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1.  Racial Disparities in Outcomes Following Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting 
More than 12 million people in the United States have coronary heart disease, the second leading cause of hospitalization in the United States. It is known that persons within racial minorities, specifically African Americans, have a higher prevalence of coronary heart disease, yet are much less likely to undergo invasive cardiac treatment interventions. An invasive intervention commonly used to treat coronary heart disease is coronary artery bypass grafting, with over 140,000 operations performed annually in the United States. However, blacks are known to experience higher post–coronary artery bypass graft morbidity and mortality. The causes for racial disparities in post–coronary artery bypass graft outcomes are not well known but may include factors related to the individual, provider, system, and society/environment, either alone or in combination. The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the literature regarding disparities in the health and healthcare of black patients with coronary heart disease with respect to CABG, and examine potential hypotheses for variant outcomes after surgery.
PMCID: PMC3660098  PMID: 16966914
coronary heart disease; coronary artery bypass; disparities; race; population groups; Black African-American
2.  Crossing the Chasm: Information Technology to Biomedical Informatics 
Accelerating the translation of new scientific discoveries to improve human health and disease management is the overall goal of a series of initiatives integrated in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) “Roadmap for Medical Research.” The Clinical and Translational Research Award (CTSA) program is, arguably, the most visible component of the NIH Roadmap providing resources to institutions to transform their clinical and translational research enterprises along the goals of the Roadmap. The CTSA program emphasizes biomedical informatics as a critical component for the accomplishment of the NIH’s translational objectives. To be optimally effective, emerging biomedical informatics programs must link with the information technology (IT) platforms of the enterprise clinical operations within academic health centers.
This report details one academic health center’s transdisciplinary initiative to create an integrated academic discipline of biomedical informatics through the development of its infrastructure for clinical and translational science infrastructure and response to the CTSA mechanism. This approach required a detailed informatics strategy to accomplish these goals. This transdisciplinary initiative was the impetus for creation of a specialized biomedical informatics core, the Center for Biomedical Informatics (CBI). Development of the CBI codified the need to incorporate medical informatics including quality and safety informatics and enterprise clinical information systems within the CBI. This paper describes the steps taken to develop the biomedical informatics infrastructure, its integration with clinical systems at one academic health center, successes achieved, and barriers encountered during these efforts.
PMCID: PMC3137749  PMID: 21383632
CTSA; information technology clinical and translational research; biomedical informatics
3.  An Experimental Study of the Agreement of Self-Administration and Telephone Administration of the Timeline Followback Interview* 
The Timeline Followback (TLFB) interview has become state-of-the-science for the collection of retrospective self-reports of daily alcohol consumption. Such data are especially useful for addressing questions of the co-occurrence of quantity of alcohol consumption and other behaviors, such as HIV-related risky sex, on the event level. The purpose of this study was to determine if the TLFB could be used effectively by self-administration compared with the more costly telephone interview in a large, multisite observational study of HIV-positive and HIV-negative adults.
An experimental design was used to compare self-administered and telephone-administered TLFB modes in a subsample (N = 70) of the Veterans Aging Cohort Study, an ongoing longitudinal study of more than 6,000 HIV-positive and HIV-negative men and women presenting for treatment at eight Department of Veterans Affairs Infectious Disease or General Medicine clinics. Participants were randomly assigned to one of four experimental groups defined by mode and sequence of a TLFB administration on two occasions occurring within 1 week: telephone-telephone, telephone-self, self-telephone, and self-self.
Analyses showed no differences in median total number of drinks reported between modes of TLFB administration or sequence of mode of administration. The same findings held for classification of participants as “hazardous” drinkers. Additional analyses showed good-to-excellent test-retest reliability of self-reports for both modes of TLFB administration.
The data derived from this study provide strong experimental evidence for the utility of the self-administered, 30-day TLFB in collecting daily alcohol consumption in large observational studies of HIV-positive and HIV-negative individuals.
PMCID: PMC3115624  PMID: 18432391
4.  Adjusting Alcohol Quantity for Mean Consumption and Intoxication Threshold Improves Prediction of Nonadherence in HIV Patients and HIV-Negative Controls 
Screening for hazardous drinking may fail to detect a substantial proportion of individuals harmed by alcohol. We investigated whether considering an individual’s usual drinking quantity or threshold for alcohol-induced cognitive impairment improves the prediction of nonadherence with prescribed medications.
