Apr 4 2013

Human Capital News Roundup: Weight loss programs, cybersecurity policy, employees who smoke, 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:

A study led by RWJF/U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Clinical Scholars alumnus Jeffrey Kullgren, MD, MPH, finds that weight loss programs motivate patients to lose more weight when they offer financial prizes in group competitions, rather than individual rewards. MedPage Today and Medscape [registration required] report on the findings.

Healthcare Finance News reports on a study co-authored by RWJF Investigator Award in Health Policy Research recipient Mark A. Hall, JD, that finds insurers subject to the medical loss ratio requirements in 2011 spent less than one percent of premium revenue on quality improvements (0.74%) or rebates (0.35%). The researchers write that “current market forces do not strongly reward insurers’ investments in this area.”

In a post on the New York Times’ Room for Debate blog about prenuptial agreements, Investigator Award recipient Celeste Watkins-Hayes, PhD, writes: “There is no doubt that women need to be savvy about protecting their assets and ensuring that their contributions and hard work are valued, even in marriage. But prenups can only protect a certain demographic. What is needed is a comprehensive strengthening of all women’s safety nets through access to jobs that build wealth, increased financial literacy and a better infrastructure for raising children with or without a significant other.”

RWJF Scholars in Health Policy Research alumnus Rogan Kersh, PhD, spoke to the Washington Post about lobbyists’ interest in influencing U.S. cybersecurity policy, especially as companies try to sell security products or protect information in sectors targeted by hackers. “Cybersecurity is a lobbyist’s dream,” Kersh said.

A. Janet Tomiyama, PhD, an alumna of the RWJF Health & Society Scholars program, was featured in a “Rising Star” profile in the Observer, a publication of the Association for Psychological Science. Tomiyama’s research focuses on eating behavior, psychological stress, and cellular aging.

A new report by Rutgers University researchers finds that the rate of hospital use varies widely by community in New Jersey, and that understanding the differences could be a key to improving health care and reducing costs, NJSpotlight.com reports. "Hospital Utilization Patterns in 13 Low-Income Communities in New Jersey: Opportunities for Better Care and Lower Costs" was coauthored by Joel Cantor, ScD, director of the Rutgers Center for State Health Policy and an RWJF Interdisciplinary Nursing Quality Research Initiative grantee.

RWJF/U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Physician Faculty Scholars alumnus Amal Trivedi, MD, MPH, gave comments to Reuters about a Japanese study that finds women are more likely to get screened for breast and cervical cancers if they don’t have to pay for the tests. “This is consistent with prior research,” Trivedi said. “We know that imposing out-of-pocket costs for screenings—including cancer screening services—deter their use.”

Health & Society Scholar Brendan Saloner, PhD, wrote a post for The Health Care Blog about new data on the estimated prevalence of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). “We need to work much more with these data to understand what is happening, but let’s drop the panic level for a moment while we do,” he writes. “We still don’t know whether the ADHD epidemic is still peaking or has begun to steady out, and we also don’t have a great handle on what biological and social exposures may be driving ADHD symptoms over time (and whether these exposures are rising or falling).” Read a post Saloner wrote for the RWJF Human Capital Blog.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports on opposing commentaries in the New England Journal of Medicine that debate the pros and cons of the growing trend toward policies that ban the hiring of smokers. David A. Asch, MD, MBA, site director for the Health & Society Scholars program at the University of Pennsylvania, co-authored the commentary arguing that such hiring policies are necessary when less severe measures fail.

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