Vital Record » Public Health http://news.tamhsc.edu Your source for health news from the Texas A&M Health Science Center Fri, 27 Feb 2015 22:24:58 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Dean Maddock elected President of the American Academy of Health Behavior http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=dean-maddock-elected-president-of-the-american-academy-of-health-behavior http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=dean-maddock-elected-president-of-the-american-academy-of-health-behavior#comments Mon, 23 Feb 2015 22:03:18 +0000 http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=22797 Jay Maddock, Ph.D., dean of the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health, has been elected President of the American Academy of Health Behavior (AAHB)]]>
Jay Maddock, Ph.D.

Jay Maddock, Ph.D.

Jay Maddock, Ph.D., dean of the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health, has been elected President of the American Academy of Health Behavior (AAHB).

The organization focuses on both excellence in research and the application of research to practice to improve the public’s health. Previously, he served AAHB as chair of the membership committee and part of the strategic planning committee.

Maddock is internationally recognized for his research in social ecological approaches to increasing physical activity. He has served as principal investigator on more than $18 million in extramural funding and is an author of more than 90 scientific articles.

He assumed leadership of the Texas A&M School of Public Health in February 2015, a top 25 ranked public health graduate school by U.S. News and World Report. Previously he served as the director of the University of Hawaii Public Health Program.

Dean Maddock will begin his term as President-Elect at the AAHB annual meeting in March and will become President in 2016.

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School of Public Health researcher awarded funding to evaluate usability of procedure development and implementation software http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=peres-awarded-funding-to-evaluate-usability-of-procedure-development-and-implementation-software http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=peres-awarded-funding-to-evaluate-usability-of-procedure-development-and-implementation-software#comments Thu, 19 Feb 2015 15:14:16 +0000 http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=22769 S. Camille Peres, Ph.D., has been awarded $142,300 to examine the usability of a software tool that has the potential to improve worker safety and performance]]>
In high-risk industries, lives depend on procedures being written and used correctly.

In high-risk industries, lives depend on procedures being written and used correctly.

It has been said that procedures are written by those who don’t like to write, for those who don’t like to read. However, in high-risk industries, lives depend on procedures being written and used correctly.

One of the tools currently being used in industries as varied as nuclear to space is ATR’s SmartProcedures, software that separates and checks content and formatting of safety procedures. S. Camille Peres, Ph.D., assistant professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health, was recently awarded funding of $142,300 for two years by ATR to examine the usability of SmartProcedures™. This tool has the potential to not only expand the likeliness of workers accessing important procedural guidelines in the field, but to improve worker safety and performance.

Peres is an expert in the human factors implication of procedure design and applies the principles and techniques of cognitive psychology to the human-machine interface to improve the usability and effectiveness of the interface.

User testing will be conducted to identify any redesign necessary to ensure SmartProcedureseffectively facilitates employees who not only write the safety procedures, but those who actually perform the procedures in the field.

S. Camille Peres, Ph.D.

S. Camille Peres, Ph.D.

“It is not easy to write procedures in a manner that is accurate, clear and concise,” Peres said. “ATR wants to make sure that the interface for SmartProceduresTM does not make this process more difficult. Further, they are interested in exploring how other methods of delivering procedures to the operators, such as hand-held devices, may impact the operators’ comprehension and compliance with the steps of the procedure.”

Peres will research varying groups of employees by recording their responses and behaviors as they attempt to perform various tasks using the software.

This is part of an integrated program of research Peres is working on with the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station Mary Kay O’Connor Process Safety Center focused on developing a writer’s guide for procedure writers within high-risk industries such as chemical, space, and oil and gas.

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Ory named Associate Dean of Research http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=ory-named-associate-dean-of-research http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=ory-named-associate-dean-of-research#comments Wed, 18 Feb 2015 19:13:52 +0000 http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=22767 Regents and Distinguished Professor Marcia Ory, Ph.D., has been named Associate Dean of Research at the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health]]>
Marcia Ory, Ph.D.

