Jul 25 2013
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Human Capital News Roundup: Mortality rates for non-drinkers, screening newborns for rare diseases, air conditioners’ impact on climate, 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:

Previous research has shown that non-drinkers have a slightly higher mortality risk than light drinkers, and a study co-authored by RWJF Health & Society Scholars alumnus Patrick Krueger, PhD, is the first to examine the characteristics and mortality risks of non-drinker subgroups to explain the phenomenon. The study confirms that some, but not all, subgroups of non-drinkers have a higher mortality rate than light drinkers, and uncovers some of the reasons. Among the outlets to report on the findings: Health Canal, the Aspen Business Journal, Science Daily and the Denver Journal.

The research of Health & Society Scholars alumnus Andrew Papachristos, PhD, is informing a new technique used by the Austin Police District in Chicago to quell gang violence, the Chicago Tribune reports. Papachristos found that much of the violence on the West Side of Chicago involves a relatively small number of victims and offenders. The Austin District has put those people on a “heat list” and will begin visiting them individually to issue warnings to stop the violence.

States that have expanded family planning services under Medicaid have seen an increase in women receiving potentially life-saving Pap tests and breast exams, according to a study led by Health & Society Scholar Laura Wherry, PhD. Health Canal and Medical XPress are among the outlets to report on the findings.

Rather than becoming depressed or anxious, people who find out they have a gene that predisposes them to Alzheimer’s disease often take steps to reduce their risk, including exercise, healthier diets, and vitamins and medications, according to a study led by RWJF Investigator Award in Health Policy Research Jason Karlawish, MD. GenomeWeb reports on the findings.

A study by Jason Fletcher, PhD, a Health & Society Scholars alumnus, finds that “some combination of family life, genetics, and parenting has more of an effect on future income than high school popularity,”  Business Insider reports.

A five-year study finds that the risk of suicide among drug users who had been emotionally, physically, or sexually abused as children is up to five times greater than in the general population, Health Canal reports. Sandro Galea, MD, MPH, DrPH, recipient of an Investigator Award in Health Policy Research, co-authored the study.

The Atlantic reports on data from RWJF Scholars in Health Policy Research alumnus Michael Greenstone, PhD, and his colleague at the Hamilton Project on the growth of student loan debt. While tuition hikes play a part in students taking out more loans, the researchers found that students are also paying less out of pocket on average toward their own education.

Health & Society Scholars alumnus Stefan Timmermans, PhD, MA, wrote an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times about why routine newborn screening for rare diseases “is now being expanded in ways that demand scrutiny.” Timmermans cites his own research on the unintended consequences of the expanded screenings for California families; he found that parents tend to re-organize their lives and remain hyper-vigilant about their child's health during periods of uncertainty after a false positive result.

An op-ed in Bloomberg News, written by former Congressional Budget Office Director Peter Orszag, cites research by Health & Society Scholar Jennifer Montez, PhD, that finds joblessness is a big contributor to the rapidly growing life expectancy gap between highly educated and less-educated white women. The op-ed was also picked up by the Waco Tribune and the Oman Tribune.

A research team at Purdue University, led by Health & Society Scholars alumnus Elliot Friedman, PhD, has received a $1.2 million grant to begin a five-year study on how a person’s level of social support affects their health as they age, the Purdue Exponent reports.

Investigator Award recipient Eric Klinenberg, PhD, author of a book about a 1995 heat wave that killed hundreds of elderly in Chicago, wrote an op-ed for Time Magazine about the nation’s air-conditioner use. “Trying to engineer hot weather out of existence rather than adjust our culture of consumption for the age of climate change is one of our biggest environmental blind spots,” he writes. “If you can’t stand the heat, you should know that blasting the AC will ultimately make us all even hotter. Let’s put our air conditioners on ice before it’s too late.”

A story from Inside Higher Ed cites the New Jersey Nursing Initiative, a program of RWJF and the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce Foundation, as one of the “creative solutions to hire and retain new faculty” at schools of nursing.

Tech Crunch interviewed Scholars in Health Policy Research alumna Kyna Fong, PhD, about ElationEMR, an electronic health records company she started with her brother.

A post on the National Review Online’s domestic policy blog, The Agenda, cites 2010 research by Health & Society Scholars alumnus Patrick Sharkey, PhD, on how exposure to a local homicide affects children’s cognitive performance.

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