Features highlights articles in the context of local and national policy issues to advance child health and well-being.
A study published by PolicyLab’s Alex Fiks examines how using automated phone calls and electronic reminders can support HPV vaccine decision-making for families and clinicians—and ultimately, improve vaccination rates among adolescent girls. The study, which included over 20,000 adolescent girls, found that to increase HPV vaccination rates, it is most effective to engage both the family and the clinician, rather than just one group. Clinician-focused reminders, education, and feedback were most effective for promoting the initiation of the HPV vaccine series, while family-focused reminder phone calls supported the completion of the vaccine series. These results demonstrate how health information technology can be meaningfully used to engage both clinicians and families in order to improve health and health care outcomes.
Asthma is the most common chronic pediatric illness, affecting more than 7 million children in the United States. Its effects are far-reaching, resulting in loss of work for parents and school for children, lower quality of life, and increased hospitalizations. One potential solution for improving care for children with asthma is to increase shared decision making (SDM) among parents and clinicians, an approach supported by the Institute of Medicine, as well as the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. However, the implementation of SDM in a real-world practice setting has proven difficult, calling for the development of innovative new systems to help facilitate this process.
PolicyLab’s Alexander Fiks has led the development of an electronic medical record-based patient portal, “MyAsthma,” designed to facilitate SDM in pediatric asthma. While typical portals include features such as messaging, appointment scheduling, and the delivery of lab results, the MyAsthma portal extends these features with a design that closely follows the elements of the definition of SDM by linking to the child’s electronic medical record and providing parents with a platform from which to access educational content, track asthma symptoms over time, identify concerns and goals, and share this information with the child’s doctor or asthma care team.
Providing an effective and reliable way for families to actively communicate with clinicians from home is important because research has shown that families who are able to do so are far more likely to report high levels of SDM, which has been associated with improved health and lower health care costs for children with special health care needs, including asthma.
May 4th to 7th marks the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies in Washington D.C. The event is hosted by the American Pediatric Society, the Society for Pediatric Research, the Academic Pediatric Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Over the course of four days, pediatric researchers from around the country, as well as from across the world, will gather to share their findings.
This year, several teams from PolicyLab, as well as our sister center, The Center for Pediatric Clinical Effectiveness (CPCE), will be presenting during the annual meeting. PolicyLab’s James Guevara and Marsha Gerdes and team will be presenting their research on Screening for Parental Depression in Urban Primary Care. Kristen Feemster will be presenting on Primary Care Pediatrician Perceptions of Antibiotic Overuse and Parental Pressure to Prescribe. Click here for a list of all the PolicyLab and CPCE presentations at PAS.
Notably, a leadership team from PolicyLab will be leading a three-hour workshop on the PolicyLab approach to research. The presentation – Research to Impact: Strategic Dissemination Skills for Achieving Evidence-Based Health Policy – will be led by Cynthia Mollen, James Guevara, Marsha Gerdes, Sarah Zlotnik, and PolicyLab Co-Director Kathleen Noonan. During the workshop, attendees will be guided through how to strategically think about framing research so that it will have the highest likelihood for policy impact. Attendees will walk away with tangible new skills, including how to:
Click here for a flyer with details about the workshop.
On April 5th, a federal judge ordered that Plan B, often called the "morning-after pill" be made available over-the-counter for all ages. Following this ruling, on April 30th the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) lowered the age limit to allow those aged 15 and older to buy Plan B without a prescription. This means adolescents will have increased access to emergency contraception (EC). Education and effective communication between pediatricians and patients will be more important than ever.
A recent study published by PolicyLab's Cynthia Mollen and colleagues highlights barriers to the use of EC among urban adolescents, including lack of awareness, misunderstanding about its effectiveness, and misinformation about its side effects. The study builds on previous research by Dr. Mollen that showed communication barriers between pediatricians and patients may contribute to EC’s underuse in the adolescent population. The work points to the need for comprehensive education of adolescents and providers as core components of a robust pregnancy prevention campaign.
A new study by PolicyLab's Sophia Jan examined whether receiving surgery at a children's hospital or general hospital, or from a surgeon in a particular speciality, impacted outcomes for young people with inflammatory bowel disease. The study found that pediatric surgeons had the lowest predicted probability of surgical complications, but that surgeries performed at children's hospitals had the highest predicted probability. These results indicate a need to better understand how practice setting and surgical specialty affect outcomes for a population that traverses a variety of health care settings.