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Health Literacy and Numeracy: Workshop Summary (2014)

April 18, 2014 Comments off

Health Literacy and Numeracy: Workshop Summary (2014)
Source: Institute of Medicine

Although health literacy is commonly defined as an individual trait, it does not depend on the skills of individuals alone. Health literacy is the product of the interaction between individuals’ capacities and the health literacy-related demands and complexities of the health care system. Specifically, the ability to understand, evaluate, and use numbers is important to making informed health care choices.

Health Literacy and Numeracy is the summary of a workshop convened by The Institute of Medicine Roundtable on Health Literacy in July 2013 to discuss topics related to numeracy, including the effects of ill health on cognitive capacity, issues with communication of health information to the public, and communicating numeric information for decision making. This report includes a paper commissioned by the Roundtable, “Numeracy and the Affordable Care Act: Opportunities and Challenges,” that discusses research findings about people’s numeracy skill levels; the kinds of numeracy skills that are needed to select a health plan, choose treatments, and understand medication instructions; and how providers should communicate with those with low numeracy skills. The paper was featured in the workshop and served as the basis of discussion.

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New Directions in Child Abuse and Neglect Research (2014)

April 16, 2014 Comments off

New Directions in Child Abuse and Neglect Research (2014)
Source: National Research Council

Each year, child protective services receive reports of child abuse and neglect involving six million children, and many more go unreported. The long-term human and fiscal consequences of child abuse and neglect are not relegated to the victims themselves — they also impact their families, future relationships, and society. In 1993, the National Research Council (NRC) issued the report, Understanding Child Abuse and Neglect, which provided an overview of the research on child abuse and neglect. New Directions in Child Abuse and Neglect Research updates the 1993 report and provides new recommendations to respond to this public health challenge. According to this report, while there has been great progress in child abuse and neglect research, a coordinated, national research infrastructure with high-level federal support needs to be established and implemented immediately.

New Directions in Child Abuse and Neglect Research recommends an actionable framework to guide and support future child abuse and neglect research. This report calls for a comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach to child abuse and neglect research that examines factors related to both children and adults across physical, mental, and behavioral health domains–including those in child welfare, economic support, criminal justice, education, and health care systems–and assesses the needs of a variety of subpopulations. It should also clarify the causal pathways related to child abuse and neglect and, more importantly, assess efforts to interrupt these pathways. New Directions in Child Abuse and Neglect Research identifies four areas to look to in developing a coordinated research enterprise: a national strategic plan, a national surveillance system, a new generation of researchers, and changes in the federal and state programmatic and policy response.

Impacts of Aging Travelers on Airports

April 14, 2014 Comments off

Impacts of Aging Travelers on Airports
Source: Transportation Research Board

TRB’s Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) Synthesis 51: Impacts of Aging Travelers on Airports describes the challenges of wayfinding, fatigue, technology and equipment, and needed amenities, as well as the practices that airports are enacting to accommodate and improve the airport experience of aging travelers. The report is designed to help users better understand the aging demographic, and define issues and implement effective practices to accommodate aging travelers at airports.

Community Tools to Improve Transportation Options for Veterans, Military Service Members, and Their Families

April 13, 2014 Comments off

Community Tools to Improve Transportation Options for Veterans, Military Service Members, and Their Families
Source: Transportation Research Board

TRB’s Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) Report 164: Community Tools to Improve Transportation Options for Veterans, Military Service Members, and Their Families explores ways to enhance transportation options for veterans, military service members, and their families by building on the concepts of transportation coordination and mobility management.

The report provides guidance and tools to assess transportation needs of veterans, service members, and their families and ways to potentially improve public transit, specialized transportation, volunteer services, and other local transportation options needed to meet those needs.

The report includes foundational information on community transportation services and initiatives currently available for veterans, service members, and their families. The report is designed to guide users through an organized process to help improve transportation options, building on the framework of coordination.

Linkages Between Arctic Warming and Mid-Latitude Weather Patterns: Summary of a Workshop (2014)

April 11, 2014 Comments off

Linkages Between Arctic Warming and Mid-Latitude Weather Patterns: Summary of a Workshop (2014)
Source: National Research Council

The Arctic has been undergoing significant changes in recent years. Average temperatures are rising twice as fast as they are elsewhere in the world. The extent and thickness of sea ice is rapidly declining. Such changes may have an impact on atmospheric conditions outside the region. Several hypotheses for how Arctic warming may be influencing mid-latitude weather patterns have been proposed recently. For example, Arctic warming could lead to a weakened jet stream resulting in more persistent weather patterns in the mid-latitudes. Or Arctic sea ice loss could lead to an increase of snow on high-latitude land, which in turn impacts the jet stream resulting in cold Eurasian and North American winters. These and other potential connections between a warming Arctic and mid-latitude weather are the subject of active research.

