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AHRQ Electronic Newsletter

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April 23, 2008, Issue No. 255

AHRQ News and Numbers

People who buy their own health insurance saw their average annual premiums rise 18 percent between 2002 and 2005, a modest increase compared to the 34 percent jump in average premiums for people insured through their employers. But the annual cost of these non-employer policies are paid entirely out of pocket. Average annual premium for a one-person policy was $2,835 in 2005, up from $2,531 in 2002. Annual premiums for family policies were $5,568 in 2005, up from $4,442 in 2002.

[Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, MEPS Statistical Brief 202: Premiums in the Individual Health Insurance Market for Policyholders under Age 65: 2002 and 2005.]

Today's Headlines

  1. AHRQ and Ad Council encourage men to take preventive steps in their health care
  2. AHRQ Web resource features 100 examples of health care innovations and tools
  3. New guides on benefits, risks of rheumatoid arthritis medicines
  4. Latest issue of WebM&M is available online
  5. New AHRQ resource for child health researchers is available
  6. AHRQ podcast features "Superheroes," hospital treatment for violence, and Task Force recommendation on COPD screening
  7. AHRQ director helps consumers navigate the health care system in a new advice column on the Web
  8. 2006 HCUP State databases being released
  9. AHRQ in the professional literature

1.  AHRQ and Ad Council Encourage Men to Take Preventive Steps in their Health Care

AHRQ joined with The Advertising Council to launch a national public service campaign designed to raise awareness among middle-aged men about the importance of preventive medical testing. The new campaign encourages men over 40 to learn which preventive screening tests they need and when they need to get them. The public service advertising campaign includes new television, radio, print, and Web advertising featuring the theme "Real Men Wear Gowns." The site provides the recommended ages for preventive testing (as well as a list of tests), a quiz designed to test your knowledge of preventive health care, tips for talking with your doctor, a glossary of consumer health terms, and links to online resources where you can find more medical information. Select to read our press release.

2.  AHRQ Web Resource Features 100 Examples of Health Care Innovations and Tools

AHRQ launched a new Web resource, Health Care Innovations Exchange, that allows health professionals to learn, share, and adopt innovations in the delivery of health services. The resource is the Federal government's repository for successful health care innovations. It also includes descriptions of unsuccessful innovation attempts as part of lessons learned. It is updated every two weeks. Profile examples include one intensive care unit's successful efforts to shorten patient stays; a home care initiative by geriatricians, nurse practitioners, and social workers to help seniors avoid hospital or nursing home stays; and a patient/physician E-mail communication system.

To learn more about the tool, register for AHRQ's upcoming Web conference, Using AHRQ's Health Care Innovations Exchange to Take on the Challenges of Care Delivery, on May 12 at 2pm, E.D.T., by sending an E-mail to

Select to read our press release.

3.  New Guides on Benefits, Risks of Rheumatoid Arthritis Medicines

New guides that compare the benefits, risks, and price estimates of rheumatoid arthritis drugs from AHRQ's Effective Health Care program are now available. The guide for consumers, Rheumatoid Arthritis Medicines, A Guide for Adults, and the guide for clinicians, Choosing Medications for Rheumatoid Arthritis, draw on information in a recent AHRQ-funded comparative effectiveness review. The rheumatoid arthritis guides review three classes of available medicines: synthetic disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), biologic DMARDs, and corticosteroids. The publications on rheumatoid arthritis represent AHRQ's eighth Comparative Effectiveness Review translated into plain language guides. Other topics include treatments for high blood pressure, depression, diabetes, osteoarthritis, renal artery stenosis, and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

All of the guides can be viewed at the Effective Health Care Web site. Print copies are available by E-mailing to Organizations are encouraged to post links to the guides on Web sites or in newsletters.

