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Case studies show how AHRQ research helps State governments

In the January issue of Research Activities, we invited you, the researcher, to send us information on how your AHRQ-supported research is being used. We also explained how AHRQ draws upon that information to produce Impact Case Studies. In this issue, we begin a series of articles that showcase specific case studies, starting with examples of how State governments use AHRQ-supported research.

For example, research conducted by one of AHRQ's Centers for Education and Research on Therapeutics (CERTs) caused an immediate change in North Carolina public health practice. In a study of children affected by rickets, researchers at the CERT at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, found that many exclusively breastfed, minority infants would benefit from vitamin D supplementation to protect against rickets. As a result, the North Carolina Pediatric Society requested that the State distribute a multivitamin supplement free of charge to all exclusively breastfed infants and children, 6 weeks of age or older. With funding from a maternal and child health block grant, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services distributed the supplements to more than 1,500 children over a 16-month period.

In Massachusetts, the collective body of AHRQ-funded patient safety research ultimately led to establishment of a new patient safety center. State Senator Richard Moore, who serves as Chair of the State Senate's Joint Health Care Committee, attended an AHRQ User Liaison Program workshop on patient safety and crafted patient safety legislation as a direct result. Although Senator Moore's first legislative attempt failed, his second was successful, resulting in the Betsy Lehman Center for Patient Safety and Medical Error Reduction (in honor of the late Boston Globe health reporter who died in 1996 from a four-fold chemotherapy overdose).

In another Impact Case Study, the State of Washington customized an AHRQ-funded decision support tool to help State employees and retirees choose among health plans. Developed through funding from AHRQ's Small Business Innovative Research program, the tool, Health Plan Select, integrates price, benefits, and health plan performance measures from CAHPS® (another AHRQ funded resource) and HEDIS. The Washington State Health Authority called its version of this Web-based resource Compare a Plan and made it available for the State's open enrollment last fall.

In the coming months, we will be providing more examples of our Impact Case Studies. In the meantime, we encourage you to send any information you may have about the use of AHRQ research to Jane Steele at JSteele@ahrq.gov.

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