Johns Hopkins Gazette: October 9, 1995


Public Health News

Vision tests for elderly reduce fatal automobile crashes, study shows 

     Each year, more than 5,000 drivers over age 65 are involved
in fatal car crashes. Research released last week by the School
of Public Health and the University of Baltimore Merrick Shool of
Business shows that requiring older drivers to take a vision test
upon license renewal reduces the risk of fatal crashes among them
by about 7 percent.
     The findings, reported in the Oct. 4  Journal of the
American Medical Association, were the culmination of the most
comprehensive study yet conducted to evaluate the effect of
license renewal policies on fatal crashes among older drivers.
     The study's lead author, David T. Levy, a professor of
economics at the University of Baltimore, said that several
states have road and knowledge tests because they think they are
an effective way to reduce automobile fatalities.
     "We were not able to show that these tests had as strong an
effect on fatality risk as vision testing," Levy said. 
     Though license renewal is one of the few public policies
that could have a dire effect on the safety of older drivers,
changes could limit their independence.
     "There is the question of what to do when seniors' licenses
are revoked, and they lose their mobility," Levy said. "The
challenge is to find a way to improve [the elderly driver's]
safety without sacrificing their independence."

Postmenopausal women with breast cancer opting for estrogen therapy

     In the first study to evaluate the effect of menopause on
the quality of life of women with breast cancer, a School of
Public Health study shows that 31 percent of women with breast
cancer would consider taking estrogen--despite concerns that the
hormone might promote tumor growth--to relieve menopausal
     "Whether postmenopausal women with breast cancer should take
[estrogen replacement therapy] has been hotly debated recently,"
said associate professor of epidemiology Kathy J. Helzsouer.
"This study tells us that breast cancer patients want--and need--
safe, effective treatments for menopausal symptoms. If not
estrogen, other effective treatments need to be developed."
     The findings, reported in the October issue of the Journal
of Clinical Oncology, reveal that 50 percent of the women who
experienced symptoms including hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal
dryness, difficulty sleeping and depression felt they needed some
form of treatment. Among women who would consider ERT,
willingness increased with greater severity of sleep disturbances
and depression. 

Doctors suffer same sorts of stress as many other kinds of workers 

     Doctors in mid-career suffer from the same types of stress,
mental strain and dissatisfaction as a result of their work
conditions as other workers, including those in both blue collar
and service occupations.
     In a study, which appears in this month's Journal of
Occupational and Environmental Medicine, School of Public Health
researchers report the two main factors contributing to mental
strain and job dissatisfaction for doctors were the degree of
social support they received and the amount of control they had
over their work.
     Jeffrey V. Johnson, an associate professor in the Department
of Health Policy and Management, said that in managed care
settings, where doctors may have a heavy patient caseload, they
may not have the time or energy to find social support. Johnson
defined social support as co-workers helping to do a difficult
job, giving emotional support about problems on the job and
giving feedback about job performance.
     The report used data from the Johns Hopkins Physicians
Precursor Study, a longitudinal cohort analysis begun in 1947 to
identify biological, physiological, psychological and social
characteristics among medical students that would predict
premature development of cardiovascular disease and hypertension.

Other News

HR conference addresses ways diversity can lead to corporate excellence

     Human Resources staff and administrators from across the
university met for their fourth annual conference last week to
discuss ways to achieve excellence through diversity.
     The two-day conference, this year held on Oct. 5 and 6 at
Sheppard Pratt, provides training and development on a specific
issue of importance to the university. Anne Muller, senior
director of human resources at the schools of Public Health and
Nursing, chaired the conference.
     "Diversity goes beyond gender and race and encompasses all
the differences in us, including dimensions like personality,
culture, age, physical ability, sexual orientation and religion,"
said Cecy Kuruvilla, senior organization development/diversity
specialist and chair of the conference's program planning
committee. "It's important that we are all aware of diversity
issues and seek ways in which to recognize our differences and
use them to enhance our workplace. This conference was designed
to help us, as a human resources team, become better equipped to
encourage their awareness."
     UMBC president Freeman Hrabowski III was the conference
keynote speaker. He began UMBC's nationally acclaimed
multimillion dollar Meyerhoff Scholarship Program for gifted
African Americans in science and engineering.

Continuing Studies, Nursing launch dual master's degree program

     The schools of Nursing and Continuing Studies are offering a
new part-time dual master's degree program in nursing management
and business. The goal of the MS in Nursing/Business is to
prepare nurses to successfully manage nursing services and
integrated health services.
     "The growth of managed care and the emergence of specialized
community-based settings create exciting new opportunities for
nurses to assume increasingly responsible roles in designing and
managing treatment settings," said Jacqueline Dienemann,
associate professor and coordinator of nursing programs in
management for the School of Nursing.
     The 50-credit curriculum builds on an undergraduate nursing
education by adding graduate nursing and business foundation
courses taught by faculty with practical experience from a
variety of settings. Courses are also offered that address
changes in health care administration and professional nursing
issues. Students also will receive management experience in the
setting of their choice.
     For application and program information, contact Pat Wafer,
senior director of business/medical programs for the School of
Continuing Studies, at (410) 290-1260 or at

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