Jan 23 2013

Public Health News Roundup: January 23

Home Visits, Doctor’s Office Visits ‘Insufficient’ in Preventing Child Abuse
Evidence of the ability of home visits and doctor’s office visits to prevent child abuse is “insufficient” to recommend expanding the programs across the country, according to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). Researchers from the Oregon Health & Science University in Portland analyzed 10 studies of child abuse prevention programs around the world. "There have been a few studies done... (but) there's inconsistency in the results across these trials," said David Grossman, from Group Health Research institute in Seattle, a member of the USPSTF panel, according to Reuters. "I wish we could be more definitive on this." Approximately 675,000 children were the victims of abuse or neglect in 2011, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Elizabeth Letourneau, who studies child sexual abuse at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and was not a part of the study, said there is more need for evidence-backed programs to combat child abuse. Read more on violence.

Study: Evidence of CTE in Living Patients
It may be possible to identify signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in living patients, according to a new study from the University of California, Los Angeles. CTE is a neurodegenerative disease linked to dementia, memory loss and depression, and could previously only be diagnosed through an autopsy. Dozens of former football players at various levels have been diagnosed with CTE—caused by repeated head trauma—including former National Football League linebacker Junior Seau, who committed suicide last year. "I've been saying that identifying CTE in a living person is the holy grail for this disease and for us to be able make advances in treatment," said Julian Bailes, MD, co-director of NorthShore Neurological Institute in Evanston, Ill. and one of the study's co-authors. "It's not definitive, and there's a lot we still need to discover to help these people, but it's very compelling. It's a new discovery." Read more on mental health.

Study: Improved System of Care Would Cut Readmission Rates
Approximately 20 percent of people discharged from a hospital are readmitted shortly thereafter, according to two new studies. "Readmission rates are a measure that shows that the system for care is not integrated well enough. It's not necessarily an indicator that the hospital is poor quality or the primary-care physician is poor quality—it's the whole system,” said Anne-Marie Audet, MD, vice president of health system quality and efficiency for the Commonwealth Fund in New York City, according to HealthDay. "The only way we can achieve better health, better health outcomes and better cost is to bring everyone together. But it's quite a complex issue." The studies appear in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Study leader Anita Vashi, MD, an emergency room physician and distinguished scholar at the Yale University School of Medicine, said it is important for patients to realize the risks they face immediately after being discharged and to follow their physician’s care instructions. Read more on access to health care.

Tags: Access to Health Care, Mental Health, News roundups, Public and Community Health, Violence