4.  Latest Issue of WebM&M Is Available Online

The April 2008 issue of AHRQ WebM&M is now available online. The Perspectives on Safety section features Gary A. Noskin, M.D., of Northwestern University, Chicago, IL, discussing methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections and patient safety. An accompanying video depicts a patient's experiences with numerous complications from MRSA. The Spotlight Case features author Sumant Ranji, M.D., of the University of California, San Francisco (USCF), discussing the indications for antibiotic usage in upper respiratory infections as well as potential harmful effects of inappropriate antibiotic use. The second case features author S. Andrew Josephson, M.D., also of UCSF, discussing clinical issues in managing elevated intracerebral pressure. The third case features Joan M. Teno, M.D., of Brown University, Providence, RI, discussing safety in advanced care planning. Physicians and nurses can receive free continuing medical education (CME), continuing education units (CEU), or trainee certification by taking the Spotlight Quiz. You can easily share AHRQ WebM&M cases by using the "E-mail a colleague" feature.

5.  New AHRQ Resource for Child Health Researchers Is Available

The "Resource Guide to AHRQ Child and Youth Health and Health Services Data," summarizes AHRQ datasets and tools and provides guidance about how to use them. Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS), the Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS), the Kid's Inpatient Database (KID), the State Inpatient Databases (SID) of the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP), and the Consumer Assessment of Health Providers and Systems (CAHPS™) are included. The resource guide also includes answers frequently asked questions about the datasets, child-relevant data elements, and other useful information. Free copies of the printed resource guide and CD-ROM are available by sending an E-mail to

6.  AHRQ Podcast Features "Superheroes," Hospital Treatment for Violence, and Task Force Recommendation on COPD Screening

A recent Healthcare 411 podcast features AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D., promoting the "Superheroes" Spanish-language campaign. AHRQ data about treatment costs for violence and the Task Force's recommendation on screening for COPD are also featured. This podcast was distributed to members of 262 organizations, including the American Board of Medical Specialties and the Leapfrog Group. Shorter versions of these stories also aired on 132 radio stations nationwide.

Select to listen to this Healthcare 411 podcast and select to read the transcript.

7.  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.

8.  2006 HCUP State Databases Being Released

AHRQ continues to release State data for 2006 from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP). HCUP is a federal-State-industry partnership that brings together the data collection efforts of State data organizations, hospital associations, private data organizations, and the Federal government to create a national information resource of encounter-level health care data. The most recent database release includes the State Inpatient Databases (SID), State Ambulatory Surgery Databases (SASD), and State Emergency Department Databases (SEDD) of selected States. Researchers and policymakers can use these State-specific HCUP databases to investigate questions unique to one State, compare data from two or more States, conduct market area research or small area variation analyses, and identify State-specific trends in utilization, access, quality, charges, and outcomes.

These databases are available through the HCUP Central Distributor. Additional 2006 State files will be released in the next few months. For information about states already released, please visit the Product Release Calendar on the HCUP-US Web site.

For further information or to obtain any SID, SASD, and/or SEDD files (including the necessary Data Use Agreement forms and application kits), please visit the HCUP Central Distributor page on the HCUP-US Web site, or contact the Central Distributor by E-mail at

9.  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.

Tanabe P, Persell SD, Adams JG, et al. Increased blood pressure in the emergency department: Pain, anxiety, or undiagnosed hypertension? Ann Emerg Med 2008 Mar; 51(3):221-29. Select to read the abstract in PubMed®.

Wong MD, Sarkisian CA, Davis C, et al. The association between life chaos, health care use, and health status among HIV-infected persons. J Gen Intern Med 2007 Sep; 22(9):1335-50. Select to read the abstract in PubMed®.

Wakefield DS, Halbesleben JR, Ward MM, et al. Development of a measure of clinical information systems expectations and experiences. Med Care 2007 Sep; 45(9):884-90. Select to read the abstract in PubMed®.

Lanfear DE, Jones PG, Marsh S, et al. Connexin37 (GJA4) genotype predicts survival after an acute coronary syndrome. Am Heart J 2007 Sep; 154(3):561-6. Select to read the abstract in PubMed®.

Vargas PA, Perry TT, Robles E, et al. Relationship of body mass index with asthma indicators in Head Start children. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol 2007 Jul; 99(1):22-28. Select to read the abstract in PubMed®.

Contact Information

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Current as of April 2008


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