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University of Iowa News Release

Release: Feb. 4, 2003

New Center To Focus On Health Effectiveness Research

Research has shown that wide variation exists in the preventive care and medical treatment provided to patients with similar health problems. This variation can be examined to evaluate the effectiveness, cost and over- or under-use of specific health care interventions and practice.

To address these issues, the University of Iowa Colleges of Public Health and Pharmacy recently established the Health Effectiveness Research Center (HERCe). The mission of the center is to provide methodologic expertise, training, mentoring and databases for research assessing variation in use of preventive and therapeutic interventions and the consequences of this variation.

"As an example, in the 1990s approximately 77 percent of the children enrolled in the Iowa Medicaid program who were diagnosed with middle ear infections initially received antibiotics," said center director Elizabeth Chrischilles, Ph.D., UI professor of epidemiology. "Is this rate of treatment too high or too low? Should policy-makers stress increased use of antibiotics or more judicious use? Which children are most apt to benefit from antibiotic treatments? These are the types of questions that we hope to answer through our research."

Center researchers are currently studying treatments for breast cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer, asthma and end-stage renal disease. Investigators are also researching case management to improve medication safety, and health promotion and disease prevention for people with mobility limitations. Epidemiology, economics, biostatistics and biomedical expertise are used in these research projects. The center's large databases, such as those from Medicaid, Medicare, and national cancer registries, are critical to this research.

The primary goals of the center are to study the effectiveness of specific preventive interventions and therapeutic (pharmaceutical, surgical or radiological) interventions in customary practice, disseminate this information to policymakers, and to foster collaborative research using cutting-edge methods to measure the effectiveness of health care.

The Health Effectiveness Research Center is funded through grants and contracts with outside organizations, including the National Cancer Institute, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Department of Defense. The center is jointly administered by the College of Pharmacy and the Department of Epidemiology, and is housed in the UI College of Public Health. The deputy director of the center is John Brooks, Ph.D., UI associate professor of clinical and administrative pharmacy.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa College of Public Health Office of Communications, 4257 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242.

MEDIA CONTACT(S): Debra Venzke, 319-335-9647, debra-venzke@uiowa.edu