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Funded by the National Institute on Aging

Although the US spends far more on health care than other high-income countries, older Americans are sicker and have shorter lives than older adults in many other high-income countries, even after controlling for individual-level factors such as education and behavioral risks. Reasons for the US health disadvantage are not well understood. However, local amenities and resources have not been examined systematically in efforts to understand difference in older adults' health status across countries.

This project will assess the extent to which local contextual characteristics explain the worse health status of older Americans compared to their counterparts in England using data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) and English Longitudinal Study of Aging (ELSA). We will identify comparable local geographic areas in the HRS and ELSA and create a comparable contextual dataset to be linked to the ELSA at each geographic boundary. We will then assess the extent to which area-level contextual measures explain key health and mortality differences between the US and England, including comprehensive self-reported health measures, measures of physical performances (e.g., gait speed) and cognitive functioning, and biomarkers (e.g., HbA1c). We will also examine health gaps by age, education, and economic groups before and after the adjustments of local contextual characteristics.

PI: HwaJung Choi

CBSSM Co-Is: Michele Heisler & Kenneth Langa

The Diabetes Lobby (Dec-09)

Tell us what you think about certain public policies designed to reduce the incidence of diabetes in the US.

Please read this hypothetical news article and then answer a few questions at the end.

People with Diabetes Lobby Congress This Week

Washington, March 28 – About 1000 patients with type 2 diabetes (also commonly known as adult-onset or non-insulin-dependent diabetes) have converged here as advocates for the American Diabetes Association (ADA). They will be meeting with their members of Congress to discuss their condition and advocate for federal policies to address their disease. In addition, they will hold a rally on Thursday of this week on the National Monument grounds, to attract popular attention to their disease.
 
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 21 million Americans have diabetes, but one-third of these people do not yet know they have the disease. More than 90% of people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes, a form of diabetes which typically emerges when people are adults but which may develop during childhood. The number of people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes has been increasing every year. There were over 1 million new cases of diabetes diagnosed in 2005 among adults. Researchers believe that the conditions in the neighborhoods where people live increase their chances of getting type 2 diabetes. Rates of diabetes are highest among people living in poor neighborhoods.
 
People with type 2 diabetes develop a problem with the way their body secretes or responds to insulin, a hormone that regulates blood glucose levels. As a result, they have elevated blood sugar levels, which they must check multiple times per day and monitor their food intake. Researchers are working hard to understand more about what causes type 2 diabetes. Diabetes expert Dr. Howard Smith says, "People who live in neighborhoods where the majority of stores sell food with high calories and low nutritional value, such as fast food restaurants or convenience stores, are much more likely to develop diabetes." Several other scientific studies have supported the idea that people’s neighborhoods, including not having convenient or safe places to exercise, and being exposed to many advertisements selling high-calorie foods, are associated with the development of diabetes.
 
If left untreated, people with diabetes can become blind, have kidney damage, lose their limbs, or die. Physicians, health plans, employers, and policymakers are considering new ways to prevent diabetes, help patients manage their diabetes, and reduce this deadly epidemic. It is expected that the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, and Labor will consider several bills about diabetes in the upcoming session of Congress.
 
Some people with diabetes check their blood sugar with a device called a glucometer.
 
Having read this news article, please tell us if you agree with the following policies:
 
The government should impose higher taxes on food high in calories and fat, like it does for cigarettes.
 
  • strongly disagree
  • disagree
  • neutral
  • agree
  • strongly agree
The government should provide financial incentives to encourage grocery stores to locate in areas where there are few.
 
  • strongly disagree
  • disagree
  • neutral
  • agree
  • strongly agree
The government should regulate advertisements for junk food like it does for cigarettes and alcohol.
 
  • strongly disagree
  • disagree
  • neutral
  • agree
  • strongly agree

Generally speaking, do you usually think of yourself as a Republican, a Democrat, an Independent, or what?

  • Strong Democrat
  • Not so strong Democrat
  • Independent, close to Democrat
  • Independent
  • Independent, close to Republican
  • Not so strong Republican
  • Strong Republican
  • Don't know, haven't thought much about it

How you answered: 

Researchers affiliated with CBDSM and the School of Public Health have found that "Americans' opinions about health policy are polarized on political partisan lines. Democrats and Republicans differ in the ways that they receive and react to messages about the social determinants of health."

