Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Cost of Health Care, JAMA / 24.09.2015

Aaron L. Schwartz, PhD Department of Health Care Policy Harvard Medical School Boston, Massachusetts MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Aaron L. Schwartz, PhD Department of Health Care Policy Harvard Medical School Boston, Massachusetts   Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Schwartz: It is widely believed that much health care spending is devoted to services that provide little or no health benefit to patients. In previous work, we demonstrated that low-value services were commonly delivered to the Medicare population. In this study, we examined whether a new form of paying physicians and hospitals was effective in discouraging the use of low-value services. The payment reform we studied was the Medicare Pioneer Accountable Care Organization (ACO)  Program, a feature of the Affordable Care Act. This program financially rewards health care provider groups who keep spending under a specified budget and achieve high performance on measures of quality of care. This voluntary program employs a similar ACO payment model that some private insurers have adopted.  The hope is that such models can encourage providers to be more efficient by allowing them to share in the savings generated by lower health care spending. In previous work, we demonstrated that the Pioneer ACO Program was associated with lower overall health care spending and steady or improved performance on health care quality measures. However, it was unclear whether providers were focusing on low-value services in their attempts to reduce spending. We examined  2009-2012 Medicare claims data and measured the use of, and spending on, 31 services often provided to patients that are known to provide minimal clinical benefit. We found that patients cared for in the ACO model experienced a greater reduction in the use of low-value services when compared to patients who were not served by ACOs. We attributed a 4.5 percent reduction in low-value service spending to the ACO program. Interestingly, this was a greater reduction than the 1.2 percent reduction in overall spending attributed to the program, which suggests that providers were targeting low-value services in their efforts to reduce spending. In addition, we found that providers with the greatest rate of low-value services prior to the ACO program showed the greatest reduction in these services. We also found similar reductions in service use between services that are more likely to be requested by patients (i.e. early imaging for lower-back pain) and other services. (more…)
Author Interviews, Critical Care - Intensive Care - ICUs, JAMA, Pulmonary Disease, University of Michigan / 23.09.2015

Thomas Valley, MD Fellow, Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MIMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Thomas Valley, MD Fellow, Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MI Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Valley: There has been dramatic growth in intensive care unit (ICU) use over the past 30 years. As the reasons for this growth are not entirely clear, some have suggested that the ICU is a meaningful source of low-value care. The value of the ICU, however, depends on the net benefit that ICUs provide patients. Prior observational studies assessing the effectiveness of the ICU were limited because patients admitted to the ICU are inherently sicker and more likely to die than patients admitted to the general ward. Given the substantial number of patients with pneumonia who are admitted to an ICU, it is vital to understand whether admission to the ICU is beneficial. In our study of 1.1 million Medicare beneficiaries with pneumonia between 2010 and 2012, we used an instrumental variable, a statistical technique to pseudo-randomize patients based on their proximity to a hospital that uses the ICU frequently for pneumonia, in order to determine whether ICU admission saved lives and at what financial cost. An estimated 13 percent of patients were admitted to the ICU solely because they lived closest to a hospital that used the ICU frequently for pneumonia. Among these patients, ICU admission was associated with a nearly six percent reduction in 30-day mortality compared to general ward admission. In addition, there were no significant differences in hospital costs or Medicare reimbursement between patients admitted to the ICU and to the general ward. (more…)
Alzheimer's - Dementia, Author Interviews, Cleveland Clinic, JAMA / 22.09.2015

Jeffrey L. Cummings, M.D., Sc.D. Director, Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health Camille and Larry Ruvo Chair for Brain Health Cleveland Clinic Las Vegas, NV 89106MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Jeffrey L. Cummings, M.D., Sc.D. Director, Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health Camille and Larry Ruvo Chair for Brain Health Cleveland Clinic  Las Vegas, NV 89106  Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Cummings: Agitation is a common problem in Alzheimer’s disease (AD); approximately 70% of patients with AD will experience periods of agitation.  This difficult behavior challenges patients and caregivers, adversely affects quality of life, and may precipitate institutionalization.  There are not drugs approved for treatment of agitation in Alzheimer’s disease. The study reported in JAMA showed that a drug based on a combination of dextromethorphan and quinidine (DM/Q) produced statistically significant and clinically meaningful reduction in agitation in Alzheimer’s disease patients.  The study met its primary outcome (decline in the Neuropsychiatric Inventory agitation scale in drug compared to placebo) and many of its secondary outcomes (e.g, decreases in caregiver stress).  The agent was safe and well tolerated. (more…)
Author Interviews, End of Life Care, Heart Disease, JAMA / 22.09.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Timothy J. FendlerMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Timothy J. Fendler MD MS Department of Cardiology, Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute Kansas City, Missouri Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Fendler: In-hospital cardiac arrest occurs commonly in the United States and is associated with low rates of meaningful survival. This poor prognosis should prompt patient-clinician discussions about goals of care and preferences for future resuscitative efforts. Little is known about how prognosis is aligned with code status decisions among survivors of in-hospital cardiac arrest (in other words, as prognosis worsens, are patients more likely to adopt Do-Not-Resuscitate orders, a sign of less aggressive treatment preferences, should recurrent cardiac arrest occur). We found that, among patients who survive an in-hospital cardiac arrest, there is generally good alignment between prognosis and code status decisions. That is, as prognosis worsens among survivors of in-hospital cardiac arrest, the rate of DNR status adoption increases, on average. However, among patients with very low levels of neurologic functioning and very poor prognosis, nearly two-thirds did not adopt DNR status, despite the fact that only about 4% of these patients with poor prognosis experienced actual favorable neurological survival. These results imply that there could be better alignment between prognosis and goals of care decisions that places the patient's wishes, safety, and quality of life at the forefront of decision-making and decreases the likelihood of undue suffering when the outcome may not be improved by it. Second, survival rates were much lower in patients with DNR orders, compared to those who did not adopt DNR status, after survival from in-hospital cardiac arrest. This was observed regardless of prognosis, implying that patients who adopt DNR status, and thus only request they be treated differently in the setting of recurrent cardiac arrest, may be receiving less aggressive treatment than they prefer, in areas of their care outside of resuscitation from cardiac arrest. (more…)
Author Interviews, FDA, JAMA, University of Pittsburgh / 21.09.2015

