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July 18, 2002, Issue No. 65

AHRQ News and Numbers

In 2000, U.S. patients spent nearly 20 percent less time in hospitals, on average, than did patients in 1993. Average length of stay in U.S. hospitals declined from 5.7 days in 1993 to 4.6 days in 2000. [Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, HCUPnet, 2000.]

Today's Headlines:

  1. Senate subcommittee budget mark recommends $308.6 million for AHRQ in Fiscal Year 2003
  2. USPSTF urges colorectal cancer screening for all Americans 50 and older
  3. Archived video of child health Web conference on pediatric patient safety available starting July 23
  4. AHRQ National Advisory Council meeting scheduled for July 26
  5. Nominations for new members of the USPSTF
  6. Evidence report available on management of cancer symptoms: pain, depression, and fatigue
  7. Workshop on geographic methods and measurement for health services research on vulnerable populations
  8. New AHRQ publications
  9. AHRQ in the professional literature

1. Senate Subcommittee Budget Mark Recommends $308.6 Million for AHRQ in Fiscal Year 2003

On July 17, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, HHS, and Education marked up the President's budget request for fiscal year 2003 and recommended $308.6 million for AHRQ. This is $58 million more than the President's request and $10 million more than the Agency's fiscal year 2002 budget. The subcommittee's recommendation in fiscal year 2003 includes $5 million for bioterrorism research and an additional $5 million (for a total of $60 million) devoted to improving patient safety. The subcommittee would provide $53 million for AHRQ's Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, which is the same as the President's request and a $4.8 million increase over last year's level. The Subcommittee stated in its report that, "the Committee believes that AHRQ's research provides valuable information to policymakers regarding key health questions, such as how to improve the quality of care, reduce costs, eliminate health disparities, and translate the medical discoveries made at the NIH into improved health care services for all Americans." The budget now goes to the full Senate Appropriations Committee for consideration and is expected to reach the Senate floor perhaps by next week. The House has not acted on the fiscal year 2003 appropriations bills for HHS.

2. U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Urges Colorectal Cancer Screening for All Americans 50 and Older

The AHRQ-sponsored U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), in its strongest-ever recommendation for colorectal cancer screening, urged that all adults age 50 and over get screened for the disease, the nation's second leading cause of cancer deaths. This recommendation strengthens the Task Force's previous position in 1996 when it simply "recommended" screening. It now "strongly recommends" screening for colorectal cancer because new studies show even more clearly that various screening methods are effective in diagnosing cancer and preventing deaths. Select to access the AHRQ press release and to view the colorectal cancer recommendation and materials for clinicians. Previous Task Force recommendations, summaries of the evidence, easy-to-read fact sheets explaining the recommendations, and related materials are available from the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse by sending an E-mail to

3. Archived Video of Child Health Web Conference on Pediatric Patient Safety Available Starting July 23

Nearly 600 researchers, clinicians, and others participated in an interactive AHRQ-sponsored Child Health Speaker Series Web conference on July 17 on methods for reducing errors in pediatric medicine and implications for research and practice. The presenters, Dr. Rainu Kaushal from Harvard Medical School and Dr. Marlene Miller from AHRQ discussed targeted strategies to prevent medical errors and related injuries and lessons from AHRQ's pediatric patient safety research. The video and related materials will be available on the Web starting on July 23. Look for details in next week's Electronic Newsletter.

4. AHRQ National Advisory Council Meeting Scheduled for July 26

The AHRQ National Advisory Council is scheduled to meet on Friday, July 26 in Room 800, Hubert H. Humphrey Building, 200 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, DC. The Council will discuss these specific topics:

  • Research efforts directed at health care costs.
  • Health information technology and quality of care.
  • Prevention.

5. Nominations for New Members of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force

AHRQ is inviting nominations of qualified individuals to serve as members on the USPSTF. Members will be eligible to serve for 3-year terms with an option for reappointment. The Task Force meets quarterly for two days in the Washington area and will be responsible for reviewing and commenting on evidence reviews prior to making recommendations. To be considered for membership on the Task Force, written nominations should be submitted by September 16, to:

Robert Graham, M.D.
Director, Center for Practice and Technology Assessment
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
6010 Executive Boulevard, Suite 300
Rockville, MD 20852
ATTN: USPSTF Nominations

Select to access the July 16 Federal Register notice.

6. Evidence Report Available on Management of Cancer Symptoms: Pain, Depression, and Fatigue

AHRQ issued the summary of a new evidence report on the Management of Cancer Symptoms: Pain, Depression, and Fatigue by AHRQ's Evidence-based Practice Center at the New England Medical Center. This evidence report was used by the NIH State-of-the-Science Conference on July 15-17. The report indicates that there still is a surprisingly limited amount of scientific evidence about treating symptoms of cancer compared with treating cancer itself. Although there are treatments that work, the evidence suggests that pain often is undertreated, despite the availability of effective interventions; cancer-related depression and fatigue are less clearly defined, but are extremely common and affect patients' quality of life; and that sometimes treatments for one symptom exacerbate other symptoms. Select to access the AHRQ summary.

7. New AHRQ Publications

Inpatient Quality Indicators brochure

Impact of AHRQ Research

Private-Sector Use of AHRQ Research

Print copies are available by sending an E-mail to

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. Computerized algorithms that generate reminders, alerts, protocols, and other information reduce clinical errors.
  2. Researchers examine prevalence, quality of life, and treatment of men suffering from prostate problems.
  3. Pediatricians often make referrals to specialists during telephone conversations with parents.
  4. Although a sense of control at work and home affects people's risk for depression and anxiety, social class also counts.
  5. Health plans can work toward eliminating racial and ethnic health disparities by developing better data.

Select to access these articles and others.

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.

Owens P, Bradley EH, Horwitz SM, et al. Clinical assessment of function among women with a recent cerebrovascular event: a self-reported versus performance-based measure. Ann Intern Med 2002 Jun 4; 136(11):802-11. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Barry CR, Brown K, Esker D, et al. Nursing assessment of ill nursing home residents. J Gerontol Nurs 2002 May; 28(5):4-7.

Clancy CM, Lawrence W. Is outcomes research on cancer ready for prime time? Med Care 2002 Jun; 40(6 Suppl):III92-100. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

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 July 2002


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