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December 10, 2004, Issue No. 155

AHRQ News and Numbers

A little more than 20 percent (45.3 million) of adults in the U.S. community population reported having been told at two or more different health care visits that they have hypertension, according to 2002 data from AHRQ's Medical Expenditure Panel Survey. The percentage of Hispanics ever diagnosed with hypertension was lower than that of both whites and blacks (12 percent versus 22 percent and 28.5 percent, respectively). [Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, MEPS Statistical Brief #59: Hypertension in America, 2002: Estimates for the U.S. Civilian Non-institutionalized Population Ages 18 and Older (PDF File, 139 KB; PDF Help).]

Today's Headlines:

  1. New evidence report on the safety and effectiveness of melatonin supplements available
  2. Study of hospital staff nurses finds high rate of errors and near errors
  3. AHRQ announces redesigned nursing Web page
  4. CERTs technical assistance workshop scheduled
  5. Call for abstracts for the Child Health Services Research meeting in June
  6. AHRQ in the professional literature

1.  New Evidence Report on the Safety and Effectiveness of Melatonin Supplements Available

AHRQ released a new evidence report that found that melatonin supplements, which people often take for sleep problems, appear to be safe when used over a period of days or weeks at relatively high doses and in various formulations. However, the safety of melatonin supplements used over months or even years is unclear. While there is some evidence for benefits of melatonin supplements, for most sleep disorders the authors found evidence suggesting limited or no benefits. But the authors say that firm conclusions cannot be drawn until more research is conducted. The report was requested and funded by NIH's National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine and conducted by AHRQ's University of Alberta Evidence-based Practice Center in Edmonton. Select to read our press release and the summary. A print copy of the summary and the full report are available by sending an E-mail to

2.  Study of Hospital Staff Nurses Finds High Rate of Errors and Near Errors

A new AHRQ-funded shows that nearly 30 percent of the hospital staff nurses who participated in a study of errors and near errors reported making at least one error during a 28-day period. One-third of the nurses surveyed reported a near error, in which they caught themselves before they were about to make an error. The study, "The Prevalence and Nature of Errors and Near Errors Reported by Hospital Staff Nurses," is published in the November issue of Applied Nursing Research. Select to read the abstract on PubMed®.

3.  AHRQ Announces Redesigned Nursing Web Page

We have redesigned AHRQ's nursing Web page to make it easier for users to access information. Historically, the Agency has provided substantial funding to nurse researchers for grants, cooperative agreements, and dissertation support in a variety of areas. As AHRQ continues to respond to the research needs of the Agency's key audiences—clinical decisionmakers, health system leaders, and Federal, State, and local policymakers—we will be counting on nurses to play an active role in helping to address those research needs. Select to view the new nursing Web page.

4.  CERTs Technical Assistance Workshop Scheduled

AHRQ will conduct a technical assistance conference call on January 5, 2005, to provide potential applicants with background information and respond to questions about the preparation of an application in response to the Centers for Education and Research on Therapeutics (CERTs) RFA-HS-05-014. AHRQ announced the availability of funds on October 26. The CERTs program is a national initiative to increase awareness of the benefits and risks of new, existing, or combined uses of therapeutics through education and research. The program currently consists of seven research centers, a coordinating center, and a steering committee. The purpose of these new awards is to expand the number of CERTs Research Centers. To register to participate in the conference call, please send an E-mail to by December 23.

5.  Call for Abstracts for the Child Health Services Research Meeting in June

AcademyHealth has issued a call for abstracts for its Child Health Research Services meeting in June 25. The meeting gives researchers the opportunity to disseminate their findings and provide policymakers and health providers the information they need to make sound decisions to improve our nation's child health and health services. Select to submit abstracts. Applications must be submitted online by January 31.

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.

Lobach DF, Arbanas JM, Mishra DD, et al. Adapting the human-computer interface for reading literacy and computer skill to facilitate collection of information directly from patients. Medinfo 2004:1142-6. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Stone PW, Clarke SP, Cimiotti J, Correa-de-Araujo R. Nurses' working conditions: implications for infectious disease. Emerg Infect Dis 2004 Nov;10(11):1984-9. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Phillips S, Lavin R. Readiness and response to public health emergencies: help needed now from professional nursing associations. J Prof Nurs 2004 Sep-Oct;20(5):279-80. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Bhutani VK, Johnson LH, Jeffrey Maisels M, et al. Kernicterus: epidemiological strategies for its prevention through systems-based approaches. J Perinatol 2004 Oct;24(10):650-62. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Martikainen P, Lahelma E, Marmot M. A comparison of socioeconomic differences in physical functioning and perceived health among male and female employees in Britain, Finland and Japan. Soc Sci Med 2004 Sep;59(6):1287-95. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Nowalk MP, Zimmerman RK, Feghali J. Missed opportunities for adult immunization in diverse primary care office settings. Vaccine 2004 Sep 3;22(25-26):3457-63. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Contact Information

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Current as of December 2004


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