Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Education, NYU, Radiology / 06.11.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Jiyon Lee, M.D. Assistant Professor of Radiology, NYU School of Medicine NYU Cancer Institute, Breast Imaging Center New York, New York 10016 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Lee:   Even before the USPSTF changed their breast screening guidelines in 2009, I conducted community outreach to help educate others on my area of expertise, breast imaging and breast screening. I presented lay friendly, illustrated, and practical explanations in a structured talk, about the big picture and the salient details, in a way that I would want if I were not a breast radiologist. As is customary for such community outreach, we solicited feedback from attendees. It was gratifying to hear the positive responses. That they wished for such education for others served as a clarion call that is understandable. Education should be objective and noncoercive.  “Knowledge is power,” but only if complete and accurate. Breast cancer is still a common disease, we are all at least at average risk, and screening is still standard of care.  Much of the debate surrounding screening mammography centers on the age of onset of screening and the optimal screening interval. The USPSTF states that shared-decision making between women and their providers may occur, especially for women in 40-49 year group.  But the TF does not stipulate when or how or by whom this talk will ensue, and notice that their guidelines refer to film mammography, and “biennial” mammography. Since the time of this manuscript, the American Cancer Society issued new guidelines on 10/20/2015 that among its bullet points emphasized annual mammography for women 45-54 years and deemphasized clinical breast exam, while supporting option to start annually at age 40 with shared decision making to weigh what are referred to as “risks” and benefits. Although the fine print does reaffirm that annually starting at age 40 is the screening model that saves the most lives, the ACS is encouraging deliberate value judgment regarding “risks” and “harms.” Their fine print is also intimating that women 55 and over have nondense tissue and that their cancers are indolent. The ensued publicity and mixed messaging have caused another cycle of confusion regarding breast cancer screening. As the experts in this field of image-based screening, radiologists have opportunity to clarify and contextualize the issues and details of the screening discussion, and can do so with objectivity, respect for all sides of the debate, and compassion. All responsible ways to continually educate both women and all providers will enable both sides to engage in the discussion fairly. Because as we discourage paternalistic medicine and promote shared decision making, it’s not fair play if all responsible sides do not get fair say. Do realize that not all women see providers regularly, and depending on the medical subspeciality, not all providers are mentioning screening til women reach a certain age and may not relay importance of the physical exam components that complement imaging. This article specifically highlights how such direct and interactive public education can effect potential benefit in two ways.
  • First, directly reduce one of the core criticisms about screening: the “anxiety” that women may experience, which is heavily weighed as a “harm” of screening.  Most women do not experience high anxiety, and are glad to have a test that may help them. And education can help demystify much of the process and protocol, and explain up to what may be that patient’s next test results if she engages in screening at all. No one can tell that.
  • Two, education can directly increase one of the necessary components of shared decision making that is presumed in implementing breast screening: informing women. The pre- and post-lecture questionnaire, along with fact-based quiz questions, provided insight and enabled learning opportunity for the audience that are not usual for community outreach.  Education that keeps on going—and is shareable!-- after the lecture is done.
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Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Education, JAMA / 29.10.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Vinay Prasad, MD MPH Assistant Professor of Medicine Division of Hematology Oncology in the Knight Cancer Institute Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine Senior Scholar in the Center for Health Care Ethics Oregon Health and Sciences University Portland, Oregon 97239   Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Prasad: We wanted to get some information about when and which cancer drugs were called "game changer" or "breakthrough" or "revolutionary".  What we found was surprising.  The use of these grandiose terms, or superlatives, was common in news articles.  They occurred across many classes of medication, were used for approved and unapproved drugs, and some of the use was questionable. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Melanoma, Technology / 15.10.2015