Linkages Between Arctic Warming and Mid-Latitude Weather Patterns is the summary of a workshop convened in September 2013 by the National Research Council to review our current understanding and to discuss research needed to better understand proposed linkages. A diverse array of experts examined linkages between a warming Arctic and mid-latitude weather patterns. The workshop included presentations from leading researchers representing a range of views on this topic. The workshop was organized to allow participants to take a global perspective and consider the influence of the Arctic in the context of forcing from other components of the climate system, such as changes in the tropics, ocean circulation, and mid-latitude sea surface temperature. This report discusses our current understanding of the mechanisms that link declines in Arctic sea ice cover, loss of high-latitude snow cover, changes in Arctic-region energy fluxes, atmospheric circulation patterns, and the occurrence of extreme weather events; possible implications of more severe loss of summer Arctic sea ice upon weather patterns at lower latitudes; major gaps in our understanding, and observational and/or modeling efforts that are needed to fill those gaps; and current opportunities and limitations for using Arctic sea ice predictions to assess the risk of temperature/precipitation anomalies and extreme weather events over northern continents.

Proposed Revisions to the Common Rule for the Protection of Human Subjects in the Behavioral and Social Sciences (2014)

April 11, 2014 Comments off

Proposed Revisions to the Common Rule for the Protection of Human Subjects in the Behavioral and Social Sciences (2014)
Source: National Research Council

Proposed Revisions to the Common Rule for the Protection of Human Subjects in the Behavioral and Social Sciences examines how to update human subjects protections regulations so that they effectively respond to current research contexts and methods. With a specific focus on social and behavioral sciences, this consensus report aims to address the dramatic alterations in the research landscapes that institutional review boards (IRBs) have come to inhabit during the past 40 years. The report aims to balance respect for the individual persons whose consent to participate makes research possible and respect for the social benefits that productive research communities make possible.

The ethics of human subjects research has captured scientific and regulatory attention for half a century. To keep abreast of the universe of changes that factor into the ethical conduct of research today, the Department of Health and Human Services published an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) in July 2011. Recognizing that widespread technological and societal transformations have occurred in the contexts for and conduct of human research since the passage of the National Research Act of 1974, the ANPRM revisits the regulations mandated by the Act in a correspondingly comprehensive manner. Its proposals aim to modernize the Common Rule and to improve the efficiency of the work conducted under its auspices. Proposed Revisions to the Common Rule for the Protection of Human Subjects in the Behavioral and Social Sciences identifies issues raised in the ANPRM that are critical and feasible for the federal government to address for the protection of participants and for the advancement of the social and behavioral sciences. For each identified issue, this report provides guidance for IRBs on techniques to address it, with specific examples and best practice models to illustrate how the techniques would be applied to different behavioral and social sciences research procedures.

Monitoring Bicyclist and Pedestrian Travel and Behavior

March 24, 2014 Comments off

Monitoring Bicyclist and Pedestrian Travel and Behavior
Source: Transportation Research Board

The circular identifies a selection of recent advancements in bicycle and pedestrian data monitoring pertaining to both traffic volumes and behavioral data. The circular also introduces a selection of ongoing projects expected to contribute to the field of bicycle and pedestrian data.

Climate Change: Evidence and Causes (PDF Booklet) (2014)

March 19, 2014 Comments off

Climate Change: Evidence and Causes (PDF Booklet) (2014)
Source: National Academy of Sciences, Royal Society

Climate Change: Evidence and Causes is a jointly produced publication of The US National Academy of Sciences and The Royal Society. Written by a UK-US team of leading climate scientists and reviewed by climate scientists and others, the publication is intended as a brief, readable reference document for decision makers, policy makers, educators, and other individuals seeking authoritative information on the some of the questions that continue to be asked.

Climate Change makes clear what is well-established and where understanding is still developing. It echoes and builds upon the long history of climate-related work from both national academies, as well as on the newest climate-change assessment from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. It touches on current areas of active debate and ongoing research, such as the link between ocean heat content and the rate of warming.

