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December 17, 2004, Issue No. 156

AHRQ News and Numbers

The percentage of adults ever diagnosed with hypertension was 1.4 times greater for those with less than a high school education than for those with a college education (25.3 percent and 17.6 percent, respectively). [Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, MEPS Statistical Brief #59: Hypertension in America, 2002: Estimates for the U.S. Civilian Noninstitutionalized Population Ages 18 and Older (PDF File, 139 KB; PDF Help).]

Today's Headlines:

  1. List of priority conditions for research under Medicare Modernization Act released
  2. Major health plans and organizations join AHRQ to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in health care
  3. Call for abstracts for AcademyHealth's Gender and Health Interest Group meeting in June
  4. AHRQ invites nominations of topics for Evidence-based Practice Centers
  5. New AHRQ National Advisory Council members named
  6. Do you know how AHRQ's research is being used?
  7. Highlights from the most recent edition of our monthly newsletter
  8. AHRQ in the professional literature

1.  List of Priority Conditions for Research under Medicare Modernization Act Released

AHRQ announced a $15 million initiative that will develop state-of-the-art information about the effectiveness of interventions, including prescription drugs, for 10 top conditions affecting Medicare beneficiaries. Funding for the initiative, authorized by Section 1013 of the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003, was included in the Fiscal Year 2005 Consolidated Appropriations Act that recently was passed by Congress. The list of 10 priority conditions was developed with input from the public and stakeholders through testimony at a May 21 listening session and written comments submitted to the HHS. The priority conditions identified for study are:

  • Ischemic heart disease.
  • Cancer.
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease/asthma.
  • Stroke, including control of hypertension.
  • Arthritis and non-traumatic joint disorders.
  • Diabetes mellitus.
  • Dementia, including Alzheimer's disease.
  • Pneumonia.
  • Peptic ulcer/dyspepsia.
  • Depression and other mood disorders.

Select to read our press release.

2.  Major Health Plans and Organizations Join AHRQ to Reduce Racial and Ethnic Disparities In Health Care

AHRQ announced a new public-private partnership, the National Health Plan Learning Collaborative to Reduce Disparities and Improve Quality, which is designed to help reduce disparities in health care for people with diabetes and other conditions. This collaborative brings together nine of the nation's largest health insurance plans: Aetna, CIGNA, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, HealthPartners, Highmark Inc., Kaiser Permanente, Molina Healthcare, UnitedHealth Group (UnitedHealthcare, Ovations and AmeriChoice) and WellPoint, Inc., as well as several other organizations. This collaborative is the first national effort of its kind to go beyond research and actively tackle racial and ethnic inequities in health care service delivery. Select to read our press release.

3.  Call for Abstracts for AcademyHealth's Gender and Health Interest Group Meeting in June

For the first time, the AcademyHealth 2005 Annual Research Meeting will host a post-conference interest group meeting devoted to gender and health issues. The session, scheduled for June 28, 2005, will feature panel presentations and a poster session. AHRQ's Senior Advisor for Women's Health, Rosaly Correa de Araujo, M.D., M.Sc., Ph.D., is the Gender and Health Interest Group's Chair and is encouraging abstract submissions. Applications must be received online by January 14, 2005. Select to submit abstracts.

4.  Nominations of Topics for Evidence-based Practice Centers

AHRQ invites nominations of topics for evidence reports and technology assessments relating to the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and management of common diseases and clinical conditions, as well as topics relating to the organization and financing of health care. Topic nominations should be submitted by January 31, 2005. Select to read the December 9 Federal Register notice.

5.  New AHRQ National Advisory Council Members Named

Seven new members have been named to AHRQ's National Advisory Council. They are:

  • Regina M. Benjamin, M.D., M.B.A., Bayou La Batre Rural Health Clinic, Bayou La Batre, AL.
  • C. Andrew Brown, M.D., M.P.H., University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, MS.
  • Patrick A. Charmel, Griffin Health Services Corporation, Derby, CT.
  • Robert B. Helms, Ph.D., American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, Washington, DC.
  • Judith Hibbard, Ph.D., M.P.H., University of Oregon, Eugene, OR.
  • Grace-Marie Turner, Galen Institute, Inc., Alexandria, VA.
  • Daniel Wiley Varga, M.D., Norton Healthcare, Louisville, KY.

Select to view the list of all the members.

6.  Do You Know How AHRQ's Research Is Being Used?

We are always looking for ways in which AHRQ-funded research, products, and tools have changed people's lives, influenced clinical practice, improved policies, and affected patient outcomes. These impact case studies describe AHRQ research findings in action. These case studies are used in testimony, budget documents, and speeches. We would like to know if you are aware of any impact your AHRQ-funded research has had on health care policy, clinical practice, or patient outcomes. Contact AHRQ's Impact Case Studies Program at (301) 427-1243 with your impact stories.

7.  Highlights from the Most Recent Edition of Our Monthly Newsletter

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

  • Knowledge of pain medication and its management could be improved among nursing home staff.

An AHRQ-funded study shows that nursing home staff, particularly unlicensed staff, know little about pain medication and management. Many staff members involved in the study were reluctant to use aggressive pain management strategies, even in the face of reported severe pain and observed pain behaviors. They also underestimated the effectiveness of nonmedication strategies such as massage, positioning, and distraction.

Other articles are:

  • Researchers examine factors that affect voluntary reporting of medication errors
  • Structured health programs can greatly help frail older adults and their family caregivers.
  • Service coordination for pregnant women in prison can improve their use of health services after release.
  • Addressing multiple risk factors for certain diseases rather than just one may promote healthier lifestyles.

Select to read 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.

Tamayo-Sarver JH, Baker DW. Comparison of responses to a U.S. 2 dollar bill versus a chance to win 250 U.S. dollars in a mail survey of emergency physicians. Acad Emerg Med 2004 Aug;11(8):888-91. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Lo Re V 3rd, Gasink L, Kostman JR, et al. Natural history of patients with low-level HIV viremia on antiretroviral therapy. AIDS Patient Care STDS 2004 Aug;18(3):436-42. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Ammar KA, Kors JA, Yawn BP, et al. Defining unrecognized myocardial infarction: a call for standardized electrocardiographic diagnostic criteria. Am Heart J 2004 Aug;148(2):277-84. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Miranda J, Schoenbaum M, Sherbourne C, et al. Effects of primary care depression treatment on minority patients' clinical status and employment. Arch Gen Psychiatry 2004 Aug;61(8):827-34. 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 December 2004


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