Marcia Ory, Ph.D.

Regents and Distinguished Professor Marcia Ory, Ph.D., has been named Associate Dean of Research at the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health.

Ory is an international leader in healthy aging, community-based prevention and wellness research. She has made substantial contributions to identifying factors associated with healthy aging as well as implementing and disseminating evidence-based programs for improving the health and functioning of older adults. Working collaboratively with a variety of community, state and national partners, she has advanced the science of public health translational research.

She has authored or co-authored 10 edited books, 40 book chapters, 21 edited issues in professional journals, 331 peer-reviewed articles and delivered over 500 presentations at local, state, national and international venues. Additionally, she has been awarded more than $20 million in funding support for research and service projects.

Ory received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Aging and Public Health Section of the American Public Health Association. She has also received the Texas A&M Health Science Center’s Presidential Award in Research selected for this honor from nominees from the colleges of medicine, dentistry, pharmacy and nursing.

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Texans in rural areas less likely to receive colorectal cancer screening http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=texans-in-rural-areas-less-likely-to-receive-colorectal-cancer-screening http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=texans-in-rural-areas-less-likely-to-receive-colorectal-cancer-screening#comments Tue, 17 Feb 2015 14:14:02 +0000 http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=22750 Colorectal cancer ranks second in cancer incidence and third in cancer-related deaths in the United States. Texans living in rural areas are less likely to have colorectal cancer screening, according to research conducted by the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health]]>
Chinedum Ojinnaka, M.B.B.S, M.P.H

Chinedum Ojinnaka, M.B.B.S, M.P.H

Texans living in rural areas are less likely to have colorectal cancer screening, according to research conducted by the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health.

Colorectal cancer ranks second in cancer incidence and third in cancer-related deaths in the United States. Colon cancer usually originates as polyps, or abnormal cell growths, in the large intestine. Routine colorectal cancer screening is recommended beginning at 50 years old. For those with a family history of colon cancer, screening is recommend at a much earlier age.

Using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2012 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey, researchers analyzed the influence of certain factors on colorectal cancer screening among Texas residents 50 years or older who had fecal occult blood test (FOBT) or an endoscopy procedure, such as colonoscopy. The primary factor of interest was rural versus urban residence. Some additional factors considered were race, health insurance coverage and having a personal doctor.

In findings published recently in The Journal of Rural Health, researchers found that rural Texas residents were less likely to have ever had colorectal cancer screenings. Even among respondents who had been screened using FOBT, rural residents were less likely to be up-to-date with screening.

Chinedum Ojinnaka, M.B.B.S, M.P.H, lead author and doctoral student in Health Services Research at the Texas A&M School of Public Health, believes strategies to improve screening rates should ensure that underserved groups in rural areas not only have access to screening tests, but also are educated on the importance of adhering to the recommended screening guideline intervals.

Also, the prohibitive cost of a colonoscopy potentially restricts low-income or uninsured individuals to using only FOBT for colorectal cancer screening. Expanding options for screening tests by providing free or subsidized colonoscopies to these individuals should be explored as a means of reducing disparities among these groups.

“To our knowledge this is the first study to explore important predictors of colorectal cancer screening among residents of Texas living in rural areas,” Ojinnaka said. “If not addressed, rural residents and those who have inadequate access to health care could be at increased risk for colorectal cancer incidence and mortality as a result of suboptimal screening.”

Additional researchers from the Texas A&M School of Public Health included Yong Choi, M.P.H., Hye-Chung Kum, Ph.D. and Jane Bolin, Ph.D., J.D., B.S.N.