Dr. Tamar Krishnamurti PhD Department of Engineering & Public Policy Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh, PA 15213MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Tamar Krishnamurti PhD Department of Engineering & Public Policy Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh, PA 15213  Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Krishnamurti: In 2012, the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act became law. As part of this law, FDA can assign drugs the “breakthrough” designation. Breakthrough drugs are drugs that are intended to treat a serious or life threatening condition and have shown preliminary evidence of a substantial improvement over existing therapies on at least one one clinically significant endpoint. These clinical endpoints can be surrogate outcomes and don't have to be a direct outcome of the disease. All FDA press releases announcing approval of breakthrough-designated drugs use the term “breakthrough” and about half use the term “promising” when describing the drugs. Our study randomly assigned participants to read 1 of 5 short descriptions of a recently approved drug. These vignettes differed by the term assigned to the drug (e.g. "breakthrough" or "promising") or by whether the basis for the designation was clearly and succinctly explained in the description. We found that using the terms "breakthrough" and "promising" to describe these drugs resulted in people having unwarranted confidence about the effectiveness of breakthrough drugs, which could prevent them from making a fully informed decision about whether to take the drug or not. The influence of these terms on peoples' judgments was mitigated by explaining the regulatory meaning of the drug's approval (which is required in the drug's professional label, but not in public discourse about the drug). (more…)
Accidents & Violence, Author Interviews, JAMA, Pediatrics / 21.09.2015

Dr. Ziming Xuan ScD, SM, MA Assistant Professor, Community Health Sciences School of Public Health Boston University MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Ziming Xuan ScD, SM, MA Assistant Professor, Community Health Sciences School of Public Health Boston University  Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Xuan: With respect to background, among the 15000 some teenagers died annually in the US, the 3 leading causes of death were unintentional injuries, homicide, and suicide. Among these fatal youth injuries, 83% homicides were gun-related, and about half of suicides involved a gun (45%). So, The purpose of the study was to investigate the association between state gun law environment and youth gun carrying in the United States, and whether this association is mediated by adult gun ownership. Medical Research: What are the main findings? Dr. Xuan:
  • Among 38 states in our study, 5.7%of high school students living in the 19 states with stricter gun laws carried a gun in past 30 days while 7.3% of students living in states with the weaker gun laws carried a gun.
  • A 10-point increase in the strictness of the state gun law score was associated with a 9% decrease in the odds of youth gun carrying.
  • Across states, restrictive gun laws may reduce youth gun carrying by limiting adult gun ownership.
(more…)
Author Interviews, Endocrinology, JAMA, Prostate Cancer / 18.09.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Sindy Magnan, MD, MSc, FRCPC Division of Radiation Oncology, Department of Medicine CHU de Québe Université Laval Québec City, Québec, Canada Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Magnan : Androgen deprivation is the standard therapy for patients with advanced or recurrent prostate cancer. Intermittent administration of this treatment could offer several advantages over the standard continuous administration by delaying the development of castration-resistant disease and by reducing the drugs’ adverse effects. However, this mode of administration remains controversial. We thus conducted a systematic review with meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials to compare the effectiveness and tolerability of intermittent versus continuous androgen deprivation. Intermittent therapy was non-inferior to continuous therapy with respect to overall survival. No major difference in global quality of life was observed between the two interventions, but some quality-of-life criteria, mainly in relation with physical and sexual functioning, seemed improved with intermittent therapy. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Hospital Readmissions, JAMA / 17.09.2015

