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 It was current when produced and may now be outdated. Archive material is no longer maintained, and some links may not work.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.

January 23, 2004, 2003, Issue No. 122

AHRQ News and Numbers

In 1999, 42.5 percent of whites reported work loss days, while 33.9 of Hispanics and 36.9 of blacks reported work loss days. For all three groups, there was a decline in the percent reporting work loss days between 1996 and 2000. [Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, MEPS Statistical Brief #31: Work Loss Days in the United States—1996-2000 (PDF File, 82 KB; PDF Help).]

Today's Headlines:

  1. New data available that show a relationship between diabetes, obesity, and chronic disease
  2. New AHRQ-supported articles on measuring health care quality for children in Pediatrics' supplement
  3. Task Force finds insufficient evidence to recommend screening for thyroid disease
  4. Web-assisted audio conferences on AHRQ tools set for February 10 and 18
  5. Call for manuscripts for pursuing health care quality and safety in the rural environment
  6. Third Annual Patient Safety Research Conference: Making the Health Care System Safer
  7. Call for abstracts for Transferring Geriatric Research Into Practice Conference
  8. Highlights from AHRQ's most recent monthly newsletter
  9. Guidelines added to the National Guideline Clearinghouse™
  10. New AHRQ publication
  11. AHRQ in the professional literature

1.  New Data Available That Show a Relationship Between Diabetes, Obesity, and Chronic Disease

In 2001, about 12.4 million Americans age 18 and older and not living in institutions had been told by a physician that they had diabetes, according to new data from AHRQ's Medical Expenditure Panel Survey. Medical research has shown that the increase in diabetes is linked to the obesity epidemic in this country. Select to access the press release and Statistical Brief (PDF File, 162 KB; PDF Help).

2.  New AHRQ-Supported Articles on Measuring Health Care Quality for Children in Pediatrics' Supplement

Quality of care for children is far less than optimal and lags behind that for adult conditions and disorders, according to work performed by children's health experts to develop quality indicators and use them to measure care. These conclusions are highlighted in several AHRQ-supported articles published in a supplement to the January 2004 issue of Pediatrics. Measuring quality is a prerequisite for action to improve children's health care. However, there are still many areas for which quality measures are not available or have not been adequately vetted for widespread use, say these researchers. The lead article urges pediatricians and others concerned about child health to become engaged in quality measurement and improvement activities. Other articles provide guidance on risk adjustment for children's health care quality measurement as well as findings from a survey of potential users of quality measures. The four articles are the result of an AHRQ-sponsored meeting, "Quality Measures for Children: State of the Science and State of the Practice," which was held in February 2002. Links to abstracts of the articles follow:

Dougherty D, Simpson LA. Measuring the Quality of Children's Health Care: A Prerequisite to Action. Pediatrics 2004 Jan;113(1 Pt 2):185-98. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Beal AC, Co JP, Dougherty D, Jorsling T, Kam J, Perrin J, Palmer RH. Quality Measures for Children's Health Care. Pediatrics 2004 Jan;113(1 Pt 2):199-209. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Kuhlthau K, Ferris TG, Iezzoni LI. Risk Adjustment for Pediatric Quality Indicators. Pediatrics 2004 Jan;113(1 Pt 2):210-6. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Shaller D. Implementing and Using Quality Measures for Children's Health Care: Perspectives on the State of the Practice. Pediatrics 2004 Jan;113(1 Pt 2):217-27. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

3.  Task Force Finds Insufficient Evidence to Recommend Screening for Thyroid Disease

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force found insufficient evidence to recommend for or against routine screening for thyroid disease in adults. The Task Force found poor evidence that treating people who may have the disease, but are not yet experiencing symptoms, improves outcomes. The Task Force encourages doctors and patients to consider testing for thyroid disease if the patient experiences symptoms of hypothyroidism (including unusual tiredness, weight gain, feeling cold, being constipated, or seeing changes in hair or skin) or hyperthyroidism (too much thyroid hormone, for which symptoms include rapid heartbeat, feeling hot, anxiety, muscle weakness, or trouble sleeping) or if the patient is defined as high risk. Patients defined as high risk include the elderly, women who have just had a baby, those with Down syndrome, and people who have had high levels of radiation exposure. Select to access the recommendation.

4.  Web-Assisted Audio Conferences on AHRQ Tools Set for February 10 and 18

Register now for two Web-assisted audio conferences on quality improvement entitled "Making Quality Count: Tools, Strategies, and Resources" on February 10 and 18, from 2:00 pm to 3:30 pm EST. The first event will highlight the increasing number of methods, tools, and strategies that have been developed to collect, analyze, and compare performance and other quality-related data. The second event builds on the first by examining the use of "real-world" AHRQ-sponsored tools and strategies to improve quality.

