Drought linked with human health risks in US analysis, Berman et al.

In a retrospective study of health claims for 618 U.S. counties over 14 years, published in The Lancet, researchers found that severe drought conditions increased the risk of mortality among adults 65 or over. They also found that individuals in places where droughts were rare, such as counties in Minnesota, showed a larger risk of mortality and cardiovascular disease compared with counties where drought is more common. Read more here

Cardiovascular disease-related hospital admissions jump on second day after major snowfall, Bobb et al.

According to a new study by researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, hospital admissions for cardiovascular diseases decline on days with major snowfalls compared to days with no snowfall, but they jump by 23% two days later. Lead author Jennifer Bobb of the Group Health Research Institute in Seattle, who worked on the study as a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Biostatistics at Harvard Chan School,…

Video Simulations of PM2.5 Levels in Europe and the United States, Choirat

Evolution of PM2.5 levels in Europe and the United States The following videos depict the evolution of PM2.5 levels from 1998-2015 in Europe and the United States. The same color scales are used for both videos. As shown, there are drastic improvements in air quality for the whole US, while air quality in Europe does not show much improvement and some areas, including Milan, worsen. Video Author: Christine Choirat Data Sources:…

Readmission Rates After Passage of the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program: A Pre–Post Analysis, Wasfy et al.

Passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) in March 2010 created the Medicare Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program (HRRP), which introduced the prospect of financially penalizing hospitals based on their previous performance. This program represents one of several efforts to encourage provider organizations to enhance safety and value. Medicare has reported lower readmission rates since passage of the law, but whether the lowest-performing hospitals might experience less rapid improvement…

Giving a Voice to Future Leaders at Harvard’s Women’s Weekend

When asked to address the powerful group of women who attended Harvard’s inaugural university-wide Women’s Weekend (11/5-11/6), Dr. Francesca Dominici chose to take a different approach, placing the microphone in the hands of a panel of young female experts. Dominici, who advocates for institutional and cultural changes by starting with the subtle inequities that affect students, questioned her experts, a group of articulate 5th grade and high school students, about…

Hierarchical Models for Semicompeting Risks Data With Application to Quality of End-of-Life Care for Pancreatic Cancer, Lee et al.

Readmission following discharge from an initial hospitalization is a key marker of quality of healthcare in the United States. For the most part, readmission has been studied among patients with “acute” health conditions, such as pneumonia and heart failure, with analyses based on a logistic-Normal generalized linear mixed model. Naïve application of this model to the study of readmission among patients with “advanced” health conditions such as pancreatic cancer, however,…

“Direct” Approach Evaluates Air Quality Interventions, Zigler et al.

Causal Inference Methods for Estimating Long-Term Health Effects of Air Quality Regulations, was funded as part of HEI’s Accountability research program, aimed at understanding whether actions to improve air quality have resulted in improved health outcomes. Corwin Zigler and his colleagues used existing and newly developed statistical methods to assess whether an intervention was causally related to changes in pollutant levels or health outcomes, and applied their methods in two…

Hospital admissions for heat stroke are declining in the U.S., Wang et al.

  Heat waves are becoming more common, but according to this new study, the number of hospital admissions for heat stroke has declined significantly in the United States in recent years. In one of the largest studies of its kind, researchers examined data from more than 23 million Medicare beneficiaries in 1,916 U.S. counties between 1999-2010. They calculated the relative risk of heat stroke among older adults during heat wave days (defined…

Particulate air pollution from wildfires in the Western US under climate change, Liu et al.

  In the western US, wildfires contribute to over 70% of ambient fine particles (PM2.5) on days when PM2.5 levels exceeded the National Ambient Air Quality Standards. With future climate change, extended episodes of high-PM2.5 levels from wildfire smoke are estimated to be 57% more frequent and 31% more intense by mid-century. More than 82 million individuals are estimated to be affected by smoke waves 30 years from now, especially…