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January 11, 2002, Issue No. 40

AHRQ News and Numbers

Approximately 60 percent of U.S. women are in excellent or very good general health, and about 70 percent have excellent or very good mental health. [Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Women in the Health Care System: Health Status, Insurance, and Access to Care, MEPS Research Findings #17.]

Today's Headlines:

  1. New Web site helps hospital-based doctors and nurses diagnose anthrax, smallpox, and other rare infections
  2. 1998 Nationwide Inpatient Sample database
  3. MEPSnet/HC is now available
  4. Free CD-ROMs available for MEPS researchers
  5. Workshop on pharmaceutical outcomes research
  6. MEPS data users' workshops
  7. Child Health Services Researchers meeting set for June
  8. Do you know of any impact case studies?
  9. Highlights from the most recent edition of our monthly newsletter
  10. AHRQ in the professional literature

1.  New Web Site Helps Hospital-based Doctors and Nurses Diagnose Anthrax, Smallpox and Other Rare Infections

AHRQ announced a new Web site that teaches hospital-based physicians and nurses how to diagnose and treat rare infections and exposures to bioterrorist agents such as anthrax and smallpox. Designed by researchers in the Center for Disaster Preparedness at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) under a contract from AHRQ, the Web site is the first of its kind to offer free continuing education credits in bioterrorism preparedness to clinicians. The site currently offers five online courses through the UAB Office of Continuing Medical Education for emergency department clinicians, including physicians, nurses, radiologists, pathologists and infection control practitioners. Select to access the AHRQ press release. The UAB Web site is at

2.  1998 Nationwide Inpatient Sample Database

AHRQ released its 1998 Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS) database. This research tool is used to analyze hospital care and contains data on inpatient use, outcomes, and charges for both insured and uninsured patients. This database is part of the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, a federal, state, and industry partnership sponsored by AHRQ to develop standardized, high-quality data and tools for improving health care. Select to access information about the HCUPnet database.

3.  MEPSnet/HC Is Now Available

MEPSnet/HC is a new interactive analytical tool from AHRQ's Medical Expenditure Panel Survey Household Component. It provides easy access to nationally representative descriptive statistics of health care use, expenditures, sources of payment, and insurance coverage for the U.S. civilian non-institutionalized population. Users can select any of the variables provided under categories such as demographics, employment, and income, or they can customize or regroup the variables for a specific query. Select to access the new Web tool.

4.  Free CD-ROMs Available for MEPS Researchers

AHRQ is making available free of charge two CD-ROMs from the 1996 and 1997 MEPS-Household Component (MEPS-HC). The CD-ROMs include a full-year consolidated data file, event files, medical conditions files, a job file, a README file, all corresponding documentation and codebook(s), and a file containing SAS programming statements and sample code for SAS users. Also included are questionnaires, a summary of all data items, and self-executable software for use with (PDF Files. The CD-ROMs are available by sending an E-mail to

5.  Workshop on Pharmaceutical Outcomes Research

Mark your calendars for the Fourth Annual Workshop on Pharmaceutical Outcomes Research to be held October 17-18, in Newport, RI. AHRQ and the Drug Information Association are sponsoring the workshop to present and discuss new and interesting findings in the varied fields of pharmaceutical outcomes research, through a mixture of didactic sessions, abstract presentations, special facilitated poster discussions, and a pre-meeting tutorial. The finale of the meeting is a roundtable discussion with experts in the field and active audience participation to discuss issues of current interest in outcomes research. An update of outcomes-related activities of AHRQ and FDA will be presented. The deadline for submitting abstracts is February 28.

6.  MEPS Data Users' Workshops

AHRQ is sponsoring two workshops to facilitate the use of the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey Household Component by the health services research community. The workshops, designed for those with an interest in using national health surveys, will be held in San Francisco March 4, and March 6-7. At both workshops, participants will have the opportunity to bring up specific research and policy questions of interest to them.

7.  Child Health Services Researchers Meeting Set for June

Mark your calendars for the Fourth Annual Child Health Services Researchers meeting that will be held on June 22 in Washington. The meeting will spotlight plenary sessions and four "Cutting-Edge Tracks":

  • Skill building.
  • Cutting-edge research.
  • Cutting-edge policies.
  • Presentations from CHSR investigators on priority topics in child health research.

Online registration will open in February. The meeting is being held in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Academy for Health Services Research and Health Policy. Select to access the preliminary program and the registration form.

8.  Do You Know of Any Impact Case Studies?

We are always looking for ways in which AHRQ-funded research, products, and tools have changed peoples' lives, influenced clinical practice, improved policies, and affected patient outcomes. Impact case studies have been used in testimony, budget documents, and speeches by AHRQ Director John Eisenberg. We would like to know if you are aware of any impact your 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.

9.  Highlights from the Most Recent Edition of our Monthly Newsletter

The new issue of Research Activities is in the mail. The key articles are:

  • Plain x-rays often do not reveal certain types of cervical spine injuries in victims of blunt trauma.
  • Availability of a pneumococcal vaccine may change the way physicians manage young children who have high fevers.
  • Educational materials do not substantially increase parents' knowledge and attitudes about the use of antibiotics.
  • Journal issue focuses on competing demands, patient encounters, and delivery of preventive care in family practice.
  • New studies focus on lower respiratory infection in nursing home residents.

Select to access these articles and others.

10.  AHRQ in the Professional Literature

Mehr DR, Binder EF, Kruse RL, et al. Clinical findings associated with radiographic pneumonia in nursing home residents. J Fam Practice 2001 Nov;50(11):931-37.

Bickell NA, Young GJ. Coordination of care for early-stage breast cancer patients. J Gen Intern Med 2001 Nov;16(11):737-42.

Wagner TH, Hu T, Hibbard JH. The demand for consumer health information. J Health Econ 2001 Nov;20(6):1059-75.

Gordon LV, Selden TM. How much did the Medicaid expansions for children cost? An analysis of state Medicaid spending, 1984-1994. Med Care Res Rev 2001 Dec;58(4):482-95.

McCormick MD, Siegel JE. Recent evidence on the effectiveness of prenatal care. Ambul Pediatrics 2001 Nov-Dec;1(6):321-25.

Selden TM, Levit KR, Cohen JW, et al. Reconciling medical expenditure estimates from the MEPS and the NHA, 1996. Health Care Financ Rev 2001 Fall;23(1):161-78.

Encinosa WE, Selden TM. Designing employer health benefits for a heterogeneous workforce: Risk adjustment and its alternatives. Inquiry 2001 Fall;38(3):270-79.

Hellinger FJ, Fleishman JA. Location, race, and hospital care for AIDS patients: An analysis of 10 states. Inquiry 2001 Fall;38(3):319-30.

Meigs JB, Mohr B, Barry MJ, et al. Risk factors for clinical benign prostatic hyperplasia in a community-based population of healthy aging men. J Clin Epidemiol 2001 Nov;54(11):935-44.

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 January 2002


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