Author Interviews, Critical Care - Intensive Care - ICUs, End of Life Care, Primary Care, Pulmonary Disease, University of Pennsylvania / 07.10.2019 Interview with: Gary Weissman, MD, MSHP Assistant Professor of Medicine Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care Division Palliative and Advanced Illness Research (PAIR) Center University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine What is the background for this study? Response: There are millions of hospitalizations every year in the United States (US) that include a stay in an intensive care unit (ICU). Such ICU stays put strain on health system resources, may be unwanted by patients, and are costly to society. As the population of the US gets older and more medically complex, some have argued that we need more ICU beds and a larger ICU workforce to keep pace. We hypothesized that some proportion of these ICU admissions could be prevented with early and appropriate outpatient care. Such a strategy would alleviate some of the strains and costs associated with ICU stays. If an appreciable proportion of ICU stays were preventable in this way, it would strengthen support for an alternative population-health based framework instead of further investments in the ICU delivery infrastructure.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Lifestyle & Health, Mental Health Research, Opiods, University of Pennsylvania / 15.07.2019 Interview with: Samuel Preston, Ph.D. Professor of Sociology University of Pennsylvania What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response: Life expectancy at birth in the United States is low by international standards and has been declining in recent years. Our study aimed to identify how these trends differed by age, sex, cause of death, metropolitan status, and region. We found that, over the period 2009-11 to 2014-16, mortality rose at ages 25-44 in large metropolitan areas and their suburbs as well as in smaller metropolitan areas and non-metropolitan areas. Mortality at ages 45-64 also rose in all of these areas except large metropolitan areas. These were the ages responsible for declining life expectancy. Changes in life expectancy were particularly adverse for non-metropolitan areas and for women. The metropolitan distinctions in mortality changes were similar from region to region. The cause of death contributing most strongly to mortality declines was drug overdose for males and mental and nervous system disorders for women. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Hormone Therapy, JAMA, Prostate Cancer, University of Pennsylvania / 15.07.2019 Interview with: Ravi Jayadevappa, PhD, MS Department of Medicine Perelman School of Medicine University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA 19104-2676 What is the background for this study? Response: In the US, prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed non-skin cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death among men. Research shows that hormone therapy or ADT reduces the levels of male hormones in the body, called androgens, to stop them from stimulating cancer cells to grow., and thus is effective in reducing the spread and progression of prostate cancer. At the same time, some research has suggested that decreasing androgen levels may increase the risk factors for Alzheimer’s and dementia, including loss of lean body mass, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and depression. The ADT therapy may lead to impaired neuron growth and the regeneration of axons, thus affecting the cognitive function. Thus there is growing interest in the possible association between exposure to ADT and cognitive dysfunction. Our study investigates the association between exposure to ADT and subsequent diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or dementia in elderly, fee-for-service Medicare enrollees using SEER-Medicare linked databases. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cost of Health Care, Heart Disease, JAMA, University of Pennsylvania / 07.06.2019 Interview with: Sameed Khatana, MD, MPH Fellow, Cardiovascular Medicine, Perleman School of Medicine Associate Fellow, Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics University of Pennsylvania What is the background for this study?   Response: The Affordable Care Act (ACA) led to the largest increase in Medicaid coverage since the beginning of the program. However, a number of states decided not to expand eligibility. Studies of prior smaller expansions in Medicaid, such as in individual states, have suggested evidence of improved outcomes associated with Medicaid expansion. Additionally, studies of Medicaid expansion under the ACA of certain health measures such as access to preventive care and medication adherence have suggested some improvements as well. However, there have been no large, population-level studies to examine whether Medicaid expansion under the ACA led to changes in mortality rates. Given, a high burden of cardiovascular risk factors in the uninsured, we examined whether states that had expanded Medicaid had a change in cardiovascular mortality rates after expansion, compared to states that have not expanded Medicaid. (more…)
Alcohol, Author Interviews, Genetic Research, Nature, University of Pennsylvania / 05.04.2019 Interview with: Henry R. Kranzler, MD Professor of Psychiatry Perelman School of Medicine University of Pennsylvania What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Alcohol consumption and alcohol use disorder (AUD) are moderately heritable traits.  To date, genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have not examined these traits in the same sample, which limits an assessment of the extent to which genetic variation is unique to one or the other or shared. This GWAS examined a large sample (nearly 275,000 individuals) from the U.S. Veterans Affairs Million Veteran Program (MVP) for whom data on both alcohol consumption and alcohol use disorder diagnoses were available from an electronic health record.  We identified 18 genetic variants that were significantly associated with either alcohol consumption, AUD, or both. Five of the variants were associated with both traits, eight with consumption only, and five with alcohol use disorder only.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Education, Health Care Systems, Outcomes & Safety, University of Pennsylvania / 07.03.2019 Interview with: Jeffrey H. Silber, MD, PhD Director, Center for Outcomes Research Nancy Abramson Wolfson Endowed Chair Health Services Research Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Professor of Pediatrics, Anesthesiology and Critical Care Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania Professor of Health Care Management Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania What is the background for this study? Response: This was a year-long randomized trial that involved 63 internal medicine residency programs from around the US.  In 2015-2016, about half of the programs were randomized to follow the existing rules about resident duty hours that included restrictions on the lengths of shifts and the rest time required between shifts (the standard arm of the trial) and the other half of the programs didn’t have those shift length or rest period rules (the flexible arm of the trial).  We measured what happened to the patients cared for in those programs (the safety study), and other studies examined how much sleep the residents received, and how alert they were at the end of shifts (the sleep study), and previously we published on the educational outcomes of the interns. To measure the impact on patient outcomes when allowing program directors the ability to use a flexible shift length for their interns, we compared patient outcomes after the flexible regimen went into place to outcomes the year before in the same program. We did the same comparison for the standard arm. Then we compared the difference between these comparisons. Comparing before and after the implementation of the trial within the same program allowed us to be more confident that a particularly strong or weak program, or a program with especially sick or healthy patients, would not throw off the results of the study. The trial was designed to determine, with 95% confidence, if the flexible arm did not do more than 1% worse than the standard arm. If this were true for the flexible arm, we could say the flexible regimen was “non-inferior” to the standard regimen. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Neurology, Outcomes & Safety, Parkinson's, Pharmacology, University of Pennsylvania / 04.10.2018 Interview with: Allison W. Willis, MD, MS Assistant Professor of Neurology Assistant Professor of Biostatistics and Epidemiology Senior Fellow, Leonard Davis Institute Senior Scholar, Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: This study was motivated by my own experiences as a neurologist-neuroscientist. I care for Parkinson disease patients, and over the year, have had numerous instances in which a person was taking a medication that could interact with their Parkinson disease medications, or could worsen their PD symptoms. (more…)