May 16 2013
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Human Capital News Roundup: Oregon’s Medicaid system, ‘healthy’ fast food restaurants, primary care workforce innovation, 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, alumni and grantees. Some recent examples:

RWJF Clinical Scholar Alan Teo, MD, MS, is the lead author of a study that finds the quality of a person’s social relationships influences the person's risk of major depression, regardless of how frequently their social interactions take place. “The magnitude of these results is similar to the well-established relationship between biological risk factors and cardiovascular disease,” Teo told Health Canal. “What that means is that if we can teach people how to improve the quality of their relationships, we may be able to prevent or reduce the devastating effects of clinical depression.”

RWJF recently announced the selection of 30 primary care practices as exemplary models of workforce innovation. The practices will serve as the basis for a new project: The Primary Care Team: Learning from Effective Ambulatory Practices (LEAP). Among them is CareSouth Carolina, the Hartsville Messenger reports. Learn more about the LEAP project and the practices selected for the program.

Low-income Oregonians who received access to Medicaid over the past two years used more health care services, and had higher rates of diabetes detection and management, lower rates of depression, and reduced financial strain than those without access to Medicaid, according to a study co-authored by RWJF Investigator Award in Health Policy Research recipient Amy N. Finkelstein, PhD, MPhil. The study found no significant effect, however, on the diagnosis or treatment rates of hypertension or high cholesterol levels.  Among the outlets to report on the findings: Forbes, the New York Times, the Washington Post Wonk blog, Health Day, and the Boston Globe Health Stew blog. Read more about Finkelstein’s research on the Oregon Medicaid system.

Adequate nurse staffing plays an important role in the implementation of measures that improve care for heart failure patients at rural hospitals, an interdisciplinary study led by Robin Newhouse, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, and Laura Morlock, PhD, finds. Nurse.com and NurseZone are among the outlets to report on the findings. Newhouse and Morlock are grantees of the RWJF Interdisciplinary Nursing Quality Research Initiative (INQRI). Read more about the study.

Renee Hsia, MD, MSc, an alumna of the RWJF Physician Faculty Scholars program who has studied the “sticker price” for emergency department care, spoke to the Los Angeles Times, NPR, the Washington Post Wonk blog, and CBS News following the release of a federal database that shows how much hospitals charge for the 100 most common procedures. The database reveals “wildly divergent prices,” the Los Angeles Times reports. “This is evidence of an incredibly dysfunctional and arbitrary pricing system in healthcare,” Hsia said. “It affects us all because the insured pay for this through their premiums and the uninsured face the sticker price. People are really being hurt by this.”

The availability of Subway’s aggressively advertised healthy food options doesn’t affect the calories adolescents consume at the nationwide sandwich chain, according to research led by Clinical Scholars alumnus Lenard Lesser, MD, MSHS. In his study, he found that teens ate nearly as many calories per meal at Subway as at McDonalds, and significantly more sodium. “Our study was not based on what people have the ability to pick; our study was based on what adolescents actually selected in a real-world setting,” Lesser told the Los Angeles Times. Medical News Today and Southern California Public Radio are among the other outlets to report on the findings. Read more about the study and Lesser’s recommendations for ordering healthier fast food.

A story from Nurse.com about a nationwide push for nurses with advanced degrees cites research from the RWJF-funded RN Work Project that finds family responsibilities and budget constraints often pose barriers to nurses' efforts to continue their education. Programs like the New Jersey Nursing Initiative, a program of RWJF and the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce Foundation, are helping to ease the financial burden of going back to school, the story says. RWJF Executive Nurse Fellows alumna Jane Kirschling, DNS, RN, FAAN, is also quoted in the story.

RWJF Community Health Leader Richard Nares was profiled as a “CNN Hero” for the work of his non-profit, the Emilio Nares Foundation. It helps children battling cancer and their families through treatment by providing patient-friendly transportation, accommodations and other support services. Nares started the Foundation in memory of his son, who passed away from leukemia in 2000. CNN and the Santa Cruz Sentinel report that Nares has begun his “Richard Runs California” fundraiser to raise money for children fighting cancer, during which he will run 700 miles—from San Francisco to  San Diego—in 30 days. Read more about Nares and the Emilio Nares Foundation.