Cross-sectional analysis of participants in a large, multi-site cohort study. We used the timeline followback to reconstruct 30-day retrospective drinking histories and the timeline followback modified for adherence to reconstruct 30-day medication adherence histories among 3,152 individuals in the Veterans Aging Cohort Study, 1,529 HIV infected and 1,623 uninfected controls. We categorized daily alcohol consumption by using quantity alone, quantity after adjustment for the individual’s mean daily alcohol consumption, and self-reported level of impairment corresponding to each quantity. A standard drink was defined as 14 g of ethanol. Nonadherence was defined as the proportion of days with ≥1 medication doses missed or taken ≥2 hours late, and clinically significant nonadherence was defined as ≥5% absolute increase in the proportion of days with nonadherence.
The mean adjusted- and impairment-based methods showed greater discrimination of nonadherence risk compared to the measure based on quantity alone (quantity-based categorization, 3.2-fold increase; quantity adjusted for mean daily consumption, 4.6-fold increase, impairment-based categorization, 3.6-fold increase). The individualized methods also detected greater numbers of days with clinically significant nonadherence associated with alcohol. Alcohol was associated with clinically significant nonadherence at a lower threshold for HIV infected versus uninfected patients (2 standard drinks vs. 4 standard drinks) using quantity-based categorization, but this difference was no longer apparent when individualized methods were used.
Tailoring screening questions to an individual’s usual level of alcohol consumption or threshold for impairment improves the ability to predict alcohol-associated medication nonadherence.
PMCID: PMC3111093  PMID: 18616666
Human Immunodeficiency Virus; Alcohol; Nonadherence
5.  Military veteran mortality following a survived suicide attempt 
BMC Public Health  2011;11:374.
Suicide is a global public health problem. Recently in the U.S., much attention has been given to preventing suicide and other premature mortality in veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. A strong predictor of suicide is a past suicide attempt, and suicide attempters have multiple physical and mental comorbidities that put them at risk for additional causes of death. We examined mortality among U.S. military veterans after hospitalization for attempted suicide.
A retrospective cohort study was conducted with all military veterans receiving inpatient treatment during 1993-1998 at United States Veterans Affairs (VA) medical facilities following a suicide attempt. Deaths occurring during 1993-2002, the most recent available year at the time, were identified through VA Beneficiary and Records Locator System data and National Death Index data. Mortality data for the general U.S. adult population were also obtained from the National Center for Health Statistics. Comparisons within the veteran cohort, between genders, and against the U.S. population were conducted with descriptive statistics and standardized mortality ratios. The actuarial method was used estimate the proportion of veterans in the cohort we expect would have survived through 2002 had they experienced the same rate of death that occurred over the study period in the U.S. population having the age and sex characteristics.
During 1993-1998, 10,163 veterans were treated and discharged at a VA medical center after a suicide attempt (mean age = 44 years; 91% male). There was a high prevalence of diagnosed alcohol disorder or abuse (31.8%), drug dependence or abuse (21.8%), psychoses (21.2%), depression (18.5%), and hypertension (14.2%). A total of 1,836 (18.1%) veterans died during follow up (2,941.4/100,000 person years). The cumulative survival probability after 10 years was 78.0% (95% CI = 72.9, 83.1). Hence the 10-year cumulative mortality risk was 22.0%, which was 3.0 times greater than expected. The leading causes overall were heart disease (20.2%), suicide (13.1%), and unintentional injury (12.7%). Whereas suicide was the ninth leading cause of death in the U.S. population overall (1.8%) during the study period, suicide was the leading and second leading cause among women (25.0%) and men (12.7%) in the cohort, respectively.
Veterans who have attempted suicide face elevated risks of all-cause mortality with suicide being prominent. This represents an important population for prevention activities.
PMCID: PMC3128015  PMID: 21605448
6.  Veterans Aging Cohort Study (VACS) 
Medical care  2006;44(8 Suppl 2):S13-S24.
