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July 9, 2004, Issue No. 140

AHRQ News and Numbers

Between 1987 and 2001, the number of prescription medicines purchased by people not in the military and not living in institutions doubled from 1.2 billion to 2.5 billion. Total spending for these prescriptions increased from $34.7 billion in 1987 (in 2001 dollars) to $134.1 billion in 2001. [Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, MEPS Statistical Brief #33: Outpatient Prescribed Medicines: A Comparison of Use and Expenditures, 1987 and 2001 (PDF File, 123 KB; PDF Help).

Today's Headlines:

  1. New AHRQ evidence report summary on celiac disease available
  2. AHRQ call for measures of family assessment of nursing home care extended until August 5
  3. Updated AHRQ Child Health Toolbox available on the Web
  4. Second AHRQ Web conference on surge capacity and health system preparedness set for July 13
  5. AHRQ and NIH issue program announcements on health literacy
  6. Calling All AHRQ Researchers! "Help Us to Help You."
  7. Highlights from AHRQ's most recent monthly newsletter
  8. AHRQ in the professional literature

1.  New AHRQ Evidence Report Summary on Celiac Disease Available

Many patients with celiac disease are under diagnosed because they don't have symptoms and their physicians don't recognize when to test for the disease, according to a new evidence report prepared by AHRQ's University of Ottawa Evidence-based Practice Center. Celiac disease is a disorder primarily affecting the gastrointestinal tract with symptoms that may include abdominal cramping, diarrhea, bloating, and distention. It is caused by an immune response to the gluten of grains such as wheat, barley, rye, and oats and is effectively treated with a gluten-free diet. Left untreated, celiac disease may lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies, osteoporosis and other problems. Celiac disease has long been considered a rare disorder, but more recent estimates indicate that it may affect 1 in 100 people, or 1 percent of the U.S. population. This figure is 30 times higher than previous estimates. The evidence report cites the need for more research to determine which patients should be screened for the disease, the best methods of screening, and whether early detection will lead to improved patient outcomes. Select to read the summary. The report was commissioned for a consensus development conference convened in June by the National Institutes of Health's Office of Medical Applications of Research and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

2.  AHRQ Call for Measures of Family Assessment of Nursing Home Care Extended Until August 5

AHRQ has extended the deadline until August 5 for researchers, survey firms, stakeholders, and other interested parties to voluntarily submit survey instruments or items from survey instruments that can be used to measure family assessments of nursing home care. It is a CMS priority to support the development of a standardized survey for measuring and publicly reporting family and residents' assessments of nursing home care that can be used nationwide. CMS has asked AHRQ for assistance in developing and testing the survey instruments. A resident survey has been developed and is being field tested. The next step is the development of a standardized instrument for evaluating family perspectives on residents' nursing home care. If they are selected for inclusion in a standardized CAHPS instrument for comparing family assessments of nursing home care, measures will be made freely available to encourage widespread use. Submissions of measures are now due August 5 (extended from July 6) and should be mailed to Judith A. Sangl, AHRQ, 540 Gaither Road, Rockville, MD, 20850, or preferably E-mailed to her at Select to access the Federal Register notice.

3.  Updated AHRQ Child Health Toolbox Available on the Web

AHRQ recently revised its Child Health Toolbox, a Web-based resource on children's health care quality and other performance measures, to include information about quality measures for mental and behavioral health services that apply to children and adolescents. The Toolbox is designed to be useful to State and local policymakers, child advocates, and others concerned about the quality of children's health care. The Toolbox provides concepts, tips, and tools for evaluating quality of health care in Medicaid, the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), Title V, and other health care service programs for children. Select to access the Toolbox.