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Texas A&M University names new dean of the School of Public Health http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=texas-am-school-of-public-health-names-new-dean http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=texas-am-school-of-public-health-names-new-dean#comments Thu, 12 Feb 2015 08:00:39 +0000 http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=22701 The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents on Thursday, Feb. 12, approved Jay Maddock, Ph.D., as the new dean of the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health. As the School of Public Health dean, Maddock will provide academic and administrative leadership in expanding academic, research and public health practice opportunities, serving as a visionary leader in public health initiatives within the health science center and with key national and international constituencies. ]]>
Jay Maddock

Jay Maddock, Ph.D., dean of the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health.

The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents on Thursday, Feb. 12, approved Jay Maddock, Ph.D., as the new dean of the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health.

Maddock comes to Texas A&M from the University of Hawaii, where he served as director of the Public Health Program for eight years. He will assume his new role on February 13.

As the School of Public Health dean, Maddock will provide academic and administrative leadership in expanding academic, research and public health practice opportunities, serving as a visionary leader in public health initiatives within the health science center and with key national and international constituencies.

“Building upon an already accomplished career, Dr. Maddock brings a unique combination of vision, accomplishments, energy, and personal qualities to advance the school in achieving its educational, research and service goals,” said Brett P. Giroir, M.D., CEO of Texas A&M Health Science Center. “We are honored to have Dr. Maddock at the public health helm, training and leading the next generation of public health professionals in improving the health of populations throughout Texas and around the world.”

Just this month, the school received approval from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to offer the Master of Health Administration degree for midcareer health care professionals at the Texas A&M Health Science Center Houston campus.

“The Texas A&M School of Public Health has amazing potential to become one of our nation’s top schools of public health,” Maddock said.  “Our expansion of degree programs to Houston demonstrates the continuation of our efforts to train the public health workforce statewide and to improve the health of all Texans.”

Maddock’s research focuses on social ecological approaches to increasing physical activity. He has served as principal investigator on projects totaling more than $18 million in extramural funding and is an author of over 90 scientific articles.

Maddock received his undergraduate degree in psychology and sociology, magna cum laude, from Syracuse University and both his master’s degree and doctorate in experimental psychology from the University of Rhode Island.

He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Health Behavior; received the Award of Excellence from the American Public Health Association, Council on Affiliates; and was a charter member of the National Institutes of Health study section on Community-Level Health Promotion. Named the Bank of Hawaii Community Leader of the Year, he chaired the Hawaii State Board of Health and co-authored the state Physical Activity and Nutrition Plan.

Maddock has given invited lectures in numerous countries, including Australia, Korea, Japan, China, Taiwan, Indonesia, El Salvador and Brazil, and he holds honorary professorships at two universities in China.

A top 25 ranked public health graduate school, the Texas A&M School of Public Health educates and trains health care professionals at campuses in Bryan-College Station and McAllen – and soon to include Houston – through a variety of undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Through novel research initiatives that incorporate population health investigations across diverse global communities, the School of Public Health is advancing disease prevention and health improvement throughout Texas and beyond.    

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Texas A&M offers Master of Health Administration in Texas Medical Center http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=texas-am-offers-master-of-health-administration-in-texas-medical-center http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=texas-am-offers-master-of-health-administration-in-texas-medical-center#comments Wed, 11 Feb 2015 20:35:19 +0000 http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=22696 The Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health will offer the Master of Health Administration (MHA) degree in the Texas Medical Center in Houston beginning August 2015 and is intended for working, mid-career health care professionals with at least five years experience in health services]]>
The Executive MHA is intended for working, mid-career health care professionals.

The Executive MHA is intended for working, mid-career health care professionals.

The Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health will offer the Master of Health Administration (MHA) degree in the Texas Medical Center in Houston beginning August 2015. The degree program received approval from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board this month.

The Executive MHA is intended for working, mid-career health care professionals with at least five years experience in health services. Courses will be taught in-person one weekend a month for 24 months, supported with online content between weekends.