Ashley K. Day, Ph.D., M. Psych (Hlth) Post-Doctoral Associate Rutgers Cancer Institute of New JerseyMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Ashley K. Day, Ph.D., M. Psych (Hlth) Post-Doctoral Associate Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Day: Skin cancer is one of the most common cancers in the US, and it is estimated that more than 9,000 Americans will die of melanoma this year. Melanoma patients have a 9-times greater risk for a diagnosis of another melanoma compared to the general population. Because of this, it is important that melanoma patients practice regular sun protection and skin self-examination behaviors. There is potential opportunity to use the Internet to deliver information and interventions to help melanoma patients engage in these behaviors. However, it is important to understand patients’ preferences. Our research explored factors associated with the receptivity of patients with melanoma to such Internet-delivered behavioral interventions. We found that, in a sample of 176 melanoma patients, the vast majority (84.1%) had Internet access and had previously sought melanoma information online (77.7%). More than two-thirds of patients (68.4%) reported being at least moderately interested in participating in an Internet-based intervention to promote engagement in sun protection and skin self-examination behaviors. Receptivity to such an intervention was higher among patients who were younger, had greater knowledge of the ABCDE signs of melanoma (looking at the asymmetry, border irregularity, color, diameter, and evolution of the mole or affected area), and were more comfortable using the Internet. (more…)
Author Interviews, Education, Genetic Research, Social Issues / 21.08.2015

Ben Domingue Assistant Professor (starting 9/2015) Stanford Graduate School of Education   MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Ben Domingue Assistant Professor (starting 9/2015) Stanford Graduate School of Education     Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Earlier research has started to illuminate which genetic variants are associated with educational attainment. Subsequent work has taken these variants, combined them into a "polygenic score", and studied how that polygenic score predicts educational attainment. Our research continues this line of inquiry by examining the predictive performance of that polygenic score in a representative sample of US adults who are now in their 30s. A few notable findings include that: (A) the polygenic score predicts educational attainment in the African Americans in our sample and (B) that the polygenic score is associated with neighborhood characteristics. As with earlier research, we are able to show that the higher score sibling from within a family will complete more years of schooling (on average) than their lower score co-sib. (more…)
Author Interviews, Education, Johns Hopkins, Outcomes & Safety, Surgical Research / 08.07.2015

Judy Huang, M.D. Professor of Neurosurgery Program Director, Neurosurgery Residency Program Fellowship Director, Cerebrovascular Neurosurgery Johns Hopkins HospitalMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Judy Huang, M.D. Professor of Neurosurgery Program Director, Neurosurgery Residency Program Fellowship Director, Cerebrovascular Neurosurgery Johns Hopkins Hospital Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Huang: Residents are medical school graduates who are in training programs working alongside and under supervision of more senior physicians, known as attendings. Patients are sometimes wary of having residents assist in their operations, but an analysis of 16,098 brain and spine surgeries performed across the United States finds that resident participation does not raise patient risks for postoperative complications or death. (more…)
Author Interviews, Education, Prostate Cancer, Urology / 12.06.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Prajakta Adsul, MBBS, MPH, PhD; Ricardo Wray, PhD, and Sameer Siddiqui, MD Center for Cancer Prevention, Research and Outreach Saint Louis University MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Patient decision aids are interventions designed to help patients engage in shared decision making with their providers when multiple choices with more or less equivalent efficacy are available for a particular medical decision. Several patient decision aids exists for numerous medical conditions and previous research has demonstrated them to be effective in improving the patient's knowledge and understanding of treatment options and their relative efficacy and side-effects and resulting in a higher proportion of decision that are consistent with patient's values and personal preferences. In the context of prostate cancer treatment, the practice of shared decision making is vital as highlighted by recent calls from the American Urological Association and the American Cancer Society. To aid with this process, several patient decision aids exist. However, the content presented, the format and presentation styles of decision aids can be variable and can have an influence on the choice made by the patients. The purpose of this study was to assess the characteristics of the patient decision aids designed for men facing prostate cancer treatment. We used the widely accepted International Patient Decision Aids Standards (IPDAS) for the assessment, supplemented with implementation criteria to strategize successful future improvement and promotion of decision aids in routine urological practice. The main findings of the review were that none of the decision aids reviewed met all standards. The aids had variable content, format and presentation of prostate cancer treatment information. Several decision aids were outdated and critical issues such as the risk of overtreatment and active surveillance as a treatment option for prostate cancer were not always covered in decision aids. (more…)
Author Interviews, Education, Outcomes & Safety / 27.04.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Henry J. Michtalik MD, MPH, MHS Department of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality Baltimore, MarylandMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Henry J. Michtalik MD, MPH, MHS Department of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality Baltimore, Maryland Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Michtalik: Current healthcare reform emphasizes providing high-value, evidence-based care.  Compliance with practice guidelines and best-practices remains a challenge in the ever-changing healthcare environment.  Multiple methods are typically used to enhance compliance with these guidelines, including physician education, computerized order entry systems with clinical decision support, provider feedback, and payment incentives.  These strategies are used for many conditions, including heart failure and venous thromboembolism (VTE), blood clots. The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of an individualized physician dashboard and pay-for-performance program on improving VTE prophylaxis rates amongst hospitalists.  We performed a retrospective analysis of over 3000 inpatient admissions to a hospitalist service.  We examined the impact of a web-based hospitalist dashboard which provided VTE prophylaxis feedback, both alone and in combination with a pay-for performance program which provided a small financial payment for achieving compliance rates greater than 80%. We found that compliance significantly increased from 86% during baseline to 90% during the dashboard alone phase.  Addition of the pay-for-performance program further increased compliance to 94%.  The fastest improvement occurred during the dashboard only phase.  Annual physician payments ranged from $53 to $1244, with 17 of the 19 payments under $1000. (more…)
AHA Journals, AHRQ, Author Interviews, Blood Pressure - Hypertension, Electronic Records, NYU / 14.03.2015

