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October 8, 2004, Issue No. 149

AHRQ News and Numbers

For people under age 65, the average annual number of dental visits, approximately 2.5 did not vary significantly among urban and rural residents. However, elderly rural residents with dental expenses had an average of one fewer dental visit per year than their counterparts in metropolitan areas (2 vs. 3). [Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, MEPS Chartbook No. 13: Health Care in Urban and Rural Areas, Combined Years 1998-2000.]

Today's Headlines:

  1. HHS partners with Discovery Networks, U.S., and clinician groups on new tools to help combat childhood obesity
  2. AHRQ releases guide to using its quality indicators
  3. AHRQ is participating in development of Surgical Care Improvement Partnership
  4. AHRQ's Centers for Education and Research on Therapeutics in the news
  5. New evidence report available on weight-loss surgery
  6. New evidence report indicates some provider incentives can work to improve quality
  7. Public Reporting and Quality-Based Purchasing: The Evidence Base and Practical Tools—Register now for October Web conference series
  8. Web Conference on Surge Capacity and Health System Preparedness set for October 26
  9. Third National Conference on Health Care and Domestic Violence
  10. AHRQ in the professional literature

1.  HHS Partners with Discovery Networks, U.S., and Clinician Groups on New Tools To Help Combat Childhood Obesity

In response to the growing epidemic of childhood obesity in this country, HHS has developed two DVDs to teach children and their parents about smart eating and physical activity and to educate clinicians about the best ways to prevent and treat obesity in children. AHRQ has partnered with FitTV, the newest network from Discovery Networks, U.S., to produce a fun and interactive DVD for children and their parents, called Max's Magical Delivery: Fit for Kids. The first DVD is a 30-minute tool designed for families and children ages 5 to 9 to provide them with fun ways to incorporate physical activity and healthy foods into their daily lives. A second DVD, called Childhood Obesity: Combating the Epidemic, has also been produced in partnership with Discovery Health Channel for pediatricians, family physicians, and other health care providers to help them learn new methods for assessing and treating childhood overweight and obesity. This 55-minute program provides helpful clinical tools such as body mass index measurement in children, in addition to tips for initiating and sustaining behavior change in children. It also provides 1 hour of CME credit. Select to read our press release.

2.  AHRQ Releases Guide to Using Its Quality Indicators

AHRQ announced the availability of a new guide for using the Agency's Quality Indicators (QI) to report on hospital quality or make payment decisions. AHRQ's Quality Indicators are measurement tools that were originally developed by AHRQ and researchers at the University of California at San Francisco and Stanford University to help individual hospitals use their own discharge data to better understand and improve the care they provide. Given the expanding use and interest in the Quality Indicators, AHRQ created this guide to help answer questions about if, when, and how to use them for these new purposes. Select to read our press release and to access the QI Web site to download the Guidance for Using the AHRQ Quality Indicators for Hospital-Level Public Reporting or Payment.

3.  AHRQ Participating in Development of Surgical Care Improvement Partnership

The Surgical Care Improvement Project (SCIP) is a national partnership of organizations committed to improving the safety of surgical care through the reduction of postoperative complications. In summer 2005, the SCIP partnership will launch a multi-year national campaign to substantially reduce surgical mortality and morbidity in four target areas through collaborative efforts. The goal is to reduce nationally the incidence of surgical complications by 25 percent by the year 2010. The project is led by CMS and CDC. AHRQ is a member of the SCIP Partnership's steering committee. Select to access the Web site for more information.

4.  AHRQ's Centers for Education and Research on Therapeutics in the News

Wayne Ray, Ph.D., Vanderbilt University Medical Center CERT, and Brian Strom, M.D., University of Pennsylvania CERT, were featured in the October 4 Wall Street Journal, among other publications, and Robert Califf, M.D., Duke University Medical Center CERT appeared on the October 7 Today Show—on the worldwide withdrawal of the arthritis medication Vioxx. Merck & Co. withdrew the drug because of increased risk of heart attack and stroke in people using the medication, as well as drug safety processes. These stories referred to earlier CERTs research that found potential problems with Vioxx. Select to read the abstract in PubMed®. Dr. Ray was also in the news recently regarding his study of oral erythromycin (an older and widely used antibiotic) when used together with newer drugs such as those that inhibit CYP3A drug enzymes, i.e., certain calcium-channel blockers, certain antifungal drugs, and some antidepressants. Research findings were published in the September issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. Select to read the abstract in PubMed®. AHRQ's CERTs conduct research and provide education that will advance the optimal use of drugs, medical devices, and biological products. Select to access the CERTs Web site for more information on the CERTs program.

