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November 8, 2002, Issue No. 77

AHRQ News and Numbers

Although their employers generally offered health insurance coverage, the portion of private-sector employees actually eligible for coverage fell from 81.3 percent in 1996 to 78.9 percent in 2000. Some employees may not have been eligible because health insurance was offered only to management or was based on length of service or full-time status. Among those eligible workers, enrollment in plans dropped from 85.5 percent to 81.2 percent over the 5 years. [Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, Insurance Component, 2000.]

Today's Headlines:

  1. HHS analysis of IOM report finds many quality improvement efforts already are underway
  2. AHRQ solicits comments on National Healthcare Disparities Report measures
  3. AHRQ audioconferences on hospital cost issues set for November 19-21
  4. A Matter of Trust: Causes, Consequences, and Cures symposium
  5. Calling all AHRQ researchers—help us to help you
  6. Highlights from the most recent edition of our monthly newsletter
  7. AHRQ in the professional literature

1.  HHS Analysis of IOM Report Finds Many Quality Improvement Efforts Already are Underway

An initial analysis of recommendations made by the Institute of Medicine in its new report, "Leadership by Example: Coordinating Government Roles in Improving Health Care Quality," shows that the Department of Health and Human Services is taking steps to address a number of the goals for quality improvement outlined in the October 30 report, according to a statement issued by HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson. "The report provides input on a number of emerging issues that can be of assistance to HHS and other federal agencies in implementing current and future activities to improve patients' quality of care," Secretary Thompson said. The IOM report, prepared in response to a request from Congress, emphasizes the need for greater consistency in measuring the performance of health care providers across programs, ensuring that standards are valid and reliable, standardizing performance measures and reporting information to consumers in a way that will help them make better choices about their care—all of which are priorities for HHS and other federal agencies involved in providing health care services. Select to access the HHS statement about the report and the IOM's press release about the report.

2.  AHRQ Solicits Comments on National Healthcare Disparities Report Measures

AHRQ is soliciting comments on the preliminary measures that will be used to develop its annual report to Congress on national health care disparities. The National Healthcare Disparities Report and the National Healthcare Quality Report, both due to Congress in 2003, have been designed and planned as companion reports. To ensure uniformity, these two reports will use identical measures of quality of health care to the extent possible with available data. Select to access the preliminary measure set and provide comments.

3.  AHRQ Audioconferences on Hospital Cost Issues Set for November 19-21

AHRQ is hosting a series of three, 90-minute Web-assisted audioconferences for state and local policymakers called "America's Hospitals: In Danger or Bouncing Back?" The first session on Tuesday, November 19, from 2:00-3:30 EST, is called "The Big Picture: Hospitals in a Volatile Healthcare Environment" and features Stuart Altman, Ph.D. Professor  of National Health Policy, Brandeis University; James Bentley, Ph.D., Senior Vice President for Strategic Policy Planning, American Hospital Association; and Gloria Bazzoli, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Health Administration, Virginia Commonwealth University. On November 20, other experts will discuss emergency department overcrowding and ambulance diversion, and on November 21, the discussion will focus on hospital uncompensated care issues.

4.  A Matter of Trust: Causes, Consequences, and Cures Symposium

The Harvard School of Public Health and AHRQ are sponsoring a symposium on "A Matter of Trust: Causes, Consequences, and Cures" on November 13-15 in Boston.

5.  Calling All AHRQ Researchers—Help Us to Help You

We would like to do a better job of promoting and marketing your research. Over the past several years, AHRQ has succeeded in improving communications with grantees and contractors. However, at the present time, we only have advance notification of an estimated 37 percent of journal articles stemming from AHRQ-funded research.

We are asking for your help to improve this effort by notifying us once your article has been accepted for publication. When you are notified by a journal that your article will be published, please send a copy of the manuscript, along with the journal name, anticipated publication date, and contact information, to your AHRQ project officer or send an E-mail to

Your manuscript will be reviewed for potential AHRQ marketing efforts. Please be assured that AHRQ always honors the journal embargo, and we do not release any details about your publication outside of the agency prior to publication.

6.  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. Use of the less-expensive streptokinase over tPA is difficult to justify for some heart attack patients.
  2. Researchers examine the effects of androgen deprivation therapy on survival and quality of life of men with prostate cancer.
  3. Researchers examine the evidence on behavioral interventions to modify dietary fat and intake of fruits and vegetables.
  4. Cognitive impairment and depression are associated with functional decline in elderly people.
  5. Managed care's reliance on supply-side control of services does not necessarily eliminate least-valued treatment.

Select for these articles and others.

7.  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.

Lee TJ, Guzy J, Johnson D, Woo H, Baraff LJ. Caller satisfaction with after-hours telephone advice: nurse advice service versus on-call pediatricians. Pediatr 2002 Nov;110(5):865-72. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Bondi MA, Atkins D. State mandates for preventive health services. JAMA 2002 Sep 11; 288(10):1233. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Haas JS, Phillips KA, Sonneborn D, et al. Effect of managed care insurance on the use of preventive care for specific ethnic groups in the United States. Med Care 2002 Sep; 40(9):743-51. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Pezzin LE, Kasper JD. Medicaid enrollment among elderly Medicare beneficiaries: individual determinants, effects of state policy, and impact on service use. Health Serv Res 2002 Aug; 37(4):827-47. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Rollman BL, Hanusa BH, Lowe HJ, et al. A randomized trial using computerized decision support to improve treatment of major depression in primary care. J Gen Intern Med 2002 Jul; 17(7):531-9. 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 November 2002


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