5.  Call for Manuscripts for Pursuing Health Care Quality and Safety in the Rural Environment

AHRQ is sponsoring a special issue with The Journal of Rural Health to be published in fall 2004 on "Pursuing Healthcare Quality and Safety in the Rural Environment." Manuscripts focused on quality improvement, patient safety, and related health care quality issues in rural settings will be considered. Manuscripts that focus on the role of health information technology in rural settings are especially welcome. The journal and AHRQ are particularly interested in original research, program evaluations, case studies, and policy analyses. All manuscripts will be peer-reviewed and will be evaluated by special issue guest editors Helen Burstin, M.D., M.P.H. (AHRQ), and Mary Wakefield, Ph.D., R.N. (University of North Dakota Center for Rural Health). Deadline for submission is February 24.

6.  Third Annual Patient Safety Research Conference: Making the Health Care System Safer

AHRQ is sponsoring a conference to provide a progress report on AHRQ-supported patient safety research. AHRQ grantees will share the findings of their research, showcase the products and tools that they have developed, and provide evidence-based information that can be used to improve the quality and safety of care. The conference will be held March 8-9 in Arlington, VA. There is a $125 registration fee that covers the cost of the conference materials.

7.  Call for Abstracts For Transferring Geriatric Research Into Practice Conference

AHRQ is cosponsoring a 2-day multidisciplinary research dissemination conference on September 10-11 in Columbia, MO. The conference, "A National Conference on Transferring Geriatric Research Into Practice: Improving Chronic Care Quality," will focus on improving chronic care quality in long-term care, home, and community settings. The conference is designed to assist participants in applying current gerontology research to their practice. The deadline for abstracts is April 12.

8.  Highlights from AHRQ's Most Recent Monthly Newsletter

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

  • Hospital isolation policies to prevent spread of infection may inadvertently reduce care quality for isolated patients.

Hospitals often isolate patients with infectious diseases to prevent transmission of the infection to other patients and hospital staff. The recommended infection control precautions depend on the infectious agent, but typically they involve placing the patient in a private room, requiring visitors to wear protective apparel, and restricting the movement of the patient outside of the room. Unfortunately, these isolation policies may inadvertently lead to poorer quality of care and adverse events for isolated patients.

Other articles are:

  • CT scans of pelvic fracture patients can determine the extent of hemorrhage and need for pelvic arteriography and transfusions.
  • Studies focus on diagnosis and treatment of low back pain, as well as related pain and disability.
  • Home visits by a nurse-health advocate team can improve the outcomes of low-income, minority mothers and their infants.

Select to access Research Activities to read these articles and others.

9.  Guidelines Added to the National Guideline Clearinghouse™

To see what's new at the National Guideline Clearinghouse™ (NGC)—a public resource for evidence-based clinical practice guidelines—go to What's New. To subscribe to the NGC Weekly Update Service, which notifies you via E-mail when new features and guidelines become available at the NGC Web site, select to register. AHRQ also has available a supply of NGC tutorials on CD-ROM. The tutorial walks you through a series of informative demonstrations and scenarios on using the NGC. 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

10.  New AHRQ Publications

Improving Quality in Child and Adolescent Health—Research and Tools

A print copy is available by sending an E-mail to

11.  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.

Gendo K, Sullivan DS, Lozano P, et al. Resource costs for asthma-related care among pediatric patients in managed care. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol 2003 Sep;91(3):251-7. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Jones AR, Thompson CJ, Oster RA, et al. Breast cancer knowledge, beliefs, and screening behaviors among low-income, elderly black women. J Natl Med Assoc 2003 Sep;95(9):791-797, 802-5. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Sawaya GF, McConnell KJ, Kulasingam SL, et al. Risk of cervical cancer associated with extending the interval between cervical-cancer screenings. N Engl J Med 2003 Oct;16;349(16):1501-9. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Halm EA, Wang JJ, Boockvar K, et al. Effects of blood transfusion on clinical and functional outcomes in patients with hip fracture. Transfusion 2003 Oct;43(10):1358-65. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Briggs NC, Levine RS, Hall E, et al. Occupational risk factors for selected cancers among African American and white men in the United States. Am J Public Health 2003 Oct;93(10):1748-52. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Localio AR, Berlin JA, Ten Have TR. Confounding due to cluster in multicenter studies—causes and cures. Health Serv Res Outcomes Methodol 2003;3(3-4):195-210. 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 January 2004


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


AHRQ Advancing Excellence in Health Care