The Veterans Aging Cohort Study (VACS) is a study of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infected and uninfected patients seen in infectious disease and general medical clinics. VACS includes the earlier 3 and 5 site studies (VACS 3 and VACS 5) as well as the ongoing 8 site study.
We sought to provide background and context for analyses based upon VACS data, including study design and rationale as well as its basic protocol and the baseline characteristics of the enrolled sample.
Research Design
We undertook a prospectively consented multisite observational study of veterans in care with and without HIV infection.
Data were derived from patient and provider self report, telephone interviews, blood and DNA samples, focus groups, and full access to the national VA “paperless” electronic medical record system.
More than 7200 veterans have been enrolled in at least one of the studies. The 8 site study (VACS) has enrolled 2979 HIV-infected and 3019 HIV-uninfected age–race–site matched comparators and has achieved stratified enrollment targets for race/ethnicity and age and 99% of its total target enrollment as of October 30, 2005. Participants in VACS are similar to other veterans receiving care within the VA. VACS participants are older and more predominantly black than those reported by the Centers for Disease Control.
VACS has assembled a rich, in-depth, and representative sample of veterans in care with and without HIV infection to conduct longitudinal analyses of questions concerning the association between alcohol use and related comorbid and AIDS-defining conditions.
PMCID: PMC3049942  PMID: 16849964
HIV/AIDS; alcohol; aging veterans; data management/research design
7.  Factor Structure of Leigh’s (1990) Alcohol Sex Expectancies Scale in Individuals in Treatment for HIV Disease 
AIDS and behavior  2008;14(1):174-180.
The purpose of this study was to validate the use of Leigh’s (1990) alcohol sex expectancies scale among HIV-infected individuals presenting for treatment as a way to facilitate research on sexual risk reduction among individuals in that population. The participants were 944 men who presented for treatment at infectious disease or general medicine clinics across 8 different VA Medical Center sites. A total of 534 of these men were HIV-positive and 410 were HIV-negative. The total sample was randomly divided in half within each HIV group to form exploratory (Sample 1) and confirmatory (Sample 2) subsamples. A principal components factor analysis with oblique rotation of the original 13-item Leigh scale within each HIV group in Sample 1 revealed a 2-factor (7 and 4 items, respectively) solution that was consistent across both HIV groups. These factors were named “More Open to Sexual Pleasure” (Factor 1) and “Reduced Inhibitions about Sex (Factor 2).” A confirmatory factor analysis of the 11-item, 2-factor solution on the full Sample 2 showed a modest fit to the data, excellent internal consistency reliability of both factors, a high correlation between the factors, and strong evidence for construct validity. These results were interpreted as supporting the use of the 11-item, 2-factor version of Leigh’s scale in studies of clinical samples of HIV-positive adults, and directions for research on further scale refinement are discussed.
PMCID: PMC3032495  PMID: 18791863
Leigh (1990) scale; Alcohol sex expectancies; HIV-positive; Validation
8.  The association between alcohol consumption and prevalent cardiovascular diseases among HIV infected and uninfected men 
To determine whether alcohol consumption is associated with cardiovascular disease (CVD) among HIV infected veterans
Using established thresholds for alcohol consumption, we analyzed cross-sectional data from 4743 men 51% HIV infected) from the Veterans Aging Cohort Study, a prospective cohort of HIV infected and demographically similar uninfected veterans. Using logistic regression, we estimated the odds ratio (OR) for the association between alcohol consumption and prevalent CVD.
Among HIV infected and uninfected men respectively, hazardous drinking (33.2% vs. 30.9%,), alcohol abuse and dependence (20.9% vs. 26.2%), and CVD (14.6% vs. 19.8%) were common. Among HIV infected men, hazardous drinking (OR=1.43, 95% confidence interval (CI)=1.05-1.94) and alcohol abuse and dependence (OR=1.55, 95% CI=1.07-2.23) were associated with a higher prevalence of CVD compared with infrequent and moderate drinking. Among HIV uninfected men, past drinkers had a higher prevalence of CVD (OR=1.30, 95% CI=1.01-1.67). For HIV infected and uninfected men, traditional risk factors and kidney disease were associated with CVD.