“Our Executive MHA will fulfill an identified need within Houston and the surrounding market area for master’s level education for mid-career health care professionals. There is currently no other such focused master’s program offered in Houston,” said Murray Côté, Ph.D., associate professor and director of the MHA program.

Applications for the inaugural cohort will be accepted through June 1, 2015. For further information, visit sph.tamhsc.edu/hpm/mha

This graduate program is an expansion of the current MHA program offered at the College Station campus.

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Curtis named Assistant Department Head of Public Health Studies http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=curtis-named-assistant-department-head-of-public-health-studies http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=curtis-named-assistant-department-head-of-public-health-studies#comments Mon, 09 Feb 2015 20:21:20 +0000 http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=22687 The Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health is pleased to announce that Don Curtis, Ph.D., has accepted the position of Assistant Department Head in the Department of Public Health Studies effective March 2, ]]>
Don Curtis, Ph.D.

Don Curtis, Ph.D.

The Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health is pleased to announce that Don Curtis, Ph.D., has accepted the position of Assistant Department Head in the Department of Public Health Studies effective March 2, 2015.

Curtis currently serves as Assistant Dean for High Impact Programs at the Texas A&M College of Liberal Arts. He has over two decades of administrative experience in higher education and will work to build and expand the Bachelor of Science in Public Health program.

“I have always enjoyed the challenge of building programs, creating infrastructure and helping students grow and develop,” Curtis said. “Public Health is a field that is poised to experience exponential growth in the next decade, and our goal is to create the premier undergraduate Public Health Studies program not just in Texas or the Southwest, but in the United States. I am excited to get started, and look forward to working with stakeholders throughout the Texas A&M System and our state to build this program.”

Curtis, long known as a student advocate, received the Wells Fargo Faculty Mentor of the Year Award in 2014 and was a 2013 Fish Camp namesake.

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Team approach to surgery improves quality of care while reducing cost http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=team-approach-to-surgery-improves-quality-of-care-while-reducing-cost http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=team-approach-to-surgery-improves-quality-of-care-while-reducing-cost#comments Thu, 29 Jan 2015 21:32:25 +0000 http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=22602 By merely reducing unnecessary preoperative tests, the cost of surgery could be reduced by $112 per case according to a new study published by Bita Kash, Ph.D., M.B.A., ]]>
Bita A. Kash, Ph.D., M.B.A., FACHE

Bita A. Kash, Ph.D., M.B.A., FACHE

By merely reducing unnecessary preoperative tests, the cost of surgery could be reduced by $112 per case according to a new study published by Bita Kash, Ph.D., M.B.A., FACHE, associate professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health and Director of the National Science Foundation Center for Health Organization Transformation (CHOT).

The study, published in the top-ranked health policy journal Milbank Quarterly, was the first large-scale literature review of an approach to surgical care known as the Perioperative Surgical Home (PSH).

A PSH is a patient-centered, team-based model of coordinated care in which a patient’s entire surgical experience from preoperative to post-discharge is fully coordinated and treated as one continuum of care. The physician-led, multi-specialty team model uses resources in a cost-efficient manner and strives to increase quality of care by key activities such as reducing unnecessary preoperative tests, increasing preoperative patient education, and ensuring safe and effective transitions post-operation to home or rehabilitation.

Kash led a team of researchers in a review of more than 150 peer-reviewed studies published between 1980 and 2013, and compared PSH models in the United States and other countries in regards to clinical outcomes, efficiencies and costs of surgery.

The analysis revealed that the majority of studies (82 percent in both preoperative and intraoperative studies and 90 percent in postoperative studies) showed a significant positive impact on clinical outcomes and reduced costs. This was typically accomplished through preoperative patient education, reduction of unnecessary testing, real-time patient-routing systems, and enhanced recovery programs that encourage quicker recovery and earlier discharges.

“Whether in the United States or overseas, the review found that the PSH model of care is highly effective at reducing cancellations and surgical delays, lowering complication rates and readmissions and shortening hospital stays,” said Thomas Miller, Ph.D., M.B.A., coauthor of the review and director of health policy research at the American Society of Anesthesiologists.

