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February 14, 2002, Issue #44

AHRQ News and Numbers

In 1999, 1.3 million Americans were hospitalized for pneumonia (except that caused by tuberculosis and sexually transmitted diseases), making pneumonia second only to childbirth in terms of total hospital discharges. [Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, HCUPnet, 1999.]

Today's Headlines:

  1. AHRQ Deputy Director testifies before Senate subcommittee about role of new Council on Private-Sector Initiatives
  2. Diagnostic and preventive dental procedures have increased since 1987
  3. Primary Care Practice-Based Research Networks (PBRNs) RFA published
  4. Evidence report on bioterrorism preparedness training released
  5. Space available in the MEPS data users' workshops
  6. NGC tutorial available
  7. Highlights from the most recent edition of our monthly newsletter
  8. AHRQ in the professional literature

1.  AHRQ Deputy Director Testifies Before Senate Subcommittee about Role of New Council on Private-Sector Initiatives

The new Council on Private Sector Initiatives to Improve Security, Safety, and Quality of Health Care will help forge a strong collaboration between Government and industry as the Nation comes together to improve security in the face of recent bioterrorism attacks, AHRQ Deputy Director Dr. Lisa A. Simpson said in February 5 testimony before a Senate subcommittee. "The Council will help us to manage in a fair, systematic, and consistent manner the requests the Department has received from individuals and firms seeking review of their innovative ideas and products," Dr. Simpson told the members of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation's Subcommittee on Science, Technology, and Space. She explained that the Council offers "one-stop shopping" for companies seeking to present their ideas to HHS. Requests will be reviewed and sent to the appropriate Federal agency or department for action in coordination with the department performing similar functions.

Select for Dr. Simpson's testimony.

2.  Diagnostic and Preventive Dental Procedures Have Increased Since 1987

Americans are more likely to see a dentist to get their teeth examined and cleaned than they are to get them filled or removed, according to new data from AHRQ. Sixty-five percent of all dental procedures reported in 1996 were described as either diagnostic (exams and x-rays) or preventive (cleanings, fluoride and sealants), up from 56 percent in 1987. However, these numbers are lower for poorer, less educated, and black and Hispanic Americans. These findings are from a comparison of data from AHRQ's 1996 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) and the 1987 National Medical Expenditure Survey (NMES). The article, "Dental Services: An Analysis of Visits, Procedures and Providers, 1996," by AHRQ researchers Richard J. Manski, D.D.S., M.B.A., Ph.D., and John F. Moeller, Ph.D., is published in the February issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association.

Select for the AHRQ press release.

3.  Primary Care Practice-Based Research Networks (PBRNs) RFA Published

AHRQ recently released a Request for Applications (RFA) announcing the availability of developmental/exploratory grants to assist new or established primary care practice-based research networks (PBRNs) to enhance their capacity to conduct research and translate research findings into practice. AHRQ intends to make awards totaling around $2 million for the development or enhancement of the infrastructure supporting PBRN research efforts and for innovative exploratory or pilot projects likely to lead to larger scale research by networks. Letters of intent are due on April 15. The deadline for receipt of applications is May 14.

Select to access the RFA.

4.  Evidence Report on Bioterorism Preparedness Training Released

We issued the summary of a new evidence report by AHRQ's Evidence-based Practice Center at Johns Hopkins University that states teleconferences are an effective way to train large numbers of doctors, nurses, and other clinicians and to standardize bioterrorism preparedness training across geographically diverse groups. Furthermore, satellite teleconferences may be as effective as classroom training. The report, entitled Training of Clinicians for Public Health Events Relevant to Bioterrorism Preparedness, reviewed 60 studies on the most-and least—effective strategies for training clinicians in bioterrorism preparedness, using models such as infectious disease outbreaks and hospital disaster drill training. The new evidence report is part of AHRQ's $5 million bioterrorism research portfolio announced in October 2000. The portfolio includes research projects that are examining the clinical training and ability of front-line medical staff—including primary care providers, emergency departments, and hospitals—to detect and respond to a bioterrorist threat.

Select for the AHRQ press release and report summary.

A free print copy of the summary is available by sending an E-mail to

5.  Space Available in the MEPS Data Users' Workshops

There is still time and space available in two AHRQ-sponsored workshops to facilitate the use of the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey Household Component (MEPS-HC) data by the health services research community. The workshops, designed for those with an interest in using data from 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.

6.  NGC Tutorial Available

Select National Guideline Clearinghouse™ (NGC) to find out what's new at our public resource for evidence-based clinical practice guidelines.

AHRQ also has available a supply of NGC tutorials on CD-ROM. The tutorial walks the user through a series of informative demonstrations and scenarios on using the NGC.

The CD-ROM is available free of charge by calling the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse at 1-800-358-9295 or by sending an E-mail to

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

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

  1. Primary care staff and clinician-family relationships are critical elements in efforts to improve quality of care.
  2. Researchers examine anemia, dialysis methods, and nephrologist referral among patients with kidney disease.
  3. Dental sealants reduce the number of cavities and costs for cavity-prone, Medicaid-insured children.
  4. Researchers examine the influence of hospital surgery volume, procedure type, and patient age on surgical risk.

Select to access Research Activities online.

8.  AHRQ in the Professional Literature

Meenan RT, Goodman MJ, Fishman PA, et al. Issues in pooling administrative data for economic evaluation. Am J Manag Care 2002 Jan; 8(1):45-53.

Mukamel DB, Dick A, Spector WD. Specification issues in measurement of quality of medical care using risk-adjusted outcomes. J Econ Soc Meas 2000; 26(3-4):267-281.

Okkes IM, Polderman GO, Fryer GE, et al. The role of family practice in different health care systems. A comparison of reasons for encounter, diagnoses, and interventions in the primary care populations in the Netherlands, Japan, Poland, and the United States. J Fam Pract 2002 Jan; 51(1).

Zhan C, Sangl J, Meyer GS, et al. Consumer assessments of care for children and adults in health plans. How do they compare? Med Care 2002 Feb; 40(2):145-154.

Gandhi TK, Cook EF, Puopolo AL, et al. Inconsistent report cards. Assessing the comparability of various measures of the quality of ambulatory care. Med Care 2002 Feb; 40(2):155-165.

Collins MP, Lorenz JM, Jetton JR, et al. Hypocapnia and other ventilation-related risk factors for cerebral palsy in low-birthweight infants. Pediatr Res 2001 Dec; 50(6):712-719.

Contact Information

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Current as of February 2002


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