J. Michael McWilliams MD, PhD Associate Professor andMedicalResearch.com Interview with: J. Michael McWilliams MD, PhD Associate Professor and Dr. Michael Barnett MD Researcher and General Medicine Fellow Dept. of Health Care Policy Harvard Medical School Boston MADr. Michael Barnett MD Researcher and General Medicine Fellow Dept. of Health Care Policy Harvard Medical School Boston MA Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Response: The financial impact of Medicare’s Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program on hospitals is growing.  In this year’s round of penalties, nearly 2,600 hospitals were collectively fined $420 million for excess readmissions. There has been concern that the risk-adjustment methods used by Medicare to calculate a hospital’s expected readmission rate is inadequate, meaning that hospitals disproportionately serving sicker and more disadvantaged patients are being penalized because of the populations they serve rather than their quality of care.  Specifically, Medicare accounts only for some diagnoses, age and sex but no other clinical or social characteristics of patients admitted to the hospital. No study to date has examined the impact adjusting for a comprehensive set of clinical and social factors on differences in readmission rates between hospitals. We did this by using detailed survey data from the Health and Retirement Study linked to information on admissions and readmissions in survey participants’ Medicare claims data.  We then compared differences in readmission rates between patients admitted to hospitals in the highest vs. lowest quintile of publicly reported readmission rates, before vs. after adjusting for a rich set of patient characteristics.  These included self-reported health, functional status, cognition, depressive symptoms, household income and assets, race and ethnicity, educational attainment, and social supports. Medical Research: What are the main findings? Response: Our two most important findings were: 1) Patients admitted to hospitals with higher readmission rates are sicker and more socially disadvantaged in a variety of ways than patients admitted to hospitals with lower readmission rates. 2) After adjusting for all measurable patient factors that are not accounted for in standard Medicare adjustments, the difference in readmission rates between hospitals with high vs. low readmission rates fell by nearly 50%. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cleveland Clinic, Cost of Health Care, Heart Disease, JAMA, Radiology / 16.09.2015

Wael A. Jaber, MD FACC, FAHA Professor of Medicine Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine Fuad Jubran Endowed Chair in Cardiovascular Medicine Heart and Vascular Institute Cleveland Clinic Cleveland, OH MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Wael A. Jaber, MD FACC, FAHA Professor of Medicine Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine Fuad Jubran Endowed Chair in Cardiovascular Medicine Heart and Vascular Institute Cleveland Clinic  Cleveland, OH Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Prof. Jaber: Risk stratification of patients presenting with atrial fibrillation often includes a non-invasive evaluation for coronary artery disease. However, the yield of such testing in patients without angina or anginal-equivalent symptoms is uncertain. That is, how often do we find silent myocardial ischemia? In our cohort of 1700 consecutive patients with atrial fibrillation, less than 5% had ischemia on nuclear stress testing, even though comorbidities were prevalent. Moreover, in patients with ischemia that had invasive coronary angiography, less than half had obstructive coronary artery disease. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, JAMA, Vitamin D / 15.09.2015

Joshua W. Miller, PhD Professor and Chair Dept. of Nutritional Sciences Rutgers The State University of New Jersey New Brunswick, NJ 08901 MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Joshua W. Miller, PhD Professor and Chair Dept. of Nutritional Sciences Rutgers The State University of New Jersey New Brunswick, NJ 08901  Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: In recent years, there has been a growing scientific literature on the associations between low vitamin D status in older adults and risk of Alzheimer's disease/dementia, cognitive impairment and decline, and brain atrophy.  The vast majority of these studies have been conducted in predominantly white populations.  The relatively unique aspect of our study was that over half of the cohort consisted of African Americans and Hispanics.  What we found in our cohort (mean age ~75y, n=382 at baseline) was that participants with vitamin D deficiency (serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D <12 ng/ml) or vitamin D insufficiency (serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D between 12 ng/ml and <20 ng/ml) on average experienced faster rates of cognitive decline in episodic memory and executive function than participants with adequate vitamin D status.  Importantly, the association between vitamin D status and the rate of decline in cognitive function was independent of race/ethnicity.  However, the prevalence of low vitamin D status in the study participants was significantly higher in the African American and Hispanic participants compared with the White participants.  This is most likely due to the fact that darker skin pigmentation reduces the ability of sunlight to induce vitamin D synthesis in the skin.  It may also reflect differences in dietary intake of vitamin D and supplement use between the different race/ethnicity groups, though we did not assess this in our study.  Thus, though the rate of cognitive decline in African Americans and Hispanics does not seem to be more or less affected by low vitamin D status than in Whites, because African Americans and Hispanics have a higher prevalence of low vitamin D status, as subpopulations they may be more prone to rapid cognitive decline in old age.  Further studies addressing this possibility are needed. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Pain Research, Pediatrics, Race/Ethnic Diversity, Surgical Research / 14.09.2015

