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August 20, 2007, Issue No. 236

AHRQ News and Numbers

The average yearly premium for employer-sponsored family coverage climbed from $6,772 to $10,728 between 2000 and 2005. During the same period, the average annual premium cost for single-person coverage increased from $2,655 to $3,991. (Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality [AHRQ], MEPS Statistical Brief #177: State Differences in the Cost of Job-Related Health Insurance, 2005, (PDF File , 152 KB; PDF Help) and Statistical Brief #178: Offer Rates, Take-Up Rates, Premiums, and Employee Contributions for Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance in the Private Sector for the 10 Largest Metropolitan Areas, 2005 (PDF File, 115 KB; PDF Help.)

Today's Headlines

1. New reports identify State-level privacy and security solutions for secure exchange of health information
2. New Task Force recommendation on proper use of motor vehicle occupant restraints
3. New AHRQ guides summarize effectiveness, side effects of antidepressants
4. National Quality Forum selects AHRQ's CAHPS® surveys as part of new consensus standards for patient experience with care
5. HANDS care plan tool seeks to improve nurse communication at handoff in AHRQ-funded study
6. Updated AHRQ evidence report on uterine fibroids management
7. Oral meds for diabetes, uterine fibroids, and UTIs in kids audio newscast
8. AHRQ in the professional literature

1. New Reports Identify State-Level Privacy and Security Solutions for Secure Exchange of Health Information

AHRQ released a set of reports titled Privacy and Security Solutions for Interoperable Health Information Exchange. The reports review 34 State Health Information Exchange plans and identify the challenges and feasible solutions for ensuring the safety and security of electronic health information exchange. This work was funded under a contract with AHRQ, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, and RTI International. All States followed a standard core methodology, but each was provided an opportunity to tailor the process to meet their needs. States varied on several key dimensions, including degree of adoption of electronic health information exchange, health care market forces in the State, legal and regulatory conditions related to health information, demographic composition of the State, and financial status of the State. Select to read our press release and select access the reports on AHRQ's Health IT Web site.

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2. New Task Force Recommendation on Proper Use of Motor Vehicle Occupant Restraints

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has issued new statements on primary care counseling regarding the proper use of motor vehicle occupant restraints and alcohol use to prevent motor vehicle occupant injuries. The Task Force concluded that evidence is insufficient to recommend counseling in the primary care setting to improve the rates of proper use of motor vehicle occupant restraints (I statement). The Task Force also concluded that evidence is insufficient to recommend counseling in the primary care setting to reduce driving while under the influence of alcohol or riding with drivers who are alcohol-impaired (I statement). The statements appeared in the August 7 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine and are available on the AHRQ Web site. Select for more information about how to access these statements through AHRQ's Electronic Preventive Services Selector.

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3. New AHRQ Guides Summarize Effectiveness, Side Effects of Antidepressants

AHRQ's new plain-language guides outline the latest scientific evidence on antidepressants, including how well the medicines work and their potential side effects. The guides—one written for clinicians, the other for patients—explain that about 6 in 10 adult patients get some relief from the drugs. In addition, about 6 in 10 experience at least one side effect, ranging from nausea to sexual dysfunction. AHRQ's new guides summarize information on a dozen second-generation antidepressants: bupropion (sold as Wellbutrin), citalopram (Celexa), duloxetine (Cymbalta), escitalopram (Lexapro), fluoxetine (Prozac), fluvoxamine (formerly sold as Luvox), mirtazapine (Remeron), nefazodone (formerly Serzone), paroxetine (Paxil), sertraline (Zoloft), trazodone (formerly Desyrel), and venlafaxine (Effexor). The guides can be found on the Effective Health Care Web site, Anyone wishing to be alerted when new reports are released should join the Effective Health Care LISTSERV®.

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4. National Quality Forum Selects AHRQ's CAHPS® Surveys As Part of New Consensus Standards for Patient Experience with Care

The National Quality Form (NQF) recently announced the endorsement of seven survey instruments to assess patients' experience with care, including those from AHRQ's Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS&):

  • CAHPS& Clinician & Group Survey®
  • CAHPS Health Plan Survey® (adult questionnaire and children with chronic conditions supplement)
  • National Committee for Quality Assurance Supplemental items for CAHPS®

The consensus standards comprise the next step in NQF's ongoing, multi-year effort to endorse a standardized set of measures for gauging and publicly reporting the quality of ambulatory care, bringing to 112 the total of NQF-endorsed™ voluntary consensus standards for ambulatory care to date. Select to read NQF's press release.

