Category Archives: American Medical Association

May 2 2012
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Public Health News Roundup: May 2

JAMA Study Raises Concerns about Quality of Clinical Trials

A new analysis of three years of clinical trial data published on ClinicalTrials.gov, a registry maintained by the National Institutes of Health, found that many of the trials were too small and of too poor quality to provide sufficient results for practitioners. The study authors, who published their findings in the Journal of the American Medical Association, reported that their “analysis raises questions about the best methods for generating evidence, as well as the capacity of the clinical trials enterprise to supply sufficient amounts of high-quality evidence needed to ensure confidence in guideline recommendations.”

Read more on medical research

HUD Awards Grants to Increase Housing and Improve Infrastructure in Tribal Communities

The Department of Housing and Urban Development has awarded more than $56 million to 76 tribal communities to improve housing conditions and promote community development. Funding can be used for a variety of projects such as rehabilitating housing , building new homes, to purchase land to support new housing construction, to build infrastructure such as roads, water and sewer facilities and to build community and health centers.

Examples of the new projects include:

  • The Caddo Nation in Oklahoma will build a community facility for elderly low income residents.
  • The Ho-Chunk Nation in Wisconsin will install solar photovoltaic panels on low-income single-family home and apartment rental units to decrease resident energy costs by 24 percent, and to decrease emissions.
  • The Cook Inlet Tribal Council in Alaska will help build a group home for Alaska Native youth to reduce the number of homeless youth and increase academic stability and support.
  • The Chemehuevi Indian Tribe of California will use its grant to upgrade the reservation’s old sewer lines.

Read more on housing

May is Older Americans Month

The theme of Older Americans Month 2012 is “You’re Never Too Old to Play.”

Seniors can find resources for mental and physical health-related activities on this site, maintained by the National Institute on Aging.

Read more on senior health

Apr 27 2011
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Public Health News Roundup: April 27

Annual Report Show Some Improvement in U.S. Levels of Air Pollution

A new report shows some improvement in U.S. air quality, but half of states still have high levels of air pollution.

Majority of Pregnant Women Use Medicines, Risks of Many Drugs in Pregnancy Still Unknown

A new study in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology finds research is needed to determine the safety of many medicines taken during pregnancy.

Survival Increases For Heart Attack Patients Treated According to Guidelines

Patients’ knowledge of — and willingness to follow — treatment guidelines is key to heart attack survival, according to new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Many States Fail to Make Healthy Foods Widely Available

Thirty-two states and the District of Columbia scored at or below the national average in a study of food retailers that sell healthy foods.

Apr 19 2011
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Public Health: There's An App For That

How healthy is your smartphone?

There are thousands of health apps available on the market. A few free ones from national public health organizations are definitely worth checking out:

  • An American Association of Poison Control Centers app that links users to a local poison control center (currently available on iPhone only, but in development for Android, Blackberry and Windows-based smartphones).
  • An NYC Condom Finder app, from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, that helps reduce the spread of sexually transmitted diseases by showing users the nearest place to get free condoms (available for iPhone and iPad).
  • An app from the American Heart Association that lets users find and track walking paths (available for Android, coming soon for iPhone).
  • UPDATED: A commenter let us know about the Harvard Public Health School app: "With the HSPH Public Health News app members of the Harvard School of Public Health community and others can connect with each other and stay up-to-date on breaking public health news and research, plus events and activities going on around the School." Great addition!
  • UPDATED: The CDC is engaging the public health community to come up with an app that promotes healthy behaviors to help prevent the flu. The agency has launched the CDC Flu App Challenge, which closes May 27th. The CDC will be giving out $35,000 in prizes for the most innovative apps that use CDC flu data. Winners will be announced on June 8.

Though it will take time to determine what sort of health apps are most effective, health organizations will definitely continue to develop the smartphone tools, says Lorien Abroms, Sc.D., an assistant professor at the School of Public Health and Health Services at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

Abroms recently published a study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine that reviewed 47 smoking cessation smartphone apps available two years ago on the iTunes app store. The study looked at how well the apps complied with the U.S. Public Health Service’s 2008 Clinical Practice Guidelines for Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence. Most of the apps fell short. Three that complied with at least one guideline could not be recommended due to poor “ease of use” or poor breadth of content. But Abroms says she expects better-executed public health apps to make their way to the market soon.

Abroms offers criteria for judging public health apps:

  • They should be developed from evidence-based guidelines for behavior change in that area (e.g., the U.S. Public Health Service Clinical Practice Guidelines)
  • They should offer periodic messaging/alerts to guide behavior change (Abroms says that while we have little evidence about guiding behavior change with smartphone apps, through research on text messaging we know that periodic messages can help with smoking cessation, weight loss and diabetes management)
  • The app should offer the opportunity to get social support for behavior change
  • If possible, the apps should provide links to other proven services (e.g. a quitline)

Weigh In: What's your favorite public health app? Tell us in the comments.

Apr 13 2011
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Public Health News Roundup: April 13

HHS Launches Program to Improve Patient Safety in U.S. Hospitals (HHS)

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has announced Partnership for Patients to improve adoption of proven safety measures in hospitals.

AIDS-related Cancer Cases Fall in U.S. (HealthDayNews)

Use of antiretroviral drugs has resulted in a drop in cases of AIDS-related cancers in the U.S., according to a new study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. But other types of cancer have increased in this group.

People with No Symptoms Can Still Spread Genital Herpes (Reuters)

A new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that patients with no symptoms can still spread genital herpes, raising the question of whether the general population should be screened for the virus.

World Health Organization Would Help Countries Trade Low-Cost Flu Vaccines for Virus Samples (Reuters)

In return for sharing flu-virus samples, participating countries would get access to low-cost flu vaccines, under a plan being considered by the World Health Organization.

Most Teen Crashes Are Caused by Driver Error (HealthDay News)

Blame distractions and inexperience, not drugs and alcohol, for most teen crashes, according to a study in Accident Analysis and Prevention.

Apr 12 2011
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Keeneland Conference: Day One

NewPublicHealth is in Lexington, Ky., through Thursday for the 2011 Public Health Systems and Services Research (PHSSR) Keeneland Conference. Sessions begin this afternoon.

Professor Douglas Scutchfield, the conference chair and the Peter P. Bosomworth Professor of Health Services Research and Policy at the University of Kentucky College of Public Health, has laid out the key issues for this year’s conference:

  • Development of this year’s PHSSR research agenda with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Real world applications of PHSSR to inform practitioner decisions
  • Resource management — with an eye toward the current economic environment — and how best to decide what expenses a public health department might cut.

Speakers today include John Lumpkin, M.D., M.P.H., Senior Vice President and Director, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Ardis Hoven, M.D., Chair, American Medical Association Board of Trustees.

Check back here for ongoing coverage and posts throughout the conference, including a podcast with Dr. Lumpkin.

Follow @RWJF_PubHealth for real-time updates on Twitter (use the hashtag #PHSSRKC11) ; there will also be additional posts on Scutch’s Blog.

Weigh In: Has your health department struggled with how to handle a recent budget cut?