Jul 10 2014

RWJF Scholars in the News: Healthcare.gov, depression and mortality, stress among nurses, 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:

Young adult users of Healthcare.gov, the health insurance marketplace established under the Affordable Care Act, recommend that the site offer better explanations of terminology, more clarity about the benefits various plans offer, and checkboxes and other features that make it easier to compare plans. Those are among the findings of a study conducted by RWJF Clinical Scholar Charlene Wong, MD, along with alumni David Asch, MD, MBA, and Raina Merchant, MD, that looked at the experiences of young adults who used the website. The scholars write about their findings in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Wong told the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics blog that these users “may not know what insurance terms mean but they have a lot of expertise and insights about maximizing the usability of the digital platforms that have always been such an integral part of their lives.”

Major depression (also known as “clinical depression”) is associated with an elevated risk of death from cardiovascular disease, according to research covered by Kansas City InfoZine. The study, co-authored by Patrick Krueger, PhD, an RWJF Health & Society Scholars program alumnus, also found that the relationship between depression and early non-suicide mortality is independent of such factors as smoking, exercise, body mass, education, income, and employment status. The authors say the findings indicate that the relationship between depression and mortality is not due solely to the interplay between depression and health-compromising risk factors.

Expanding scope of practice for advanced practice nurses and implementing better management practices could alleviate some stress factors for nurses and improve patient care, Matthew McHugh, PhD, JD, MPH, FAAN, tells Healthline News. For example, in some medical facilities, nurses are empowered to decide if a patient’s urinary catheter should be removed without consulting a doctor, thus preventing delays in care. “Lots of things that don’t require policy change” can have an important impact on patient outcomes and nurses’ job satisfaction, said McHugh, an RWJF Nurse Faculty Scholars alumnus.

While working with low-income children, RWJF Clinical Scholars alumna Nicole Brown, MD, MPH, wondered if misbehaving pediatric patients who had dealt with childhood trauma were being misdiagnosed with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), reports the Atlantic. Brown analyzed data from a national survey and found that children diagnosed with ADHD also experienced markedly higher levels of poverty, divorce, violence, and family substance abuse. These children may also have ADHD, but unless the emotional damage is treated, it may be difficult to see dramatic improvement in their behavior, she says.

As part of a story about the local impact of the Affordable Care Act’s Prevention and Public Health Fund, the Chicago Tribune describes the work of a new health clinic in one of the city’s low-income, largely Latino neighborhoods. The clinic received a $484,000 grant from the fund, and is overseen by Cynthia Barnes-Boyd, PhD, RN, FAAN, an alumna of the RWJF Executive Nurse Fellows program. One goal of the clinic is to keep families healthy so children can stay in school and parents can hold jobs. “It’s a longer-term view of health,” Barnes-Boyd tells the Tribune. “If people really understood that prevention would improve expenditures on health care, there wouldn't be such opposition. We’re so illness-focused."

In an article for the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage blog, Shana Gadarian, PhD, an RWJF Scholars in Health Policy Research alumna, analyzes the ethics of a Facebook “emotion experiment” that has recently made headlines. Gadarian offers suggestions to Facebook, which experienced backlash from users and criticism in the media after revealing that researchers had manipulated users’ newsfeeds to test reactions. Gadarian maintains that Facebook would have been on higher ethical ground if it had offered study subjects a clearer opt-in message and sent an email to debrief participants after conducting the study.

Registered voters say they want their elected representatives to support action to reduce global warming, according to a study led by Edward Maibach, PhD, MPH, recipient of an RWJF Investigator Award in Health Policy Research. Salon and Pacific Standard cover the study, which finds that 45 percent of respondents say they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who strongly supports taking action on global warming, compared to 17 percent who would be less likely.

Research by Jason Houle, PhD, examines the effects of student debt on the number of young adults seeking to purchase homes, reports Digital Journal. The RWJF Health & Society Scholars program alumnus found that rising student debt serves as a barrier to home ownership, particularly for young African American adults.

Tags: Clinical Scholars, Executive Nurse Fellows, HC Website Feature, Health & Society Scholars, Investigator Awards in Health Policy Research, Media Coverage, Mental and Emotional Well-Being, Nurse Faculty Scholars, Nurses and Nursing, Research & Analysis, Scholars in Health Policy Research