Monika Goyal, MD Pediatric emergency medicine Children’s National Hospital Washington, DC MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Monika Goyal, MD Pediatric emergency medicine Children’s National Hospital Washington, DC Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Goyal: Appendicitis is a painful surgical condition and adequate analgesia, particularly with opioids, are considered one of the mainstays of management. We found that almost half of all children diagnosed with appendicitis did not receive any analgesia. Furthermore, among the patients that did receive analgesia, there were marked racial differences with black children having lower rates of opioid medication receipt than white children, even after we took pain scores or acuity level into account. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, JAMA, Mediterranean Diet / 14.09.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Miguel Ángel Martínez González MD Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red Fisiopatología de la Obesidad y Nutrición, Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Madrid IdiSNA, Navarra Institute for Health Research, Pamplona, Navarra, Spain Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Response: Several observational studies and mechanistic experiments in animal models and cell lines suggested that the Mediterranean diet and minor components of extra-virgin olive oil may reduce the risk of developing breast cancer. The PREDIMED study was a randomized primary prevention trial for cardiovascular disease among high risk patients initially free of cardiovascular disease. The participants were 7,447 men and women (60-80 years old). We have used the data from women in this trial to assess the effect of the randomized diets on the occurrence of new cases of breast cancer. Medical Research: What are the main findings? Response: Among 4,152 women randomized to 3 different diets (1.- Mediterranean diet with free provision of extra-virgin​ olive oil; 2.- Mediterranean diet with free provision of tree nuts; and 3.- Advice to follow a low-fat diet, i.e. control group) We confirmed 35 new cases of invasive breast cancer during 4.8 of follow-up. A statistically significant 68% relative reduction in the risk of breast cancer in the Mediterranean diet with free provision of extra-virgin​ olive oil versus the control group was found. There was a significant trend of risk reduction associated with progressive increments in the intake of extra-virgin olive oil during the trial (with repeated yearly measurements of diet) when the 3 groups were assessed together. (more…)
Accidents & Violence, Author Interviews, JAMA / 12.09.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Tahereh Orouji Jokar, MD International research fellow and Dr Joseph Bellal Joseph, MD Division of Trauma, Emergency Surgery, Critical Care, and Burns Department of Surgery University of Arizona, Tucson Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Response: Domestic violence is a social evil and bears significant social, financial, medical, and personal implications. Frequently victims of domestic violence, present in a trauma center due to injuries from domestic violence. However, despite bearing such grievous significance, there is no standardized practice to screen for domestic violence. In this study we sought out to identify the incidence and trends of domestic violence to highlight the burden of the disease. Medical Research: What are the main findings? Response: In our study we reported an overall incidence of domestic violence to be 569.564/100,000 trauma admissions. Over the study period the rate of domestic violence increased from 490/100,000 (2007) to 680/100,000 (2012) trauma admissions. We observed an increasing trend of domestic violence in children, adults, and elderly. On sub-analysis of adults, we observed an increasing trend of violence in both male and female victims. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Pediatrics, Tobacco Research, University of Pittsburgh / 12.09.2015

Brian A. Primack, MD, PhD Associate Professor of Medicine, Pediatrics, and Clinical and Translational Science Director, Center for Research on Media, Technology, and Health Assistant Vice Chancellor for Research on Health and Society University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Pittsburgh, PA 15213MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Brian A. Primack, MD, PhD Associate Professor of Medicine, Pediatrics, and Clinical and Translational Science Director, Center for Research on Media, Technology, and Health Assistant Vice Chancellor for Research on Health and Society University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Pittsburgh, PA 15213 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Primack: Adolescents and young adults who have never smoked traditional cigarettes are now using e-cigarettes. It is unclear whether these people are at risk for progression to traditional cigarette smoking. Therefore, we followed 694 non-smokers ages 16-26 who did not intend on taking up smoking for 1 year. Medical Research: What are the main findings? Dr. Primack: At baseline, only 16 of the 694 participants had used e-cigarettes. However, those individuals were significantly more likely to start smoking traditional cigarettes by the 1-year follow-up. In fully adjusted models, baseline e-cigarette use was independently associated with both progression to smoking (AOR = 8.3, 95% CI  = 1.2-58.6) and to susceptibility (AOR = 8.5, 95% CI = 1.3-57.2). (more…)
Accidents & Violence, Author Interviews, JAMA / 10.09.2015

Antti Latvala PhD Post-doctoral researcher Department of Public Health, University of Helsinki Helsinki, Finland MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Antti Latvala PhD Post-doctoral researcher Department of Public Health, University of Helsinki Helsinki, Finland   Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Latvala: Motivation for the study came from the fact that antisocial and aggressive behavior has been associated with lower resting heart rate in children and adolescents. Heart rate, being regulated by the autonomic nervous system, has been viewed as an indicator of stress responding or autonomic arousal, and the association has been hypothesized to indicate low levels of stress or a chronically low level of autonomic arousal in antisocial individuals. However, empirical evidence for such an association in adulthood has been very limited. Medical Research: What are the main findings? Dr. Latvala: We found that men with lower resting heart rate had an increased risk of violent and nonviolent criminality. Specifically, men in the lowest fifth of the heart rate distribution had an estimated 39% increased risk for violent criminality and a 25% increased risk for nonviolent crimes compared with men in the highest fifth. These are estimates after adjusting for physical, cardiovascular, cognitive and socioeconomic covariates. When we further adjusted for cardiorespiratory fitness, which was available in a subsample, the associations were even stronger. In addition to the crime outcomes, we found that low resting heart rate predicted exposure to assaults and accidents, such as traffic crashes, falls and poisonings, in a very similar fashion. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Surgical Research, Urology / 10.09.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Blayne Welk MD Assistant Professor in the Division of Urology The University of Western OntarioBlayne Welk MD Assistant Professor in the Division of Urology The University of Western Ontario Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Welk: Stress incontinence is a common problem among women. The most frequently used surgical treatment is a mesh-based midurethral sling. This procedure is commonly called a transvaginal sling, and is usually an outpatient procedure that takes about an hour in the operating room. However, there has been significant concern about some of the complications of this procedure, which include chronic pain, and mesh erosions into the urinary tract. This prompted the FDA and Health Canada to issue warnings regarding the use of transvaginal mesh, and numerous lawsuits have been launched against manufactures of transvaginal mesh products. This study by Dr Welk and colleagues identifies the long term rate of surgical treated complications among a group of almost 60,000 women who had mesh based incontinence procedures between 2002-2012. The rate of surgically treated complications at 1 year is 1.2%, however this increased to 3.3% after 10 years of followup. The FDA and Health Canada recommend that surgeons obtain training and experience in their chosen type of midurethral sling, and we demonstrated that patients of high volume surgeons (who frequently performed mesh based incontinence procedures) were 27% less likely to have one of these complications. (more…)
Author Interviews, Diabetes, JAMA / 09.09.2015