Stella Yi, Ph.D., MPH, Assistant Professor Department of Population Health New York University School of MedicineMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Stella Yi, Ph.D., MPH, Assistant Professor Department of Population Health New York University School of Medicine MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Yi: Self-blood pressure monitoring has been shown to be an effective tool for improving blood pressure control, however most studies have only included white race participants. We were interested in assessing whether distribution of self-blood pressure monitors (intervention) would improve blood pressure and hypertension control over usual care (control) in a 9-month period in a predominantly Hispanic, uninsured population. Systolic blood pressure improved over time in both the intervention (n=409) and the control (n=419) arms by 14.7 mm Hg and 14.1 mm Hg, respectively, as did hypertension control; 39% of study participants overall achieved control at the end of follow-up. However there were no statistical differences between the outcomes in the intervention and usual care groups. (more…)
Author Interviews, Education, Outcomes & Safety, Surgical Research, University of Pennsylvania / 25.02.2015

Samuel D. Pimentel Doctoral student Statistics Department Wharton School of the University of PennsylvaniaMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Samuel D. Pimentel Doctoral student Statistics Department Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania   MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Surgical training has undergone major changes in recent years – including a reduction of six to twelve months of training time – and there is controversy about whether these changes have been good or bad for patient outcomes.   Our work partially addresses the issue by asking whether newly-trained surgeons perform better or worse than experienced surgeons.  We compared surgical patients treated by new surgeons to a similar group of patients treated by experienced surgeons using a new statistical technique called large, sparse optimal matching.  Our analysis found no significant differences in mortality rates between the two groups. (more…)
AHRQ, Author Interviews, Education, NIH, Race/Ethnic Diversity / 13.02.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Robert M. Kaplan Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research National Institutes of Health Bethesda, MD 20892 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Years of formal education is one of the strongest correlates of life expectancy. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between educational attainment and life expectancy with adjustments for other social, behavioral, and biological factors. Using data from a large cohort of nearly 30,000 adults, we found that education was a very strong predictor of survival and that biological and behavioral factors only partially explained the relationship. (more…)
Author Interviews, Education, JAMA / 21.01.2015