Kash emphasizes that this study substantiates just how effective the PSH is at reducing cost and increasing quality of surgical procedures and may have significant implications for policymakers, payers, administrators, clinicians and patients.

“The potential for policy-relevant cost savings and quality improvement is apparent across the perioperative continuum of care, especially for integrated care organizations, bundled payment and value-based purchasing,” Kash said. “Accordingly, the PSH may represent the beginning of a long, collaborative journey for many physicians and health systems.”

Additional researchers from the Texas A&M School of Public Health were Yichen Zhang, Kayla Cline and Terri Menser.

 

 

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Q&A: Are smartphones a pain in the neck, literally? http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=qa-are-smartphones-a-pain-in-the-neck-literally http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=qa-are-smartphones-a-pain-in-the-neck-literally#comments Fri, 23 Jan 2015 15:50:30 +0000 http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=22544 While modern technology has many benefits, it can also cause some serious health issues. Bending your head to look at your smartphone puts lots of extra stress on your spine and can result in permanent harm. We sat down with Ranjana Mehta, Ph.D., assistant professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health, to find out more about the growing “text neck” epidemic]]>
Infographic displaying the different weights place on necks when the head is tilted

A recent study found that when our heads are tilted forward by 60 degrees, it’s equal to 60 pounds weighing down on the spine.

Are your thumbs your most-used appendages? Do you spend hours hunched over your phone, sending texts, answering work emails and browsing social media sites? While modern technology has many benefits, it can also cause some serious health issues. Bending your head to look at your smartphone puts lots of extra stress on your spine and can result in permanent harm. We sat down with Ranjana Mehta, Ph.D., assistant professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health, who has conducted extensive research in the field of ergonomics, to find out more about the growing “text neck” epidemic.

Q: What is “text neck”?

A: “Text neck” is the term used to describe the overuse and fatigue of the neck muscles caused by the posture we adopt as we stare at our phones. Our heads weigh around 10-12 pounds in a neutral, upright position; however, as the head tilts forward to look down at a phone, the force that is acting on the neck muscles and vertebrae nearly doubles that amount. A recent study even found that when our heads are tilted forward by 60 degrees, it’s equal to 60 pounds weighing down on the spine.

Q: Are there any long-term, or permanent effects of “text neck”?

A: While the head is angled forward, the ligaments and tendons in the neck and back become overstretched. This overexertion can lead to an inflammation of the muscles and can cause mild to severe neck and back pain.

There are increasing reports of “text neck” causing lower back pain, which is often chronic. Other, more severe, side effects can include herniated disks in the spine, which may require surgery. And the problem is even more profound in young adults, who spend more time with their heads buried in phones.

Q: What are the symptoms?

A: The typical complaints from individuals with “text neck” are sore necks, shoulders, and upper and lower backs. Some people also get headaches from spending too many hours bent over their phone.

Q: Are there ways to avoid “text neck”?

A: The main way to prevent or alleviate neck pain caused by looking down is to be more cognizant of your posture. Being aware of how long you’ve been looking down can help you make more of an effort to correct you posture.

There’s a saying in ergonomics: “Your best posture is your next posture” Movement is key. Continuously moving and changing your posture can help avoid overuse injuries like “text neck.”

Now this doesn’t mean that you have to bring your smartphone up to eye level to see the device, just remember to look up every once in a while. Breaks are important; particularly to help overstretched muscles and connective tissues recover.

There are apps you can use that record your device usage, which allow you to see how long you’ve spent on your phone. More importantly, there are interactive apps that remind you of excess screen time, some of which even have sensors—for example, Lumolift—that vibrate when you adopt poor posture.

Technology is a boon to society, but anything in excess can have negative health effects. In the end, continue to enjoy technology – just keep your head up.

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