Dr. Andy Menke PhD Social & Scientific Systems Inc Silver Spring, MD 20910MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Andy Menke PhD Social & Scientific Systems Inc Silver Spring, MD 20910 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Menke: Previous studies have shown an increase in diabetes over time. We wanted to use the most recent data available to estimate the prevalence and trends in diabetes in the US population. We found that 14% of US adults had diabetes and the prevalence was higher in blacks, Hispanics, and Asians. About 1 in 3 people with diabetes were unaware that they had the condition and this was even higher in Asians and Hispanics where half were unaware that they had it. Also, among US adults, 1 in 3 people have prediabetes, which means that roughly half of all US adults have either diabetes or prediabetes. Between 1988-1994 and 2011-2012, diabetes prevalence increased by 25% among adults in the US population. The increase over time occurred in every age group, race group, and both genders. (more…)
Author Interviews, Infections, JAMA, OBGYNE / 08.09.2015

Dr. Martin N. Mwangi Researcher Division of Human Nutrition, Nutrition and Health over the lifecourse International Nutrition Unit Wageningen University The Netherlands MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Martin N. Mwangi Researcher Division of Human Nutrition, Nutrition and Health over the lifecourse International Nutrition Unit Wageningen University The Netherlands   Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Mwangi : Anemia in pregnancy is a moderate or severe health problem in more than 80 percent of countries worldwide, but particularly in Africa, where it affects 57 percent of pregnant women. Iron deficiency is the most common cause, but iron supplementation during pregnancy has uncertain health benefits. There is some evidence to suggest that iron supplementation may increase the risk of infectious diseases, including malaria. Our main objective was to measure the effect of antenatal iron supplementation on maternal Plasmodium infection risk, maternal iron status, and neonatal outcomes. We randomly assigned 470 pregnant Kenyan women living in a malaria endemic area to daily supplementation with 60 mg of iron (n = 237 women) or placebo (n = 233) until 1 month postpartum. All women received 5.7 mg iron/day through flour fortification during intervention and usual intermittent preventive treatment against malaria. Medical Research: What are the main findings? Dr. Mwangi : Overall, we found no effect of daily iron supplementation during pregnancy on risk of maternal Plasmodium infection. Iron supplementation resulted in an increased birth weight [5.3 ounces], gestational duration, and neonatal length; enhanced maternal and infant iron stores at 1 month after birth; and a decreased risk of low birth weight (by 58 percent) and prematurity. The effect on birth weight was influenced by initial maternal iron status. Correction of maternal iron deficiency led to an increase in birth weight by [8.4 ounces]. (more…)
Author Interviews, C. difficile, JAMA, UC Davis / 08.09.2015

Christopher R. Polage, M. D. Associate Professor of Pathology and Infectious Diseases University of California, Davis School of Medicine Medical Director, Microbiology Laboratory and SARC UC Davis Health System MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Christopher R. Polage, M. D. Associate Professor of Pathology and Infectious Diseases University of California, Davis School of Medicine Medical Director, Microbiology Laboratory and SARC UC Davis Health System   Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Polage: Clostridium difficile is a frequent cause of diarrhea and infection in U.S. hospitals but common diagnostic tests often disagree about which patients are infected or need treatment. We compared clinical symptoms and outcomes in hospitalized patients with different C. difficile test results to determine which type of test (molecular or PCR test versus toxin test) was the better predictor of need for treatment and disease. Medical Research: What are the main findings? Dr. Polage: Twice as many patients were positive by the molecular test versus the conventional toxin test. However, patients with a positive molecular test only had a shorter duration of symptoms than patients with toxins, and outcomes that were similar to patients withoutC. difficile by all test methods. Virtually all traditional complications of C. difficile infection occurred in patients with a positive toxin test; none occurred in patients with a positive molecular test only, despite little or no treatment. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cost of Health Care, JAMA / 08.09.2015

