Skip Navigation Archive: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Archive: Agency for Healthcare Research Quality
Archive print banner

Electronic Newsletter

This information is for reference purposes only. It was current when produced and may now be outdated. Archive material is no longer maintained, and some links may not work. Persons with disabilities having difficulty accessing this information should contact us at: Let us know the nature of the problem, the Web address of what you want, and your contact information.

Please go to for current information.

December 5, 2003, Issue No. 117

AHRQ News and Numbers

Hispanic children were more likely than children of other racial and ethnic groups to be uninsured every year from 1996 to 2002. In 2002, those percentages were 23.8 percent for Hispanic children compared with 11.1 percent of black children and 10.4 percent of white children. [Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, MEPS Statistical Brief #28: Health Insurance Status of Children in America—1996-2002, Estimates for the Noninstitutionalized Population Under Age 18 (PDF File, 319 KB; PDF Help).]

Today's Headlines:

  1. AHRQ salutes JCAHO on surgical protocol
  2. Task Force recommends that clinicians screen adults for obesity
  3. New study suggests that death rates for some cardiac and cancer surgeries may be linked to surgeons' experience
  4. Fifth AHRQ Web-assisted audioconference on bioterrorism and health system preparedness set for December 16
  5. Call for abstracts for upcoming AHRQ/DoD patient safety publication due December 16
  6. Highlights from our most recent monthly newsletter
  7. New CD-ROM tutorial for the National Quality Measures Clearinghouse™
  8. Visit the new and improved National Guideline Clearinghouse™
  9. AHRQ in the professional literature

1.  AHRQ Salutes JCAHO on Surgical Protocol

AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D., issued a statement on December 2 saluting the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations for the development and implementation of a protocol to reduce surgical complications and improve patient safety. JCAHO's new universal protocol and guidelines for preventing wrong site, wrong procedure, wrong person surgery represent a major safety advance. The protocol "represents an opportunity to take steps right now to address a persistent but preventable surgical problem," Dr. Clancy said. Select to access the press statement.

2.  Task Force Recommends That Clinicians Screen Adults for Obesity

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has recommended that clinicians screen all adults for obesity using body mass index (BMI) or waist circumference. The Task Force also recommended that clinicians offer obese patients intensive counseling and behavioral interventions to promote sustained weight loss or refer them to other clinicians for these services. These findings are published in the December 2 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine. Select to access the press release and the recommendations.

3.  New Study Suggests That Death Rates for Some Cardiac and Cancer Surgeries May Be Linked to Surgeons' Experience

Seeking out surgeons who frequently perform certain cardiac or cancer-related operations may increase older patients' odds of surviving major surgery, according to a new study supported by AHRQ. The study, "Surgeon Volume and Operative Mortality in the United States," by John D. Birkmeyer, M.D., at Dartmouth Medical School is published in the November 27 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. Previous research has suggested that hospitals with high annual volumes of certain types of surgical procedures have lower death rates than do hospitals where the volume of such surgeries is low. However, few studies have closely examined why high-volume hospitals do better, and little is known about relationships between hospital volume and surgeon volume in relation to surgical patient death rates. Select to access the press release.

4.  Fifth AHRQ Web-Assisted Audioconference on Bioterrorism and Health System Preparedness Set for December 16

AHRQ announces the final event in its 2003 series of five free Web-assisted audioconference calls on bioterrorism and health system preparedness. The fifth call is scheduled for Tuesday, December 16, from 2:00 to 3:30 p.m., EST. It will focus on "Bioterrorism and other Public Health Emergencies: Linkages with Community Providers." These 90-minute audioconferences are designed to share the latest health services, research findings, promising practices, and other important information with State and local health officials and key health systems decisionmakers.

5.  Call for Abstracts for Upcoming AHRQ/DoD Patient Safety Publication Due December 16

AHRQ and DoD are partnering to produce a two- to three-volume set of reviewed papers in book form on patient safety that is scheduled for release in the fall of 2004. The publication, titled Advances in Patient Safety: From Research to Implementation, will highlight the research findings, methodological perspectives, implementation issues, and tools and products stemming from recent federally funded patient safety research. You are invited to submit abstracts and papers for inclusion in one of the following four categories: conceptual frameworks and research, methodological perspectives, implementation issues, and tools and products. The deadline for abstract submission is December 16. The deadline for manuscripts is April 26.

