Category Archives: Military

Apr 2 2012

Public Health News Roundup: April 2

U.S. Health Outcomes Outpaced by Most Other Developed Countries

The U.S. is being outpaced by most other developed countries when it comes to improvements in health outcomes, according to a new analysis by a researcher at the University Of Washington School Of Public Health. The researcher, Dr. Stephen Bezruchka, a senior lecturer in global health, says the decline comes despite increased U.S. spending on health care services.

HUD Awards $33 Million to HIV/AIDS Housing Programs

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has announced nearly $33 million in grants to extremely low-income persons living with HIV/AIDS. The grants will provide housing and supportive services such as case management and employment training. Read more on health and housing.

Funding Expands Opportunities for Veterans to Enter Health Professions

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has announced two grant programs totaling more than $24 million to help veterans enter the health profession workforce and increase the nation’s supply of advanced practice nurses and physician assistants. Read more on military health and opportunities.

FDA Denies Request to Ban BPA

Reuters is reporting that the Food and Drug Administration has denied a petition by the Natural Resources Defense Council to ban BPA, also known as bisphenol A, a chemical used in products such as water bottles, soup cans and other food and drink packaging that may cause harm to developing babies and young children.

The FDA says the petition did not provide the scientific evidence needed to change current regulations.

Mar 8 2012

Public Health News Roundup: March 8

Critical Rise in Army Suicides

Suicides among U.S. soldiers rose 80 percent from 2004 to 2008, according to a study in the journal Injury Prevention. While 40 percent of the suicides may have been linked to combat experience in Iraq, nearly a third of the soldiers who committed suicide were not in combat, according to the study. The researchers also found that rates of suicide among Army personnel from 1977 to 2003 were similar to trends in the general population, but in 2004 suicides started to increase quickly, outpacing the suicide rates among civilians by 2008. Read more on military health.

HIV Treatment in First Year of Life Needed to Avoid Cognitive Impairment in Children

A new study funded by the National Institutes of Health finds that treating HIV in order to avoid brain impairment may have a window of just the first year of life. Treatment begun later than that may not have as significant results in avoiding cognitive impairment. Read more HIV news.

Over Thirty Percent of U.S. Families Struggle with Medical Bills

One-third of American families are having trouble paying for health care, according to a report from the National Center for Health Statistics. Data for the first six months of 2011 found that one in five families had difficulty paying medical bills, one in four pays bills over time and one in 10 can't pay medical bills at all. Read more on access to health care.

Feb 29 2012

Public Health News Roundup: February 29

FDA Announces Safety Changes to Statin Drug Labels

The Food and Drug Administration has announced some key safety changes to the labeling for some widely used cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins. The changes include a revised schedule for monitoring liver enzymes in patients taking the drugs, and new information on rare cases of memory loss, confusion and hyperglycemia. Read more prescription drug news.

National Guardsmen Face Alcohol Abuse Risk

Soldiers in the Army National Guard with no history of alcohol abuse are at significant risk of developing alcohol-related problems during and after deployment, according to a new study published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence Journal. Researchers found that the soldiers at greatest risk of developing alcohol-related problems also experienced depression or PTSD during or after deployment. Read more on military health.

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Feb 23 2012

Public Health News Roundup: February 23

Survey: Surgeons Report Alcohol Abuse at Slightly Higher Rate Than National Average

About 15 percent of surgeons have alcohol abuse or dependency problems, a rate that is somewhat higher than the rest of the population, according to a new survey published in the February issue of Archives of Surgery. Surgeons with alcohol abuse or dependence also accounted for 77.7 percent of surgeons reporting a medical error in the previous three months, researchers suggest. Read more on medical errors.

Deployed Troops More Likely To Use Smokeless Tobacco

Soldiers deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan were more likely to start using smokeless tobacco than those who stayed home, according to a new study published in the journal Addiction. Troops were even more likely to use the tobacco products if they had exposure to combat. Study authors say this study adds to a long line of research on the increased risk of substance abuse for deployed military, possibly tied to the stress of these environments. Read more tobacco news.

Study Offers More Evidence That Colonoscopy Screening Saves Lives

New long-term research supports the idea that colonoscopy screening tests not only prevent colorectal cancers, but also go on to dramatically cut deaths from the disease. Researchers from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City found that removing precancerous polyps during colonoscopies resulted in a 53 percent drop in colon and rectal cancer mortality compared to deaths expected among similar patients in the general population. Read more on the latest developments in cancer prevention.

