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research-and-clinical-trials

Research snapshot: Minimum distance requirements for critical access hospitals may harm the rural health care system

A new study from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health finds more than 250 hospitals nationally could lose critical access status because of a minimum distance requirement, which requires the hospital to be located at least 15 road miles from the next nearest hospital. These critical access hospitals had higher patient volume, were more financially stable, were more likely to publicly report quality data, and had better quality performance than critical access hospitals located farther from other hospitals.

The study findings, published today in the April issue of Health Affairs, also found loss of critical access hospital status and cost-based reimbursement from Medicare would have considerable negative impacts on these hospitals and the rural communities that depend on them for health care.

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expert-perspectives

Expert perspective: Who delivers babies in rural hospitals?

Since late January, when the story broke about the upcoming closure of the maternity ward at the Grand Marais hospital, I’ve been thinking a lot about pregnant women, clinicians, and hospital administrators in Grand Marais, and in other rural communities in Minnesota and beyond.  For pregnant women in rural areas and for all individuals seeking care, both access and patient safety are necessary components of effective health care systems. They are not negotiable. In order to better understand how to ensure both access and safety, we need to start with relevant information for understanding both capacity and need for care in rural communities.

Approximately 20 percent of the U.S. population lives in a rural area, but only about 10 percent of the nation’s physicians are practicing in rural areas. Of the 2,050 rural U.S. counties, 77 percent are designated as health professional shortage areas.  A report from the Minnesota Department of Health highlights the workforce challenges and clinician shortages in Greater Minnesota.  And this is important, because rural Americans suffer worse health outcomes than those in urban areas, having higher rates of death, disability and chronic disease.

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research-and-clinical-trials

Research Snapshot: Creating internet-based health interventions

One goal of Healthy People 2020 is to “use health communication strategies and health information technology (IT) to improve population health outcomes and health care quality, and to achieve health equity.” In order to help reach this goal, internet-based health interventions are being researched and implemented at the University of Minnesota.

study was recently published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research providing practical guidance for practitioners and public health researchers who wish to develop and implement internet-based health interventions (systems that allow practitioners to provide treatment and prevention programs with the use of websites, mobile texting, apps, etc.).

 

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research-and-clinical-trials

Adolescents who eat regular family meals less likely to engage in eating disorder behaviors finds University of Minnesota study

As a kid, rushing home from a friend’s house to make it to dinner on time may not have been your favorite thing to do. But, it turns out that family meal time may have been worth it after all.

According to a recent study, adolescents, especially girls, who eat more family meals are less likely to engage in harmful eating disorder behaviors. Furthermore, this protection against disordered eating behaviors was found to exist in the majority of families studied, even for adolescents whose families struggled with communication or other challenges.

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news-and-notes

Legislative advisory committee pushes more support for incarcerated pregnant women

It is estimated that four percent of incarcerated women are pregnant when they enter custody. Most of the corrections facilities in Minnesota are not equipped to house pregnant women, and given their high likelihood of medical and social risk factors, many incarcerated pregnant women may be at high risk for poor health outcomes.

After passing a bill to address this disparity last spring, an advisory committee created by the legislature recommends lawmakers consider providing additional support to incarcerated pregnant and postpartum women. The initial bill established regulations on the use of restraints and mandated pregnancy tests for inmates, among other policy changes. It was a major improvement in standard of care, but more can be done, said committee lead Rebecca Shlafer, Ph.D., assistant professor at the University of Minnesota Medical School.

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expert-perspectives

Commentary: School of Public Health associate professor reflects on the importance of physical education in our school systems

The following commentary was presented in December 2014 to the Minneapolis Public Schools Board of Education by Toben Nelson, Sc.D., associate professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota regarding graduation requirements for physical education.

“Developing minds and bodies need to be active in order to function at their best. I am here to urge you to reconsider the decision to reduce the number of physical education (PE) credits that students must take in order to graduate from a Minneapolis public school.

In my view, reducing physical education requirements is actually counter-productive to educational goals. Physical activity is critical for physical health. But it has a wide range of other benefits. Regular activity promotes mental health, reduces anxiety and depression, and improves mood. When schools provide structured time for physical activity through physical education, students respond with improved academic performance in the classroom and on standardized test scores.

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