Comparison of Local Public Health Departments Highlights Social Inequities

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Megan Wallace, DrPH Department of Epidemiology Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Baltimore, Maryland

Dr. Wallace

Megan Wallace, DrPH
Department of Epidemiology
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Baltimore, Maryland

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Local health departments are often evaluated on a nationwide or statewide basis, however, given diversity among counties that exists even at the state level, we felt there might be a better way to group health departments for evaluation.

In this study, we created county-level clusters using local characteristics most associated with the outcomes of interest, which were smoking, motor vehicle crash deaths, and obesity. We then compared county-level percentile rankings for the outcomes within sociodemographic peer clusters vs nationwide rankings. We identified 8 groups of counties with similar local characteristics.

Percentile ranks for the outcomes of interest often differed when counties were compared within their peer groups in comparison with a nationwide scale.  Continue reading

Untreated Hearing Loss: Higher Health Care Costs, More ER Visits and Readmissions

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Nicholas S. Reed, AuD Assistant Professor | Department of Otolaryngology-Head/Neck Surgery Core Faculty  | Cochlear Center for Hearing and Public Health Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health

Nicholas Reed AuD

Nicholas S. Reed, AuD
Assistant Professor | Department of Otolaryngology-Head/Neck Surgery
Core Faculty | Cochlear Center for Hearing and Public Health
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: This study was a true team effort. It was funded by AARP and AARP Services, INC and the research was a collaboration of representatives from Johns Hopkins University, OptumLabs, University of California – San Francisco, and AARP Services, INC. Given all of the resent research on downstream effects of hearing loss on important health outcomes such as cognitive decline, falls, and dementia, the aim was to explore how persons with hearing loss interacted with the healthcare system in terms of cost and utilization.

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?

Response: Over a 10 year period, untreated hearing loss (hearing aid users were excluded from this study as they are difficult to capture in the claims database) was associated with higher healthcare spending and utilization. Specifically, over 10 years, persons with untreated hearing loss spent 46.5% more, on average, on healthcare (to the tune of approximately $22000 more) than those without evidence of hearing loss. Furthermore, persons with untreated hearing loss had 44% and 17% higher risk for 30-day readmission and emergency department visit, respectively.

Similar relationships were seen across other measures where persons with untreated hearing loss were more likely to be hospitalized and spent longer in the hospital compared to those without evidence of hearing loss. Continue reading

Therapy Dogs Can Spread MRSA in Hospitals—But Shampooing Can Help

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Courtesy of Kathryn Dalton, VMD MPH

Courtesy of Kathryn Dalton, VMD MPH

Kathryn Dalton, VMD MPH
AKC CHF Fellow
PhD Student, Davis Lab
Environmental Health and Engineering
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Animal-assisted interventions (or AAI for short) have become increasing popular in hospitals for the emotional and physical benefits they bring to patients. But there is a risk that these therapy dogs could potential spread infectious germs, including MRSA (methicillin-resistantStaphylococcus aureus), to patients.

Our study found that therapy dogs can spread MRSA to patients, and children who had more contact with the therapy dog were at higher risk of getting MRSA. But, we used a new cleaning protocol on the dog with an anti-septic shampoo before the visit and anti-septic wipes during the visit. Patients who had more contact with the dog did not have a higher risk of MRSA when the dog was giving this new cleaning protocol, which made the AAI therapy visits safer for the patients. In addition, the patients’ emotional and physical benefits we observed were not changed by using this dog cleaning protocol.       Continue reading

More Liquor Stores, More Crime

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Pamela Trangenstein, PhD While she was a predoctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health's Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY) 

Dr. Trangenstein

Pamela Trangenstein, PhD
While  a predoctoral fellow at
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY) 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: Research repeatedly shows that alcohol outlet density (the number of businesses that sell alcohol in an area) is associated with violent crime, but studies disagree about whether alcohol outlets that are on premise (e.g., bars, restaurants) or off premise (e.g., liquor stores, beer and wine stores) have a stronger association with violent crime.

We used advanced methods that consider both the number of alcohol outlets and their locations to better understand how the association between alcohol outlets and violent crime differs by type of outlet.

We found that alcohol outlets that allow off-premise sales like liquor stores had a stronger association with homicide, aggravated assault, and robbery than on-premise outlets like bars and restaurants. We also found that disadvantaged neighborhoods had higher access to the types of alcohol outlets associated with the most harms: off-premise outlets.  Continue reading