Among HIV infected men, hazardous drinking and alcohol abuse and dependence were associated with a higher prevalence of CVD compared with infrequent and moderate drinking even after adjusting for traditional CVD risk factors, antiretroviral therapy, and CD 4 count.
PMCID: PMC2858978  PMID: 20009766
alcohol consumption; alcohol abuse; alcohol dependence; HIV infection; cardiovascular disease; Veterans
9.  HIV Care Providers’ Role Legitimacy as Supporters of Their Patients’ Alcohol Reduction 
Although HIV care providers are strategically situated to support their patients’ alcohol reduction efforts, many do not do so, sometimes failing to view this support as consistent with their roles. Using data collected from 112 HIV providers in 7 hospital-based HIV Care Centers in the NYC metropolitan area, this paper examines the correlates of providers’ role legitimacy as patients’ alcohol reduction supporters. Results indicate that providers (1) responsible for a very large number of patients and (2) those with limited confidence in their own ability to give this assistance, but high confidence in their program's ability to do so, were less likely to have a high level of role legitimacy as patients’ alcohol reduction supporters. Findings suggest the types of providers to target for alcohol reduction support training.
PMCID: PMC2885816  PMID: 20556238
10.  Black–White Differences in Severity of Coronary Artery Disease Among Individuals with Acute Coronary Syndromes 
To determine whether the extent of coronary obstructive disease is similar among black and white patients with acute coronary syndromes.
Retrospective chart review.
We used administrative discharge data to identify white and black male patients, 30 years of age or older, who were discharged between October 1, 1989 and September 30, 1995 from 1 of 6 Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals with a primary diagnosis of acute myocardial infarction (AMI) or unstable angina (UnA) and who underwent coronary angiography during the admission. We excluded patients if they did not meet standard clinical criteria for AMI or UnA or if they had had prior percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty or coronary artery bypass grafting.
Physician reviewers classified the degree of coronary obstruction from blinded coronary angiography reports. Obstruction was considered significant if there was at least 50% obstruction of the left main coronary artery, or if there was 70% obstruction in 1 of the 3 major epicardial vessels or their main branches. Of the 628 eligible patients, 300 (48%) had AMI. Among patients with AMI, blacks were more likely than whites to have no significant coronary obstructions (28/145, or 19%, vs 10/155 or 7%, P = .001). Similarly, among patients with UnA, 33% (56/168) of blacks but just 17% (27/160) of whites had no significant stenoses (P = .012). There were no racial differences in severity of coronary disease among veterans with at least 1 significant obstruction. Racial differences in coronary obstructions remained after correcting for coronary disease risk factors and characteristics of the AMI.
Black veterans who present with acute coronary insufficiency are less likely than whites to have significant coronary obstruction. Current understanding of coronary disease does not provide an explanation for these differences.
PMCID: PMC1495127
coronary atherosclerosis; race; acute myocardial infarction; unstable angina; acute coronary syndromes
11.  Decreased Alcohol Consumption in Outpatient Drinkers Is Associated with Improved Quality of Life and Fewer Alcohol-related Consequences 
This study's objective was to determine whether changes in alcohol consumption are associated with changes in quality of life and alcohol-related consequences in an outpatient sample of drinkers. Two hundred thirteen subjects completed the Short Form 36-item (SF-36) Health Survey and the Short Inventory of Problems at baseline, 6 months, and 12 months. Subjects who sustained a 30% or greater decrease in drinks per month reported improvement in SF-36 Physical Component Summary (P = .058) and Mental Component Summary (P = .037) scores and had fewer alcohol-related consequences (P < .001) when compared to those with a <30% decrease. These findings suggest another benefit of alcohol screening and intervention in the primary care setting.
PMCID: PMC1495050  PMID: 12047737
alcohol drinking; alcohol dependence; alcohol abuse; quality of life; health status
12.  Problem Drinking and Medication Adherence Among Persons with HIV Infection 
To examine the relation between problem drinking and medication adherence among persons with HIV infection.
Cross-sectional survey.
Two hundred twelve persons with HIV infection who visited 2 outpatient clinics between December 1997 and February 1998.
