Waiving Medicare’s three-day rule lessens hospital stay

Amal TrivediAmal TrivediA new study – the first on the topic in a long while – finds that when Medicare Advantage plans have waived a rule requiring a minimum of three days in the hospital before skilled nursing care can be covered, the effect was less time in the hospital, which can save money and reduce potential hospital complications for patients. Potentially negative implications were not in evidence. 

"This policy dates back to the mid-1960's, when the average length of a hospital stay was two weeks," said Dr. Amal Trivedi, associate professor of health services, policy and practice at Brown University and corresponding author of the study in the August issue of Health Affairs. "Requiring patients to stay in the hospital for three days before they can be transferred to a skilled nursing facility may unnecessarily lengthen hospital stays, leading to more spending, but also subject patients to unnecessary complications arising from hospital care."

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(Distributed August 4, 2015)

Brown to help Ghana build HIV, TB research capacity

Omar GalarragaOmar GalarragaWith $1.45 million over five years from the Fogarty International Center of the National Institutes of Health, a pair of Brown University professors will work with colleagues in Ghana to build the research capacity needed to address the deadly co-epidemics of HIV and tuberculosis.

The principal investigator of the project is Dr. Awewura Kwara, professor of medicine in the Alpert Medical School of Brown University. In addition to Kwara, other key faculty members on the grant are Omar Galarraga, of the Brown University School of Public Health and professors Margaret Lartey and Richard Adanu of the University of Ghana.

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(Distributed August 4, 2015)

Cell phones and risk of brain tumors: What's the real science?

David SavitzDavid Savitz(CNN) The city of Berkeley, California, passed a law that goes into effect next month requiring cell phone stores to inform customers about safety recommendations. The move reopened a decades-old debate about whether mobile phones cause brain tumors.

"There are individual studies and findings that do produce a risk, but on balance the judgment has to be made on the totality (of the evidence)," Savitz said, adding that there is error in even the best and biggest studies.

"We know quite a bit (about the risk) actually and it seems extremely unlikely that there is an effect. We are down to the range that there is no risk or a risk that is almost too small to detect," Savitz said.

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(Distributed July 29, 2015)

Announcing new name for Behavioral and Social Sciences master's degree

The faculty of the Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences (BSS) has voted to change the name of the Master's degree in Behavioral and Social Sciences Interventions (BSSI). The degree's new name is Behavioral and Social Health Sciences (BSHS). This change has been approved by the Brown University Graduate Council and goes into effect for all students immediately.

There are several reasons for the change: Behavioral and Social Health Sciences (BSHS) is also the name of our doctoral degree and better reflects the Master degree's curriculum, as well as the research of both faculty and students. The faculty also believe that the BSHS name will better position our graduates in the job market, and in their further academic pursuits.

(Distributed July 27, 2015)

NIH funds study of early life chemical exposures

Joseph BraunJoseph BraunWith more than $1.5 million from the National Institutes of Health over the next four years, Brown University epidemiologist Joseph Braun will study how exposure to three common chemicals during pregnancy and childhood affects brain development and the thyroid.

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(Distributed July 23, 2015)

Neighborhood revitalization motivated exercise

Akilah Dulin-KeitaAkilah Dulin-KeitaA community revitalization effort in a struggling neighborhood of Birmingham, Ala., succeeded in promoting healthy physical activity. A new study also documents the basis of that change in the hopes and concerns of the neighborhood's residents.

"The community was a very high-crime area and definitely a food desert," said Akilah Dulin-Keita, assistant professor of behavioral and social sciences in the Brown University School of Public Health and lead author of the study in August issue of the journal Social Science & Medicine. "It was unsafe. It was a high-needs community."

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(Distributed July 22, 2015)

Brown faculty work on Mediterranean diet featured in Italian newspaper

Dr. Richard BesdineDr. Richard BesdineA group of American researchers from AFAR, the American Federation for Aging Research, travelled to Italy to discuss their research on the benefits of the the Mediterranean diet. Members of the group included Dr. Richard Besdine, medical officer of AFAR, professor of health services, policy and practice, and director of the Center for Gerontology and Health Care Research and Dr. Fox Wetle, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health. Their travels were featured in the Italian newspaper Nuovo Quotidiano di Puglia. 

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(Distributed July 14, 2015)

Organized programs help prevent or delay diabetes

Ethan BalkEthan BalkOrganized diet and exercise programs can stave off diabetes for those at risk, according to a new recommendation. The Community Preventive Services Task Force, an independent, unpaid group of public health and prevention experts who develop recommendations for community health, commissioned a review of 53 studies describing 66 combined diet and physical activity promotion programs. The studies were done between 1991 and 2015. 

Ethan Balk - assistant professor of health services, policy and practice - lead author of the commissioned report, commented on findings that revealed organized diet and exercise can ward off diabetes. “In general, people who may be at increased risk for diabetes (both adults and children) include those who are overweight or obese and those who have a sedentary lifestyle.”

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(Distributed July 14, 2015)

Bill Rakowski retires

Bill RakowskiBill Rakowski

“Anybody who knew me as a teenager, including me,” Bill Rakowski insists, “would have never expected me to have the career that I had. I'm not saying it was stellar – but to wind up at an Ivy League?” Rakowski, professor of behavioral and social sciences and associate dean for academic affairs at the School of Public Health, is retiring after a decades-long career at Brown, and he speaks like someone who still can’t believe the good fortune he’s had along the way.

(Distributed July 6, 2015)

Equality and Health: SCOTUS ruling on same-sex marriage

David ManningDavid ManningThe Supreme Court decision Obergefell v. Hodges recognized same-sex marriage by requiring all states to issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples. The majority opinion, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, declared:

(Distributed July 6, 2015)
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