In the study, lead author Sarah Gollust, PhD, randomly assigned participants to read one of four hypothetical news articles about type 2 diabetes. Diabetes was used as an example of a common health issue that is widely debated and that is known to have multiple contributing factors, including genetic predisposition, behavioral choices, and social determinants (such as income or neighborhood environments).

The articles were identical except for the causal frame embedded in the text. The article that you read in this Decision of the Month presented social determinants as a cause for type 2 diabetes. Other versions of the article presented genetic predisposition or behavioral choices as a cause for type 2 diabetes, and one version had no causal language.

Dr. Gollust then asked the study participants their views of seven nonmedical governmental policies related to the environmental, neighborhood, or economic determinants of diabetes:

  • bans on fast food concessions in public schools
  • incentives for grocery stores to establish locations where there are currently few
  • bans on trans fat in restaurants
  • government investment in parks
  • regulating junk food advertisements
  • imposing taxes on junk foods
  • subsidizing the costs of healthy food

Dr. Gollust also asked participants their political party identification and a number of other self-reported characteristics.

The most dramatic finding of this study was that the news story with the social determinants as a cause for type 2 diabetes had significantly different effects on the policy views of participants, depending on whether they identified themselves as Democrats or Republicans. After reading the social determinants article, Democrats expressed a higher level of support for the proposed public health policies. Republicans expressed a lower level of support for the proposed public health policies. This effect occurred only in the group of participants who were randomly assigned to read the version of the news article with social determinants given as a cause for type 2 diabetes. Dr. Gollust summarizes: "Exposure to the social determinants message produced a divergence of opinion by political party, with Democrats and Republicans differing in their opinions by nearly 0.5 units of the 5-point scale."

The study suggests several possible explanations for these results:

"First, the social determinants media frame may have presumed a liberal worldview to which the Republican study participants disagreed or found factually erroneous (ie, not credible), but with which Democrats felt more comfortable or found more familiar. . . Second, media consumption is becoming increasingly polarized by party identification, and . . . the social determinants message may have appeared particularly biased to Republicans. . .Third, the social determinants frame may have primed, or activated, study participants' underlying attitudes about the social group highlighted in the news article. . . Fourth, participants' party identification likely serves as proxy for . . . values held regarding personal versus social responsibility for health."

Dr. Gollust and her colleagues conclude that if public health advocates want to mobilize the American public to support certain health policies, a segmented communication approach may be needed. Some subgroups of Americans will not find a message about social determinants credible. These subgroups value personal responsibility and find social determinants antagonistic to their worldview. To avoid triggering immediate resistance by these citizens to information about social determinants of health, public health advocates may consider the use of information about individual behavioral factors in educational materials, while working to build public familiarity with and acceptance of research data on social determinants.

For more details about this study:

Gollust SE, Lantz PM, Ubel PA, The polarizing effect of news media messages about the social determinants of health, Am J Public Health 2009, 99:2160-2167.
 

 

Funded by Health and Human Services, Department of-National Institutes of Health

Funding Years: 2014 - 2017.

Suicide is a leading cause of death and suicide attempts are a major cause of disability, lost productivity, and health care costs. Suicide prevention is a research priority of the National Institutes of Health, and the US Surgeon General's National Strategy for Suicide Prevention calls for a shift towards recovery-oriented prevention efforts which promote hope and social support. Hopelessness and social isolation are two proximal risk factors for suicide which may be improved via peer mentorship, a form of peer support effective for preventing depression and repeat psychiatric hospitalizations. The primary aims of this study are to develop and pilot test a peer mentorship intervention for psychiatrically hospitalized patients at high risk for suicide. The intervention will be adapted by an expert panel from existing peer support training protocols to target suicide risk factors and to enhance suicide risk management. Protocols for training and supervising peer mentors and measures of intervention fidelity will also be developed. The intervention will then be pilot teste among 60 participants randomly assigned to receive the peer mentorship intervention plus usual care or usual care alone. Participants will be recruited from the inpatient psychiatry unit at the University of Michigan Health System. Inclusion criteria will include medical record documentation of suicidal ideation or suicide attempt at admission, and exclusion criteria will include significant cognitive impairment (according to the Mini-Cog), current receipt of peer support, or determination that peer mentorship may cause distress to the patient or the peer mentor. The peer mentorship intervention will include an in-person visit on the inpatient unit and regular in-person or telephone follow-up for 3 months post-discharge. The intervention will be delivered by peer specialists--individuals in stable recovery from serious mental illness who have received formal training and certification in peer support from the state of Michigan--with at least 6 months of professional peer support experience. The primary outcomes of the pilot study are acceptability and feasibility of the intervention as determined by: 1) >50% of eligible participants enroll in the study, 2) >70% of enrollees complete final follow- up measures at 6 months, and 3) among those assigned to the peer mentorship intervention, >80% complete an inpatient session and the median number of total sessions is at least 4. Peer mentorship sessions will be recorded and rated for fidelity. Measures of suicidal ideation and suicide attempts (the intended primary outcomes of a subsequent efficacy study) and secondary outcomes such as quality of life, functioning, depression, and service use will be obtained at baseline, 3 months, and 6 months post-enrollment by a research assistant blinded to study arm. An exploratory aim will be to measure potential mediators of intervention effectiveness including belongingness, burdensomeness, and hopelessness according to the interpersonal theory of suicide. If acceptability and feasibility are demonstrated, the study will result in a novel recovey-oriented suicide prevention intervention ready for a fully-powered randomized controlled efficacy trial.

