Mar 21 2013

Human Capital News Roundup: Voter ID laws, nurse staffing in NICUs, heart bypass surgery, 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:

Eating high-fat dairy products may raise breast cancer survivors' risk of dying years later, according to a nearly 15-year study led by RWJF Health & Society Scholars alumna Candyce Kroenke, ScD, MPH. Breast cancer survivors who ate one or more servings of high-fat dairy a day had a 49 percent higher risk of breast cancer death and a 64 percent higher risk of death from any cause, compared to those who consumed little or no high-fat dairy, Health Day reports. Kroenke hypothesizes that the elevated estrogen rates in milk fats, present because of the production methods common in the Western world, contribute to a relapse of breast cancer.  Fox News and MedCity News also reported on the findings.

A study funded by the RWJF Interdisciplinary Nursing Quality Research Initiative (INQRI) and the National Institute of Nursing Research finds that insufficient nurse staffing in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) can lead to high infection rates among the most vulnerable babies, which can lead to mortality or long-term developmental issues affecting the quality of their lives., The Star-Ledger, HealthDay and The Lund Report are among the outlets to report on the findings. Read more about the study.

Politico reports on a study co-authored by RWJF Investigator Awards in Health Policy Research recipient Cathy J. Cohen, PhD, that finds young minorities are disproportionately affected by voter identification laws. “Significantly more” minority youths (age 18-29) were asked to show identification at the polls than white youth, the study finds. In addition, minority youth are much less likely to have one of the required forms of identification than white youth—a barrier that was a primary reason many minority youth did not vote in 2012, according to the study.

RWJF/U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Clinical Scholar Mitesh Patel, MD, MBA, is cofounder of Docphin, a service that helps health care professionals find medical research and news tailored to their area of practice and allows easier access to content from subscription-only journals. Yahoo reports that 100 hospitals have adopted the platform since the company began offering the services last May. Read a post Patel wrote for the RWJF Human Capital Blog about ways physicians can deliver value-based care to patients.

An article in the recent issue of Harvard Magazine explores a book written by Investigator Award recipient David S. Jones, MD, PhD, that asserts angioplasty and heart bypass surgery have not been shown to extend life by even a single day for patients with stable coronary disease, the Boston Globe’s Brainiac blog reports.

News Medical reports on a special supplement of the April 2013 issue of the journal Medical Care that focuses on research funded by INQRI. The supplement demonstrates that INQRI has helped improve the rigor of research methodology, built a solid base of evidence showing links between nursing care and patient outcomes, and helped increase interdisciplinary research and practice. It also provides recommendations for improving research and areas to address in the future. Read more about the supplement.

A study led by Investigator Award recipient S. V. Subramanian, PhD, MPhil, finds that a woman’s chance of having a cesarean delivery in Massachusetts is linked more to characteristics of the hospitals than to the characteristics and medical needs of patients, Science Daily reports. “Even after taking into account factors that put women at risk of having a c-section, such as age, and pre-existing health conditions, some hospitals still have higher rates of c-section delivery than others,” Subramanian said.

Health & Society Scholar Meredith Barrett, PhD, co-authored a piece on the Huffington Post about geographic disparities in asthma risk, and how technology can help patients and health professionals gather real-time health data. She cites the Global Positioning System-enabled inhaler developed by Health & Society Scholars alumnus David Van Sickle, PhD, MA, as a tool that can help spur “more effective treatment, policies, community interventions—and more kids with asthma-free days.” Read more about Van Sickle’s work here and here.

The Portland Tribune spoke to Investigator Award recipient Thomas Gallagher, MD, about why hospital staff may be reluctant to report adverse events or medical errors. “A lot of it has to do with a culture of fear” of blame or punishment, Gallagher says, “It’s been woven into the fabric of the way health care providers and organizations operate. It’s not always rational.”

Investigator Award recipient Mark Hall, JD, is quoted in a Kaiser Health News/USA Today story about how some small businesses are opting to become self-insured—a practice more typical of large employers, where the business pays for most of their workers’ health costs directly—to avoid having to buy medical insurance for their employees under health reform.

Tags: Clinical Scholars, Health & Society Scholars, Human Capital News, Interdisciplinary Nursing Quality Research Initiative, Investigator Awards in Health Policy Research, Media Coverage, Nurses and Nursing, Nursing, Research & Analysis