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August 7, 2003, Issue No. 106

AHRQ News and Numbers

In 2000, the percent of employees in the 10 largest states opting for single coverage ranged from 39.4 percent in Michigan to 52.8 percent in Florida. Single premiums ranged from $2,365 in California to $2,980 in Illinois, and family premiums ranged from $6,227 in California to $7,592 in New Jersey. Employee contributions for single coverage ranged from $352 in California to $549 in Illinois and for family coverage from $946 in Michigan to $1,969 in Florida. The 10 states are California, Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, New Jersey, and Georgia. [Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, MEPS, Statistical Brief #20: State Differences in the Cost of Job-Related Health Insurance—2000 (PDF File, 129 KB; PDF Help).]

Today's Headlines:

  1. HHS announces campaign with hospitals and physicians to distribute information about safer health care
  2. Spending for prescription medicines rose sharply from 1997 through 2000
  3. Task Force recommends specific types of programs to promote breastfeeding
  4. Knowledge Transfer and Applications Support RFP
  5. New clinical highlight on Treatment to Prevent Sudden Cardiac Death available
  6. The role of community-based participatory research: Creating Partnerships, Improving Health
  7. Take a Loved One to the Doctor Day is September 16
  8. Community pharmacists' interventions conference set for September 19
  9. Conference on the Scientific Basis of Health Services scheduled for September
  10. International Child Health Services Research meeting set for September 20
  11. Health Legacy Partnership Conference set for October 22
  12. AHRQ in the professional literature

1.  HHS Announces Campaign With Hospitals and Physicians to Distribute Information About Safer Health Care

HHS, in partnership with the American Hospital Association and the American Medical Association, has announced a campaign to help distribute valuable information about improving patient safety to health care providers and patients across the country. HHS is working with the AHA and the AMA to promote new posters and fact sheets called 5 Steps to Safer Health Care. The posters and fact sheets offer evidence-based, practical tips to help patients avoid errors related to prescription medicines, laboratory tests and procedures and surgery. The tips were developed through a joint effort of AHRQ, CMS, the Office of Personnel Management and the Department of Labor. In particular, these materials, which are available in English and Spanish, emphasize that good communication between health care providers and patients can often reduce a potential source of problems in today's increasingly complex health care system. Select to access the 5 Steps to Safer Health Care. A print copy also is available by sending an E-mail to

2.  Spending for Prescription Medicines Rose Sharply From 1997 Through 2000

AHRQ released new Medical Expenditure Panel Survey data showing that expenses for outpatient prescribed medicines increased from $72.3 billion in 1997 to $103 billion in 2000. Select to access our press release and select to access the statistical brief Statistical Brief #21: Trends in Outpatient Prescription Drug Utilization and Expenditures: 1997-2000 (PDF File, 142 KB; PDF Help).

3.  Task Force Recommends Specific Types of Programs to Promote Breastfeeding

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended structured education and counseling programs to promote breastfeeding because such programs increase the proportion of women who begin and continue to breastfeed their babies. According to the Task Force, structured programs share some elements: they include from one to eight individual or group sessions that follow specific formats and last between 30 and 90 minutes; they are led by specially trained nurses, midwives, lactation specialists, and peer counselors; and they include lectures along with practical skills that help women master breastfeeding techniques and deal with problems that may arise from breastfeeding. The Task Force recommendations are published in the July/August issue of Annals of Family Medicine. Select to access our press release and select to access the recommendations.

4.  Knowledge Transfer and Applications Support RFP

AHRQ released a new Request for Proposals, Knowledge Transfer and Applications Support. This RFP is seeking applications to develop and implement integrated knowledge transfer and application strategies using a wide range of innovative methods that will increase the rates of application and use of research findings in health care policy and practice by AHRQ stakeholders. Up to four contracts are anticipated to be awarded from this one solicitation. Letters of intent to bid must be submitted by August 18. Proposals are due September 16. Select to access the RFP for more information.

5.  New Clinical Highlight on Treatment to Prevent Sudden Cardiac Death Available

AHRQ released a clinical highlight on the Treatment to Prevent Sudden Cardiac Death. The clinical highlight indicates that the most effective antiarrhythmic medication is amiodarone, which lowers sudden cardiac deaths by 13 percent to 19 percent. It also indicates that implantable cardiac defibrillators, when combined with an alternative therapy such as amiodarone, reduced deaths by 24 percent. The clinical highlight is based on the Agency-funded Cardiac Arrhythmias Patient Outcomes Research Team project that was led by researchers at Stanford University. Select to access the clinical highlight. A print copy is available by sending an E-mail to

6.  The Role of Community-Based Participatory Research: Creating Partnerships, Improving Health

AHRQ released a new brochure to provide leaders of community- and faith-based organizations with an overview of the issues involved in community-based participatory research. In community-based participatory research, subjects give more than informed consent, they share their knowledge and experience in helping identify problems to be studied, define research questions in ways that are culturally appropriate, and use study findings to improve community life and practice. Community-based participatory research is a collaborative process of research that encourages the active and equitable involvement of community and faith leaders and organizations in addressing research problems and recognizes the assets of community and researchers.

