. Taubes, who has published several books and done extensive research on the causes of obesity, challenges the commonly held belief that high salt intake leads to low life expectancy. Read more about his work here.

A Miami Herald columnist spoke to Health & Society Scholars alumnus Matt Wray, PhD, MA, as part of his research for an opinion piece on the historical and sociological factors that created the concept of race as we view it today. Pitts referenced Wray’s book, Not Quite White: White Trash and the Boundaries of Whiteness, in which Wray seeks to deconstruct race as a social construct, rather than the widely-held perception that it is an inherent biological trait.

Clinical Scholar Katherine A. Auger, MD, was featured on Healio.com for her research on child asthma patients, and how private health insurance coverage and access to medical homes and other resources affect hospital readmission rates for patients who've had attacks. Auger and her colleagues at the University of Michigan found that children “with lowest access [to a medical home] had a statistically increased readmission risk compared with children with the best access.”

Tags: Clinical Scholars, Community Health Leaders, Health & Society Scholars, Human Capital News, Investigator Awards in Health Policy Research, Media Coverage, New Jersey Nursing Initiative, Nurse Faculty Scholars, Nurses and Nursing, Nursing, Physician Faculty Scholars, Publications, Research & Analysis, Scholars in Health Policy Research