Science Highlights
December 2012

When to start screening for breast cancer—and how often?

Diana Miglioretti, PhD, analyzed a case study in the November 22 New England Journal of Medicine with a physician colleague from the Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium who is based at the University of California, San Francisco. Citing evidence about balancing the benefits and harms of screening mammography, they wrote that most women at average risk of breast cancer should start screening every other year at age 50, not yearly at 40—consistent with U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendations and most countries with breast cancer screening programs. See full text.

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Randomized trial shows quitline CBT cuts weight gain in smokers who quit

Many smokers gain weight while quitting—or keep smoking for fear of weight gain. But that changed when cognitive behavioral treatment (CBT) addressing cessation-related weight concerns was delivered through a quitline: Smokers gained less weight while quitting—and they quit at the same rates as those who received no weight-related CBT. Sue Zbikowski, PhD, and colleagues from Alere Wellbeing (formerly Free & Clear), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and elsewhere published this randomized controlled trial in the November-December American Journal of Health Promotion. See abstract.

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CCHE uses ‘population dose’ to plan and evaluate community health interventions

How to evaluate whether a community-level health initiative works? GHRI’s Center for Community Health and Evaluation uses population dose: reach (how many people are exposed to an intervention strategy) times strength (change in behavior for each person reached). Allen Cheadle, PhD; Suzanne Rauzon, MPH; Emily Bourcier, MPH, MHA; and Rebecca Spring, MPH, described applying this measure to the Kaiser Permanente Community Health Initiative. With colleagues at Kaiser Permanente and the University of California, Berkeley, they e-published on November 6 in the American Journal of Evaluation. See abstract.

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What’s the ‘secret sauce’ when naturopaths help improve self-care for diabetes?

GHRI and Bastyr University researchers already published that adding naturopathic care to standard care improved health behavior and self-care for Group Health patients with type 2 diabetes. Now they report their exploration of how this happened: Patients’ interactions with naturopaths tended to be more patient-centered, holistic (not focused solely on diabetes), and collaborative. With colleagues at Bastyr and the Naturopathic Physicians Research Institute, in Portland, OR, Clarissa Hsu, PhD; Karen Sherman, PhD, MPH; Sheryl Catz, PhD; and Dan Cherkin, PhD, e-published on November 7 in PLoS One. See abstract.

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When people with spine problems use CAM, they spend less on health care

One reason for resistance to complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is fear that it will raise health care spending. But in a national sample of more than 12,000 patients with spine problems, those who used some CAM had lower yearly medical costs—primarily due to lower inpatient expenditures—than did those who used no CAM. Karen Sherman, PhD, and Dan Cherkin, PhD, e-published November 7 in Medical Care with colleagues at institutions including Dartmouth, the University of Missouri-Kansas City, Kaiser Permanente, and Oregon Health and Science University. See abstract.

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