James C. Robinson PhD MPH Leonard D. Schaeffer Professor of Health Economics Director, Berkeley Center for Health Technology Head, Division of Health Policy & Management School of Public Health, University of California– Berkeley University Hall, Berkeley, CA MedicalResearch.com Interview with: James C. Robinson PhD MPH Leonard D. Schaeffer Professor of Health Economics Director, Berkeley Center for Health Technology Head, Division of Health Policy & Management School of Public Health, University of California– Berkeley University Hall, Berkeley, CA   Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Robinson: Employers and insurers face wide variation in the prices of similar tests and procedures within the same local communities, resulting from the indifference to price on the part of well-insured patients.  They are raising deductibles to increase price sensitivity, but deductibles mostly target low-cost primary care services whereas their concerns often center on high-cost specialty and facility services.  Some are adopting reference pricing, which sets a maximum insurer contribution for a particular type of test or procedure and then requires consumers selecting more expensive options to pay the difference themselves.  The insurers contribution limit typically is set at the median or other midpoint in the market distribution of prices. We studied the implementation of reference pricing for colonoscopy, using data from the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) from 2009-13, with a control group from Blue Cross of California.  Our data include detailed claims from almost 300,000 colonoscopy procedures and patients.  We find that patients who must pay the extra fees themselves are much more likely to select cheaper ambulatory facilities for their colonoscopies, compared to consumers who do not face reference pricing.  This leads to lower prices being paid by the employer and significant savings.  Detailed analyses of gastroenterological and cardiovascular complications of the colonoscopy procedures found no adverse effect of reference pricing on quality. (more…)
Author Interviews, Dermatology, JAMA, Melanoma / 03.09.2015

Simone Ribero,  M.D., Ph.D.  University of Turin Department of Medical Sciences Turin Italy and King’s College London Department of Twin Research and Genetic Epidemiology St Thomas’ campus London, UKMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Simone Ribero,  M.D., Ph.D.  University of Turin Department of Medical Sciences Turin Italy and King’s College London Department of Twin Research and Genetic Epidemiology St Thomas’ campus London, UK Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The histologic regression is a discussed feature and its prognostic role is debated in literature. Our group has previously described a favorable prognostic role of histological regression in stage I-II melanoma patients. Some clinicians still perform Sentinel Lymph Node biopsy on the basis of regression in thin melanoma considering this feature as able to underestimate Breslow Thickness. In this study we described in a metanalyses with more then 10000 melanoma patients that histological regression is inversely associated with Sentinel Lymph Node positivity. (more…)
Author Interviews, CDC, HIV, JAMA / 02.09.2015

Dr. John Weiser MD MPH Medical epidemiologist Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention CDC MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. John Weiser MD MPH Medical epidemiologist Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention CDC  Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Weiser: Ryan White was an Indiana teenager diagnosed with AIDS in the late 1980s. As a result of fear and stigma, he was barred from school and went on to become a national advocate for HIV education and acceptance. This year marks the 25th anniversary of his death and passage of the Ryan White CARE Act creating The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program (RWHAP) which provides funding for healthcare facilities to deliver needed medical care and support services for hundreds of thousands of poor, uninsured, and underinsured Americans. While increased access to Medicaid and private insurance under the Affordable Care Act will provide coverage for medical care, it might not provide coverage for support services so it is likely that the RWHAP will continue to play a key role in providing these crucial services. Overall, 34.4 percent of facilities received Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program funding and 72.8 percent of patients received care at RWHAP-funded facilities. Many of the patients at Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program -funded facilities had multiple social determinants of poor health, with patients at RWHAP-funded facilities more likely to be ages 18 to 29; female; black or Hispanic; have less than a high school education; income at or below the poverty level; and lack health care coverage. Despite the greater likelihood of poverty, unstable housing and lack of health care coverage, nearly 75 percent of patients receiving care at RWHAP-funded facilities achieved viral suppression. The percentage of ART (antiretroviral therapy) prescribing was similar for patients at RWHAP-funded compared with non-funded facilities. Patients at RWHAP-funded facilities were less likely to be virally suppressed. However, individuals at or below the poverty level and those ages 30 to 39 who received care at a RWHAP-funded facility compared with those who received care at a non-RWHAP-funded facility were more likely to achieve viral suppression. (more…)
Accidents & Violence, Author Interviews, JAMA, UCSF / 02.09.2015

Benjamin N. Breyer MD, MAS, FACS Associate Professor in Residence Department of Urology University of California, San Francisco Chief of Urology, San Francisco General Hospital Director, UCSF Male Genitourinary Reconstruction and Trauma Surgery Fellowship MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Benjamin N. Breyer MD, MAS, FACS Associate Professor in Residence Department of Urology University of California, San Francisco Chief of Urology, San Francisco General Hospital Director, UCSF Male Genitourinary Reconstruction and Trauma Surgery Fellowship   Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Breyer: Our group has studied genitourinary-specific injuries associated with bicycles using a national surveillance injury database called NEISS (National Electronic Injury Surveillance System), that monitors injuries associated with specific products.  In the current study, we examined trends in all bicycle-related injuries from  1997 to 2013.  We found an increase in bicycle-related injuries over the study period, even after adjusting for growth in the US population.  Even more concerning, we found the percentage of bicycle-related injuries resulting in admission increased 120%, suggesting the injuries sustained while cycling are becoming more severe.  These trends appear to be driven by a substantial rise in both injuries and admissions in individuals over 45 years of age, which likely reflects a change in the demographic of cyclists in the US - multiple studies have shown an increase in the cycling participation of adults over the age of 45. Bicycles are no longer children's toys - they are increasingly being used by adults as a means of transportation and physical activity. The rise in cycling in adults over the age 45 appears to be driving both the increase in injuries and admissions, suggesting that older individuals are at increased risk for sustaining severe injury while cycling. (more…)
Author Interviews, Diabetes, JAMA, Kidney Disease / 01.09.2015

