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April 23, 2004, Issue No. 132

AHRQ News and Numbers

Between 1994 and 2000, rates of hospitalization for adult asthma and pediatric gastroenteritis (irritation and inflammation of the digestive tract in children) each decreased 20 percent. In contrast, in the same time period, hospital admission rates rose for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (obstructive lung disease) by 20 percent. [Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, 2000, HCUPnet.]

Today's Headlines:

  1. HHS Town Hall meeting on priorities for research under Medicare Modernization Act set for May 21
  2. AHRQ evidence reports confirm that fish oil helps fight heart disease
  3. AHRQ offers use of Hospital CAHPS® Survey prior to national implementation
  4. Video of Health Literacy press event is available online
  5. Quality-Based Health Care Purchasing Conference set for May 5-6
  6. Translating Research Into Practice Conference scheduled for July 12-14
  7. New detailed search feature at the National Quality Measures Clearinghouse™
  8. Highlights from AHRQ's most recent monthly newsletter
  9. AHRQ in the professional literature

1.  HHS Town Hall Meeting on Priorities for Research Under Medicare Modernization Act Set for May 21

HHS will host a town hall meeting on Friday, May 21, to solicit input on research priorities under Medicare reform legislation signed by President Bush in December. The town hall meeting will be held from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. in the John M. Eisenberg Room (Room 800) of the HHS Hubert H. Humphrey Building, 200 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC (Federal Center SW Metro station). A call-in line has been established for anyone not able to attend the meeting in person. The call-in number is 877-546-1565, and the pass code is "Medicare Town Hall." Participants will discuss the implications of Section 1013 of the Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003, which authorizes HHS to support research that provides information on the outcomes, comparative clinical effectiveness, and appropriateness of health care items and services, including prescription drugs, and outlines strategies for improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the Medicare, Medicaid, and SCHIP programs, including how their services are organized, managed, and delivered. The new law requires the initial priority list for research to be developed by June 2004 and initial research to be completed in December 2005.

2.  AHRQ Evidence Reports Confirm That Fish Oil Helps Fight Heart Disease

AHRQ released new evidence reports that show fish oil can help reduce deaths from heart disease. The systematic reviews of the available literature found evidence that long chain omega-3 fatty acids, the beneficial component ingested by eating fish or taking a fish oil supplement, reduce heart attacks and other problems related to heart and blood vessel disease in persons who already have these conditions, as well as their overall risk of death. Although omega-3 fatty acids do not alter total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, or LDL cholesterol, evidence suggests that they can reduce levels of triglycerides—a fat in the blood that may contribute to heart disease. Select to read our press release and select to read the summaries and reports. Printed copies are available from the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse by calling 1-800-358-9295 or sending an E-mail to

3.  AHRQ Offers Use of Hospital CAHPS® Survey Prior to National Implementation

AHRQ is currently offering an opportunity for hospitals, vendors, and other interested parties to test the draft 32-item Hospital CAHPS® (HCAHPS®) survey before national implementation. The Hospital CAHPS® initiative focuses on measuring and reporting patients' perspectives of their inpatient care. It is designed to help consumers make more informed choices among hospitals and create incentives for hospitals to improve performance. To use the draft HCAHPS® survey, organizations must submit an application to AHRQ, which can be downloaded through the CAHPS® Survey Users Network Web site. Applications should be submitted to AHRQ via E-mail at before field testing the questionnaire. If you wish to make additions/changes to the questionnaire and/or survey administration guidelines, they should be submitted at the time of application for approval. The HCAHPS® pre-testing Web site will be active until May 31, 2004. Prior to national implementation in 2005, minor revisions to the draft HCAHPS® survey and administration protocols will be made based upon the results of additional testing currently being conducted by AHRQ in cooperation with several volunteer testing sites located in the United States.

4.  Video of Health Literacy Press Event Is Available Online

On April 8, AHRQ, the Institute of Medicine, and the American Medical Association held a press briefing in Washington to discuss their research on health literacy. During the press briefing, experts discussed the latest efforts to measure the problem of health literacy, as well as ways in which Americans with lower literacy skills have worse health outcomes, and suggested possible remedies. Through an agreement with the Kaiser Family Foundation's HealthCast, select to view the video of the press briefing.

