Mar 8 2013

Human Capital News Roundup: Emergency department ‘sticker prices,’ longevity among women, asthma control, 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 average emergency room visit costs 40 percent more than a month’s rent, according to a study led by RWJF Physician Faculty Scholar Renee Hsia, MD, MSc. The study also found the “sticker price” for emergency department care varies widely, the Washington Post Wonk Blog reports, with a sprained ankle ranging from $4 to $24,110. Among the other outlets to report on Hsia’s findings: Health Day, Bloomberg, and Read a post Hsia wrote for the RWJF Human Capital Blog about ambulance diversion and emergency room crowding.

RWJF Health & Society Scholar Jennifer Karas Montez, PhD, was a guest on CNN’s The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer to comment on a recently released longevity study. Montez' research in this area has focused on longevity among women, and she found that low-educated women (especially those without a high school education) have seen declines in their life expectancy, while life expectancy for men has stayed steady or increased. The Associated Press also reported on Montez research.

Americans support government intervention in matters of public health, such as curbing obesity, U.S. News & World Report says in reporting on research conducted by Michelle M. Mello, JD, PhD, MPhil, an RWJF Investigator Award in Health Policy Research recipient. Three-fourths of respondents in a survey said they support laws that would discourage obesity in adults, with most favoring less-intrusive measures such as posting calorie counts.

Patients who received weekly email reports and online charts summarizing their inhaler use and location—thanks to an inhaler with a built-in Global-Positioning System (GPS)—showed improved asthma control and a decline in day-to-day asthma symptoms over a four-month period, the Sacramento Bee reports. The inhaler was designed by Health & Society Scholars alumnus David Van Sickle, PhD, MA, founder and CEO of Asthmapolis. Read more about Van Sickle’s work here and here.

The AARP Blog spoke to RWJF Community Health Leader Im Ja Choi, MS, about her nonprofit, Penn Asian Senior Services (PASSi), which helps connect seniors with home health aides who speak Cantonese, Mandarin, Korean, Cambodian, Indonesian, Hindi and Vietnamese. Learn more about the personal struggle that motivated Choi to start PASSi.

John S. Brekke, PhD, an Investigator Award recipient, is working to develop an intervention to address premature mortality among people with serious mental illness, thanks to a new two-year grant. People with severe mental illness die an average of 20 to 30 years earlier than the general population, Health Canal reports. “There is a separation between the departments of health and mental health that leaves this population vulnerable,” Brekke said. “When the severe mentally ill try to get physical care, they face many impediments. Every place the system can break down, it does.”

“Given the enormous costs that gun violence imposes on society, we estimate that a universal-background-check policy would generate benefits in excess of the implementation costs—easily—if the new policy reduced gun homicides by as little as 1 percent,” Investigator Award recipients Philip J. Cook, PhD, and Jens Ludwig, PhD, write in an op-ed in the National Review. A universal background check requirement seems like a “promising policy,” they write.

Harold Pollack, PhD, MPP, an Investigator Award recipient and RWJF Scholars in Health Policy Research alumnus, wrote an op-ed for Washington Monthly magazine about how measures in the health reform law can help the nation address avoidable violence by the mentally ill. Pollack is co-director of the Crime Lab at the University of Chicago.

Tags: Community Health Leaders, Health & Society Scholars, Human Capital News, Investigator Awards in Health Policy Research, Media Coverage, Physician Faculty Scholars, Research & Analysis, Scholars in Health Policy Research