4.  Second AHRQ Web Conference on Surge Capacity and Health System Preparedness Set for July 13

The second event in AHRQ's 2004 series of free bioterrorism Web conference calls on Surge Capacity and Health System Preparedness is set for July 13. Surge capacity is a health care system's ability to expand rapidly beyond normal services to meet the increased demand for qualified personnel, medical care, and public health in the event of bioterrorism or other large-scale public health emergencies or disasters. The second Web-assisted audio conference is scheduled for Tuesday, July 13, from 2:00 to 3:30 p.m., EDT, and will focus on "Facilities and Equipment." These 90-minute Web conferences 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.  AHRQ and NIH Issue Program Announcements on Health Literacy

AHRQ, in partnership with the National Institutes of Health, is inviting investigators to submit R01 research grant applications under a program announcement entitled "Understanding and Promoting Health Literacy." The goal is to increase scientific understanding of the nature of health literacy and its relationship to healthy behaviors, illness prevention and treatment, chronic disease management, health disparities, risk assessment of environmental factors, and health outcomes, including mental and oral health. Applicants may request up to $500,000. A separate R03 program announcement, "Understanding and Promoting Health Literacy," invites applications for pilot or feasibility studies and small projects up to $50,000. Letters of intent are due September 13; applications are due October 13. Select to access R01 applications and R03 applications for details.

6.  Calling All AHRQ Researchers! "Help Us to Help You."

As you may know, AHRQ can help you promote the findings of your research, but we can't do it without you. AHRQ has been successful in working with our grantees and contractors to promote findings to the media and to transfer knowledge based on the research to appropriate audiences in the health care community. However, we know that we can do better. We need you to notify us when you have an article accepted for publication. Please send a copy of the manuscript, anticipated publication date, and contact information for the journal and your institution's PR office to your AHRQ project officer and to AHRQ Public Affairs at Your manuscript will be reviewed to determine what level of marketing we will pursue. Please be assured that AHRQ always honors the journal embargo. Thank you for your cooperation.

7.  Highlights from AHRQ's Most Recent Monthly Newsletter

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

  • Deaf and hearing-impaired patients suggest ways doctors can improve communication to improve care quality and safety.

Inadequate communication with deaf or hard-of-hearing patients can lead to misdiagnosis and medication errors, as well as patient embarrassment, discomfort, and fear.

Other articles are:

  • Better monitoring of the cardiac drug amiodarone among outpatients could improve its safety.
  • Researchers examine the diagnosis, testing, and treatment of bronchiolitis in infants.
  • Greater severity of peripheral arterial disease among blacks may account for their higher rate of amputations.
  • Improved pain management could reduce use of outpatient care and associated costs for patients with HIV disease.

Select to access these articles and others.

8.  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.

Mattke S, Needleman J, Buerhaus P, et al. Evaluating the role of patient sample definitions for quality indicators sensitive to nurse staffing patterns. Med Care 2004;42(2 Suppl):1121-33. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Raji MA, Kuo Y, Salazar JA, et al. Ethnic differences in antihypertensive medication use in the elderly. Ann Pharmacother 2004 Feb;38(2):209-14. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Baker DW, Einstadter D, Husak SS, et al. Trends in postdischarge mortality and readmissions. Arch Intern Med 2004 Mar 8;164(5):538-44. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Egede LE. Diabetes, major depression, and functional disability among U.S. adults. Diabetes Care 2004 Feb;27(2):421-8. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Lyles RH, Lin H, Williamson JM. Design and analytic considerations for single-armed studies with misclassification of a repeated binary outcome. J Biopharm Stat 2004 Feb;14(1):229-47. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Wolraich ML, Lambert EW, Bickman L, et al. Assessing the impact of parent and teacher agreement on diagnosing attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. J Dev Behav Pediatr 2004 Feb;25(1):41-7. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Carder PC, Hernandez M. Consumer discourse in assisted living. J Gerontol Soc Sci 2004 Mar;59B(2):S58-67. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Potter P, Boxerman S, Wolf L, et al. Mapping the nursing process: a new approach for understanding the work of nursing. J Nurs Adm 2004 Feb;34(2):101-9. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Contact Information

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Current as of July 2004


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