August Research Briefs

August 1, 2009

Summaries of the latest research in healthcare

• Racial disparities in CRC survival dissipate with adjustments

Cancer. doi:10.1002/cncr.24408. [July 13, 2009]

Investigators in a new study conclude that the effect of demographics, clinical factors and socioeconomic status on racial disparities in colorectal cancer (CRC) survival dissipate after adjusting for other demographic and clinical factors. The study population in the Detroit Metropolitan Area included 9,078 individuals with primary invasive CRC identified between 1988 and 1992 through the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) program.

• Health plan satisfaction lower among individual purchasers

J.D. Power and Associates 2009 National Health Insurance Plan Study. http://www.jdpower.com/insurance/articles/2009-Health-Insurance-Plan-Satisfaction-Study

Health plan members who individually purchase their plans or work for small employers (50 workers or fewer) are considerably less satisfied with their health plan experience compared with health plan members who work for larger organizations, according to the most recent National Health Insurance Plan Study conducted by J.D. Power and Associates. Measuring member satisfaction among 131 health plans in 17 regions throughout the United States, researchers examined such factors as coverage and benefits, provider choice, information and communication, claims processing, billing statements, customer service and approval processes.

• Ultrasound tops symptom analysis in ovarian cancer detection

Cancer. doi:10.1002/cncr.24407. [July 13, 2009]

Results of a new study that compared symptom analysis with ultrasound in predicting ovarian cancer show that although symptoms do identify ovarian malignancies, they are not as accurate as trans-vaginal screening (TVS). Researchers selected 272 women participating in annual TVS from 31,748 women enrolled in a free screening project at the University of Kentucky to compare symptom results with ultrasound and surgical pathology findings. They found that TVS performed better than symptoms analysis for distinguishing malignancies (73.3% vs. 20% sensitivity). Although symptoms analysis performed better for distinguishing benign tumors (91.3% vs. 74.4% specificity), adding symptom analysis to TVS actually resulted in poorer identification of malignancy even as it improved the ability to distinguish benign tumors. Researchers add that informative symptoms can be expected to be absent in 80% of ovarian cancer.