7.  Take a Loved One to the Doctor Day is September 16

HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson announced that HHS, ABC Radio Networks, and Radio Unica are working together to get the word out about Take a Loved One to the Doctor Day, scheduled for Tuesday, September 16. Take a Loved One to the Doctor Day is part of a national campaign that aims to close the health gap between the health of communities of color and the general population. The campaign, "Closing the Health Gap," was launched in November 2001. By encouraging individuals to visit a health care professional or make an appointment to do so on or near September 16, HHS hopes to help generate a greater understanding of the importance of regular health screenings.

8.  Community Pharmacists' Interventions Conference Set for September 19

AHRQ, in partnership with the FDA, the National Quality Forum, the National Business Coalition on Health, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores and the National Community Pharmacists Association, is co-sponsoring a 1-day conference to examine the growing body of research measuring the impact of community pharmacists' interventions on the public's health and safety. The conference, Providing Quality Care—Examining the Clinical and Cost-Effectiveness of Community Pharmacist Intervention, will be held on September 19 at the Loews L'Enfant Plaza Hotel, in Washington, DC. Researchers will discuss current research and practice models and identify partnerships for the dissemination and adoption of best practices and future research. The program is designed for public and private purchasers of care, their consultants and researchers, federal and state policymakers, agency representatives and health care practitioners who can establish collaborative practices with community pharmacists. There is no registration fee for the conference, but pre-registration is required due to limited seating. For more information, call the registration department of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores at (703) 837-4300.

9.  Conference on the Scientific Basis of Health Services Scheduled for September

The "Fifth International Conference on the Scientific Basis of Health Services" will be hosted by AHRQ and AcademyHealth on September 20-23 in Washington, DC. This series has provided an international forum for the exchange of research and experience in the use of health services research to improve access to and the quality of health care systems. The 2003 conference is organized around the following five themes:

  • National Strategies for Organizing Health Services Research.
  • Using Evidence to Improve Clinical Practice.
  • Using Evidence to Improve Health Services Management.
  • Using Evidence to Improve Policymaking.
  • Using Evidence to Alleviate the Burden of Specific Diseases.

Select to access more information and to register.

10.  International Child Health Services Research Meeting Set for September 20

AHRQ is sponsoring a meeting called "International Child Health Services Research: Advancing Knowledge, Informing Action, Improving Child Health Care," on Saturday, September 20, in Washington, DC. This first ever, 1-day affiliate meeting of the "Fifth International Conference on the Scientific Basis of Health Services" will focus on how child health services research seeks to advance children's health care and health through the establishment of a strategic focus for international child health services research activities. By bringing together leaders from many countries, it will address the current underemphasis on children in the international dialogue on health care quality and health services improvement.

11.  Health Legacy Partnership Conference Set for October 22

The fourth annual Health Legacy Partnership conference will be held on October 22 at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, DC. The goal of the conference is to promote the importance of using evidence-based information in deciding on medical treatments and to discuss development of a national health outcomes database. In addition to AHRQ Director Carolyn Clancy, M.D., speakers at the conference will be Joseph H. Kanter, Chairman of the Joseph H. Kanter Family Foundation; former Senators Robert Dole and George Mitchell; Jack Wennberg, M.D., Dartmouth College; Richard Smith, M.D., Editor, the British Medical Journal; and Paul Ellwood, M.D., President, Jackson Hole Group.

12.  AHRQ in the Professional Literature

We are providing the following hyperlinks to journal abstracts through PubMed® for your convenience. Unfortunately, some of you may not be able to access the abstracts because of firewalls or specific settings on your individual computer systems. If you are having problems, you should ask your technical support staff for possible remedies.

Boockvar KS, Halm EA, Litke A, et al. Hospital readmissions after hospital discharge for hip fracture: surgical and nonsurgical causes and effect on outcomes. J Am Geriatr Soc 2003 Mar;51(3):399-403. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Ferris DG, Litaker MS, Macfee, et al. Remote diagnosis of cervical neoplasia: 2 types of telecolposcopy compared with cervicography. J Fam Pract 2003 Apr;52(4):298-304. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Wyrwich KW, Fihn SD, Tierney WM, et al. Clinically important changes in health-related quality of life for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. J Gen Intern Med 2003 Mar;18(3):196-202. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Cykert S, Phifer N. Surgical decisions for early stage, non-small cell lung cancer: which racially sensitive perceptions of cancer are likely to explain racial variation in surgery? Med Decis Making 2003 Mar-April;23(2):167-76. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Cho SH, Ketefian S, Barkauskas VH, et al. The effects of nurse staffing on adverse events, morbidity, mortality, and medical costs. Nurs Res 2003 Mar-Apr;52(2):71-9. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Slonim AD, LaFleur BJ, Ahmed W, et al. Hospital-reported medical errors in children. Pediatrics 2003 Mar;111(3):617-21. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Contact Information

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Current as of August 2003


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