News & Announcements

Patient Characteristics of Opioid-Related Inpatient Stays and Emergency Department Visits

Posted: July 25, 2017

Hospitalizations involving opioid pain relievers and heroin increased 75 percent for women between 2005 and 2014, a jump that significantly outpaced the 55-percent increase among men, according to a new report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

Because of the accelerated rates among women during that 10-year period, women and men were hospitalized at virtually the same rate nationwide in 2014 – about 225 hospitalizations per 100,000 people, according to AHRQ’s analysis.

"As the report makes clear, over the past decade, opioid abuse has affected both sexes and all age groups," said AHRQ Director Gopal Khanna. "The crisis, however, looks different in different places.  AHRQ’s data can help frontline providers, researchers and policymakers know more about the trends and patient characteristics among people being hospitalized or visiting the ED because of opioids, and plan interventions accordingly."

AHRQ’s report, which provides the most current national rates on opioid-related hospitalizations and emergency department (ED) visits, also includes data that illustrate wide variation by state. Among those findings:

  • In 2014, opioid hospitalization rates among women were highest in West Virginia, Maryland and Massachusetts. Each of those states reported rates exceeding 350 hospitalizations per 100,000 people.
  • Among men, the highest hospitalization rates in 2014 were in the District of Columbia, New York and Maryland, each of which reported rates higher than 440 hospitalizations per 100,000.
  • The lowest hospitalization rates for both men and women were in Iowa and Nebraska. 
  • Men were more likely to make opioid-related visits to emergency departments in 2014, though ED visit rates increased sharply for both sexes between 2005 and 2014.
  • The age-group most likely to have an opioid-related hospitalization varied substantially across states. In 13 states, including California, people 65 years old and older were the most likely to be hospitalized.
  • In all states reporting on opioid-related visits to emergency departments, the rate was highest among adults age 25-44 years.

AHRQ's new data are summarized in "Patient Characteristics of Opioid-Related Inpatient Stays and Emergency Department Visits Nationally and by State, 2014" (pdf), a statistical brief from the agency's Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP).

The data in AHRQ’s report are drawn from the agency’s Fast Stats, a database that displays national and state health statistics The online resource includes overall trends in opioid-related hospital stays and emergency department visits as well as breakdowns by age, sex, community-level income and urban versus rural residency. More than 40 states contribute to the Fast Stats website.

Read more on Read the full report (pdf).

This Map Shows the Area of the US That’s Home to the Most People Living With HIV

Posted: July 24, 2017

It's been 36 years since HIV/AIDS first popped up in the US. The disease quickly spiraled into an epidemic, but medical advances have since made HIV controllable with medication — especially if diagnosed early. 

An estimated 1.1 million Americans currently live with HIV in the US, however, and thousands still die from AIDS every year.

AIDSVu, a project run by Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health in partnership with biotech company Gilead Sciences, has been mapping HIV by county since 2010. On Wednesday, it released its newest data — the maps show the prevalence of HIV as of 2014, as well as new diagnoses from 2008 to 2015. Here's what the researchers found: Dr. Patrick Sullivan, the project's lead researcher, told Business Insider that southern states are disproportionately affected by HIV; In fact, the five cities with the highest rates of new diagnoses are all in the south: Miami, Jackson, New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Atlanta; Sullivan also said that one age group is experiencing a disproportionate amount of new diagnoses: Those between the ages of 13 and 24.

In addition to providing a breakdown of HIV prevalence in the US, the project also maps out where testing centers are, as well as where people can get access to preventive treatments.

Read more on View the maps on

Call for Abstracts: 5th Annual United States Conference on African Immigrant and Refugee Health

Posted: July 21, 2017

The 5th Annual United States Conference on African Immigrant and Refugee Health will be held in Washington, DC on October 5 – 8, 2017.

Abstracts are invited for poster and oral presentations related to all health issues affecting the African Diaspora, these can be advanced through research and advocacy and engagement within the context of their culture, integration processes and challenges. Researchers, clinicians, graduate students, legislators, academics, policy makers, community service organizations and community members are especially encouraged to submit a 200-250 word abstract of research or applied projects (programs, training, policies, etc.), and participate in the conference. Deadline to submit abstracts is August 15, 2017.

The abstract should fit within the overall conference theme, Advancing the health of African Immigrants through Research, Advocacy and Community Engagement, and reflected through one of the following sub-themes or tracks:

  • Behavioral and Mental Health
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Chronic Diseases
  • Religion, Culture and Health
  • Research and Practice in African Immigrant Communities
  • Immigration, Integration and Health
  • Education, Training and Workforce Development

Read more about the call for abstracts.

US Veterans Offered Free Mental Health Care through Burgeoning Nonprofit

Posted: July 20, 2017

Jeff Hensley, a former Navy fighter pilot, spent 21 years in the military and did multiple deployments before retiring in 2009 and settling in Texas. When he found himself in a dark place, the local Veterans Affairs hospital was unable to treat him. Then he heard about a private program for military veterans called the Cohen Veterans Network. He met with Dr. Amy Williams, the clinical director for Cohen’s north Texas location, near Dallas.

The clinic is one of more than five locations up-and-running around the country – with four new offices scheduled to open in the coming months, from Washington, D.C. to Denver. The network focuses on mental health and doesn’t believe in making people wait to see a professional.

The great debate over how to best meet the health care needs of veterans remains a contentious issue in America, particular after the VA was accused of neglecting those who served the country. But some believe agencies like the Cohen Veterans Network could be the solution. "When people call the clinic we can offer an appointment within a week, so there's not really a wait time," says Dr. Amy Williams.

The Cohen network, started by hedge fund manager Steven A. Cohen, offers free clinics that are funded through private donations. Perhaps the biggest draw, some say, is the family component. “We will serve families, regardless of whether the veteran is involved," Williams said.

That means spouses and children can also take advantage of the free services, something clients say the VA is not really setup to do. Cohen clinicians say the focus on healing the entire family unit has been extremely successful and military families have responded well.


SAMHSA’s Program to Achieve Wellness Recognition of Excellence in Wellness

Posted: July 19, 2017

Through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's (SAMHSA) Program to Achieve Wellness, organizations and communities will be acknowledged for their exemplary wellness efforts with the Recognition of Excellence in Wellness (pdf). The goal of the “Recognition of Excellence” is to identify and showcase programs and practices that put the concept of wellness into action. Recognized programs will be those that:

  • Create meaningful improvements in the lives of people in recovery from mental and/or substance abuse disorders, including those living with serious mental illness (for example, improving cardiovascular health, decreasing blood pressure, decreasing risk factors for chronic diseases)
  • Effectively work to address the rates of chronic illness and premature death experienced by this population

SAMHSA’s Program to Achieve Wellness is inviting applications from programs that have demonstrated exceptional achievements in integrating effective wellness practices into services for people in recovery from behavioral health disorders. Three programs will be selected and highlighted as models that other communities can adopt and implement. The application deadline for the 2017 Recognition is Friday, July 28, 2017

Learn more about Recognition of Excellence in Wellness. Learn more about the Program to Achieve Wellness.

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