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July 8, 2005, Issue No. 173

AHRQ News and Numbers

In 2002, older Americans tended to have higher medical bills. More than one-quarter of Americans with the very highest bills were between the ages of 65 and 79, and another 14 percent were 80 and older. [Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, MEPS Statistical Brief #73: Characteristics of Persons with High Medical Expenditures in the U.S. Civilian Noninstitutionalized Population, 2002. (PDF File, 176 KB; PDF Help).]

Today's Headlines:

  1. Task Force releases new recommendations on HIV screening
  2. Task Force finds insufficient evidence to screen for overweight in children and adolescents
  3. Clinical Decisions and Communications Science Center RFP announced
  4. AHRQ in the professional literature

1.  Task Force Releases New Recommendations on HIV Screening

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force released new recommendations on HIV screening. The Task Force recommends that all pregnant women, not just those considered at high risk, be screened for the virus that causes AIDS because testing has proven so successful at helping prevent the spread of the disease to babies. In 1996, the Task Force found insufficient evidence that screening all pregnant women had any benefit. Scientific advances in treating HIV have changed that. "This recommendation is an important advancement in reducing the rates of HIV in the United States," said Task Force Vice-Chair Diana Petitti, M.D., who also is Senior Scientific Advisor for Health Policy and Medicine for Kaiser Permanente Southern California. "More accurate HIV testing during pregnancy and new treatments for HIV have been shown to be safe and effective for mothers and infants and may reduce the number of infants born with the disease." In addition to its recommendations about pregnant women, the Task Force also reaffirmed its recommendation that adolescents and adults at increased risk for HIV be tested. The Task Force broadened its definition of high risk to include those getting care at homeless shelters or clinics specializing in the care of sexually transmitted diseases. The recommendations were published in the July 5 Annals of Internal Medicine. Select to read our press release and to read the recommendations.

2.  Task Force Finds Insufficient Evidence to Screen for Overweight in Children and Adolescents

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is urging pediatricians not to focus only on height and weight in determining whether a child is overweight. In a new recommendation, the Task Force found insufficient evidence that screening children for overweight provides any benefit. Leading groups of family doctors and pediatricians endorse routine screening using the height-weight ratio of the Body Mass Index. But there's no evidence that all children with high BMIs need to lose weight to be healthy—and there's no evidence that pediatricians' weight counseling results in weight loss and better health. BMI can be fairly effective at identifying children who have weight problems, said Task Force member Virginia Moyer, M.D. But it can't determine if body mass is mostly fat or lean tissue, and not all children with high BMIs need to lose weight, said Moyer, a pediatrics professor at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston. Dr. Moyer recommends that doctors investigate rapid increases in weight that are not accompanied by increases in height. The recommendation is published in the July issue of Pediatrics. Select to read the recommendation.

3.  Clinical Decisions and Communications Science Center RFP

AHRQ issued a new Request for Proposals to establish a "Clinical Decisions and Communications Science Center."The purpose of this contract is to establish a research and translation decision science and communication center that will facilitate access to evidence-based clinical and health care delivery information and foster informed health care decisions by patients, providers, and policymakers. A cost-plus-fixed-fee, incrementally funded contract is contemplated for a 2-year period of performance with three 1-year options for renewal. The deadline for proposals is August 11. Select to read the RFP.

4.  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.

Peterson JF, Kuperman GJ, Shek C, et al. Guided prescription of psychotropic medications for geriatric inpatients. Arch Intern Med 2005 Apr 11;165(7):802-7. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Phillips CD, Holan S, Sherman M, Spector W, et al. Medicare expenditures for residents in assisted living: data from a national study. Health Serv Res 2005 Apr;40(2):373-88. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

He XZ, Baker DW. Differences in leisure-time, household, and work-related physical activity by race, ethnicity, and education. J Gen Intern Med 2005 Mar;20(3):259-66. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Mushlin AI, Kern LM, Paris M, et al. The value of diagnostic information to patients with chest pain suggestive of coronary artery disease. Med Decis Making 2005 Mar-Apr;25(2):149-57. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Sulkowski MS, Mehta SH, Torbenson M, et al. Hepatic steatosis and antiretroviral drug use among adults coinfected with HIV and hepatitis C virus. AIDS 2005 Mar 24;19(6):585-92. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Contact Information

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Current as of July 2005


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