Connecting Individual K-12 STEM Subjects Has Potential Advantages, Poses Challenges

March 13, 2014 Comments off

Connecting Individual K-12 STEM Subjects Has Potential Advantages, Poses Challenges
Source: National Academy of Engineering and National Research Council

A new report from the National Academy of Engineering and National Research Council examines current efforts to connect the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines in K-12 education, both in formal classroom settings and informal learning environments, and suggests research to help determine the conditions most likely to lead to positive outcomes such as greater student retention and achievement, improved college-readiness skills, and increased interest in pursuing a STEM-related career. A short video illustrating today’s STEM education landscape and the potential benefits and challenges of integrated approaches also was released in conjunction with the report. The report and video note that the recently published Next Generation Science Standards, which encourage integration between science concepts and engineering practices, provide an impetus for considering integration.

Sustainable Energy and Transportation Strategies, Research, and Data

March 8, 2014 Comments off

Sustainable Energy and Transportation Strategies, Research, and Data
Source: Transportation Research Board

TRB’s Conference Proceedings on the Web 14: Sustainable Energy and Transportation Strategies, Research, and Data includes summaries of plenary session presentations that were made during a November 2012 conference in Washington, D.C. The conference explored potential research needed to further advance the development of alternatives to petroleum-based transportation and to lower greenhouse gas emissions.

Framing Surface Transportation Research for the Nation’s Future

March 7, 2014 Comments off

Framing Surface Transportation Research for the Nation’s Future
Source: Transportation Research Board

TRB has released the final version of Special Report 313: Framing Surface Transportation Research for the Nation’s Future explores opportunities for improving the productivity of U.S. expenditures on surface transportation research by building on lessons learned from the strategic approach to developing priorities and investing in transportation research in other countries and nontransportation sectors in the United States.

Despite major progress in U.S. transportation systems and services, particularly since the 1950s and 1960s, further improvements are needed if the nation is to continue competing effectively in the global marketplace and enhancing its inhabitants’ quality of life. Research is expected to play a major role in addressing the challenges facing U.S. surface transportation.

According to the committee that produced the report, the timely development of a new national research framework that engages the public, private, academic, and nonprofit sectors and draws on the nation’s research capacity in academia, industry, and elsewhere is needed.

Who Rides and Who Pays: Comprehensive Assessment of Motorcycling Costs and Benefits in the United States

March 6, 2014 Comments off

Who Rides and Who Pays: Comprehensive Assessment of Motorcycling Costs and Benefits in the United States
Source: Transportation Research Board

This paper offers a comprehensive assessment of the benefits and costs of motorcycle use while exploring the characteristics, behaviors and attitudes of motorcycle riders. U.S. motorcyclists are at relatively high risk of crashing, per mile travelled, with rates 24 times higher than those of passenger car and light-duty truck drivers. However, motorcycles require just one quarter the parking space of a car, and can double network capacities (in terms of vehicles per hour), thereby reducing congestion.

While most motorcycles enjoy high fuel economy, their low seating capacities render them little or no better than most cars and some light-duty trucks (assuming average vehicle occupancies). They emit relatively fewer grams of CO2, NOx, SO2 and PM10 per person-mile traveled than most cars, but more VOC and CO, if a catalytic converter is not installed. Noise impacts are also a serious issue for many motorcycles, with an inconsistent patchwork of regulations applied across states and localities.

Results of a survey of current and former U.S. motorcyclists indicates almost use their motorcycles for recreational purposes and ride in groups, though about half also ride for more mandatory/less discretionary purposes and about 40% also ride solo. Less than a third has had formal motorcycle training, and helmet use appears lower among current riders who do not own a motorcycle. Engine size appears to be rising, and respondents showed strong support for policies that combat operating a vehicle under the influence (such as ignition interlock devices for offenders). Regression models illuminate key factors and marginal effects on motorcycle riding and ownership rates.

See also: Lessons Learned from Motorcyclist Surveys: Rider’s Attitudes and Behaviors in Florida (PDF)

Understanding the Connections Between Coastal Waters and Ocean Ecosystem Services and Human Health: Workshop Summary (2014)

March 5, 2014 Comments off

Understanding the Connections Between Coastal Waters and Ocean Ecosystem Services and Human Health:
Workshop Summary (2014)

Source: Institute of Medicine

Understanding the Connections Between Coastal Waters and Ocean Ecosystem Services and Human Health discusses the connection of ecosystem services and human health. This report looks at the state of the science of the role of oceans in ensuring human health and identifies gaps and opportunities for future research. The report summarizes a workshop convened by the Institute of Medicine’s Roundtable on Environmental Health Sciences, Research, and Medicine. Participants discussed coastal waters and ocean ecosystem services in the United States in an effort to understand impacts on human health. Understanding the Connections Between Coastal Waters and Ocean Ecosystem Services and Human Health focuses on key linkages by discussing the ecosystem services provided by coastal waterways and oceans that are essential for human health and well-being; examining the major stressors that affect the ability of coastal waterways and ocean systems to provide essential services; and considering key factors that can enhance the resiliency of these systems.

