Aug 22 2013
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Human Capital News Roundup: Lead exposure and behavior problems, debt's impact on health, health exchange 'navigators,' 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:

More Americans are dying from obesity than previously thought, according to a new study by Ryan Masters, PhD, an alumnus of the RWJF Health & Society Scholars program. In recent decades, 18 percent of deaths of Americans ages 40 to 85 can be attributed to obesity, NBC News, USA Today, and the Los Angeles Times report, which is much higher than the often cited 5-percent toll.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett last week signed a new health care law based on a plan designed by RWJF Community Health Leader Zane Gates, MD, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. The measure will provide $4 million to community health centers in rural and underserved areas.

Children exposed to lead are nearly three times more likely to be suspended from school by the 4th grade than their non-exposed peers, according to a study co-authored by Health & Society Scholars alumna Sheryl Magzamen, PhD, MPH. “We knew that lead exposure decreases children's abilities to control their attention and behavior, but we were still surprised that exposed children were so much more likely to be suspended,” she told Science World Report.

WHYY (Philadelphia) spoke to RWJF Executive Nurse Fellows alumna Cheri Lee Rinehart, BSN, RN, about grants to train "navigators" to assist people as they purchase insurance through health exchanges. Rinehart is president of the Pennsylvania Association of Community Health Centers, one of five groups in the state that are receiving the federal funds.

A study led by Health & Society Scholars alumna Elizabeth Sweet, PhD, finds that high levels of financial debt among young people could be negatively affecting their health. Individuals with a high debt-to-asset ratio had higher diastolic blood pressure and perceived stress and depression, and worse self-reported general health, Science Daily reports.

Several scholars wrote op-eds in leading publications. RWJF/U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Clinical Scholars alumna Lisa Rosenbaum, MD, wrote a piece for The New Yorker that asks, “Why Doesn’t Medical Care Get Better When Doctors Rest More?Howard Markel, MD, PhD, FAAP, recipient of an RWJF Investigator Award in Health Policy Research, wrote a piece for PBS NewsHour’s Rundown blog about what inspired the first stethoscope.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports on a recent gathering of politicians, advocates, caregivers, and researchers at the University of Pennsylvania to examine dementia care in the state. The group, called The Pennsylvania Alzheimer's Disease Planning Committee, includes Investigator Award recipient Jason Karlawish, who is focusing on the financial problems of older people with cognitive problems. Read a post Karlawish wrote for the RWJF Human Capital Blog about Alzheimer’s disease.

Tags: Clinical Scholars, Community Health Leaders, Executive Nurse Fellows, Health & Society Scholars, Health insurance exchanges, Health reform, Human Capital, Human Capital News, Investigator Awards in Health Policy Research, Media Coverage, Nurses, Nursing, Research, Research & Analysis, Social determinants of health