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April 18, 2003, Issue No. 96

AHRQ News and Numbers

Approximately 57 percent of Hispanics ages 18-64 said their doctor or other health providers always listened to them carefully in 2001. This is up from 48.9 percent in 2000. [Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, Trends in Access to Routine Care and Experiences with Care: 2001 (PDF File, 521 KB; PDF Help).]

Today's Headlines:

  1. Research in action synthesis on end-of-life care available
  2. Building Research Infrastructure and Capacity (BRIC) RFA
  3. Two new evidence report summaries on criteria for determining disability in infants and children are available
  4. New bioterrorism preparedness audiotapes on smallpox are available
  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. Research in Action Synthesis on End-of-Life Care Available

AHRQ released a Research in Action synthesis on improving the quality of care at the end of life. The aging of the U.S. population has given new importance to the need for end-of-life discussions and advance directives. AHRQ-funded research indicates that advance directives are underused; it also shows that most patients are willing to discuss end-of-life options with their doctors. Research also shows that while such discussions are usually reserved for the terminally ill, advance care planning is also a good idea for people suffering from chronic illnesses. The synthesis, Advance Care Planning and Patient Preferences for Care at the End of Life, illustrates and quantifies gaps in communication between patients at the end of life and their health care providers and discusses the need to reduce these gaps in communication. Go to to read this synthesis.

2.  Building Research Infrastructure and Capacity (BRIC) RFA

AHRQ issued a Request for Applications for Phase II of the Building Research Infrastructure and Capacity (BRIC) program, which is limited to the current recipients of the initial BRIC planning grants. Phase I, initiated in 2001, was intended to broaden geographic distribution of health services research funding by enhancing the competitiveness for research funding among institutions located in states where successful applications to AHRQ historically have been low. This new competitive solicitation places emphasis on phase I accomplishments. The deadline for applications is July 15. Visit to read the RFA.

3.  Two New Evidence Report Summaries on Criteria for Determining Disability in Infants and Children Are Available

We released the summaries of two new evidence reports. The reports were nominated by the Social Security Administration and contracted through AHRQ's Evidence-based Practice Center at Tufts-New England Medical Center to develop an evidence base to assist SSA in updating its Listing of Impairments and revising its disability policy. In the first report, Criteria for Determining Disability in Infants and Children: Short Stature, researchers reviewed over 825 articles demonstrating the various causes of short stature. Some of the determinable causes of short stature explored include abnormalities in growth hormone production, hypothyroidism, and Cushing's disease. Some of the genetic disorders include chromosomal, metabolic, and single gene disorder. In the second report, Criteria for Determining Disability in Infants and Children: Failure to Thrive, researchers reviewed over 300 articles to identify significant information regarding the association of failure to thrive with disability. The population of interest includes children age 18 years or younger, both male and female, of all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. Select to read the summaries on:

Print copies are available by sending an E-mail to

4.  New Bioterrorism Preparedness Audiotapes on Smallpox Are Available

Copies of a 90-minute audiotape of AHRQ's March 3 Web-assisted audioconference, "Addressing the Smallpox Threat: Issues, Strategies, and Tools," are now available for $10 from the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse. Call 1-800-358-9295 or send an E-mail to and request AHRQ 03-AV04A.

5.  Calling All AHRQ Researchers! "Help Us to Help You."

We would like to help you and AHRQ 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. Obviously, we need to know about your research findings before they are published if we are going to be able to help you promote them. 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. Among the key articles:

  • First trimester ultrasound identifies more cases of Down syndrome than amniocentesis and is more cost effective.
  • If a fetus has a greater-than-normal amount of swelling at the back of the neck (nuchal translucency), there is a high likelihood that the baby will have Down syndrome. The current invasive second trimester screening for Down syndrome via amniocentesis identifies only 50 to 60 percent of Down syndrome fetuses. First trimester ultrasound screening for nuchal translucency (NT), either alone or with serum markers of the condition, can identify more Down syndrome fetuses with fewer procedure-related losses and is more cost effective than the currently used second trimester amniocentesis.

Other articles are:

  • Gastric bypass can dramatically improve the health of severely obese individuals at a reasonable cost.
  • Regular help with personal care from adult children substantially reduces the likelihood of nursing home use by the elderly.
  • Hospitals that had a lower proportion of licensed nurses in the 1990s had higher rates of patient bed sores and pneumonia.
  • Costs associated with genital herpes are expected to rise swiftly over the next 10 years.

Select to read 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.

Solomon MD, Lee PP, Mangione CM. Characteristics of eye care practices with managed care contracts. Am J Manag Care 2002 Dec; 8(12):1057-1067. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Hoover DR, Crystal S, Kumar R, et al. Medical expenditures during the last year of life: findings from the 1992-1996 Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey. Health Serv Res 2002 Dec; 37:6. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Ray WA, Daugherty JR, Griffin MR. Lipid-lowering agents and the risk of hip fracture in a Medicaid population. Inj Prev 2002 Dec; 8(4):276-279. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Flores G, Laws MB, Mayo SJ, et al. Errors in medical interpretation and their potential clinical consequences in pediatric encounters. Pediatrics 2003 Jan; 111(1):6-14. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Sudano JJ, Baker DW. Intermittent lack of health insurance coverage and use of preventive services. Am J Public Health 2003 Jan; 93(1):130-137. 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 April 2003


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