George L. Bakris MD Professor of Medicine Director, Comprehensive Hypertension Center University of Chicago MedicineMedicalResearch.com Interview with: George L. Bakris MD Professor of Medicine Director, Comprehensive Hypertension Center University of Chicago Medicine Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. BakrisAldosterone receptor antagonists such as spironolactone are known to reduce mortality from heart failure and reduce albuminuria, a well-known marker of diabetic kidney disease progression. Finerenone is a novel nonsteroidal aldosterone receptor antagonist and is associated with less hyperkalemia (high blood potassium levels) compared to traditional aldosterone receptor blockers like spironolactone. The current study was a dose finding study to ascertain the optimal dose of finerenone for reducing urine albumin (a key risk marker in people with diabetic kidney disease) that is also associated with the smallest rise in serum potassium. The main findings are that in a dose dependent manner finerenone reduced albuminuria and at the highest dose a modest rise in serum potassium. Finerenone was also very well tolerated.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, JAMA, Thromboembolism / 01.09.2015

Line Melgaard MSc. Industrial Medicine, PhD student AALBORG Univerity Hospital Thrombosis Research Center Aalborg Aalborg Hospital Science and Innovation Center Aalborg DenmarkMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Line Melgaard MSc. Industrial Medicine, PhD student AALBORG Univerity Hospital Thrombosis Research Center Aalborg Aalborg Hospital Science and Innovation Center Aalborg Denmark Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: In recent years, use of the CHA2DS2-VASc score in predicting ischemic stroke, thromboembolism, and death has extended beyond the original disease state (atrial fibrillation) for which it was proposed. In addition, it is recognized that the cluster of multiple stroke risk factors included within the CHA2DS2-VASc score increases the risk of ischemic stroke, thromboembolism, and death, whether or not atrial fibrillation is present. Thus, there is a need to study the extent to which concomitant atrial fibrillation modifies the pattern of the association between CHA2DS2-VASc score and the risk of ischemic stroke, thromboembolism, and death in patients with heart failure.
  • Our principal findings were that patients with heart failure had a high risk of ischemic stroke, thromboembolism, and death, whether or not atrial fibrillation was present.
  • Second, the CHA2DS2-VASc score was able to modestly predict these endpoints, and had a moderately high negative predictive value at 1-year follow-up.
  • Third, at high CHA2DS2-VASc scores (≥4), patients with heart failure without atrial fibrillation had high absolute risk of ischemic stroke, thromboembolism, and death, and the absolute risk increased in a comparable manner in patients with heart failure with and without atrial fibrillation, exhibiting a clear dose-response relationship. Indeed, the absolute risk of thromboembolic complications was higher among patients without atrial fibrillation compared to patients with concomitant atrial fibrillation at high CHA2DS2-VASc score (≥4).
(more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Multiple Sclerosis, OBGYNE / 01.09.2015

PD Dr. Kerstin Hellwig Neurologische Abteilung Universitätsklinikum St. Josef Hospital BochumMedicalResearch.com Interview with: PD Dr. Kerstin Hellwig Neurologische Abteilung Universitätsklinikum St. Josef Hospital Bochum Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Hellwig: The relapse risk is elevated in women with Multiple Sclerosis after delivery. We found that women with Multiple Sclerosis who breastfed exclusively had a significant lower relapse risk, than women who did not breastfed at all or breastfed some but not exclusively. After the introduction of supplemental feedings, the relase risk was similar between both groups. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Duke, Genetic Research, JAMA / 27.08.2015

Michaela Ann Dinan Ph.D. Assistant Professor in Medicine Member of Duke Cancer Institute Duke University School of MedicinMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Michaela Ann Dinan Ph.D. Assistant Professor in Medicine Member of Duke Cancer Institute Duke University School of Medicine Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Dinan: For many years we have known that overall, women with early stage, hormone receptor positive breast cancer show an overall survival benefit from the receipt of adjuvant chemotherapy.  However, depending on the age of the patient, we have also known that between 3 to 10% of patients appear to be truly experiencing this survival benefit and that we are treating a lot of women unnecessarily.  The use of the Oncotype DX assay has provided additional information for patients to assess who at low risk of disease progression and can forgo chemotherapy. In this study we looked to see whether the adoption of this assay was associated with reduce rates of chemotherapy in women over the age of 65.  We found that somewhat surprisingly, there was no overall association with receipt of the assay and use of chemotherapy.  However, in women who had high risk disease, receipt of the assay was associated with reduced rates of chemotherapy use.  In patients with low risk disease, receipt of the assay was associated with increased chemotherapy use. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, JAMA / 27.08.2015

