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August 2015 - Issue 4
Welcome to the Battelle Health & Analytics, a quarterly publication from Battelle. We put this together as a service to our public health clients, to keep you informed of the latest public health news from our researchers and the industry.
The Battelle Health & Analytics team works with agencies and healthcare institutions to advance public health research, practice and policy with the latest science and technology. Battelle Health and Analytics will keep you up-to-date on cutting edge research and public health innovations.
Researchers recently completed data collection for the Healthy Communities Study (HCS). Led by Battelle and supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the HCS is the first study of its kind to systematically examine the association between characteristics of community programs and policies targeting childhood obesity and children’s obesity-related outcomes.
The extensive study collected data from community leaders and households in 130 communities across the country. Battelle staff, along with more than 200 trained local data collectors, have completed:
For household visits, researchers collected data about diet, physical activity, participation in community programs and other key metrics. In addition, researchers took measurements of height and weight for both parent and child and waist circumference for child participants. Information from medical records was abstracted for participating children where parental consent was obtained and the record could be retrieved. For a subset of child participants, more detailed measures of diet and physical activity (i.e., dietary recalls and use of an accelerometer) were gathered over a period of two visits.
Community key informant interviews documented the evolution of community programs and policies (CPP) related to diet and physical activity over the past ten years, including information on intervention strategies, CPP duration and estimated reach. Trained project staff visited participating schools to record observational data on the school nutrition and physical activity environment and conduct interviews with school personnel.
Seven protocol papers completed as part of HCS will be published this fall in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine. Each of the seven papers describes a specific aspect of the study that taken together, present the full study as planned. Papers include:
The collected data will be analyzed this fall and winter and study results will be published in 2016. The results will provide critical insights into what appears to be working to prevent childhood obesity in different types of communities, and help to inform public policy and design effective youth programs.
Battelle researchers are working with partners at the University of South Carolina, the University of Kansas and the University of California-Berkeley. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are also partners in this study.
Many members of the Battelle Health and Analytics team have interesting hobbies, but Paul Pirkle’s is over the top—quite literally. Paul recently completed his 9th trip over the Rocky Mountains in the 2015 Ride the Rockies bicycle tour.
Here at Battelle, Paul heads up the Occupational and Environmental Health Solutions team. His team helps government and commercial organizations integrate workplace and environmental health risk management into operational decision making. Their focus is creating, testing and verifying improved policies, procedures, facilities and training.
Outside of work, cycling is his passion. He’s been an avid cyclist for his entire adult life, competing in a variety of races and tours. “I just love the feel of cycling,” he says. “I enjoy the breeze and momentum from spinning the pedals to drive the wheels.”
The 2015 Ride the Rockies tour was a 7-day, 474-mile Colorado mountain ride from Grand Junction to Westcliffe. The grueling route had an approximate elevation gain of 33,000 feet and passed through landmarks such as the Grand Mesa, Gunnison National Park, the Royal Gorge Bridge and Hardscrabble Pass. With the longest days typically topping 100 miles and climbing 7,500 feet, the trip—which has a different route every year—is not for beginners. But Paul reports that the magnificent scenery and sense of achievement are well worth it.
A 20-year U.S. Air Force veteran, Paul completed his first Ride the Rockies Tour in 1998 while stationed at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. He completed six more rides with the Air Force team between 1999 and 2009, when he completed his service and joined Battelle. In 2014 and 2015, he rejoined the Air Force cycling team. “The ride is a catharsis for me,” he says. “Spending a week on a bike is a way for me to reconnect with nature and with God. This won’t be my last.”
Oral nicotine delivery products (ONDPs) are gaining popularity, but how do they affect users? A recent study by Battelle, completed in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), measured the physiological effects and user perceptions of Verve, a new oral nicotine product from Nu-Mark LLC, a division of Altria, Philip Morris.
The peer-reviewed study, “Nicotine delivery and pharmacologic response from Verve, an oral nicotine delivery product,” was published in the May 2015 edition of Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior; the full citation can be found online on NCBI.
While traditional cigarette sales have declined, sales and use of alternatives like e-cigarettes and ONDPs are on the rise. Because they are so new, many of these products are not currently regulated under the same rules as traditional combustible tobacco products. However, there are many open questions about how these products affect users both pharmacologically and behaviorally. The Battelle Public Health Center for Tobacco Research has been at the forefront of research to help consumers, policy makers and regulators better understand these new forms of nicotine delivery.
Verve is currently undergoing market testing in Virginia, and may soon be available to nicotine users nationwide. The tobacco-derived nicotine product is available in four flavors in both chewable and lozenge forms. They are marketed as bridge products to help smokers reduce cravings when they are in situations in which they cannot smoke.