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5. HANDS Care Plan Tool Seeks To Improve Nurse Communication at Handoff in AHRQ-Funded Study

An AHRQ-supported project is testing whether a standardized, computerized tool can help nurses better document patient care and communicate more effectively at when they handoff a patient to another provider. So far, the new tool—called HANDS—has proved extremely useful for documenting care. The next step: using HANDS to guide communication at handoff. For more information, please visit AHRQ's Health IT Web site.

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6. Updated AHRQ Evidence Report on Uterine Fibroids Management

AHRQ released an updated evidence report that finds women who undergo uterine artery embolization, a newer, less-invasive treatment for uterine fibroids, have shorter recoveries and spend less time in the hospital than women who have hysterectomies. However, few studies have compared the new procedure's complications or long-term symptom relief with the older treatments. Researchers also found that women who have laparoscopically assisted vaginal hysterectomy, which is less invasive than traditional abdominal hysterectomy, usually leave the hospital sooner, recover at home faster, and need less pain medicine. The research review found that there is still not enough scientific information to enable women and their doctors to directly compare the benefits and harms of alternative ways of treating uterine fibroids. Research is lacking for the long-term symptom relief of another new form of treatment—ultrasound ablation—in which magnetic resonance image-guided ultrasound beams kill fibroid cells without harming surrounding tissues. The report was prepared by AHRQ's RTI International-University of North Carolina Evidence-based Practice Center. Select to access the report. A print copy is available by sending an E-mail to

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7. Oral Meds for Diabetes, Uterine Fibroids, and UTIs in Kids Audio Newscast

The most current Healthcare 411 audio newscast features an interview with Shari Bolen, M.D., who headed a comparative review of oral medications for diabetes. The 10-minute program also has a story about orthopedic surgeries. Select to hear the program or select to read the transcript. In a recent Healthcare 411 Radiocast, Meera Viswanathan, Ph.D., explains that the EPC review of studies about treating uterine fibroids did not find any clear answers. To listen to this 2-minute program or select to read the transcript. And in another recent Healthcare 411 Newscast, Patrick Conway, M.D., discusses his study on urinary tract infections in kids. The 10-minute program also includes stories on HCUP stats about adverse drug events in hospitals and the Emergency Preparedness Atlas, which helps States and local communities be aware of all health care resources that can provide assistance during a public health emergency. Select to listen to the program or select to read the transcript. And to access any of AHRQ's audio podcasts, visit our Healthcare 411 series main page.

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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.

Xiao Y, Seagull FJ, Bochicchio GV, et al. Video-based training increases sterile-technique compliance during central venous catheter insertion. Crit Care Med 2007 May; 35(5):1302-6. Select to read the abstract in PubMed®.

Colmenero F, Sullivan SD, Palmer JA, et al. Quality of clinical and economic evidence in dossier formulary submissions. Am J Manag Care 2007 Jul; 13(7):401-7. Select to read the abstract in PubMed®.

Dailey AM, Kasl SV, Holford TR, et al. Perceived racial discrimination and nonadherence to screening mammography guidelines: results from the Race Differences in the Screening Mammography Process study. Am J Epidemiol 2007 Jun 1; 165(11):1287-95. Epub 2007 Mar 10. Select to read the abstract in PubMed®.

Rust G, Cooper LA. How can practice-based research contribute to the elimination of health disparities? J Am Bd Fam Med 2007 Mar-Apr; 20(2):105-14. Select to read the abstract in PubMed®.

Boyington JE, Howard DL, Carter-Edwards L, et al. Differences in resident characteristics and prevalence of urinary incontinence in nursing homes in the southeastern United States. Nurs Res 2007 Mar-Apr; 56(2):97-107. Select to read the abstract in PubMed®.

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Contact Information

Please address comments and questions to Nancy Comfort at or (301) 427-1866.

Current as of August 2007


The information on this page is archived and provided for reference purposes only.


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