In the first nationwide study to directly address the associations between high-deductible insurance plans and the use of diagnostic imaging, researchers including Assistant Professor of Health Policy and Management Kimberley Geissler found that patients enrolled in such health plans use about 7.5 percent fewer diagnostic tests such as MRI, X-rays and CT scans, than patients without such plans. Details appear in an early online edition of Medical Care. Geissler says, “I think what we found most surprising is the large reductions in imaging use among people with high deductibles. We had hoped to find that patients were reducing use of low-value imaging, but we found they reduced all use similarly. It seems patients are not informed enough to discern which tests are more optional and which are medically necessary.” Geissler is the senior author of the study.
Assistant Professor of Environmental Health Sciences Richard Peltier is leading one of two UMass Amherst research teams awarded funding from the Worldwide Universities Network to initiate global projects designed to ultimately impact millions of people in the developing world. Peltier’s Air Sensors Everywhere project aims to develop a framework for distributed systems of low-cost air pollution sensing hardware and software that can be used to address a global pandemic responsible for millions of premature deaths and altering the global climate balance. The team, co-led by UMass Amherst Professor of Environmental Conservation and Public Policy Charles Schweik, includes 14 experts from 13 institutions in Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, Germany, Ghana, Nepal, the United Kingdom and the United States.
LabTV, an NIH-sponsored organization creating thousands of videos spotlighting health researchers with the goal of inspiring the next generation of young scientists, recently launched a web channel dedicated to the University of Massachusetts Amherst. SPHHS doctoral students Steve Lauer (Biostatistics), Gabrielle Merchant (Communication Disorders), Haotian Wu (Environmental Health Sciences), Serena Houghton and Mary Diaz Santana (Epidemiology), along with Associate Professor of Epidemiology Katherine Reeves, are among those featured in the video profile series.
Public Health Sciences major Ellen Noble won the Cyclocross National Championship at the USA Cycling competition in Asheville, NC. A sophomore, Noble is studying public health with the goal of combining her passion for cycling with her interest in helping others. Noble, who races with the JAM/NCC/Vittoria cycling team based in Easthampton, MA, took the early lead in the first lap in extremely slippery conditions after a night of steady rain. The January 10 race is her second consecutive victory in the U23 category for women under 23 years of age. "This is a huge win for me going into Worlds in a couple of weeks," Noble said. "Winning it last year felt really good, but to win it with our own race and going into Worlds means so much more. It's such an amazing feeling. Doing it on a mud course is an extra bonus."