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April 12, 2002, Issue No. 52

AHRQ News and Numbers

New survey data in 2000 from AHRQ's Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) found that 72.3 percent of the surveyed population aged 18 and over reported going to a doctor's office or clinic to get care in the last 12 months. Of those receiving care, 82.6 percent reported that they had no problems receiving the care that they or their doctor believed was necessary. [Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, MEPS, 2000.]

Today's Headlines:

  1. Nationwide study confirms that older patients who need certain high-risk surgeries fare better in more experienced hospitals
  2. AHRQ's Carolyn Clancy to testify at House Appropriations hearing on May 1
  3. Study reviews HMO performance in the Medicare program
  4. Health disparities collaboratives assessment RFA
  5. Evidence report on management of prolonged pregnancy
  6. MEPS data workshop in June in Hawaii
  7. AHRQ child health toolbox online evaluation—now through April 30
  8. Highlights from the most recent edition of our monthly newsletter
  9. AHRQ in the professional literature

1.  Nationwide Study Confirms that Older Patients Who Need Certain High-Risk Surgeries Fare Better in More Experienced Hospitals

A new AHRQ-funded study found that elderly patients who had any of 14 high-risk cardiovascular or cancer operations in hospitals performing a high volume of their particular procedure were more likely to survive than those who went to hospitals with a low volume of their type of surgery. The article, "Hospital Volume and Surgical Mortality in the United States," by John D. Birkmeyer, M.D., Andrea E. Siewers, M.P.H., Emily V. A. Finlayson, M.D., and others was published in the April 11 issue of the NEJM. Select to access the AHRQ press release.

2.  AHRQ's Carolyn Clancy To Testify at House Appropriations Hearing on May 1

AHRQ Acting Director Carolyn Clancy, M.D., will testify on May 1 before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations. She will present the Administration's budget request for fiscal year 2003. The hearing will start at approximately 11:00. Dr. Clancy's testimony will be posted on the AHRQ Web site following the hearing. Select to access a summary of the 2003 budget request.

3.  Study Reviews HMO Performance in the Medicare Program

A new AHRQ-funded study compared the performance of fee-for-service health plans and Medicare HMOs in 13 States with regard to structural features such as organizational and financial access to primary care, continuity of care, and integration of patients' medical care. The researchers also compared quality of physician-patient interaction, such as physicians' knowledge of their patients, preventive counseling, and patient trust of their provider. Overall, the findings reveal that primary care performance favors the traditional fee-for-service Medicare system over Medicare HMOs for 9 of the 11 features of care examined. Findings were based on the results of CMS surveys conducted in 1998 and 1999. This is the first major comparison of traditional and managed care Medicare systems since Medicare HMOs have become a major player in the U.S. health care system. The article, "Primary Care Quality in the Medicare Program: Comparing the Performance of Medicare Health Maintenance Organizations and Traditional Fee-for-Service Medicare," by Dana Gelb Safran, Sc.D., was published in the April 8 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

4.  Health Disparities Collaboratives Assessment RFA

AHRQ, in partnership with the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), issued a Request for Applications (RFA) for cooperative agreement research projects that will assess the HRSA-sponsored Health Disparities Collaboratives. This RFA represents AHRQ's continuing commitment to translate research evidence into practice and to eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in health and health care. Select to access the RFA.

5.  Evidence Report on Management of Prolonged Pregnancy

Pregnancies that extend beyond the average length (2 weeks or more beyond the estimated due date, normally 38 weeks after conception) can cause risk of adverse outcomes, including stillbirth, among otherwise normal infants. And an increased size of the infant may cause labor complications that pose a health risk to the mother. AHRQ's Duke University Evidence-based Practice Center (EPC) examined research concerning the benefits, risks, and costs of commonly used tests, induction agents, and strategies for reducing the risks associated with prolonged pregnancy. In most cases, the EPC did not find clear data to identify the ideal gestational age or any intervention that will consistently affect delivery. In addition, studies of interventions generally did not provide data on the benefits and risks to women induced solely because of advancing gestational age or abnormal test results. Select to access the summary, Management of Prolonged Pregnancy. A print copy of the summary is available by sending an E-mail to

6.  MEPS Data Workshop in June in Hawaii

AHRQ will offer a Medical Expenditure Panel Survey Household Component (MEPS HC) Workshop sponsored by the Hawaii International Conference on Statistics and Related Fields on June 5 in Honolulu. The workshop is a full-day lecture designed to facilitate the use of the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey Household Component (MEPS HC) public use data files by the health services research community. It will provide practical information about the HC survey design, file content, use of various MEPS weights and the construction of analytic files.

7.  AHRQ Child Health Toolbox Online Evaluation—Now through April 30

AHRQ is conducting an online evaluation of its recently revised Child Health Toolbox, a Web-based resource on children's quality and other performance measures. The Toolbox is designed to be useful to State policymakers and others concerned about the quality of children's health care. It provides concepts, tips, and tools for evaluating quality of health care in Medicaid, the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), Title V, and other health care service programs for children. Feedback from users of this site will help AHRQ as it considers further revisions to this public investment in improving children's health care quality. Go to for the evaluation. Thanks for your help!.

8.  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. Researchers examine why some patients with chronic kidney disease are referred late to a nephrologist.
  2. Outreach efforts are needed to enroll more poor children in Medicaid and boost their use of dental care.
  3. HIV suppression, smoking cessation, and selective use of medications can reduce dry mouth associated with HIV infection.
  4. Researchers examine ways to assess the quality of care provided by preferred provider organizations.

Select for these articles and others.

9.  AHRQ in the Professional Literature

Lockhart LK, Ditto PH, Danks JH, et al. The stability of older adults' judgments of fates better and worse than death. Death Studies 2001 Jun; 25(4):299-317. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Lackland DT, Egan BM, Syddall HE, et al. Associations between birth weight and antihypertensive medication in black and white Medicaid recipients. Hypertension 2002 Jan; 39(1):179-183. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®

Landon BE, Wilson EB, Wenger NS, et al. Specialty training and specialization among physicians who treat HIV/AIDS in the United States. J Gen Intern Med 2002 Jan; 17(1):12-22. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®

Bosco L. Databases for outcomes research: what has 10 years of experience taught us? Pharmacoepidemiol Drug Safety 2001 Aug-Sept: 10(5):445-455. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®

Contact Information

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Current as of April 2002


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