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December 13, 2002, Issue No. 81

AHRQ News and Numbers

The average total charge for treating U.S. patients hospitalized for infectious hepatitis increased from $11,127 in 1993 to $17,928 in 2000. The total number of hospital discharges decreased slightly from 24,666 to 23,983, while the average length of stay decreased from 6.1 days to 5.0 days during that time period. [Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, HCUPnet, 2000.]

Today's Headlines:

  1. HHS, AHRQ applaud hospital quality initiative
  2. New team approach dramatically boosts chlamydia screening of teenage girls
  3. New evidence report summary on blood pressure monitoring
  4. Conference on the scientific basis of health services
  5. Guidelines added to the National Guideline Clearinghouse™
  6. AHRQ in the professional literature

1.  HHS, AHRQ applaud hospital quality initiative

AHRQ Acting Director Carolyn Clancy, M.D., joined HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson yesterday in applauding the Nation's hospital leadership for new steps they announced toward providing public information on quality of care. At a press conference held December 12 in Washington DC, Dr. Clancy and Secretary Thompson called on hospitals throughout the Nation to participate in the voluntary effort. Secretary Thompson also announced steps that the Federal Government is taking in support of this effort, including a three-State pilot project in Maryland, New York, and Arizona that will test the most effective ways to communicate with consumers about hospital quality of care conducted by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. For its part, AHRQ is working with experts in the health care industry to develop a standard format for collecting and reporting patient experience data that can be used to compare experiences at different hospitals, known as HCAHPS®. The new standardized format will also be tested in the new three-State pilot project. Select for the HHS press release announcing the new effort.

2.  New team approach dramatically boosts chlamydia screening of teenage girls

A new AHRQ-funded study showed that a team-oriented approach to testing for chlamydia increased the screening rate of sexually active 14- to 18-year-old female patients from 5 percent to 65 percent. The approach consisted of organizing teams of nurses, doctors, medical assistants, and administrative staff at a large California HMO's pediatric clinic and educating them about chlamydia and its silent symptoms. The study, "The Effect of Clinical Practice Improvement Intervention on Chlamydia Screening Among Sexually Active Adolescent Girls," conducted by Mary-Ann Shafer, M.D., University of California, San Francisco, Department of Pediatrics, and Kaiser Permanente of Northern California, was published in the December 11 issue of JAMA. Select to read our press release.

3.  New evidence report summary on blood pressure monitoring

We issued the summary of a new evidence report by AHRQ's Evidence-based Practice Center at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. The report indicates that studies show some support for the use of ambulatory blood pressure monitoring; however, there is insufficient evidence to determine whether the risks associated with white coat hypertension (increased blood pressure during an office visit with a clinician) are sufficiently low enough to consider withholding drug therapy to such patients. As for self-measured blood pressure, evidence from several trials suggests that this method can improve blood pressure control; however, further trials to evaluate contemporary devices are needed. Select to read the summary, Utility of Blood Pressure Monitoring Outside of the Clinic Setting. A print copy of the summary is available by sending an E-mail to

4.  Conference on the scientific basis of health services

Mark your calendar. The Fifth Conference on the Scientific Basis of Health Services will be hosted by the AHRQ and AcademyHealth, September 20-23, 2003, in Washington, DC. This series has provided an international forum for the exchange of research and experience on the use of health services research to improve access to and the quality of health care systems. The 2003 conference is organized around the following five themes:

  • National Strategies for Organizing Health Services Research.
  • Using Evidence to Improve Clinical Practice.
  • Using Evidence to Improve Health Services Management.
  • Using Evidence to Improve Policymaking.
  • Using Evidence to Alleviate the Burden of Specific Diseases.

Visit for more information. March 14, 2003, is the deadline to submit abstracts.

5.  Guidelines added to the National Guideline Clearinghouse™

To see what's new, go to the National Guideline Clearinghouse™ (NGC)—a public resource for evidence-based clinical practice guidelines ( To subscribe to the NGC Weekly Update Service, which notifies you via E-mail when new features and guidelines become available at the NGC Web site, go to AHRQ also has available a supply of NGC tutorials on CD-ROM. The tutorial walks you 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 .

6.  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.

Havens, D., Stone, PW, Brewer, C. Nursing and Health Services Research: building capacity and seizing opportunity. Applied Nursing Research 2002 Nov; 15(4):261-3. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Zaslavsky AM, Buntin MJB. Using survey measures to assess risk selection among Medicare managed care plans. Inquiry 2002 Summer; 39(2):138-151. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Ginsburg KR, Forke CM, Cnaan A, et al. Important health provider characteristics: the perspective of urban ninth graders. J Dev Behav Pediatr 2002 Aug; 23(4):237-243. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Subak LL, Cauthey AB, Washington AE, et al. Cost-effectiveness analysis in Obstetrics & Gynecology: evaluation of methodologic quality and trends. J Reprod Med 2002 Aug; 47(8):631-639. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Contact Information

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Current as of December 2002


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