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August 26, 2005, Issue No. 176

AHRQ News and Numbers

The number of babies born annually in the United States increased from just over 3.8 million in 1993 to nearly 4.2 million in 2002, while the number of episiotomies performed annually dropped from just over 1 million in 1993 to about 617,000 in 2002. [Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, 2002, HCUPnet.]

Today's Headlines:

  1. AHRQ-supported study finds medical disparities narrowing
  2. New report on soy finds limited evidence for health outcomes
  3. Two new evidence reports on effects of omega-3 fatty acids are available
  4. Reprint article on nursing home spending patterns in the 1990s is available
  5. Call for comments on proposed changes to Healthy People 2010
  6. National Conference on Connecting Americans to Their Health Care set for October 11
  7. Do you know how AHRQ's research is being used?
  8. AHRQ in the professional literature

1.  AHRQ-Supported Study Finds Medical Disparities Narrowing

A new AHRQ-funded study found that an increasing percentage of black enrollees in Medicare managed care plans are being screened for breast cancer or treated for diabetes or heart disease in accordance with nationally recognized quality measures. Researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston found, for example, that the percentages of black enrollees with diabetes who had their low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or "bad cholesterol" levels measured rose from 61 percent in 1999 to 92 percent in 2003—a 31 percent gain. The percentage of black enrollees with diabetes who had their LDL levels controlled increased even more—by 46 percent (from 23 percent in 1999 to 66 percent in 2003). White enrollees' rates also improved for both measures, but the gains made by blacks narrowed their gaps with whites from 9 percent to 2 percent for LDL testing and from 13 percent to 7 percent for LDL control. The study, "Trends in the Quality of Care and Racial Disparities in Medicare Managed Care," was supported by AHRQ, HRSA, and Brigham and Women's Hospital and was published in the August 18 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. Select to read our press release.

2.  New Report on Soy Finds Limited Evidence for Health Outcomes

AHRQ released a new evidence report which shows that daily consumption of soy protein found in tofu and other soybean products appears to result in small reductions in LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglyceride levels. In addition, isoflavones found in soy may reduce the frequency of hot flashes in postmenopausal women. However, the available studies on the health impacts of soy were either limited in number, of poor quality, or their duration was too short to lead to definite conclusions. The review was completed by AHRQ's Tufts-New England Medical Center Evidence-based Practice Center and was supported by NIH's National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) and Office of Dietary Supplements. Select to read our press release and select to read the summary. A print copy of the report, Effects of Soy on Health Outcomes, is available by sending an E-mail to

3.  Two New Evidence Reports on Effects of Omega-3 Fatty Acids Are Available

AHRQ released two new evidence-based reports requested and funded by NIH's Office of Dietary Supplements and conducted by three of AHRQ's Evidence-based Practice Centers, namely: Southern California-RAND, Tufts-New England Medical Center, and the University of Ottawa. The first report, Effects of Omega-3 Fatty Acids on Child and Maternal Health, noted the absence of a safety profile (i.e., moderate-to-severe adverse events). Pregnancy outcomes were either unaffected by omega-3 fatty acid supplementation, or the results were inconclusive. Results concerning the impact of the intake of omega-3 fatty acids on the development of infants are primarily, although not uniformly, inconclusive. Select to read the summary. The second report, Effects of Omega-3 Fatty Acids on Mental Health, revealed that nothing can yet be concluded concerning the clinical utility of omega-3 fatty acids as supplemental treatment for any other psychiatric disorder or condition or as a primary treatment for all psychiatric disorders or conditions. Select to read the summary. A print copy of the summaries and the full reports are available by sending an E-mail to

4.  Reprint Article on Nursing Home Spending Patterns in the 1990s Is Available

The financial environment for many nursing homes has changed dramatically during the last decade, according to an article in the August issue of Health Services Research by researchers Dana B. Mukamel, Ph.D., University of California, Irvine, Alina Bajorska, M.S., University of Rochester, New York, and AHRQ researcher, William D. Spector, Ph.D. Many are facing increased competition from home care and assisted living. A study of expenditures of nursing homes in New York State found that during the 1990s higher competition was associated with higher expenditures. However, opposing trends were observed, with clinical and administrative expenditures increasing during the period and expenditures on amenities and hotel services decreasing. The authors conclude that policies aimed at influencing competition in nursing home markets may have an impact on expenditures as well. A copy of the article, "Nursing Home Spending Patterns in the 1990s: The Role of Nursing Home Competition and Excess Demand," is available by sending an E-mail to

5.  Call for Comments on Proposed Changes to Healthy People 2010

The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office of Public Health and Science, HHS, and its lead agencies, as part of the process of conducting a midcourse review of Healthy People 2010, is soliciting written comments for consideration on changes and revisions proposed to the Healthy People 2010 objectives and sub-objectives. Comments may be submitted via Healthy People Web site by the close of business EDT on September 15. Select to read the August 12 Federal Register notice.

6.  National Conference on Connecting Americans to Their Health Care Set for October 11

The Markle Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and AHRQ are sponsoring a National Conference on "Connecting Americans to Their Health Care: Empowered Consumers, Personal Health Records and Emerging Technologies" to be held October 11 at the JW Marriott Hotel in Washington, DC. The conference will focus on the empowerment of patients and health care consumers through health IT. AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D., is among the hosts for the conference, which features keynote speakers HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt; Eric Dishman, Intel Corporation; and Newt Gingrich, former Speaker, U.S House of Representatives. The registration deadline is September 30. Select to register and for more information.

7.  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.

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.

Wang HE, Kupas DF, Hostler D, et al. Procedural experience with out-of-hospital endotracheal intubation. Crit Care Med 2005 Aug;33(8):1718-21. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Carroll KN, Griffin MR, Gebretsadik T, et al. Racial differences in asthma morbidity during pregnancy. Obstet Gynecol 2005 Jul;106(1):66-72. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Thomas EJ, Sexton JB, Neilands TB, et al. The effect of executive walk rounds on nurse safety climate attitudes: A randomized trial of clinical units. BMC Health Serv Res 2005 Apr 11;5(1):e28. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Raghavan R, Zima BT, Andersen RM, et al. Psychotropic medication use in a national probability sample of children in the child welfare system. J Child Adolesc Psychopharmacol 2005 Feb;15(1):97-106. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Jibaja-Weiss ML, Volk RJ, Smith QW, et al. Differential effects of messages for breast and cervical cancer screening. J Health Care Poor Underserved 2005 Feb;16(1):42-52. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Contact Information

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Current as of August 2005


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