>> NEWS ROUNDUPS: Catch up on previous stories you may have missed

Jan 24 2012

Public Health News Roundup: January 24

GAO Report: Number of Female Homeless Veterans Has More than Doubled in Four Years

A new General Accounting Office report released yesterday found that the number of women veterans identified as homeless more than doubled, from 1,380 in fiscal year 2006 to 3,328 in fiscal year 2010. Almost two-thirds were between 40 and 59 years old, over one-third had disabilities and many of the women live with children under age 18.

Recommendations in the report include:

  • In order to help achieve the goal of ending homelessness among veterans, the Secretaries of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) should collaborate to ensure appropriate data are collected on homeless women veterans, and use these data to strategically plan for services.
  • In order to ensure homeless women veterans have an appropriate place to stay while they await housing placement, the Secretary of VA should ensure implementation of the agency’s referral policies.
  • To better serve the needs of homeless women veterans with children, the Secretary of VA should examine ways to improve transitional housing services for those veterans.
  • To ensure that women veterans are safely housed, the Secretary of VA should determine what gender-specific safety and security standards are needed for housing programs, especially for those serving both women and men.

Read more on military health and housing.

Online Gathering for Cancer Advocates during the State of the Union Address

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network will hold an online chat for cancer advocates during the State of the Union address on Tuesday night. Information during the chat will include updates on 2012 cancer issue campaigns. Get more cancer news.

Only One in Four Teens Regularly Uses Sunscreen

Children who have had sunburn at an early age are at almost double the risk for developing melanoma in adulthood, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Despite that, a new study in the journal Pediatrics found that half of 360 children for whom sunscreen data was recorded in Massachusetts had sunburn before age 11. The researchers followed up with the same group three years later and found that their rates of sunburn remained high and that sunscreen use had dropped to 25 percent. The authors say that studies are needed to determine how best to promote sun protection in settings that attract teens such as beaches, after-school sites and sporting events. Read more on children's health.

GAO Report: Federal Agencies Tackling Prescription Pain Reliever Abuse Need to Better Coordinate Efforts

Agencies including the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration use a variety of strategies to educate prescribers about issues related to increasing abuse of prescription pain relievers, but more education is needed, according to a new report from the General Accounting Office.

The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) is working to develop a legislative proposal to require education for prescribers who register with the Drug Enforcement Administration to prescribe controlled substances. The GAO recommends that the Director of ONDCP establish outcome metrics and implement a plan to evaluate proposed educational efforts, and ensure that agencies share lessons learned. Read more on prescription drugs.

Dec 13 2011

Public Health News Roundup: December 13

First U.S. Cell-Based Flu Vaccine Facility Opens

The first U.S. flu vaccine plant to use cultured animal cells instead of the conventional process of using fertilized eggs, opened in Holly Springs, N.C., yesterday. The facility is a public-private partnership of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics, Inc. of Cambridge, Mass. In a release, HHS said the cell-based vaccine technology is faster and more flexible, and could provide vaccine supplies sooner in an influenza pandemic. Get more flu news.

New DOD-Funded Study to Explore Virtual Reality Treatments for Veterans With PTSD

Researchers at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center have been awarded an $11 million, four-year grant from the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) to conduct a large-scale clinical study of the comparative effectiveness of virtual reality and traditional treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with 300 veterans in three cities. Virtual reality exposure therapy uses three-dimensional graphics delivered through special goggles to gradually immerse the patient into simulations of scenes of traumatic events, accompanied by other sensory stimulation like chair vibrations. The study will also search for genetic markers that may predispose people to the disorder. Read more on military health.

One in Five Workers Experience Mental Illness

Three in four workers with a mental disorder report reduced productivity at work, according to a new report from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. Work absences are also much more frequent for workers with mental illness. Report authors say the share of workers exposed to work-related stress, or job strain, has increased in the past decade all across the countries included in the study. Read more on mental health.

Nov 11 2011

Recommended Listening: Veterans and Suicide

A veteran commits suicide every 80 minutes, according to reported information from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Unreported deaths may push those numbers even higher.

Foundations and government agencies are addressing the issue through screenings that begin during deployment and with continued follow-up after a service member comes back to the U.S. In observance of Veterans Day, Washington, D.C., talk show host Diane Rehm discussed the issue with experts including Barbara van Dahlen, founder and president of Give an Hour, a non-profit organization that provides free mental health services to veterans and their families, Ranjeev Ramchand of the Center for Military Health Policy Research at the RAND Corporation and Jan Kemp, National Mental Health Program Director for Suicide Prevention, Department of Veterans Affairs.