5.  New Evidence Report Available on Weight-Loss Surgery

AHRQ released a new evidence report which concludes that surgery for extremely obese patients who have tried and failed to lose weight with exercise and diet may be more effective for weight reduction. It can also improve control of some obesity-related health problems such as high blood pressure and diabetes. The report, Pharmacological and Surgical Treatment of Obesity, was prepared by researchers at AHRQ's Southern California Evidence-based Practice Center. Select to read our press release and select to read the summary. A print copy of the report is available by sending an E-mail to

6.  New Evidence Report Indicates Some Provider Incentives Can Work to Improve Quality

AHRQ released a new evidence report indicating that offering incentives to health care providers may be able to improve health care quality. The researchers reviewed two types of incentives: specific financial incentives that base payment on measurable gauges of quality, and the communication of provider performance data to the general public. The report, Strategies To Support Quality-based Purchasing: A Review of the Evidence, was developed by AHRQ's Stanford University/University of California, San Francisco Evidence-based Practice Center. Select to read the summary. A print copy of the summary and the full report are available by sending an E-mail to

7.  Public Reporting and Quality-Based Purchasing: The Evidence Base and Practical Tools-Register Now for October Web Conference Series

AHRQ is sponsoring two free, interactive Web conferences in October that will help purchasers understand the evidence base for quality-based purchasing and public reporting and facilitate their use of an important tool set available to assist with evaluations of health care quality. The conferences will help purchasers make well-informed decisions about whether and how to pursue quality-based purchasing. The series also will help plans and providers prepare for and participate in quality-based purchasing and public reporting initiatives. The first conference in the series, Paying for Performance, will be held October 21 from 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. EDT. It will feature a look at the current evidence base for quality-based purchasing with an emphasis on practical implications for purchasers and providers. The second conference, Using Quality Indicators for Hospital-Level Public Reporting & Payment, will be held October 27 from 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. EDT. It will provide guidance on the benefits and limitations of using AHRQ's Quality Indicators for public reporting of quality or to inform purchasing decisions.

8.  Web Conference on Surge Capacity and Health System Preparedness Set for October 26

Mark your calendars! AHRQ announces the third event in its 2004 series of free bioterrorism Web conferences on Surge Capacity and Health System Preparedness. Surge capacity is a health care system's ability to rapidly expand 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 third Web conference, scheduled for Tuesday, October 26, from 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., EDT, will focus on "Addressing Surge Capacity in a Mass Casualty Event." 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.

9.  Third National Conference on Health Care and Domestic Violence

AHRQ is cosponsoring the Third National Conference on Health Care and Domestic Violence to be held October 21-23 in Boston. The goal of the conference is to advance knowledge about health care's response to domestic violence. This conference, "Health Consequences Over the Lifespan," will highlight AHRQ research by grant recipients Jacqueline Dienemann, Ph.D., R.N., Jay Silverman, Ph.D., and Robert S. Thomson, M.D. Deadline for registration is October 15.

10.  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.

Wong HS, McNamara P, Greenberg W. Provider competition and health care quality: challenges and opportunities for research. Int J Health Care Finance Econ 2004 Jun;4(2):99-111. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Kennedy MJ, Abdel-Rahman SM, Kashuba AD, et al. Comparison of various urine collection intervals for caffeine and dextromethorphan phenotyping in children. J Clin Pharmacol 2004 Jul;44(7):708-14. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Rosen AB, Karter AJ, Liu JY, et al. Use of angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers in high-risk clinical and ethnic groups with diabetes. J Gen Intern Med 2004 Jun;19(6):669-75. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Kelley E, Moy E, Kosiak B, et al. Prevention health care quality in America: findings from the first National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Reports. Prevent Chronic Dis 2004 Jul;1(3):1-5. Select to access the article in the journal.

Canty-Mitchell J, Austin JK, Jaffee K, et al. Behavioral and mental health problems in low-income children with special health care needs. Arch Psychiatr Nurs 2004 Jun;18(3):79-87. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Fiore MC, Croyle RT, Curry SJ, et al. Preventing 3 million premature deaths and helping 5 million smokers quit: a national action plan for tobacco cessation. Am J Public Health 2004 Feb;94(2):205-10. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

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Current as of October 2004


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