American Journal of Public Health Highlights:
Time spent in physical education does not negatively affect academic performance
Among girls, higher amounts of physical education may be associated with an academic benefit.
Using data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, researchers examined the association between time spent in physical education and academic achievement in a nationally representative sample of U.S. students entering kindergarten in fall 1998 who were followed through fifth grade. Researchers found that physical education did not appear to negatively affect academic achievement in elementary school students. Furthermore, a small but significant benefit for academic achievement in math and reading was observed for girls enrolled in higher amounts of physical education.
“Physical education should be promoted for its many benefits, and fear of negatively affecting academic achievement does not seem to be a legitimate reason for reducing or eliminating programs in physical education,” the study’s authors said. [From: “Physical Education and Academic Achievement in Elementary School: Data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study.” Contact: Susan A. Carlson, MPH, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Atlanta, Ga., via Tim Hensley, 770-488-5554, firstname.lastname@example.org]
Postdeployment screenings may increase mental health clinic attendance among veterans
Using data obtained at one Veterans Administration (VA) medical center and its five associated VA community-based clinics, researchers sought to evaluate outcomes of the VA Afghan and Iraq Post-Deployment Screen for mental health outcomes. Of the 750 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who presented at the medical center or affiliated clinics, 338 underwent postdeployment screening; 233 screened positive for one or more mental health problems. Of the 233 veterans who screened positive, 170 (73 percent) ultimately completed a mental health follow-up visit.
“Our results from a single VA facility indicated that the postdeployment mental health screening of combat veterans has the potential to overcome a ‘don’t ask; don’t tell’ environment that surrounds stigmatized mental illness, to efficiently detect mental health symptoms, and to facilitate early intervention to prevent chronic mental illness,” the study’s authors said. [From: “Getting Beyond ‘Don’t Ask; Don’t Tell’: An Evaluation of U.S. Veterans Administration Postdeployment Mental Health Screening of Veterans Returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.” Contact: Karen H. Seal, MD, MPH, San Francisco VA Medical Center, Division of General Internal Medicine, San Francisco, Calif., email@example.com]
Name-based HIV reporting and partner notification policies do not affect testing rates
To examine the effect of New York’s HIV Reporting and Partner Notification law on HIV testing levels and on the HIV testing decisions of high-risk individuals, researchers administered in-person interviews to 761 high-risk individuals. They also assessed testing trends in publicly funded HIV counseling and testing programs, Medicaid and New York’s Maternal Pediatric Newborn Prevention and Care Program. Researchers found that the state’s HIV reporting law did not result in decreases in HIV testing behavior, including willingness to test among those at high risk of acquiring HIV.
“HIV surveillance is critically important to track the HIV epidemic, guide prevention activities and anticipate care needs,” the study’s authors said. “Our findings indicate that, in a large state with a diverse population and a high prevalence of HIV infection, the surveillance benefits associated with HIV name-based reporting are not being offset by unfavorable changes in HIV testing behaviors.” [From: “The Effect of Name-Based Reporting and Partner Notification on HIV Testing in New York State.” Contact: James M. Tesoriero, PhD, Director, Office of Program Evaluation and Research, AIDS Institute, New York State Department of Health, Menands, N.Y., firstname.lastname@example.org]
Rapid HIV testing is not widely available in community health clinics
Researchers examined the scope of rapid HIV testing in the United States from 2003 to 2006 in a multistage random sample of private nonprofit urban community health settings (i.e., community clinics and community-based organizations). Findings indicated that rapid HIV tests are infrequently offered, with only 17 percent of the settings providing the tests. Researchers also found substantial geographic variation in availability of rapid HIV tests, with community clinics in the South, versus the West, more likely to be providing rapid tests.
“With greater resources, rapid HIV testing can increase in the United States and will ultimately help to realize the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s] goal of universal awareness of HIV status in a way that is feasible for and acceptable to both clients and health care providers,” the study’s authors said. [From: “Scope of Rapid HIV Testing in Private Nonprofit Urban Community Health Settings in the United States.” Contact: Laura M. Bogart, PhD, RAND Corp, Santa Monica, Calif., email@example.com]