The Pennsylvania General Assembly has unanimously passed a bill that would provide funds to replicate a free health clinical model pioneered by Community Health Leader Zane Gates, MD, the Altoona Mirror reports. The state Senate passed a nearly identical bill earlier this term. If the bill is signed into law, $2 million will go toward setting up hospital-based clinics to serve working poor who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to afford insurance.

A study led by RWJF/U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Clinical Scholar Nathaniel DeNicola, MD, finds that nearly two-thirds (66.5%) of U.S. hospitals with registered labor and delivery units have formal policies in place against early elective deliveries, Nurse.com reports.

An op-ed in the New York Times cites research co-authored by RWJF Health & Society Scholars alumnus Mark L. Hatzenbuehler, PhD, about the “Best Little Boy in the World” hypothesis, first put forward in the 1970s. It theorizes that young homosexual men may cope with early stigma by strongly investing in achievement-related success like good grades, athletic achievement, or elite employment. Read more about Hatzenbuehler’s research here and here.

RWJF Scholars in Health Policy Research alumnus Darrick Hamilton, PhD, was a guest on NPR to discuss racial disparities in the nation's unemployment figures.

The San Antonio Express-News spoke to INQRI grantee Robert Ferrer, MD, MPH, for a Q&A about the uninsured patients he sees and the changes that will result as implementation of health reform continues.

MedPage Today reports on a study led by Investigator Award recipient Aaron S. Kesselheim, MD, JD, MPH, that finds the most common "payment" by pharmaceutical manufacturers to health care professionals is in the form of food. Payments and numbers of physicians taking them are decreasing, the study finds, while average payment amounts increased. Read more about Kesselheim’s research here and here.

Susan M. Wolf, JD, recipient of an Investigator Award, is co-author of The Hastings Center Guidelines for Decisions on Life-Sustaining Treatment and Care Near the End of Life, Medical XPress reports. It is an update to a 1987 edition intended to help health care professionals improve care near the end of life.

Austerity measures have cost the U.S. 2.2 million jobs since the end of the recession, according to an article on the Huffington Post reporting on a study co-authored by Scholars in Health Policy Research alumnus Michael Greenstone, PhD.

Clinical Scholars alumnus Matthew M. Davis, MD, MAPP, continues to receive media coverage for his study that finds more than 40 percent of American parents give over-the-counter cough and cold medicines to children under age 4, even though the drugs carry labels saying the medication has not been proven effective for young children and may cause serious side effects. The Wall Street Journal and the Detroit News report on the findings.

Health & Society Scholars alumnus David Grande, MD, MPA, was a guest on WHYY’s RadioTimes show to discuss the Affordable Care Act, after a poll found that 40 percent of Americans view the law unfavorably, and a similar number do not know that it is the law of the land.

An Academic Progression in Nursing (APIN) grant from RWJF is enabling the New Mexico Nursing Education Consortium to begin “implementing a coordinated nursing education infrastructure, aimed at increasing bachelor’s-prepared nurses and diversity in the state’s nursing workforce,” Nurse.com reports. Learn more about APIN.

Hilary Levey Friedman, PhD, an alumna of the Scholars in Health Policy Research program, recently wrote articles for the blogs of Psychology Today and WBUR-FM on what our competitive culture is teaching children.

Utah will be the only state in the country next year to run its own Small Business Health Options Program exchange while the federal government sets up an exchange for the state’s individual market, Politico reports. That news prompted advocates for more comprehensive health coverage like RWJF Community Health Leader Judi Hilman to voice concerns. Hilman, director of the Utah Health Policy Project, worries small business employees won’t get proper notice if they’re eligible for Medicaid or a tax credit on the individual exchange.

Tags: Clinical Scholars, Community Health Leaders, Executive Nurse Fellows, Health & Society Scholars, Healthy Food Access, Human Capital News, Interdisciplinary Nursing Quality Research Initiative, Investigator Awards in Health Policy Research, LEAP Project, Media Coverage, Medicaid and CHIP, New Jersey Nursing Initiative, Nursing, Physician Faculty Scholars, RN Work Project, Research & Analysis, Scholars in Health Policy Research