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Research Snapshot: Rural Wisconsin has limited access to licensed child care, may exacerbate health care workforce shortages and recruitment challenges

In general, research has shown that rural communities face serious shortages in health care workforce. This is especially concerning, as rural areas are aging at a faster rate than the rest of the country, and therefore have particular needs for a robust long-term care workforce. Women make up the vast majority of the health care workforce, including more than 90 percent of all nurses and health care paraprofessionals, such as home health care aides — which make up the backbone of the long-term care workforce. Efforts to recruit and retain health care workforce in rural areas tend to focus on individual-level initiatives, such as loan forgiveness and provider training, rather than on broader family and community issues like access to child care.

In a new study in the Journal of Community Health, researchers in the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota found fewer than one-third of all children under the age of five living in rural Wisconsin counties had access to an available slot in a licensed child care facility (either center or family-based), compared to nearly half of children under the age of five living in urban and suburban Wisconsin counties.

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UMN expert: Expanding access to health care coverage critical to reducing a state’s uninsurance rate

Photo: New York Times/

According to a recent New York Times article, the majority of people who remain uninsured after the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was implemented in the United States live in the South and Southwest and they tend to be poor.

But why is this the case?

Health Talk spoke with Brett Fried, a senior research fellow at the State Health Access Data Assistance Center (SHADAC), to learn more about why there are such glaring differences in uninsurance rates across the United States.

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Research Snapshot: New tool provides more accurate representation of family satisfaction with nursing home care

Making the decision to move a loved one into a nursing home is a big decision, which often leaves family members with questions and concerns regarding their satisfaction with their loved one’s care and quality of life (QOL) while in the facility.

To measure family satisfaction in nursing homes, most states rely upon measures developed by the nursing home industry that have not undergone rigorous testing. There is now, however, a new tool developed by researchers at the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health, in collaboration with Minnesota Department of Human Services, that provides validated measures of family satisfaction. These measures have been used in all nursing homes in Minnesota and show strong performance among consumers.

The tool consists of 32 questions. Family members are asked to reflect on their experiences with the nursing facility and the care given there. They grade each item on a scale from A-F, where A=excellent; B=very good; C=average; D=below average; and F = failing.

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UMN expert: China will see epidemic of tobacco related disease over the next few decades

Photo: Ernie/cc 2.0/

According to a new study recently published in The Lancet, Chinese men smoke one-third of the word’s cigarettes. An astonishing two-thirds of all men in China smoke, and one in three young Chinese men will die from smoking.

The study concluded that many of these smokers started at a young age, possibly in their teenage years, which adds risk, according to a New York Times article. The article goes on to say efforts to curtail smoking in China are often met with political resistance because the “central government has a monopoly through the Chinese National Tobacco Corporation, and more than 7 percent of government revenue comes from it.”

Health Talk spoke with Harry Lando, Ph.D., professor of epidemiology and community health in the School of Public Health, and member of the Masonic Cancer Center, to discuss what these alarming smoking rates mean for China and what it might mean for the U.S.

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For HIV treatment, the earlier the better

Photo: Inquiry blog

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on Inquiry.

New Doctors treating people with HIV have faced a tough decision. Should patients begin drug therapy before AIDS symptoms appear, and put up with the inconvenience and potential side effects? Or is it better to wait until their CD4+ T cell count – a key barometer of the immune system’s health –drops below a certain level, even though that means a greater risk of transmitting the virus to a partner?

This summer an answer finally emerged. The international START (Strategic Timing of AntiRetroviral Treatment) study, the first large, randomized and controlled clinical trial of the issue, showed the benefits of early treatment so clearly that the trial was halted prematurely so the volunteers receiving deferred treatment could begin therapy.

“Early treatment was effective everywhere in the world,” says James Neaton, a University of Minnesota biostatistics professor and principal investigator for INSIGHT (International Network for Strategic Initiatives in Global HIV Trials), which designed and conducted the trial. “We had more than a thousand people enrolled from sub-Saharan Africa, and a total of 4,685 people from 35 countries.”

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Preventing childhood obesity while promoting a positive body image

Photo: Omar Gurnah/CC 2.0/

September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month—a new observance that started five years ago, but is in keeping with mounting public awareness about the problem of childhood obesity. While parents are hit with messages to prevent obesity, they often get conflicting advice. So what can parents do to prevent obesity without instilling an unhealthy obsession with weight?

Researchers at the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health recommend parents start by modifying the home environment to make it easier to engage in healthier eating and activity and by modeling healthy eating and physical activity behaviors, a positive body image, and avoidance of weight talk. Their advice is based on research gathered through Project EAT, one of the largest and most comprehensive studies to examine weight-related issues in teenagers led by Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, Ph.D. Neumark-Sztainer used the findings from Project EAT to provide parents strategies in the book, I’m, Like, So Fat! Helping Your Teen Make Healthy choices about Eating and Exercise in a Weight-Obsessed World.

Health Talk spoke with Colleen Flattum, M.S., R.D., senior program manager with Project EAT.

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