Sep 5 2013

Human Capital News Roundup: How adverse working conditions affect health, the impact of the “trophy culture” on kids, antibiotic development, 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:

Adverse working conditions contribute substantially to the risk of depression for working-age adults, according to new research from a team led by RWJF Health & Society Scholars alumna Sarah A. Burgard, PhD. The study is the first of its kind to show the impact of the sum total of negative working conditions, rather than focusing on only one particular risk factor, Science Daily reports.

A study led by RWJF/U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Clinical Scholars alumnus Michael Hochman, MD, finds that the philosophy behind patient-centered medical homes supports improved patient care and better physician and staff morale, Bio-Medicine reports. Hochman and his colleagues studied Galaxy Health, a program jointly operated by the University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of Southern California. "We all know that fewer and fewer young physicians are choosing careers in primary care because of the difficult work schedules, lack of support and lower salaries," Hochman said. "What we did here was to move in the direction of a team-based approach and it resulted in improved satisfaction for physicians in training with their primary care experiences."

RWJF Scholars in Health Policy Research alumna Hilary Levey Friedman, PhD, wrote a column for the Time Magazine Ideas blog, reflecting on a trend in organized children’s activities that she calls “the carving up of honor.” It consists of devising smaller categories that offer more opportunities for prizes. Giving children rewards for doing an activity lowers intrinsic motivation, she writes, which bodes poorly for long-term success and for pride in hard-earned achievement. “The carving up of honor and the trophy culture that accompanies it has clearly gone too far: carving up honor probably doesn’t improve children’s performance or motivation—but it may mean a bigger payday for those who run childhood tournaments.” Friedman identified the trend while researching her new book, Playing to Win.

A story in the Global Post cites research by Scholars in Health Policy Research alumnus Seema Jayachandran, PhD, that finds stunted growth among children in India may vary among siblings living in the same household. The cultural norm of eldest-son preference and the dilution of resources as families grow larger are among the possible explanations for the trend, the researchers say.

City A.M. cites a working paper co-authored by RWJF Investigator Award in Health Policy Research recipient Alan Gerber, PhD, that finds when people taking a quiz have a chance to win a prize, and thus have a stronger incentive to get their answers right, they think more clearly and answer more accurately than if they have no such incentive.

Healthcare Technology Online reports on the electronic medical records system created by Kyna Fong, PhD, an alumna of the Scholars in Health Policy Research program. ElationEMR is intuitive and easy to incorporate into practice, Fong says. Learn more about ElationEMR here and here.

The wealth gap between Whites and African Americans “remains persistently stubborn,” Scholars in Health Policy Research alumnus Darrick Hamilton, PhD, told MSNBC’s The Grio blog. “Wealth is probably your best determinant of economic opportunity, well-being and security… Market forces alone will not solve the wealth gap problems. We need big ideas from the federal government to create economic opportunity for all races.”

Scholars in Health Policy Research alumna M. Marit Rehavi, PhD, continues to receive coverage for her study that finds financial incentives may be encouraging obstetricians to perform more cesarean sections. NPR is among the outlets to report on the findings.

Investigator Award recipient Aaron S. Kesselheim, MD, JD, MPH, spoke to the Boston Herald Biz Smart blog about the production of antibiotics for multi-drug-resistant bacteria. “There’s a concern that the amount of innovation in the field is not meeting the level of demand,” he said, but many of the new antibiotics are coming from smaller startup drug companies. Learn more about Kesselheim’s research on the pharmaceutical industry here and here.

The Scientific American reports on the Nutrition Science Initiative (NuSI), a nonprofit organization co-founded by Investigator Award recipient Gary Taubes, MSE, MS. NuSI has raised $40 million to test whether hormones or calories play a bigger role in obesity and to address other key questions about obesity and health. Learn more about NuSI.

Tags: Health & Society Scholars, Human Capital News, Investigator Awards in Health Policy Research, Media Coverage, Research & Analysis, Scholars in Health Policy Research, Social Determinants of Health