6.  Highlights from Our Most Recent Monthly Newsletter

Among the key articles in the online issue of Research Activities are:

  • Managed care patients with glaucoma are receiving recommended care, but care could be improved in a few areas.

    Chronic open-angle glaucoma, caused by an increase in intraocular pressure, may produce no symptoms except for gradual loss of peripheral vision over a period of years. For the most part, managed care patients with primary open-angle glaucoma are receiving care that is consistent with recommendations of the American Academy of Ophthalmology's Preferred Practice Pattern. However, care is falling short in several key areas. According to an AHRQ-funded study, intraocular pressure still is not controlled in a significant number of patient visits.

Other articles include:

  • Research shows that a doctor's advice to breastfeed, early return to work, and other factors influence continued breastfeeding.
  • Researchers focus on early discharge of newborns, low birthweight consequences, and parental misconceptions about colds.
  • Providing culturally sensitive care may lead to more effective health care delivery for racial/ethnic minorities.
  • Patients with depressed mood and persistent anxiety use more medical care and have higher costs than other patients.

Select Research Activities to read these articles and others.

7.  New CD-ROM Tutorial for the National Quality Measures Clearinghouse™

AHRQ's National Quality Measures Clearinghouse™ (NQMC)—a Web-based public resource of evidence-based health care quality measures and measure sets that are used to inform health care decisions—has newly available NQMC tutorials on CD-ROM. The tutorial walks you through a series of informative demonstrations and scenarios on using the NQMC. For information on submitting quality measures, or for general questions, please send an E-mail to The CD-ROM is available free of charge by calling the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse at 1-800-358-9295 or by sending an E-mail to

8.  Visit the New and Improved National Guideline Clearinghouse™

New features are now available on the National Guideline Clearinghouse™ Web site, an online public resource for evidence-based clinical practice guidelines. Features include:

  • Enhanced summary content, such as methods used to formulate the recommendations, rating schemes for the strength of the recommendations, references supporting the major recommendations, contraindications, financial disclosures and the Institute of Medicine's National Healthcare Quality Report categories.
  • Palm-format downloadable summaries that allow Pocket PCs to directly access the entire site in realtime or as downloaded Web pages; select resources.
  • An enhanced Detailed Search feature which allows users to filter searches by the methodology and IOM categories can be found at
  • A Glossary of all the controlled vocabulary terms utilized in the NGC Summary is at
  • Web developer tools such as RSS feeds of the entire inventory of NGC content, and a new Search Form feature which offers Web developers the ability to create their own unique search interfaces with the NGC Web site can be found at

A complete listing of recent enhancements to the site can be found at: new features.

9.  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.

Carlson MJ, Blustein J. Access to care among vulnerable populations enrolled in commercial HMOs. J Health Care Poor Underserved 2003 Aug;14(3):372-85. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Wu N, Miller SC, Lapane K, Gozalao P. The problem of assessment bias when measuring the hospice effect on nursing home residents' pain. J Pain Symptom Manage 2003 Nov;26(5): 998-1009. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Huskamp HA. Managing psychotropic drug costs: will formularies work? Health Aff 2003 Sep-Oct;22(5):84-96. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Van Pinxteren B, Numans ME, Lau J, et al. Short-term treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis of the effect of acid-suppressant drugs in empirical treatment and in endoscopy-negative patients. J Gen Intern Med 2003 Sep;18(9):755-63. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Youngblade LM, Shenkman EA. Congruence between parents' and adolescents' reports of special health care needs in a Title XXI program. J Pediatr Psychol 2003 Sep;28(6):393-401. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Andrade SE, Majumdar SR, Chan KA, et al. Low frequency of treatment of osteoporosis among postmenopausal women following a fracture. Arch Intern Med 2003 Sep 22;163(17):2052-7. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Soler-Vila H, Kasi SV, Jones BA. Prognostic significance of psychosocial factors in African-American and white breast cancer patients: a population-based study. Cancer 2003 Sep 15;98(6):1299-1308. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Contact Information

Please address comments and questions regarding the AHRQ Electronic Newsletter to Nancy Comfort at or (301) 427-1866.

Update your subscriptions, modify your password or E-mail address, or stop subscriptions at any time on your Subscriber Preferences Page. You will need to use your E-mail address to log in.

If you have any questions or problems with the subscription service, E-mail: For other inquiries, Contact Us.

This service is provided to you at no charge by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality AHRQ).

Current as of December 2003


The information on this page is archived and provided for reference purposes only.


AHRQ Advancing Excellence in Health Care