Apr 10 2014

RWJF Scholars in the News: Electronic health records, nurse mentoring, ‘longevity gaps,’ 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:

The California Action Coalition has developed a mentorship program that is helping prepare the next generation of nurses to serve as leaders on health care reform. The state’s mentorship program dovetails with the 2014 leadership focus of the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action, a national effort backed by RWJF and AARP that is working to transform health care through nursing. “Mentoring is key to strengthening any leader,” Mary Dickow, MPA, tells Nurse Zone. “Having strong mentors in my life helped me think differently and advance. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.” Dickow is statewide director of the California Action Coalition.

A recent interview in the Atlantic with David Blumenthal, MD, MPP, has generated numerous comments from readers weighing in on the merits of electronic health records (EHRs). Blumenthal is former national coordinator for health information technology at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and a recipient of an RWJF Investigator Award in Health Policy Research. He points out in the interview that EHRs offer “substantial” benefits for patients, but notes that in the short-term, providers incur significant costs and that it will take time to make the transition to EHRs. The Atlantic has now published several articles highlighting reader comments, which can be found here, here, and here. FierceEMR published a story about the give-and-take, which notes that many of the commenters who are skeptical about the value of EHRs are physicians.

RWJF Health & Society Scholars program University of Wisconsin-Madison Site Director David Kindig, MD, PhD, appeared on the Kojo Nnamdi Show on Washington, D.C.’s WAMU radio to discuss the “longevity gap,”—the growing gap in life expectancy between the rich and the poor. Kindig and other guests explore how health care reform and policies to address income inequality might affect the gap.

For elderly hospital patients with advanced dementia, their doctors’ area of specialization can play an outsized role in determining whether or not they will end up with a gastric feeding tube, according to a study led by Joan Teno, MD, MS. Some medical organizations recommend against feeding tubes for frail, terminal patients, Medical Xpress reports. Teno, an RWJF Investigator Award recipient, found that patients were much less likely to receive feeding tubes when their attending physicians were primary care generalists or hospitalists rather than subspecialists. “What we've done in the past is establish an evidence base that feeding tubes in this population are not effective,” Teno said. “Now we are trying to understand what’s inside that black box of the hospital that explains why some people are more likely to have a feeding tube insertion.”

A study by RWJF Health & Society Scholars alumnus Samir Soneji, PhD, finds that tobacco companies may still influence young people through advertising, despite limitations placed on tobacco marketing. Soneji says teens and young adults exposed to “direct-to-consumer” marketing, such as direct mailings from tobacco companies, were more likely to smoke than those who were not exposed, the Daily Rx reports.

In a guest column for Time.com, Dalton Conley, PhD, MPA, argues that parenting should involve experimentation and adventure. Drawing on his background as a dual-doctorate professor of sociology and medicine at New York University, and his experience as a parent, Conley has developed a philosophy he calls “parentology” that includes reading parenting studies, experimenting on one’s children by deploying such research, and involving children in the process. “Even when there’s research on a topic, you can’t be sure how it will apply to your own kids—so it’s necessary to embrace experimentation,” writes Dalton, recipient of an RWJF Investigator Award. Conley also contributed an opinion piece, co-written with his son, to the Washington Post, which calls for a tax policy that accounts for how economic benefits and disparities are passed down from generation to generation.

Tags: Campaign for Action, HC Website Feature, Health & Society Scholars, Health Data and IT, Human Capital News, Investigator Awards in Health Policy Research, Media Coverage, Nurses and Nursing, Nursing, Research & Analysis