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In the news: Middle-aged Americans underestimate their future health care needs, finds University of Minnesota study

We may not want to think about it, let alone acknowledge it, but eventually we will all get older. But are we prepared for what getting older entails?

A new study published in the January issue of Health Affairs from the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota shows that middle-aged adult Americans (ages 40-65) underestimate their future health care needs for long-term care services and supports. The study found 60 percent think they are unlikely to need care, while in reality only 30 percent will not need care.

Previous research indicates that as the American population ages most middle-aged individuals are under-informed about care and have made few plans such as saving money and having proper insurance to cover care needs as they arise.

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expert-perspectives

Health Talk Recommends: Assessing the ACA’s impact on pregnant inmates

Pregnancy can be hard in the best of circumstances. For a pregnant inmate, incarceration opens up a whole new set of challenges faced only by expectant mothers behind bars.

To coincide with the March issue of Health Affairs, which focuses on issues related to incarceration and health, University of Minnesota researchers Katy Kozhimannil, Ph.D. of the School of Public Health and Rebecca Shlafer, Ph.D. of the Medical School wrote about what the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will mean for the 6-10 percent of female prisoners who are pregnant during their incarceration.

“Currently, pregnant inmates have increased rates of complicated and preterm deliveries, and mothers and their babies have more risk factors and worse birth outcomes than similar women who are not incarcerated,” said Kozhimannil.

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research-and-clinical-trials

U of M evaluates health care homes, finds better access to care, higher quality and lower costs

University of Minnesota researchers from the School of Public Health have found that Health Care Homes (HCH) in Minnesota may be upholding their promise to improve access to quality health care while reducing the cost of care.

In an evaluation of the current status of HCHs, researchers also found that HCHs served patients with more severe medical conditions and were associated with better access to care for African American and Native American populations.

The results come from a Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) funded evaluation of HCHs led by co-investigators Douglas Wholey Ph.D., and Michael Finch, Ph.D., from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health Division of Health Policy & Management.

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expert-perspectives

Thinking differently about measuring quality and improving the use of cesarean delivery

Over the past couple of years, there has been increased media attention to a couple of trends. First, there has been a recognition in the fields of public health and maternal and child health that the rapidly increasing rates of cesarean delivery were concerning. The rate of cesareans hit an all-time high of nearly 33% in 2009, and a number of high profile efforts – including the federal Healthy People 2020 goals – set goals for reversing this trending and reducing rates of both primary and repeat cesareans.

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research-and-clinical-trials

Improving quality of life in nursing homes

A person’s quality of life (QOL) is influenced by a number of factors. For nursing home residents, QOL is highly impacted by the amount of personal attention received from facility staff, according to new research from the School of Public Health.

Findings from the study indicate the average time nursing home residents spend with activity staff is only 20 minutes per day. Yet, despite this short amount of time, activity staff hours have a consistent positive impact on residents’ QOL. By augmenting quality of care initiatives with efforts designed around increasing social and mentally stimulating activities, nursing homes can dramatically increase QOL for residents.

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research-and-clinical-trials

U of M researcher: understanding obesity consequences helps frame public support for prevention policies

New research led by a health policy expert from the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health has found that despite public agreement around the seriousness of childhood obesity, support for government intervention varies based on political ideology and perceptions of which types of obesity consequences warrant taking action.

The latest analysis points to challenges facing public health officials striving to promote obesity prevention policies that appeal to broad audiences as the United States searches for ways to curb the obesity epidemic.

“Scientists have produced compelling evidence that childhood obesity affects children and society in many ways, including raising kids’ risk for diseases like diabetes, increasing health care costs, and even challenging our military since a large number of new recruits are turned away because of their weight,” said Sarah Gollust, Ph.D., a University of Minnesota health policy researcher and the study’s lead author. “Our goal was to examine how the public perceives obesity consequences to uncover opportunities that might help foster public support for government intervention, given well-known divisions among the public over what type of role the government should have in obesity prevention.”

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