Jay R. Desai, PhD, MPH HealthPartners Institute for Education and Research Minneapolis, MN 55425MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Jay R. Desai, PhD, MPH HealthPartners Institute for Education and Research Minneapolis, MN 55425 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Desai: SUPREME-DM is a consortium of 11 integrated health systems throughout the United States that serve a culturally and economically diverse population of 16 million members. This study monitors changes in cardiovascular outcomes from 2005 through 2011 among the 1.2 million members identified with diabetes and a matched sample of 1.2 million members without diabetes. We found very encouraging and sustained declines in the rates of myocardial infarction/acute coronary syndrome (MI), stroke, heart failure (HF), and all-cause mortality among adults with and without diabetes.   Declines were greatest among the 15% adults who were already at high risk for cardiovascular events (such as people with diabetes or a prior history of heart disease). There was less improvement in cardiovascular event rates and mortality among the other 85% of members with low to moderate cardiovascular risk. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Social Issues / 26.08.2015

Adi V. Gundlapalli, MD, PhD Associate Professor of Internal Medicine University of Utah School of Medicine and University of Utah Hospitals and ClinicsInformatics, Decision Enhancement, and Analytic Sciences Center VA Salt Lake City Health Care System, Salt Lake City, Utah MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Adi V. Gundlapalli, MD, PhD Associate Professor of Internal Medicine University of Utah School of Medicine and University of Utah Hospitals and ClinicsInformatics, Decision Enhancement, and Analytic Sciences Center VA Salt Lake City Health Care System, Salt Lake City, Utah   Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Gundlapalli: We wanted to explore the hypothesis that those separated for misconduct-related reasons would have more difficulty reintegrating into their communities post-deployment, with homelessness as an extreme example of such difficulties. Misconduct-related separations from the military are associated with subsequent adverse civilian outcomes that are of substantial public health concern. This study analyzed the association between misconduct-related separations and homelessness among recently returned active-duty military service members. Using US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) data, investigators identified 448,290 Veterans who were separated from the military (end date of last deployment) between October 1, 2001 and December 31, 2011; had been deployed to Iraq and/or Afghanistan; and had subsequently used VA healthcare. Homelessness was determined by an assignment of “lack of housing” during a VA healthcare visit, by participation in a VA homelessness program, or both. Veterans’ housing status was followed through April 30, 2012. We assessed risk for homelessness as a function of separation category (e.g., normal, misconduct, early release), controlling for patient demographics and military service covariates, including service-related disability, branch, rank, and combat exposure. In our opinion, the most significant finding was that 26% of Veterans who were separated for misconduct related reasons were homeless at their first VA encounter; and this number climbed to 28% within one year after their first VA encounter. Additionally, the likelihood of being homeless at the first VA encounter was nearly 5 times greater for those separated for misconduct-related reasons as compared to normal separations; this climbed to nearly 7 times greater at one year after the first VA encounter. Collectively, these results represent the strongest risk factor for homelessness among US Veterans observed to date, and helps to explain the higher risk of homelessness observed among Veterans, despite access to VA benefits and services. (more…)
Alzheimer's - Dementia, Author Interviews, JAMA / 26.08.2015

Dr. Eric Reiman MD Executive Director, Banner Alzheimer’s Institute (BAI) Chief Executive Officer, Banner Research, Clinical Director of the Neurogenomics Division at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) Professor of Psychiatry, University of Arizona Director, Arizona Alzheimer’s ConsortiumMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Eric Reiman MD Executive Director, Banner Alzheimer’s Institute (BAI) Chief Executive Officer, Banner Research Clinical Director of the Neurogenomics Division at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) Professor of Psychiatry, University of Arizona Director, Arizona Alzheimer’s Consortium Phoenix Arizona   Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Reiman: Beta-amyloid plaque deposition is a cardinal feature of Alzheimer’s disease. Recent positron emission tomography (PET) have suggested that about one-fourth of patients with the clinical diagnosis of mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s dementia—and more than a third of those who had no copies of the APOE4 gene, the major genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s—do not have appreciable amyloid plaque deposition. We wondered whether this finding reflected an absence of appreciable brain amyloid, particularly in APOE4 non-carriers, or instead an underestimation of amyloid plaques using PET. In those patients with minimal plaque deposition, we also wondered what percentages had neuropathological evidence of another dementia-causing disease, neurofibrillary tangle pathology (the other cardinal feature of Alzheimer’s, or no known pathological contribution. We surveyed data from the 100 APOE4 non-carriers and 100 APOE4 carriers who had the clinical diagnosis of mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s dementia during their last visit at any of the nation’s Alzheimer’s Disease Centers and had an autopsy performed within the next 2 years. As we reported in JAMA Neurology, 37 percent of APOE4 non-carriers and 13 percent of APOE4 carriers with a clinical diagnosis of mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s had minimal evidence of neuritic or diffuse amyloid plaques—and those for whom we had brain samples had no evidence of increased soluble amyloid. A proportion of individuals had a different neuropathological diagnosis. While nearly half of those patients with minimal amyloid or any other pathology had extensive tangle formation, a similar percentage was found in cognitively unimpaired persons in the same age range. Our findings suggest the PET findings are correct – that a quarter of all patients (and more than a third of APOE4 non-carriers) with the clinical diagnosis of Alzheimer’s dementia do not have appreciable amyloid pathology, and that about 10 to 15 percent of patients do not have a clear explanation for their dementia. (more…)