Nineteen percent of subjects reported problem drinking during the previous month, 14% missed at least 1 dose of medication within the previous 24 hours, and 30% did not take their medications as scheduled during the previous week. Problem drinkers were slightly more likely to report a missed dose (17% vs 12 %, P = .38) and significantly more likely to report taking medicines off schedule (45% vs 26%, P = .02). Among drinking subtypes, taking medications off schedule was significantly associated with both heavy drinking (high quantity/frequency) (adjusted odds ratio [OR], 4.70; 95% confidence interval [95% CI], 1.49 to 14.84; P < .05) and hazardous drinking (adjusted OR, 2.64; 95% CI, 1.07 to 6.53; P < .05). Problem drinkers were more likely to report missing medications because of forgetting (48% vs 35%, P = .10), running out of medications (15% vs 8%, P = .16), and consuming alcohol or drugs (26 % vs 3 %, P < .001).
Problem drinking is associated with decreased medication adherence, particularly with taking medications off schedule during the previous week. Clinicians should assess for alcohol problems, link alcohol use severity to potential adherence problems, and monitor outcomes in both alcohol consumption and medication adherence.
PMCID: PMC1495171  PMID: 11251758
adherence; alcohol; HIV infection
13.  Screening for Problem Drinking 
To assess the effect of a screen for problem drinking on medical residents and their patients.
Descriptive cohort study.
Veterans Affairs Medical Clinic.
Patients were screened 2 weeks before a scheduled visit (n=714). Physicians were informed if their patients scored positive.
Physician discussion of alcohol use was documented through patient interview and chart review. Self-reported alcohol consumption was recorded. Of 236 current drinkers, 28% were positive for problem drinking by the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT). Of 58 positive patients contacted at 1 month, 78% recalled a discussion about alcohol use, 58% were advised to decrease drinking, and 9% were referred for treatment. In 57 positive patient charts, alcohol use was noted in 33 (58%), and a recommendation in 14 (25%). Newly identified patients had fewer notations than patients with prior alcohol problems. Overall, 6-month alcohol consumption decreased in both AUDIT-positive and AUDIT-negative patients. The proportion of positive patients who consumed more than 16 drinks per week (problem drinking) decreased from 58% to 49%. Problem drinking at 6 months was independent of physician discussion or chart notation.
Resident physicians discussed alcohol use in a majority of patients who screened positive for alcohol problems but less often offered specific advice or treatment. Furthermore, residents were less likely to note concerns about alcohol use in charts of patients newly identified. Finally, a screen for alcohol abuse may influence patient consumption.
PMCID: PMC1496941  PMID: 9565388
alcohol abuse; problem drinking; screening; brief interventions
14.  Do Patient Preferences Contribute to Racial Differences in Cardiovascular Procedure Use? 
To determine whether patient preferences for the use of coronary revascularization procedures differ between white and black Americans.
Cross-sectional survey.
Tertiary care Department of Veterans Affairs hospital.
Outpatients with and without known coronary artery disease were interviewed while awaiting appointments (n = 272). Inpatients awaiting catheterization were approached the day before the scheduled procedure (n = 80). Overall, 118 blacks and 234 whites were included in the study.
Patient responses to questions regarding (1) willingness to undergo angioplasty or coronary artery bypass surgery if recommended by their physician and (2) whether they would elect bypass surgery if they were in either of two hypothetical scenarios, one in which bypass surgery would improve symptoms but not survival and one in which it would improve both symptoms and survival. Blacks were less likely to say they would undergo revascularization procedures than whites. However, questions dealing with familiarity with the procedure were much stronger predictors of a positive attitude toward procedure use. Patients who were not working or over 65 years of age were also less interested in procedure use. In multivariable analysis race was not a significant predictor of attitudes toward revascularization except for angioplasty recommended by their physician.
Racial differences in revascularization rates may be due in part to differences in patient preferences. However, preferences were more closely related to questions assessing various aspects of familiarity with the procedure. Patients of all races may benefit from improved communication regarding proposed revascularization. Further research should address this issue in patients contemplating actual revascularization.
PMCID: PMC1497106  PMID: 9159695
race; coronary artery bypass graft surgery; doctor-patient relationship; percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty; survey

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