PI(s): Paul Pfeiffer

Co-I(s): Mark Ilgen, H. Myra Kim, Cheryl King, Marcia Valenstein

Funded by the Informed Medical Decision Making Foundation

Funding Years: 2010-2012

The overall long-term goal of this research program is to develop values clarification exercises that improve decision quality.  The research funded by this grant aims to establish the feasibility of the development and evaluation of a dynamic interactive tool that explicitly encourages values exploration and clarification.  For this study, values exploration means that patients will be encouraged to “try on” different ideas, see immediate and dynamic visual feedback, adjust and re-adjust their values, and save settings at multiple time points in order to recall and compare thoughts and feelings.  It is hypothesized that by explicitly supporting a potentially circuitous path of values exploration, the resulting approach will be more reflective of the intuitive processes that people follow to arrive at states of greater clarity.

Angela Fagerlin (PI)

 

Jacob Solomon, PhD

Alumni

Dr. Jacob Solomon was a CBSSM Postdoctoral Research Fellow, 2015-2017.

Jacob Solomon completed a PhD in Media and Information Studies at Michigan State University in 2015. His research is focused on Human-Computer Interaction and Human Factors Engineering where he studies how the design of interactive systems affects users’ behavior. His research merges methods from social sciences with computer and information science to design, build, and evaluate socio-technical systems.

Last Name: 
Solomon

Michael D. Fetters, MD, MPH, MA, Associate Professor, recently gave a talk at the 38th annual North American Primary Care Research Group (NAPCRG) meeting, held November 13-17, 2010, in Seattle, WA.

How We Can Help

CBSSM offers a variety of resources and tools that have broad applicability.

Please consider attending one of our working group meetings. These meetings provide a forum for project focused discussions and interdisciplinary collaborations. Presenters can receive feedback on a range of issues, from project inception and grant applications to manuscript drafts.

As part of our ongoing research efforts, CBSSM investigators often create methodological tools that have broad applicability beyond the specific research projects for which they were developed. We are pleased to make these tools available to all researchers and non-profit organizations, subject only to appropriate attribution in work products (materials and/or manuscripts).Please explore the following tools:

PIHCD Working Group

Thu, January 08, 2015, 3:00pm to 4:00pm
Location: 
TBD

Jake Seagull will be speaking about prostate cancer shared decision making.

Interactive Decision

At CBSSM, we perform the basic and applied scientific research that will improve health care policy and practice to benefit patients and their families, health care providers, third-party payers, policy makers, and the general public.  In our "Interactive Decision" web feature, we turn a recent research finding into an interactive decision that a patient or policy maker might face.  Read, decide, click—and see how your answers compare with our respondents.

Impact of the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System on Vaccine Acceptance and Trust (Aug-17)

Patient understanding of blood test results (Feb-17)

Attitudes toward Return of Secondary Results in Genomic Sequencing (Sep-16)

Moral concerns and the willingness to donate to a research biobank (Jun-16)

Liver Transplant Organ Quality Decision Aid: Would you consider a less than perfect liver? (Jan-16)

Blocks, Ovals, or People Icons in Icon Array Risk Graphics? (Sept-15)

Getting ahead of illness: using metaphors to influence medical decision making (May-15)

 

 

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