Dr. Juliane Kämmer  Postdoctoral Researcher on behalf of the authors Max Planck Institute for Human Development Center for Adaptive Rationality  Berlin GermanyMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Juliane Kämmer  Postdoctoral Researcher on behalf of the authors Max Planck Institute for Human Development Center for Adaptive Rationality  Berlin Germany Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Kämmer: Diagnostic errors contribute substantially to preventable medical error. Of the multiple reasons for diagnostic error (such as technical failures or poorly cooperating patients), cognitive error is among the most frequent. Although a vast amount of literature explores ways to reduce cognitive errors, for example, during data synthesis, the collaborative character of clinical decision making has been largely neglected so far. Thus, the aim of our study was to investigate the effect of working in teams as opposed to working alone on diagnostic accuracy and the diagnostic decision process as such (including the time to diagnosis, number of ordered diagnostic tests and calibration of diagnostic confidence to diagnostic accuracy). In our study, we asked senior medical students to imagine being at the emergency ward and having to diagnose six simulated patients with respiratory distress on a computer – either working individually or in pairs. We indeed found that working in pairs reduced diagnostic error without requiring more diagnostic data gathering. Interestingly, neither differences in knowledge nor in amount and relevance of acquired diagnostic information could explain the superior accuracy of the pairs; neither did the statistically increased likelihood of containing a knowledgeable member. We thus have shown that – similar to other studies outside medicine – collaboration may help correct errors, fill knowledge gaps and counteract reasoning flaws – and thus save lives. Moreover, we found that reflecting on their personal confidence may point members of teams towards an increased probability of a diagnostic error. (more…)
Author Interviews, Education, Technology / 12.01.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Živa Cotič Research Assistant & PhD Student,Global eHealth Unit Imperial College London and A/Prof Josip Car Director of Health Services and Outcomes Research Programme Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, Director of Global eHealth Unit School of Public Health, Imperial College London Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The Department of Health Workforce in collaboration with the Department of Knowledge, Ethics and Research at the World Health Organization commissioned the report to provide countries with evidence to inform and guide the adoption of innovative, technology enabled models into health professional education. The report aims to address complex challenges of 21st century global workforce development through eLearning, which has been recognised as key to building more effective health education and a stronger, better qualified workforce. Global workforce development is one of the most pressing global health issues. The World Health Organization estimates the shortage of the health workforce at approximately 7.2 million health workers, with an expected increase to 12.9 million by 2035. The magnitude of the health workforce challenges the health care systems are facing require both greater investment and more effective and strategic use of available resources. The findings of the report suggest that eLearning could be equivalent to traditional forms of learning in regard to knowledge and skill acquisition in health education. This information is crucial for policy makers and educators who are forming future education. (more…)
Author Interviews, Education, JAMA / 13.12.2014

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: John Hayes, MD Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center, Milwaukee, Wisconsin Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Prominent in the discussions about ABIM MOC and recertification has been an ongoing debate about the evidence that supports a relationship between recertification, MOC and patient care. Since many healthcare organizations use board certification as a criteria for employment consideration, the new status of “certified” but not meeting MOC throws considerable disarray into credentialing and hiring committees. We can now have ABIM labeling a physician who boarded eleven years ago as “not certified” but a physician who boarded 25 years ago as “certified” with an asterisk. And of course discussions like this bring employers and healthcare organizations back to the question: What is the additive value of MOC and recertification on patient care? The integrated Veterans Health Administration electronic health record generates performance reports for primary care physicians at regular intervals. In our study, we were able to observe for any difference based on certification groups. We reviewed ten industry-standard quality care measures in approximately 68,000 patients across 4 VA medical centers and found that internists holding time-unlimited certificates performed just as well as those holding time-limited certificates. (more…)
Author Interviews, Education, JAMA / 10.12.2014

Lisa Diamond, MD, MPH, FACP | Assistant Attending Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center Immigrant Health and Cancer Disparities Service Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences | Department of Medicine Evelyn Lauder Breast Center New York, NY 10065MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Lisa Diamond, MD, MPH, FACP | Assistant Attending Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center Immigrant Health and Cancer Disparities Service Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences | Department of Medicine Evelyn Lauder Breast Center New York, NY 10065 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Diamond: More than 25 million U.S. residents have limited English proficiency, an 80 percent increase from 1990 to 2010. Limited English proficiency (LEP) may impede participation in the English­ language-dominant health care system. Little is known about the non-English-language skills of physicians in training. In our analysis of the non-English-language skills of applicants to residency programs in the U.S., we found that although applicants are linguistically diverse, most of their languages do not match the languages spoken by the U.S. population with Limited English proficiency. (more…)