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December 20, 2000, Issue No. 19

AHRQ News and Numbers

Today's Headlines:

  1. 1. AHRQ's FY 2001 budget
  2. 2. Results of Kaiser Family Foundation/AHRQ survey announced at conference
  3. 3. Releasing medical study findings early has downside
  4. 4. Evidence report on pre-term labor
  5. 5. Evidence report on acute cardiac ischemia
  6. 6. MEPS data users' workshop
  7. 7. AHRQ co-sponsorship of Medical Care Research and Review Special Supplement
  8. 8. Building Bridges conference
  9. 9. Job openings at AHRQ
  10. 10. AHRQ in the news
  11. 11. Factoid

1.  AHRQ's FY 2001 Budget

On December 15, the U.S. Congress passed the fiscal year 2001 appropriations bill for the departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and related agencies. The bill recommends $269,943,000 for AHRQ in FY 2001, which is approximately $70 million above the FY 2000 level and $20 million above the President's request. This represents a 33 percent increase over last year's level, the highest percentage increase among all of the Public Health Service agencies. The increase includes $50 million to conduct and support research to enhance patient safety. The increase also provides $10 million to support research that examines the relationship between the health care workplace and its impact on medical errors and the quality of care provided to patients. In addition, the increase will support a number of the Agency's priorities, including investigator-initiated research, measuring and improving quality of health care, and the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey. President Clinton is expected to sign the measure this week.

2.  Results of Kaiser Family Foundation/AHRQ Survey Announced at Conference

On December 11, the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) and AHRQ announced the results of a new national survey on the role of quality information in health care decisionmaking, including people's opinions on medical errors and patient safety. This announcement was made as part of a 2-day conference on health care quality information sponsored by the California HealthCare Foundation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Health Care Financing Administration, and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. The announcement of the results was carried on a live Webcast by, a free online Webcasting and news summary service sponsored by KFF. Select to access the Webcast on the site. Exit Disclaimer

3.  Releasing Medical Study Findings Early Has Downside

A new AHRQ study using Healthcare Cost & Utilization Project (HCUP) data was announced on December 13. It suggests that, when medical trial results are released prior to journal publication, doctors can change their practice dramatically. However, the changes may not be in line with the detailed research results later published in a peer-reviewed journal and may be harmful to some patients. The study, "The Impact of Prepublication Release of Clinical Trial Results on the Practice of Carotid Endarterectomy in the United States," by Cary Gross, M.D., from Yale University, AHRQ's Claudia Steiner, M.D., and Eric Bass, M.D., and Neil Powe, M.D., of Johns Hopkins University, was published in the December 13 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). Select to access the full study. Exit Disclaimer

4.  Evidence Report on Pre-term Labor

AHRQ announced on December 18 the availability of a summary of an evidence report on the Management of Pre-term Labor. The report concludes that more research is necessary to determine the cause, risk factors, and treatments of pre-term labor and birth and their prevalence among pregnancies in general and among various racial/ethnic minorities. The report raises a number of methodologic issues concerning the lack of:

  1. Explicit definitions of pre-term labor.
  2. Use of survival analysis.
  3. Attention to the design and description of efficacy and effectiveness studies.

Select to access the summary. Print copies of the summary are available from the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse, 1-800-358-9295. Copies of the full report will be available in early 2001.

5.  Evidence Report on Acute Cardiac Ischemia

AHRQ announced on December 19 the availability of an evidence report on Evaluation of Technologies for Identifying Acute Cardiac Ischemia in the Emergency Department. This report was prepared by the New England Evidence-based Practice Center and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Select to access the summary. Print copies of the summary are available from the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse, 1-800-358-9295. Copies of the full report will be available in early 2001.

6.  MEPS Data Users' Workshop

AHRQ is sponsoring a 2-day "MEPS Data Users' Workshop", January 31-February 1, 2001, in Los Angeles. The purpose is to facilitate the use of the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey Household Component (MEPS HC) public use data files by the health services research community. The first half-day will provide practical information about the household component survey design, file content, and the construction of analytic files. During the next day and a half, personal computers will be available for hands-on exercises and construction of MEPS data files. Select to access more information and registration materials.

7.  AHRQ Co-sponsorship of Medical Care Research and Review Special Supplement

AHRQ, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the American Association of Health Plans (AAHP) co-sponsored a special theme supplement of Medical Care Research and Review entitled "Contributions from the Field: Informing Quality Improvement,"which was published in December. The supplement includes eight articles that were developed from centerpiece presentations at two recent national meetings of health plans and health services researchers (Building Bridges 1999; 2000). The family of timely and actionable articles provides insights on organizational and institutional approaches to quality and informs our future research agenda related to quality by identifying evidence gaps, offering design suggestions, and implicitly identifying research priorities. The supplement includes four articles by AHRQ intramural researchers:

  • Quality Improvement: New Contributions from the Field of Health Services Research.
    Peggy McNamara, Blake Caldwell, Irene Fraser, Jan De La Mare, Jill Arent.
  • Are Managed Care Plans Organizing for Quality?
    Dennis P. Scanlon, Elizabeth Rolph, Charles Darby, and Hilary E. Doty.
  • Employers: Quality Takers or Quality Makers?
    Irene Fraser and Peggy McNamara.
  • Wrestling with Typology: Penetrating the "Black Box" of Managed Care by Focusing on Health Care System Characteristics.
    Cindy Brach, Linda Sanches, Don Young, James Rodgers, Holly Harvey, Thomas McLemore, and Irene Fraser.

A limited number of copies of the special supplement (AHRQ Pub. No. 0M01-0003) are available from the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse, 1-800-358-9295.

8.  Building Bridges Conference

AHRQ , the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the American Association of Health Plans (AAHP) are sponsoring a conference, " Assessing Policy Decisions and Their Impact on Health Care Delivery" in Seattle on April 26-27, 2001. The conference will feature presentations on performance measurement, state/federal mandates, children's health care, primary care, and chronic care.

9.  Job Openings at AHRQ

Select to access the see the complete list of vacancy announcements.

10.  AHRQ in the News

Crystal S, Fleishman JA, Hays RD, et al. Physical and role functioning among persons with HIV: results from a nationally representative survey. Med Care 2000 Dec; 38(12); 1210-23.

Gross CP, Steiner CA, Bass EB, et al. The impact of prepublication release of clinical trial results on the practice of carotid endarterectomy in the United States. JAMA 2000 Dec 13; 284(22); 2886-93.

Newman L. AHRQ's evidence-based practice centers prove viable. Lancet 2000 Dec 9; 356(9426):1990.

Pathman DE, Konrad TR, King TS, et al. Medical training debt and service commitments: the rural consequences. J Rural Health 2000 Summer; 16(3):264-72.

11.  Factoid

Depression is one of the top 10 conditions treated in short-term hospitals. Source: Elixhauser A, Yu K, Steiner C, and Bierman AS. Hospitalization in the United States, 1997. Rockville (MD): Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; 2000. HCUP Fact Book No. 1.

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Current as of December 2000


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