Dec 12 2013
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Human Capital News Roundup: TV coverage of terrorism, alcohol laws, electronic health records, 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:

MedPage Today reports that Medicare could save up to $560 million per year if the program reimbursed ambulances for transporting patients to places other than hospital emergency departments. Roughly 35 percent of Medicare patients taken to a hospital could be treated at other places, according to an analysis by Gregg Margolis, PhD, director of health care systems and health policy at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Margolis is an alumnus of the RWJF Health Policy Fellows program.

Six or more daily hours of exposure to media coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings in the week following the tragedy was linked to more acute stress than having been at, or near, the marathon, reports KMBZ, an ABC affiliate in Boston. “We were very surprised at the degree to which repeated media exposure was so strongly associated with acute stress symptoms,” said E. Alison Holman, PhD, FNP, the study’s lead author and an RWJF Nurse Faculty Scholar. The study was also covered in Medical Xpress.

The herpes virus that produces cold sores has been linked to cognitive impairment throughout life, BioScience Tech reports. A study led by RWJF Health & Society Scholars alumna Allison Aiello, PhD, MS, documents that the virus’ effects on children ages 12 to 16 include lower reading and spatial reasoning test scores. The study is also covered in Medical Xpress.

Food stamp use by low-income families during pregnancy and early childhood years increases the economic self-sufficiency of female children in the family, once they grow up, according to a new study co-authored by RWJF Scholars in Health Policy Research program alumna Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, PhD, and featured on Salon.com. Access to food stamps for women leads to increases in educational attainment, earnings, and income, and decreases in welfare participation. The study was also featured on CBSNews.com and in Pacific Standard magazine.

Students from middle-income families are more likely to have student loan debt after college than their peers from lower and higher socioeconomic backgrounds, according to a study by RWJF Health & Society Scholar Jason Houle, PhD. It will be published in January in Sociology of Education and was covered by Inside Higher Education. “Children from middle-income families make too much money to qualify for student aid packages, but they do not have the financial means to cover the costs of college,” Houle writes.

Despite studies showing that weight loss may not, on its own, improve health,  mainstream media continue to focus on it as an indicator of future health, iVillage reports. The article highlights studies co-led by RWJF Health & Society Scholars alumna Janet Tomiyama, PhD, on dieting and health. Read more about Tomiyama’s work.

Pregnant women’s eating and drinking habits are frequently highlighted by the media, but the ways men’s behavior affects sperm quality is given much less attention. A recent study, co-authored by RWJF Scholar in Health Policy Research alumna Rene Almeling, PhD, and covered in Slate, argues that the focus on women’s bodies before and during reproduction has led to a dearth of research about men’s contributions to conception.

States with more comprehensive alcohol- and traffic-related laws have a lower proportion of traffic deaths, according to a study co-authored by RWJF Health & Society Scholar James Macinko, PhD, MA. The research team examined 27 types of laws, including child restraint laws, beer taxes, and mandatory fines for driving under the influence, across all 50 states from 1980 to 2010, UPI reports.

Cities throughout the United States are increasingly divided between rich and poor, hampering economic mobility, according to a study by RWJF Health & Society Scholars alumnus Patrick Sharkey, PhD. Such residential isolation makes it hard for the poor to improve their circumstances, the Chicago Tribune reports. Sharkey’s study was also cited in the EastBay Express, St. Louis Beacon, Huffington Post, and the Atlantic Cities.

Newsworks profiles Philadelphia cardiologist, researcher, and RWJF Clinical Scholar Chileshe Nkonde-Price, MD, and her research on heart disease among African American women, which she conducts through interviews at visit hair salons. “It was actually when I was at the hair salon myself ... and I heard stories about health, stories about family, stories about solutions, and I thought: the truth is here,” Nkonde-Price told Newsworks. A radio broadcast of the story is available here.

RWJF Health & Society Scholars program alumna Natasha Dow Schüll, PhD, MA, is interviewed in the New Republic about her research on gambling addiction. Her work focuses on gaming machines. Read more about Schüll’s work.

Even with a proposed extension of the timeline to complete Electronic Health Record Incentive Programs, eligible providers are still facing challenges meeting thresholds for patient engagement, especially in rural areas. Patient adaptation to the new system is not the main problem; the larger challenge is the capability of clinical partners, who lag behind, Bambi McQuade-Jones, DNP, an RWJF Executive Nurse Fellow, told EHRIntelligence.

Tags: Behavior change, Clinical Scholars, Emergency care, Executive Nurse Fellows, Health & Society Scholars, Health Policy Fellows, Human Capital, Human Capital News, Media Coverage, Nurse Faculty Scholars, Nurses, Nursing, Payment reform, RWJF news, Research, Scholars in Health Policy Research