Sep 19 2013
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Human Capital News Roundup: Suicide prevention, psychotropic medication, Las Vegas buffets, 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:

Jennifer Stuber, PhD, an alumna of the RWJF Health & Society Scholars program, was a guest on KING’s New Day (Seattle, Wash.) to discuss Forefront, an organization she co-founded to advance suicide prevention through policy change, professional training, campus and school-based interventions, media outreach and ongoing evaluation. Stuber has been an advocate for suicide prevention since her husband took his own life in 2011, and supports suicide-assessment training for medical professionals as part of continuing education. Read a post Stuber wrote for the RWJF Human Capital Blog about that legislation.

Nearly 60 percent of the 5.1 million patients who were prescribed a psychotropic medication in 2009 had received no psychiatric diagnosis, according to a study led by RWJF/U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Clinical Scholar Ilse Wiechers, MD, MPP. The study also finds that 67 percent of those prescriptions were given to patients who did not receive any specialized mental health care, Medscape reports, meaning the medications were prescribed in primary care, general medical, or surgical settings.

Minnesota Public Radio and MinnPost.com report on a study co-authored by Health & Society Scholars alumni Sarah Gollust, PhD, and Jeff Niederdeppe, PhD, MA, examining how different messages about the consequences of childhood obesity could affect public attitudes about obesity-prevention policy. The researchers found that tapping into core values beyond health—like the need for a strong and ready military—appealed to conservatives, sometimes causing them to revise their views on how the problem should be addressed and which public and private entities should play a role.

Scholar in Health Policy Research Colleen Carey, PhD, and program alumna Helen Levy, PhD, co-authored a piece in Health Affairs that argues that the fear that employers might drop health insurance coverage for their employees as a result of the Affordable Care Act is overblown. The researchers predict a “relatively small” decline in employer-sponsored coverage, the Pacific Standard reports.

Laura Lopez, executive director of the Street Level Health Project and an RWJF Community Health Leader, spoke to the Associated Press about efforts to reach out to non-English speakers to explain the health reform law. Lopez experienced first-hand the isolation and discrimination of low-wage immigrants when she came to the United States from Peru, and now leads the Street Level Health Project, which helps uninsured and low-wage day laborers gain access to a variety of health and social services.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports on an article in the New England Journal of Medicine co-authored by RWJF Investigator Award in Health Policy Research recipient Aaron Kessehlheim, MD, JD, MPH, that warns that coupons for brand-name prescription drugs—sometimes available on the Internet and in doctors' offices—will not save consumers money in the long run. Though such vouchers make up the difference in consumers' co-payments between brand-name drugs and their generic alternatives, the promotions often last for three months or less.

“Pay for performance” models, or paying doctors for how they perform specific medical procedures and examinations, incentivize physicians to provide better care and result in better health outcomes than “fee for service” models where everyone gets paid a set amount, Science Daily reports in a story on a new study co-authored by Investigator Award recipient R. Adams Dudley, MD, MBA.

For a story about the rise in New York City of “living apart together,” which means married couples or those in long-term relationships living under separate roofs, the New York Times spoke to Investigator Award recipient Eric Klinenberg, PhD, author of Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone. The arrangement has “surprising appeal,” he says, and may stem from a fear of losing an affordable apartment in the city’s competitive real estate market if the relationship doesn’t work out. Read an RWJF Human Capital Blog Q&A with Klinenberg about his book.

Natasha Dow Schüll, PhD, MA, an alumna of the Health & Society Scholars program, was a guest on Nevada Public Radio discussing Las Vegas buffets and why they are so appealing. Schüll directed Buffet: All You Can Eat Las Vegas, a 2006 documentary about the cultural and experiential dimensions of food over-consumption, after becoming interested in the topic while studying gambling. Learn more about her gambling research here and here.

Tags: Behavioral/mental health, Clinical Scholars, Community Health Leaders, Health & Society Scholars, Human Capital, Human Capital News, Investigator Awards in Health Policy Research, Media Coverage, Prescription drugs, Research, Research & Analysis, Scholars and fellows