The show’s website also includes resources that can help prevent suicides among veterans:

  • Veterans' Crisis Line: Connects veterans in crisis and their families and friends with qualified responders through a confidential toll-free hotline, online chat, or text message program.
  • Give an Hour: Provides free mental health services to U.S. military personnel and their families affected by current conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.
  • Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors: Offers support for those grieving the death of a loved one who served in the U.S military.

>>Listen to the program.

>>Read more on military health.

Nov 11 2011

Public Health News Roundup: November 11

SAMHSA and Federal Partners Help Improve the Health and Lives of Returning Veterans

Today is Veteran's Day. Read about initiatives in the Federal government to address emerging health needs of returning veterans including mental health, homelessness and post-traumatic stress disorder. Get more news on military health.

North Carolina Smoke-Free Air Laws Linked to Significant Reduction in Heart Attacks

Emergency room visits by North Carolinians experiencing heart attacks have declined by 21 percent since the January 2010 start of the state’s Smoke-Free Restaurants and Bars Law. Read more on tobacco policy and other news.

CDC Says Most U.S. Smokers Wish They Could Quit

About 70 percent of smokers want to quit, and half of those have tried to quit in the last year, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Experimental Computer Analysis of Breast Cancer Tissue More Accurate than Analysis By Pathologists

A computer model developed by Stanford University researchers is able to more accurately assess cancer cells in breast tissue than pathologists. Using the model could help determine specific treatment and predict survival, say the researchers. The model may also be able to predict which women with early stage breast cancer do not need to undergo treatment at all. Get more cancer news.

Nov 10 2011

Public Health News Roundup: November 10

Australia Will Be First Country to Require Plain Cigarette Packaging

The government of Australia has enacted the world’s first law requiring that all cigarettes be sold in plain packaging, free of colorful logos and other branding. Instead, cigarettes will be sold in olive green cartons with graphic images warning of the consequences of smoking. The Australian Senate approved the bill, and the House is expected to quickly agree to minor changes made by the Senate. Get more tobacco news.

First Report on Intentional Poisonings: Women Targeted Most Often

In 2009, nearly 15,000 American women and men ended up in an emergency room after being intentionally drugged by someone else, according to a first-of-a-kind national report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Association (SAMHSA). The majority of those visits (63 percent) were by females, and alcohol was a factor in 60 percent of all visits. “The danger of being tricked into ingesting an unknown substance is all too real at bars, raves, parties or concerts where alcohol and other substances are shared in a social manner,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela Hyde, in a news release. Read our Q&A with Pamela Hyde about mental health and substance abuse as preventable issues.

For Youth, Skin Cancer Interventions Focusing on Looks Rather Than Risk Are More Effective

In counseling youth on skin cancer prevention, a focus on how too much sun exposure can affect their looks now and later in life can be more effective than warning them of risk for skin cancer, according to draft recommendations from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. The recommendations are for youth ages 10 to 24 with fair skin. The task force found the most success among late-adolescent females, the population most likely to pursue indoor tanning.

DOT to Improve Public Transportation Access for Military Families

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced the availability of $34.6 million for 55 projects in 32 states and Guam to enhance access to local, affordable transportation services for military families and wounded warriors. Read more on health in the military and the connection between transportation and health.

Nov 2 2011

Mental Health as Public Health: Q&A with SAMHSA's Pamela Hyde

Pamela_Hyde Pamela Hyde, SAMHSA Administrator

The recent first-ever Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report on mental health issues in America, found that half of all Americans have a mental health issue at some point in their lives. Pamela Hyde, JD, Administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) a keynote speaker at this year’s APHA annual meeting, focused on what public health can do to identify these issues and improve prevention, treatment and recovery. Watch her opening session speech here, and read an APHA Q&A with her here.

NewPublicHealth: Your keynote speech at the American Public Health Association annual meeting focused attention on the issues of mental health as a pivotal component of public health. What does the American public need to learn about these issues?

Pamela Hyde: Behavioral health is a major public health issue and we in America don’t tend to look at as a public health issue. We tend to look at it as a social problem. The recent mental health parity legislation, which generally requires that insurance coverage is identical for mental and physical health concerns, helps tremendously in the sense that it makes it very clear that mental health and substance abuse services are just as important as healthcare services and that they should be treated similarly.

We use the term behavioral health because we’re trying to encompass everything from prevention to treatment to recovery and we’re trying to encompass both mental illnesses as well as substance abuse and substance use disorders. Behavioral health is a public health issue, just like diabetes or heart problems or hypertension. There are ways to prevent it and there are ways to treat it and people recover from it.

NPH: What are some of SAMHSA’s biggest recent achievements?

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