Jan 23 2014
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Human Capital News Roundup: Cost of childbirth, underuse of nurse practitioners, obesity through economic lens, 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:

Recent progress in preventing and treating cancer is not fully reflected in declining death rates from the disease, because improving survival rates for other diseases have resulted in longer lifespans, giving people more years during which cancer may strike. This is the key finding from a study by RWJF Health & Society Scholars alumnus Samir Soneji, PhD. HealthDay reports on Soneji’s research.

A study by Renee Hsia, MD, an RWJF Physician Faculty Scholars program alumna, examines childbirth costs at hospitals throughout California. Hsia found that costs for vaginal deliveries without complications range from $3,296 to $37,277. “The market doesn’t work and the system doesn’t regulate it, so hospitals can charge what they want,” she told the Boston Globe.

Having an incarcerated family member could lead to negative health outcomes, especially for women, according to a study carried by Medpage Today. RWJF Health & Society Scholars program alumna Hedwig Lee, PhD, found that for women, having an incarcerated family member was associated with an increased likelihood of self-reported diabetes, hypertension, heart attack or stroke, obesity, and fair or poor health.

Many health care providers are not making full use of nurse practitioners (NPs), partly due to the limitations of electronic health records (EHRs) and billing software, according a study from Lusine Poghosyan, PhD, MPH, RN, reports EHR Intelligence. Poghosyan, an RWJF Nurse Faculty Scholar, concluded that because such software fails to recognize NPs as providers of record, it restricts their access to patient data and does not accurately reflect their role in patient care.

Internal as well as external distractions keep employees from focusing on their work, according to a study led by Matthew Killingsworth, PhD, an RWJF Health & Society Scholar, which found that mind wandering” is common. Killingsworth reports that employees in his study were thinking about something other than the task before them nearly half the time.

High rates of rare forms of cancer are affecting residents living near Coldwater Creek in north St. Louis County, Missouri, according to a survey conducted by Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, PhD, an RWJF Scholars in Health Policy Research alumna. The study was reported by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and CBS St. Louis.

Despite continued growth in U.S. health spending, the proportion of Americans with health insurance has declined since 1999, Sarah Burgard, PhD, MS, MA, an RWJF Health & Society Scholars program alumna, said at a recent Stanford University convening. Palo Alto Weekly reports that Burgard said that as of 2012, slightly less than 85 percent of all Americans were insured. However, the proportion of children with insurance had increased by more than 3 percent since the late 1990s as a result of the Children's Health Insurance Program.

The Atlantic magazine analyzes RWJF Scholars in Health Policy Research alumnus John Cawley’s NBER Reporter article, "The Economics of Obesity." The article urges that obesity and the costs associated with it be examined through the lens of economics, with a focus on the relationship between income and weight.

The impact of racism on health is the focus of a study by Maggie Hicken, PhD, an RWJF Health & Society Scholars program alumna. The study links hypertension among Black Americans to “hypervigilance” about discrimination, Upworthy.com reports. Read more about Hicken’s study here.

The Washington Post’s “Monkey Page” blog is running a series of articles on the historical basis for polarization in politics. RWJF Scholars in Health Policy Research alumni Hahrie Han and Hans Noel recently contributed to the series.

Tags: Cancer, Cost of care, Health & Society Scholars, Human Capital, Human Capital News, Media Coverage, Nurse Faculty Scholars, Nurses, Nursing, Physician Faculty Scholars, Research & Analysis, Scholars in Health Policy Research, Social determinants of health