State Department of Transportation Fleet Replacement Management Practices

March 4, 2014 Comments off

State Department of Transportation Fleet Replacement Management Practices
Source: Transportation Research Board

TRB’s National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Synthesis 452: State Department of Transportation Fleet Replacement Management Practices explores the current state of the practice regarding fleet replacement management and financing methods by state departments of transportation. The report also includes a discussion of the perceived strengths and weaknesses of different management and financing methods.

Preventing Psychological Disorders in Service Members and Their Families: An Assessment of Programs

February 24, 2014 Comments off

Preventing Psychological Disorders in Service Members and Their Families: An Assessment of Programs
Source: Institute of Medicine

More than a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan has placed extraordinary demands on service members and their families, and many veterans have returned from the field with significant psychological impairments. Between 2000 and 2011, almost 1 million service members or former service members were diagnosed with at least 1 psychological disorder either during or after deployment; almost half of these members had multiple disorders. These conditions can hamper veterans’ ability to reconnect with family, find work, and live healthy and productive lives.

In 2013, the IOM released the congressionally mandated report Returning Home from Iraq and Afghanistan: Assessment of Readjustment Needs of Veterans, Service Members, and Their Families. Because this report focused primarily on psychological screening and treatment programs within the Department of Defense (DOD) and the Department of Veterans Affairs, DOD asked the IOM to conduct a follow-up study on DOD’s efforts to prevent psychological disorders among active-duty service members and their families. The resulting report assesses the evidence base for DOD’s existing prevention programs and makes recommendations about program development and implementation.

The Science of Science Communication II: Summary of a Colloquium (2014)

February 14, 2014 Comments off

The Science of Science Communication II: Summary of a Colloquium (2014)
Source: National Research Council

Successful scientists must be effective communicators within their professions. Without those skills, they could not write papers and funding proposals, give talks and field questions, or teach classes and mentor students. However, communicating with audiences outside their profession – people who may not share scientists’ interests, technical background, cultural assumptions, and modes of expression – presents different challenges and requires additional skills. Communication about science in political or social settings differs from discourse within a scientific discipline. Not only are scientists just one of many stakeholders vying for access to the public agenda, but the political debates surrounding science and its applications may sometimes confront scientists with unfamiliar and uncomfortable discussions involving religious values, partisan interests, and even the trustworthiness of science.

The Science of Science Communication II is the summary of a Sackler Colloquium convened in September 2013 At this event, leading social, behavioral, and decision scientists, other scientists, and communication practitioners shared current research that can improve the communication of science to lay audiences. In the Sackler Colloquia tradition, the meeting also allowed social and natural scientists to identify new opportunities to collaborate and advance their own research, while improving public engagement with science. Speakers provided evidence-based guidance on how to listen to others so as to identify their information needs, ways of thinking about the world, and the cultural stereotypes regarding scientists. They delved deeply into the incentive systems that shape what scientists study and how they report their work, the subtle changes in framing that can influence how messages are interpreted, the complex channels that determine how messages flow, and the potential politicization of scientific evidence.

Transportation Research Board 2013 Annual Report

February 12, 2014 Comments off

Transportation Research Board 2013 Annual Report
Source: Transportation Research Board

The 2013 Annual Report provides a summary of the Transportation Research Board’s (TRB’s) programs and activities over the last year and an overview of the individual divisions within TRB. The mission of TRB is to provide leadership in transportation innovation and progress through research and information exchange, conducted within a setting that is objective, interdisciplinary, and multimodal.

Technological Challenges in Antibiotic Discovery and Development: A Workshop Summary (2014)

February 12, 2014 Comments off

Technological Challenges in Antibiotic Discovery and Development: A Workshop Summary (2014)
Source: National Research Council

Technological Challenges in Antibiotic Discovery and Development is the summary of a workshop convened by the Chemical Sciences Roundtable in September 2013 to explore the current state of antibiotic discovery and examine the technology available to facilitate development. Through formal presentations and panel discussions, participants from academia, industry, federal research agencies discussed the technical challenges present and the incentives and disincentives industry faces in antibiotic development, and identified novel approaches to antibiotic discovery.

