Aug 15 2013

Human Capital News Roundup: Brain cell regeneration, malpractice concerns, reducing drug overdose-related deaths, 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:

Newly licensed registered nurses who experience high or moderate levels of verbal abuse by physicians have less favorable perceptions of their work environments, lower intent to stay in their jobs, and lower commitment to their organizations, according to a study by the RWJF-supported RN Work Project. Health Leaders Media, Becker’s Hospital Review and Medical XPress are among the outlets to report on the findings. Learn more about the study.

Can social media accurately measure public opinion and be a good indicator of how people will vote? Research co-authored by RWJF Scholars in Health Policy Research alumnus Fabio Rojas, PhD, finds a strong correlation between how often a candidate is mentioned in tweets—regardless of what is said about him or her—and that candidate’s final share of the vote. The researcher team’s data predicted the winner in 404 out of 406 competitive races using data from 2010, Rojas writes in an op-ed for the Washington Post.

Physicians who worry about malpractice lawsuits order more diagnostic tests and refer patients to the emergency room more often than other physicians, according to a study co-authored by RWJF Investigator Award in Health Policy Research recipient Michelle M. Mello, JD, PhD, MPhil. The result is higher medical costs for patients, MarketWatch reports.

The Herald (Rock Hill, SC) reports on a study led by RWJF Health & Society Scholars alumna Margaret Sheridan, PhD, that finds that a mother's perceived social status affects her child's brain development and stress indicators. “Our results indicate that a mother's perception of her social status 'lives' biologically in her children,” Sheridan said.

A study led by RWJF Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development Program alumnus Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa, MD, finds that neural stem cells—the body’s source of new brain cells—can be roused to reproduce and generate new cells after radiation cancer treatment. Scientists have long thought these cells could not regenerate. The findings also hold promise for those suffering from progressive neurological diseases, Health Canal reports. Read more about Quiñones-Hinojosa here and here.

Seth Holmes, MD, PhD, an alumnus of the Health & Society Scholars program, was interviewed by NPR about his new book, Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies. For two summers, Holmes lived with migrant workers on a farm in Washington State. His book documents their struggles with long hours, low wages, and the heavy toll that growing, picking, and packaging food takes on their bodies.

Scholars in Health Policy Research alumnus Brendan Nyhan, PhD, who studies the media’s role in reporting scandals, was a guest on MSNBC’s Up to discuss his recent articles in the Columbia Journalism Review that look at how media covered allegations that the Internal Revenue Service had unfairly targeted specific political groups applying for tax-exempt status, and why there has been a steep drop-off in coverage of the controversy. A story on Slate also cited Nyhan’s articles on the topic.

In light of a new study by researchers at the Naval Health Research Center which finds that the rising number of suicides in the military is not caused by deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, Scholars in Health Policy Research alumnus Michael Schoenbaum, PhD, spoke to NPR about his research that challenges that conclusion. Schoenbaum leads the STARRS study, which found a significant increase in suicide risk associated with first deployment for those in the Army.

A campaign in Sweden to educate urologists and reduce inappropriate prostate cancer scans for low-risk patients helped dramatically drop the rate of those scans, according to a study led by RWJF Clinical Scholars alumnus Danil V. Makarov, MD, MHS. "In the United States we have guidelines about the overuse of imaging tests, but lack a roadmap for their implementation," Makarov told Oncology Nurse Advisor. "We could learn a lot from what the Swedes have done."

Forbes spoke to Scholars in Health Policy Research alumnus Carl V. Phillips, PhD, scientific director of the Consumer Advocates for Smoke-Free Alternatives Association, about whether or not e-cigarettes are safe. Phillips also spoke to the Winston-Salem Journal about the topic.

Two scholars were in the news to discuss a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that finds obesity rates declined slightly for low-income preschool-age children between 2008 and 2011. Health & Society Scholars alumna June Tester, MD, MPH, spoke to the San Francisco Chronicle, and Elsie Taveras, MD, MPH, an alumna of both of the RWJF Physician Faculty Scholars program and the Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development Program, spoke to the Wall Street Journal.

WNCN-TV (Raleigh, NC) interviewed Debra Barksdale, PhD, RN, FAAN, an RWJF Executive Nurse Fellow and director of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program, about the primary care shortage and what steps the DNP program is taking to train more nurse practitioners.

Scott Burris, JD, an Investigator Award recipient, spoke to Minnesota Public Radio about “good Samaritan laws” that provide some legal immunity for people who call for help when someone is overdosing on opiate-based drugs, like heroin. Advocates trying to reduce the number of drug-related deaths are also pushing for a law that would allow health care providers to prescribe naloxone, an antidote for an opioid overdose. “Those go together as key interventions …” Burris said.

Doctors could play a unique role that transcends political differences to help frame climate change as a public health issue, Health & Society Scholars alumna Sabrina McCormick, PhD, MA, tells Time Magazine. “[The public is] kind of attuned to their expertise and we really care about what they say,” she says. “They have a potential for an impact that scientists may not have.”

Tags: Clinical Scholars, Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Executive Nurse Fellows, Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development Program, Health & Society Scholars, Human Capital News, Investigator Awards in Health Policy Research, Media Coverage, Nurses and Nursing, Nursing, Physician Faculty Scholars, Publications, RN Work Project, Research & Analysis, Scholars in Health Policy Research