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November 18, 2005, Issue No. 184

AHRQ News and Numbers

In 2003, more than 43 percent of American adults who suffered from emphysema reported that they still smoked in spite of their disease. Americans with five other smoking-related diseases who reported that they continued to smoke include people with asthma (22.2 percent), stroke (21.3 percent), cardiovascular problems (19.9 percent), high blood pressure (7.9 percent), and diabetes (6.0 percent). [Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, MEPS Statistical Brief #101: Variations in Smoking by Selected Demographic, Socioeconomic, Insurance, and Health Characteristics, United States, 2003 (PDF File, 113 KB; PDF Help).

Today's Headlines:

  1. AHRQ's Effective Health Care program seeking future research topics
  2. New AHRQ study finds mixed compliance with medication warning labels
  3. AHRQ's audio newscast focuses on smoking cessation
  4. AHRQ to transition to electronic grant applications starting December 20
  5. Do you know how AHRQ's research is being used?
  6. Calling all AHRQ researchers! "Help us to help you."
  7. AHRQ in the professional literature

1.  AHRQ's Effective Health Care Program Seeking Future Research Topics

AHRQ's Effective Health Care program is up and running and you can take part—especially by nominating topics for future research. The new program will generate comparative effectiveness reviews on health topics of importance, especially where there are significant questions about which interventions (including drugs) may be most effective. A key feature of the program is the inclusiveness and transparency of its operations. This includes open access via the Web to nominate topics for effectiveness reviews, comment on ongoing work, and signup to receive E-mail notifications at whatever level you prefer. It can all be done through the Effective Health Care Program's Web site. In particular, as it looks to a new round of research, the program is looking for topic nominations. Select to nominate topics.

2.  New AHRQ Study Finds Mixed Compliance with Medication Warning Labels

More than 40 percent of nearly 930,000 patients enrolled in 10 geographically diverse health plans received at least 1 medication for which the FDA had issued a black box warning. These warnings are the strongest labels issued by the FDA and indicate that the medication carries the risk of potential injury or death. Researchers found that physicians' compliance with the black box warnings was highly variable depending on the medication prescribed. Physicians were less likely to comply with the warning when patients did not receive needed lab tests before beginning a new prescription. Nearly 50 percent of all prescriptions that should have been accompanied by a lab test were not. However, medications prescribed to pregnant women were among those with the highest levels of physician compliance. Only 0.3 percent, or 95 of 79,000 prescriptions prescribed to women of childbearing age who might have been pregnant, carried a black box warning against use during pregnancy. In addition, physicians did not prescribe medications that were likely to have negative interactions with QT-interval-prolonging medications that regulate heart rhythm. The study, "FDA Drug Prescribing Warnings: Is the Black Box Half Empty or Half Full?" was published in the November 18 issue of Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety. Select to read the article Exit disclaimer icon.

3.  AHRQ's Audio Newscast Focuses on Smoking Cessation

Thursday, November 17, marked the American Cancer Society's 29th annual Great American Smokeout. In recognition of that effort, this week's AHRQ audio newscast is a themed broadcast about smoking cessation. There is a 30-second public service announcement about quitting that AHRQ will distribute to radio stations and to in-store audio networks at stores such as Giant Food®, Safeway®, and Wal-Mart®. The newscast features an interview with Dr. Michael Fiore, panel chair for the PHS clinical practice guideline, Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence, about what has changed in the field of smoking cessation since the 2000 guideline was published. AHRQ also interviewed Dr. Linda Sarna, principal investigator with Tobacco-Free Nurses, who discusses AHRQ's new booklet for nurses, Helping Smokers Quit: A Pocket Guide for Nurses. Shannan Stephenson, a pediatric R.N., shares her story about how she quit smoking and has remained tobacco free. Select to listen to this audio newscast. You can listen from your computer or you can download it to any portable digital player.

4.  AHRQ to Transition to Electronic Grant Applications Starting December 20

AHRQ will replace the PHS 398 grant application form with the Standard Form (SF) 424 Research and Related grant application form over the next 2 years. At the same time, AHRQ will require full use of electronic submission through Web site. Transition to the new form and electronic submission will be phased in by funding mechanism as per the October 7 NIH Guide. Applicants for the AHRQ Conference grants (R13) will be the first required to use the SF 424, starting with the December 20 submission date. Select to read a detailed description of the electronic submission and receipt processes.

5.  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.

6.  Calling All AHRQ Researchers! "Help Us to Help You."

As you may know, AHRQ can help you promote the findings of your research, but we can't do it without you. AHRQ has been successful in working with our grantees and contractors to promote findings to the media and to transfer knowledge based on the research to appropriate audiences in the health care community. However, we know that we can do better. We need you to notify us when you have an article accepted for publication. Please send a copy of the manuscript, anticipated publication date, and contact information for the journal and your institution's PR office to your AHRQ project officer and to AHRQ Public Affairs at Your manuscript will be reviewed to determine what level of marketing we will pursue. Please be assured that AHRQ always honors the journal embargo. Thank you for your cooperation.

7.  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.

Vaglio J, Safley DM, Rahman M, et al. Relation of anemia at discharge to survival after acute coronary syndromes. Am J Cardiol 2005 Aug 15;33(8):1718-21. Select to read the abstract in PubMed®.

Tsai AC, Morton SC, Mangione CM, et al. A meta-analysis of interventions to improve care for chronic illnesses. Am J Manag Care 2005 Aug;11(8):478-88. Select to read the abstract in PubMed®.

Curtis JR, Westfall AO, Allison JJ, et al. Longitudinal patterns in the prevention of osteoporosis in glucocorticoid-treated patients. Arthritis Rheum 2005 Aug;52(8):2485-94. Select to read the abstract in PubMed®.

Park S, Ross-Degnan D, Adams AS, et al. Effect of switching antipsychotics on antiparkinsonian medication use in schizophrenia. Br J Psychiatry 2005 Aug;187:137-42. Select to read the abstract in PubMed®.

Rhodes ET, Wolfsdorf JI, Cuthbertson DD, et al. Effect of low-dose insulin treatment on body weight and physical development in children and adolescents at risk for type 1 diabetes. Diabetes Care 2005 Aug;28(8):1948-53. Select to read the abstract in PubMed®.

Shen JJ, Tymkow C, MacMullen N. Disparities in maternal outcomes among four ethnic populations. Ethn Dis 2005 Summer;15(3):492-7. Select to read the abstract in 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 November 2005


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