Jan 15 2013

Public Health News Roundup: January 15

Graphic Tobacco Warning Labels Effective at Reaching Racial, Ethnic Minorities
Graphic health warnings—rather than text-only warnings—on tobacco products may be especially effective at helping racial and ethnic minorities quit, according to a new study in the journal PLOS ONE. The 2009 Family Smoking and Prevention Tobacco Control Act requires such warning labels. “Interventions that have a positive impact on reducing smoking among the general population have often proven ineffective in reaching disadvantaged groups, worsening tobacco-related health disparities,” said Jennifer Cantrell, DrPH, MPA, and Assistant Director for Research and Evaluation at Legacy, in a release. “It’s critical to examine the impact of tobacco policies such as warning labels across demographic groups.” The study was conducted by researchers at Legacy and the Harvard School of Public Health. Read more on tobacco.

Study: Two-thirds of Family Doctors Use Electronic Health Records
The percentage of family physicians who utilize electronic health records doubled from 2005 to 2011, according to a new study in the Annals of Family Medicine. About two-thirds currently use them and researchers expect 80 percent will by 2013. While electronic health records can improve care and help keep costs down, some physicians have been reluctant due to the effort involved in the transition or concerns over privacy. "We are not there yet," said study author Andrew Bazemore, MD, director of the Robert Graham Center for Policy Studies in Primary Care, in Washington, D.C. "More work is needed, including better information from all of the states." Read more on access to health care.

N.Y. Legislation Would Keep Guns Away from People with Mental Illness
New gun laws in New York state will include legislation to help keep guns out of the hands of people with mental illness. The measures are in response to the December elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn. They include requiring mental health professionals to report patients they believe are dangerous; law enforcement would then confiscate their firearms. “People who have mental health issues should not have guns,” said Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, according to The New York Times. “They could hurt themselves, they could hurt other people.” The legislation would also expand the state’s assault weapons ban. Read more on mental health.

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