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April 8, 2004, Issue No. 130

AHRQ News and Numbers

Three respiratory problems - pneumonia, acute bronchitis, and asthma - are responsible for nearly $3 billion in charges or nearly 7 percent of the total U.S. health care bill for children and adolescents. [Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, HCUP Fact Book No. 4, Care of Children and Adolescents in U.S. Hospitals.]

Today's Headlines:

  1. Press briefing to release two new health literacy reports
  2. Task Force recommends that primary care clinicians screen and counsel adults to prevent misuse of alcohol
  3. Study finds that improving depression care has long-lasting benefits for African Americans and Hispanics
  4. Guide to Clinical Preventive Services, Third Edition; Periodic Updates available
  5. New evidence report summary on scaling and root-planing therapy available
  6. AHRQ in the professional literature

1.  Press Briefing to Release Two New Health Literacy Reports

AHRQ, the AMA, and the IOM held a news briefing today to release the findings of two new reports: an AHRQ evidence review entitled Literacy and Health Outcomes and an IOM report entitled Health Literacy: A Prescription to End Confusion. Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona, M.D., M.P.H., F.A.C.S., provided taped remarks at the briefing: "Health literacy can save lives, save money, and improve the health and well-being of millions of Americans," he said. "All of us—government, academia, health care professionals, corporations, communities, and consumers—working together can bridge the gap between what health professionals know and what patients understand and thereby improve the health of all Americans." Select to access our press release and to read the summary. Print copies of the summary and full report are available by calling AHRQ's Publications Clearinghouse at 1-800-358-9295 or by sending an E-mail to

2.  Task Force Recommends that Primary Care Clinicians Screen and Counsel Adults to Prevent Misuse of Alcohol

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that primary care clinicians should screen all adults and pregnant women for alcohol misuse and refer them for counseling if necessary. Women who drink more than 7 drinks per week or more than 3 drinks per occasion and men who drink more than 14 drinks per week or more than 4 drinks per occasion are considered to be risky or hazardous drinkers. The Task Force recommendation was published in the April 6 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine. Select to read our press release and to read the recommendation.

3.  Study Finds that Improving Depression Care Has Long-Lasting Benefits for African Americans and Hispanics

Quality improvement programs that encourage depressed patients to undergo standard treatments for depression (psychotherapy or antidepressant medication) and give them and their doctors up-to-date information and resources to increase access to treatments can reduce depression rates among African Americans and Hispanics, according to a new study. The study, "Five-Year Impact of Quality Improvement for Depression: Results of a Group-Level Randomized Controlled Trial," was published in the April 2004 issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry. The study was funded by AHRQ and the NIH's National Institute of Mental Health. Select to read our press release.

4.  Guide to Clinical Preventive Services, Third Edition; Periodic Updates Available

New recommendations from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force are now available in the Guide to Clinical Preventive Services, Third Edition: Periodic Updates, available both in print and on CD-ROM. The third edition is being released incrementally as new recommendations are completed. Task Force recommendations have formed the basis of the clinical standards for many professional societies, health care organizations, and medical quality review groups. Subscribing to this print/CD series can help you keep up with the latest recommendations of the Task Force. To order the Guide to Clinical Preventive Services, Third Edition: Periodic Updates, call the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse at (800) 358-9295 or send an E-mail to The cost of the subscription is $60. More information about the Task Force and its recommendations is available on the Web site.

5.  New Evidence Report Summary on Scaling and Root-Planing Therapy Available

Some antimicrobials show promise as adjunctive therapies to scaling and root-planing for treating non-aggressive chronic periodontitis in patients without other conditions such as diabetes or immune deficiency, according to a new systematic literature review prepared by AHRQ's RTI-University of North Carolina Evidence-based Practice Center. The EPC report was nominated and funded by the NIH's National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. The report, Effectiveness of Antimicrobial Adjuncts to Scaling and Root-Planning Therapy for Periodontitis, offers an agenda for future research to address issues such as patient-oriented outcomes, costs, and other topics. This is the fourth and final report in a series of systematic reviews of published evidence-based literature on dental-related topics for NIDCR. Select to read the summary.

6.  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.

Bradley EH, Holmboe ES, Mattera JA, et al. Data feedback efforts in quality improvement: lessons learned from US hospitals. Qual Saf Health Care 2004 Feb;13(1):26-31. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Hamilton G, Marco CA. Emergency medicine education and health care disparities. Acad Emerg Med 2003 Nov;10(11):1189-92. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Col NF, Pauker SG. The discrepancy between observational studies and randomized trials of menopausal hormone therapy: did expectations shape experience? Ann Intern Med 2003 Dec 2;139(11):923-9. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Covinsky KE, Newcomer R, Fox P, et al. Patient and caregiver characteristics associated with depression in caregivers of patients with dementia. J Gen Intern Med 2003 Dec;18(12):1006-14. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Hawes C, Phillips CD, Rose M, et al. A national survey of assisted living facilities. Gerontologist 2003 Dec;43(6):875-82. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Needleman J, Buerhaus PI, Mattke S, et al. Measuring hospital quality: can Medicare data substitute for all-payer data? Health Serv Res 2003 Dec;38(6 Pt 1):1487-1508. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Feldstein AC, Nichols GA, Elmer PJ, et al. Older women with fractures: patients falling through the cracks of guideline-recommended osteoporosis screening and treatment. J Bone Joint Surg Am 2003 Dec;85-A(12):2294-2302. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Contact Information

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Current as of April 2004


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