5.  Quality-Based Health Care Purchasing Conference Set for May 5-6

Mark your calendar. AHRQ, Alliance Health Foundation, and the Employer Health Care Alliance Cooperative are cosponsoring a 2-day symposium on health care purchasing and reimbursement arrangements. The symposium, "Quality-Based Health Care Purchasing: Disseminating Knowledge & Gaining Insights into Progressive Projects, " will be held May 5-6 in Madison, WI. The registration fee is $75, and the deadline for registration and fees is April 23. For questions about the symposium, contact John Bott at (608) 210-6615.

6.  Translating Research Into Practice Conference Scheduled for July 12-14

Mark your calendar for TRIP 2004, "Translating Research Into Practice: Advancing Excellence from Discovery to Delivery. " This expanded conference will examine the state of the art and next horizons in implementing research in clinical practice and health policy. Health care provider organizations, clinicians, patients, purchasers, researchers, innovators, knowledge transfer experts, and others from across the public and private sectors will share experiences, insights, collaborations, and initiatives for moving research into sustained behavior change. The TRIP planning committee is accepting abstracts for papers to be presented at concurrent paper sessions and poster presentations during the conference.

7.  New Detailed Search Feature at the National Quality Measures Clearinghouse™

A new detailed search feature is now available on AHRQ's National Quality Measures Clearinghouse™ (NQMC) Web site, a Web-based public repository for evidence-based quality measures and measure sets. This feature allows users to filter searches by measures included in the National Healthcare Quality Report and/or the National Healthcare Disparities Report. To see what new features and measures have been added to NQMC select What's New. You can receive updates to the site via E-mail by subscribing to the NQMC Weekly Update Service. For information on submitting quality measures or for general questions, please send an E-mail to

8.  Highlights from AHRQ's Most Recent Monthly Newsletter

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

  • Inconsistent use of medications by elderly Mexican Americans with diabetes may explain their greater risk of some complications.

Several studies have documented higher rates of diabetic complications of the kidney, eye, and circulation among Mexican American diabetes patients compared with white patients. The inconsistent use of diabetic medications by elderly Mexican Americans may underlie their increased risk for some diabetes complications, according to an AHRQ-funded study. The researchers found that over one-third of elderly Mexican Americans with diabetes inconsistently used their prescribed diabetic medications, and those who were inconsistent in their medication use were more likely to develop kidney problems or die over a 7-year period.

Other articles are:

  • EXCEED projects focus on prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease.
  • Hospitalizations for work-related injuries and illnesses declined from 1997-1999, but charges increased.
  • Nurses' contributions to patient-centered care and care equity are important components of health care quality.

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

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.

Keating NL, Landrum MB, Landon BE, et al. Measuring the quality of diabetes care using administrative data: is there bias? Health Serv Res 2003 Dec;38(6 Pt 1):1529-45. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Crystal S, Sambamoorthi U, Walkup JT, et al. Diagnosis and treatment of depression in the elderly Medicare population: predictors, disparities, and trends. J Am Geriatr Soc 2003 Dec;51(12):1718-28. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Szilagyi PG, Shenkman E, Brach C, et al. Children with special health care needs enrolled in the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP): patient characteristics and health care needs. Pediatrics 2003 Dec;112(6 Pt 2):e508-20. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Muntner P, Coresh J, Klag MJ, et al. Exposure to radiologic contrast media and an increased risk of treated end-stage renal disease. Am J Med Sci 2003 Dec;326(6):353-9. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Macinko JA, Shi L, Starfield B. Wage inequality, the health system, and infant mortality in wealthy industrialized countries, 1970-1996. Soc Sci Med 2004 Jan;58(2):279-92. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Kowiatek JG, Weber RD, Skledar SJ, et al. Medication safety manager in an academic medical center. Am J Health Syst Pharm 2004 Jan 1;61(1):58-64. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Rathore SS, Epstein AJ, Volpp KG, et al. Hospital coronary artery bypass graft surgery volume and patient mortality, 1998-2000. Ann Surg 2004 Jan;239(1):110-7. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Califf RM. Defining the balance of risk and benefit in the era of genomics and proteomics. Health Aff 2004 Jan-Feb;23(1):77-87. 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.

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Current as of April 2004


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