The study, internally funded by Battelle, measured the impact of Verve nicotine discs on plasma nicotine levels, heart rate and craving suppression. Battelle researchers determined that the product produced measureable increases in both plasma nicotine levels and heart rate similar to those produced by other ONDPs but smaller than effects seen with cigarettes. Participants reported a significant reduction in cigarette craving and moderate product satisfaction. CDC researchers performed analysis on the Verve discs both before and after use to determine the amount of nicotine liberated by chewing the product.
Additional studies will be needed to fully understand the impact of Verve and other ONDPs. In addition to further pharmacological studies, more research is needed to understand how these products impact user attitudes and behaviors. Can use of these products assist with smoking cessation, or will their ease of use and availability reduce incentives for users to wean themselves off combustible tobacco products? Do heavily flavored ONDPs act as a “gateway” to nicotine dependence for youth who might not start smoking otherwise? And what are the long-term health implications of these emerging products and associated user behaviors? As the market for nicotine products continues to evolve, researchers at Battelle will continue to search for answers.
Please join us in welcoming our latest additions to the Battelle Health and Analytics team. Their research and clinical experience will help us to continue to expand our public health research programs and services.
Gavin W. Hougham, PhD, is a medical sociologist who joined Battelle in May 2015 as a Research Leader. He will be focused on building new business opportunities in the area of aging and gerontology related research. Gavin will also have management responsibility for the Seattle Office and staff. Prior to joining Battelle he was the Deputy Director of The Center for Health and the Social Sciences and Assistant Professor of Medicine, both at the University of Chicago. He helped lead initiatives in the cross-disciplinary training and development of physicians, medical students and pre-professional students, and maintained an active research program in the areas of aging, trajectories of socio-medical and clinical phenomena, cross-cultural Japanese gerontology, social-psychology of decision making, health workforce needs, research ethics, and informed consent with older adults. Previously, Gavin led the John A. Hartford Foundation's $60 million portfolio of national grantmaking in medicine, designed to expand the capacity of current and future physicians, nurses, and social workers to care for older adults. He received MA and PhD degrees in Sociology from the University of Chicago, and completed a National Science Foundation Fellowship at the Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Gerontology. Since arriving in Seattle, he has been appointed as an Affiliate to the University of Washington’s Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology.
Kathy Lesh joined Battelle in April 2015 as a Healthcare Quality Research Leader. She is an RN with many years of varied experience. She received a PhD in Human Services from Capella University, an MS in nursing from University of Illinois at Chicago, an EdM in Human Resource Education from Boston University, and a BS in nursing from Wilkes College. Kathy is a Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality and is certified in Nursing Informatics by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. Kathy most recently came from MITRE where she was a health informatics, quality measure, and quality reporting and incentive program consultant. For 10 years prior to MITRE, Kathy developed and curated healthcare terminologies/ontologies.
Jarrod Olson joined Battelle in April 2015 as a Research Scientist with a background in economics, quantitative policy analysis and integration of scientific information into decisions. He holds a MS in Public Policy in International Development from Oregon State University and has seven years of experience as a policy analyst and statistician. He is currently supporting an evaluation of cost-offset programs for community supported agriculture, a state-wide educational measurement development project for the state of Washington, knowledge translation planning for the Department of Defense, and an evaluation of Policy, Systems, and Environmental Change funding for Comprehensive Cancer Control Programs at CDC. Prior to joining Battelle, Mr. Olson served as a Security Political Scientist for the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. In this capacity, he led the development of the Data-Driven Policy Research and Analytics Team and managed multidisciplinary policy research on issues of social unrest, climate change, food insecurity, emergency management and nuclear proliferation.
Susan L. Robbins joined Battelle in May 2015 as a Director for Health Analytics and Performance Improvement. Her primary focus will be on business development and commercialization for healthcare analytics products and services. Susan is a healthcare executive with 20+ years of experience in various healthcare settings. She led Performance Improvement within a major medical center, was the Hospital Project Manager at the Georgia Medical Care Foundation (GA QIO), and held Vice President and Director roles in the CARE Program within the Georgia Hospital Association. Susan is board certified in Healthcare Management and a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives (FACHE). She holds a Lean Six Sigma and a Master AHRQ TeamSTEPPS trainer certification. Susan is active in the Georgia Association of Healthcare Executives as past communication chair and board member at large.
Darryl W. Roberts joined Battelle in April 2015 as a Healthcare Quality Research Leader. Dr. Roberts is a Registered Nurse, Evaluation Scientist, and Informatician with considerable research, informatics, and quality management experience. He joined Battelle after a short (1-year) stint as Senior Social Scientist with Econometrica, Inc. Before that, he was a Senior Policy Fellow responsible for informatics and quality at the American Nurses Association. He has also been a full-time and adjunct university professor conducting big data research and teaching management, quality, research, and statistics since 2001.