Antibiotic resistance is a serious and growing problem in modern medicine and it is emerging as a pre-eminent public health threat. Each year in the United States alone, at least two million acquire serious infections with bacteria that are resistant to one or more antibiotics, and at least 23,000 people die annually as a direct result of these antibiotic-resistant infections. In addition to the toll on human life, antibiotic-resistant infections add considerable and avoidable costs to the already overburdened U.S. health care system. This report explores the challenges in overcoming antibiotic resistance, screening for new antibiotics, and delivering them to the sites of infection in the body. The report also discusses a path forward to develop the next generation of potent antimicrobial compounds capable of once again tilting the battle against microbial pathogens in favor of humans. Technological Challenges in Antibiotic Discovery and Development gives a broad view of the landscape of antibiotic development and the technological challenges and barriers to be overcome.

Motor Vehicle Crashes and Injuries Involving Teenage Drivers: Future Directions for Research

February 3, 2014 Comments off

Motor Vehicle Crashes and Injuries Involving Teenage Drivers: Future Directions for Research
Source: Transportation Research Board

This circular includes a summary of the discussions by experts on teenage driving that took place at a 2008 meeting and workshop organized by the TRB Subcommittee on Young Drivers. The meeting and workshop were convened to identify research that is needed to answer the most critical and timely scientific questions about teenage drivers. During the meeting, full-group discussions were intermixed with smaller subgroup deliberations. Each of these sessions involved a particular goal for the participating groups. The intent of this structure was to elicit and discuss as many research-specific issues as the participants considered important for identifying needed research in the young driver field. Participants reviewed ways in which the teenage driver problem has been addressed, how approaches have developed and changed over time, and commented on the past and present status of research in this area. The context and state of existing knowledge led to the identification of the following areas of research as most critical: 1) advancing the science of teenage driving; 2) learning to drive safely: how competence develops; 3) teenage driving exposure issues; 4) parenting issues: how parents influence teenage driving; and 5) passenger issues: how passengers influence teenage driving and crash risk. Following the meeting, members of the planning committee developed potential research topics and specific items for suggested research in the five priority areas. The document is intended to provide both new and veteran researchers with a guide to research questions whose answers are of particular importance for efforts to reduce motor vehicle crashes, injuries, and deaths involving teenage drivers.

Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change: Anticipating Surprises

January 31, 2014 Comments off

Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change: Anticipating Surprises
Source: National Research Council

Climate is changing, forced out of the range of the past million years by levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases not seen in the Earth’s atmosphere for a very, very long time. Lacking action by the world’s nations, it is clear that the planet will be warmer, sea level will rise, and patterns of rainfall will change. But the future is also partly uncertain — there is considerable uncertainty about how we will arrive at that different climate. Will the changes be gradual, allowing natural systems and societal infrastructure to adjust in a timely fashion? Or will some of the changes be more abrupt, crossing some threshold or “tipping point” to change so fast that the time between when a problem is recognized and when action is required shrinks to the point where orderly adaptation is not possible?

Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change is an updated look at the issue of abrupt climate change and its potential impacts. This study differs from previous treatments of abrupt changes by focusing on abrupt climate changes and also abrupt climate impacts that have the potential to severely affect the physical climate system, natural systems, or human systems, often affecting multiple interconnected areas of concern. The primary timescale of concern is years to decades. A key characteristic of these changes is that they can come faster than expected, planned, or budgeted for, forcing more reactive, rather than proactive, modes of behavior.

Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change summarizes the state of our knowledge about potential abrupt changes and abrupt climate impacts and categorizes changes that are already occurring, have a high probability of occurrence, or are unlikely to occur. Because of the substantial risks to society and nature posed by abrupt changes, this report recommends the development of an Abrupt Change Early Warning System that would allow for the prediction and possible mitigation of such changes before their societal impacts are severe. Identifying key vulnerabilities can help guide efforts to increase resiliency and avoid large damages from abrupt change in the climate system, or in abrupt impacts of gradual changes in the climate system, and facilitate more informed decisions on the proper balance between mitigation and adaptation. Although there is still much to learn about abrupt climate change and abrupt climate impacts, to willfully ignore the threat of abrupt change could lead to more costs, loss of life, suffering, and environmental degradation. Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change makes the case that the time is here to be serious about the threat of tipping points so as to better anticipate and prepare ourselves for the inevitable surprises.

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