Jan 31 2013

Human Capital News Roundup: The stomach flu, lemur parasites, caring for female veterans, 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:

RWJF/U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Clinical Scholar Anita Vashi, MD, is the lead author of a study that finds many patients visit emergency departments after being discharged from the hospital. With Medicare now structuring financial incentives and penalties around hospital readmission rates, Vashi and her colleagues suggest the focus on hospital readmissions as a measure of quality of care misses the large number of patients who return to the hospital's emergency room after discharge, but are not readmitted. Among the outlets to report on the findings: the Los Angeles Times, Nurse.com, and MedPage Today. Read more about Vashi’s research.

Product Design and Development featured RWJF Nurse Faculty Scholar Jennifer Doering, PhD, RN, and her interdisciplinary team, which designed and tested a research-based sleeping pod for infants. Many parents sleep with their infants, despite the dangers, so Doering’s team has created a portable, protective sleeping pod, equipped with wireless sensors to alert sleeping adults if they start to roll over onto it or if blankets or pillows fall on a sleeping baby. Read more about Doering’s research on the sleep habits of new mothers and infants.

Allison E. Aiello, PhD, MS, an alumna of the RWJF Health & Society Scholars program, spoke to NBC News and the AnnArbor.com about norovirus (the stomach flu). The virus is hard to get rid of, Aiello says, and can be spread to others before an infected person even feels sick. Proper hand-washing is important, at home and in public places like restaurants.

A study from the RWJF-supported RN Work Project finds that participation in hospital quality improvement activities by early-career registered nurses showed little increase over a four-year period, Becker’s Hospital Review reports. The study authors suggested several ways hospital leaders can engage nurses in quality improvement activities. Read more about the findings.

“People think that being obese means being sick, and there are some health risks, but risk is not the same thing as illness,” Abigail Saguy, PhD, an RWJF Scholars in Health Policy Research alumna and author of “What’s Wrong With Fat?,” told NPR’s Shots blog. “We are living in society in which it is so deeply ingrained that it is bad, immoral to be fat,” which can lead to bullying, weight discrimination, eating disorders, or to people avoiding “hostile” doctors. Saguy also wrote an op-ed about size profiling in the Washington Post.

RWJF Executive Nurse Fellows alumna and dean of the Washington State University College of Nursing Patricia Butterfield, PhD, RN, FAAN, gave comments to the Tri-City Herald (Kennewick, Wash.) after an announcement that a local hospital and hospital foundation had pledged donations to a new simulation lab for the college. “I am in awe at how you have all come together for the greater cause to help bring talented, educated and dedicated nurses into your community,” Butterfield said.

Meredith Barrett, PhD, a Health & Society Scholar, and her colleagues found in a recent study that climate change in Madagascar could cause disease-carrying parasites that infect lemurs to grow and reproduce more quickly, Red Orbit reports. This could present a potential danger to the island nation’s human population, they warn, because the parasites can transmit diseases or cause diarrhea, dehydration and weight loss in humans.

The Duke University Chronicle reports on the keynote speech of RWJF Investigator Award in Health Policy Research recipient Joseph Fins, MD, at the Finding Consciousness conference—a three-day gathering to discuss the mental states of individuals with severe neurological damage. Fins is co-author of new research that calls into question the findings of a previously published study on the awareness of patients in a vegetative state, Medical Xpress and Medical News Today report.

Hilary Levey Friedman, PhD, a Scholars in Health Policy Research alumna, wrote an article for Boston Magazine about the area’s growing hub of research on the infant mind.

Psychology Today conducted a Q&A with Investigator Award recipient Eric Klinenberg, PhD, on his book “Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone,” which examines a fast-growing trend of people in the United States living alone. Read more about the book.

The Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Medical Center—where RWJF/U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Physician Faculty Scholars alumna Erin E. Krebs, MD, MPH, is the women’s health medical director—has received new grants to improve how it cares for women patients, the Star Tribune and Minnesota Public Radio report. “Even when the health conditions or illnesses are similar, for example PTSD, women sometimes really benefit from special services just because they are a numerical minority here and their experience in the military may be very different from that of men,” Krebs said.

Science Codex reports on research by Nurse Faculty Scholar Tina Bloom, PhD, RN, concluding that low-income pregnant women in rural areas experience higher levels of stress than those living in other areas. The stress can have adverse effects on these women and their babies. Many of the women living in rural areas that Bloom and her colleagues interviewed also lack the resources to manage their emotional and physical well-being.

John Cawley, PhD, director of Cornell University's Institute on Health Economics, Health Behaviors and Disparities, gave comments to NBC Philadelphia about financial incentives for weight loss. Free money alone is not an effective motivator, he says. Cawley is an alumnus of the Scholars in Health Policy Research program, and serves as a member of the program’s National Advisory Committee.

“The Texas law that guarantees admission into a public university for students who graduate in the top 10 percent of their high school class ‘lives up to some of the expectations of its proponents,’ but there is little evidence that the law leads to notable increases in diversity,” Diverse Issues in Higher Education reports about a study co-authored by Health & Society Scholars program alumnus Jason Fletcher, PhD.

Tags: Clinical Scholars, Executive Nurse Fellows, Health & Society Scholars, Human Capital News, Investigator Awards in Health Policy Research, Media Coverage, Nurse Faculty Scholars, Nurses and Nursing, Nursing, RN Work Project, Research & Analysis, Scholars in Health Policy Research, Women and girls