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February 27, 2008, Issue No. 251

AHRQ News and Numbers

Of Americans who buy prescription drugs, the proportion that purchase them from mail order pharmacies rose from just fewer than 9 percent in 2000 to just over 13 percent in 2005.

During the same time frame, the proportion of Americans who bought their prescription medicines from drug stores slipped from 65 percent to 61 percent; from pharmacies in clinics, HMOs, or hospitals declined from 15 percent to 13 percent; and from pharmacies inside supermarkets and super stores like Target and Wal-Mart stores fell from 32 percent to 28 percent.

[Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), MEPS Statistical Brief #200: Comparing Population Characteristics of Persons Purchasing Prescribed Drugs from Mail Order Pharmacies with Persons Purchasing Prescribed Drugs from Other Outlets, 2005.]

Today's Headlines

  1. New study finds spinal cord injury may not increase risk of heart disease
  2. AHRQ director helps consumers navigate the health care system in a new advice column on the Web
  3. Register for AHRQ PSO audio conference set for February 29
  4. Free audio conference on consumer financial incentives set for March 13
  5. Call for nominations for 2008 John M. Eisenberg Patient Safety and Quality Awards
  6. Highlights from our most recent monthly newsletter
  7. AHRQ in the professional literature

1. New Study Finds Spinal Cord Injury May Not Increase Risk of Heart Disease

Americans who live with spinal cord injury are not at greater risk of developing carbohydrate and lipid disorders such as insulin resistance, diabetes, impaired glucose tolerance, and high or low blood cholesterol levels, all risk factors for heart disease, than able-bodied persons, according to a new evidence review by AHRQ. More than a quarter million Americans live with a disability due to spinal cord injury, and 11,000 are hospitalized annually. The report, Carbohydrate and Lipid Disorders and Relevant Considerations in Persons with Spinal Cord Injury, was conducted by AHRQ's Minnesota Evidence-Based Practice Center and funded by the Paralyzed Veterans of America Spinal Cord Medicine Consortium.

Select to access the report. A print copy is available by sending an E-mail to

2. AHRQ Director Helps Consumers Navigate the Health Care System in a New Advice Column on the Web

AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D., offers advice to consumers in new, brief, easy-to-understand columns. The biweekly columns will help consumers better navigate the health care system. Select to read Dr. Clancy's advice columns.

3. Register for AHRQ PSO Audio Conference Set for February 29

AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D., and Office for Civil Rights Deputy Director of Health Information Privacy, Susan McAndrew, J.D., will host a joint audio conference on February 29 from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. EST to discuss the new proposed regulation that encourages the development of Patient Safety Organizations (PSOs)—organizations that can work with clinicians and health care organizations to identify, analyze, and reduce the risks and hazards associated with patient care. The purpose of this audio conference is to provide details and answer questions about the notice of proposed rulemaking published in the Federal Register Feb. 12. Select for more information about the proposed regulation.

4. Free Audio Conference on Consumer Financial Incentives Set for March 13

AHRQ is hosting a live audio conference on consumer financial incentives in health care, March 13 from 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. EST. This free audio conference will provide an overview of findings from AHRQ's new publication—Consumer Financial Incentives: A Decision Guide for Purchasers. Author Adams Dudley, M.D., M.B.A., University of California, San Francisco, and Anne Robinow, an independent consultant and Vice President and General Manager of Patient Choice Healthcare Inc., will share a variety of applied examples from both the private sector and Medicaid and address questions from participants.

Select to access the complete agenda and to register. Select to access the Guide.

5. Call for Nominations for 2008 John M. Eisenberg Patient Safety and Quality Awards

The Joint Commission and the National Quality Forum are now accepting nominations for the 2008 John M. Eisenberg Patient Safety and Quality Awards, which recognize individuals and health care organizations that are making significant contributions to improving health care quality and patient safety. The deadline for nominations is April 14.

Nomination forms for the John M. Eisenberg Patient Safety and Quality Awards are available on the Joint Commission Web site and the National Quality Forum Web site.

6. Highlights From Our Most Recent Monthly Newsletter

Among the key articles in the online issue of Research Activities:

  • Study of young Head Start children links overweight to worsened asthma

    A study of Head Start children in Arkansas, which has the highest national rate of overweight children, suggests a link between being overweight and worsened asthma in this group of low-income, disadvantaged children. It found that 19 percent of 3- to 5-year old Head Start children with asthma were overweight compared with 11 percent of a national sample of similar-aged children and 14 percent of Arkansas prekindergarten children not in Head Start.

Other articles include:

  • Staffing levels and turnover are influenced by nursing home expenditure patterns.
  • Medicare drug plans cover a good selection of drugs for nursing home residents, but plan vigilance should continue.
  • Three-tier formularies increase cost sharing for retirees in generous plans, with little effect on continued drug use.

Select to read these articles and others.

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.

Hustey FM, Mion LC, Connor JT, et al. A brief risk stratification tool to predict functional decline in older adults discharged from emergency departments. J Am Geriatr Soc 2007 Aug; 55(8):1269-74. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Auerbach AD, Landefeld CS, Shojania KG. The tension between needing to improve care and knowing how to do it. N Engl J Med 2007 Aug 9; 357(6):608-13. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Hudson JL, Selden TM. Children's eligibility and coverage: recent trends and a look ahead. Health Aff 2007 Aug 16; 26(5):w2618-29. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Brown HL, Chireau MV, Jallah Y, et al. The "Hispanic paradox": an investigation of racial disparity in pregnancy outcomes at a tertiary care medical center. Am J Obstet Gynecol 2007 Aug; 197(2):197.e1-e7. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Kuwabara SA, Van Voorhees BW, Gollan JK, et al. A qualitative exploration of depression in emerging adulthood: disorder, development, and social context. Gen Hosp Psychiatry 2007 Jul-Aug; 29(4):317-24. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Contact Information

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Current as of February 2008


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