Oct 24 2013

Human Capital News Roundup: Out-of-pocket medical costs, whooping cough vaccinations, hand sanitizer, 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:

RWJF Senior Adviser for Nursing Susan B. Hassmiller, PhD, RN, FAAN, has been elected to the Institute of Medicine, which is “widely held to be one of the highest individual honors in the fields of health and medicine,” Advance for Nurses reports. Read more about Hassmiller’s honor.

Physicians should talk to patients about their potential out-of-pocket medical costs, Peter Ubel, MD, and colleagues urge in a perspective piece in the New England Journal of Medicine. Such potentially avoidable costs "may impair patients’ well-being," Medpage Today reports, and the authors lay out the benefits of discussing this often uncomfortable topic. Ubel is an alumnus of the RWJF Generalist Physician Faculty Scholars program and a recipient of an RWJF Investigator Award in Health Policy Research. Read more about Ubel's argument for cost discussions.

In a study of unintentional fatal drug overdoses in New York City boroughs, RWJF Health & Society Scholars alumna Magdalena Cerda, PhD, MPH, and colleagues found that while heroin overdoses are common in predominantly low-income, high-crime  neighborhoods, fatal overdoses of prescription painkillers are increasingly common in neighborhoods that are largely working-class. NPR and Health Canal are among the outlets to report on the findings.

A 2006 recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that adolescents be vaccinated against pertussis (whooping cough) led not only to a significant increase in vaccination rates among teens, but to a reduction in severe pertussis-related hospitalizations among infants, who often catch the disease from adolescents, Medscape reports. The study was led by RWJF Clinical Scholars alumna Katherine Auger, MD.

Using the 1997 enactment of the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) as a model for what might happen when the Affordable Care Act is fully implemented, Clinical Scholars alumna Adrianne Haggins, MD, MS, and colleagues found that the number of visits to emergency departments will likely stay about the same, while clinic visits are likely to go up. Medical XPress and Science Daily report on the findings.

Using data from three major surveys, RWJF Scholars in Health Policy Research alumnus Darrick Hamilton, PhD, and colleagues found that 7.7 percent of women reported being stalked by the age of 45. They also found that women who experienced stalking were two to three times more likely to suffer from psychological distress than women who never faced this type of trauma, United Press Internal reports.

Health & Society Scholars alumna Allison Aiello, PhD, MS, was interviewed by CNN about the safety and effectiveness of hand sanitizer. Nonalcoholic versions contain an anti-bacterial agent called triclosan, which has not been shown to have benefits beyond those associated with washing with soap and water, and triclosan can cause antibacterial resistance, she says. Read a post Aiello wrote for the RWJF Human Capital Blog about triclosan.

The independent voter is a myth, according to a column in the National Journal. Scholars in Health Policy Research alumnus Brendan Nyhan, PhD, is quoted in the piece saying that voters who are truly in the middle are usually the least engaged and least knowledgeable about the political system. “So the knowledgeable folks, the ones who follow politics the most closely, end up acquiring a set of beliefs and come to support one side or the other,” he says. Nyhan studies political scandal and misperceptions about politics and health care.

Investigator Award recipient Michelle M. Mello, JD, PhD, MPhil, is the lead author of a report that examines “how to expand public access to data from clinical trials while protecting patients' privacy and weighing pharmaceutical companies' business interests,” according to Medical XPress.

A report released at a UN seminar in Geneva, Switzerland, earlier this month, says that participation in science runs along a so-called "continuum of access, defined on one end as 'access for the general public' and on the other as 'access for scientists,'" SciDevNet reports. The report was co-authored by Scholars in Health Policy Research alumna Margaret Vitullo, PhD.

The New York Times Magazine spoke to Investigator Award recipient Stephen P. Hinshaw, PhD, about the uneven geographic distribution of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) diagnoses in the United States. Hinshaw and fellow Investigator Award recipient Richard M. Scheffler, PhD, have written a forthcoming book, The ADHD Explosion and Today’s Push for Performance, that examines the correlation between educational policies, standardized testing, and ADHD diagnoses.

Tags: Clinical Scholars, Generalist Physician Faculty Scholars, Health & Society Scholars, Human Capital News, Investigator Awards in Health Policy Research, Media Coverage, Nurses and Nursing, Nursing, Research & Analysis, Scholars in Health Policy Research