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Research Briefs

Parental guidance suggested
Parents concerned about alcohol use by adolescents may want to consider saying "no" to R-rated movies, according to a survey of 2,406 students from 15 New England middle schools. Students who had never drunk alcohol without their parents' knowledge were surveyed twice, 13 to 26 months apart. The DMS team, led by pediatrician Susanne Tanski, M.D., controlled for "sociodemographics, personality characteristics, and authoritative parenting style." Writing in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, the researchers concluded that children whose parents were more lenient regarding R-rated movies were more likely to drink in the near future.

Change of heart
The likelihood that your cardiologist will recommend certain heart procedures may depend more on where you live and your doctor's fear of being sued than on your condition, according to a recent study by researchers at Dartmouth and Maine Medical Center. Using patient vignettes, they surveyed cardiologists and found that in certain regions cardiologists are more apt to recommend cardiac catheterization based on "nonclinical" factors such as fear of malpractice suits. The study was published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

An ongoing epidemic

Watch some of the presentations at the conference.
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Charles Wira, Ph.D., organized a conference at DMS in June, funded by the National Institutes of Health, that brought together leading worldwide researchers on AIDS transmission and prevention.

Relative risk of smoking
Taking a close look at data on colorectal adenomas yielded some intriguing results for researchers at Dartmouth's Norris Cotton Cancer Center. In an analysis of several thousand patients, they found that smoking for more than 15 years was associated with a 55% greater risk of developing colorectal adenomas. But for those with a family history of colorectal adenomas, smoking made little difference in their risk. "Patients with no family history should be counseled about smoking as a significantly added risk factor for adenoma occurrence," the authors wrote in the Journal of Cancer Epidemiology.

Caught red-handed
Many anesthesia providers are giving bacteria a free ride from one operating room to another, DHMC physician-researchers discovered. Led by anesthesiologist Randy Loftus, M.D., the team examined 164 cases, comparing bacteria from IV tubing and other equipment to bacteria isolated from the hands of anesthesia providers. Bacterial transmission to IV tubing, for example, was identified in 11.5% of cases; 47% were traced to the hands of anesthesia providers. "Contaminated hands of anesthesia pro - viders serve as a significant source of . . . contamination in the operating room," the authors concluded in Anesthesia and Analgesia.

A study led by DMS's Brent Berwin, Ph.D., looking at how certain bacteria can resist attack from the immune system, was chosen for the Research Highlights section of Nature Immunology.

Mental images
Treatment decisions made by people with severe mental illness may be strongly influenced by their ethnicity and race, concluded a study led by Elizabeth Carpenter-Song, Ph.D. The researchers found that mentalhealth patients of differing ethnic backgrounds view their conditions, and mental health services, differently. They wrote in Transcultural Psychiatry that African-American and Latino patients were more likely to hold "non-biomedical interpretations" of mental illness and to be "critical of mental health services." By contrast, Euro-American patients held "diseaseoriented" views of their conditions and were more likely to seek mental-health treatment.

Millions more
When a team of DMS researchers examined trends in Americans' use of chiropractic care, they found that chiropractors have attracted millions of new patients since the late 1990s. Inflation-adjusted expenditures on chiropracty rose from $3.8 billion in 1997 to $5.9 billion in 2006, they reported in Health Services Research. The surge was due to a 57% increase in the overall number of patients, from 7.7 million in 2000 to 12.1 million in 2003. From 2003 to 2006, however, the number of chiropractic patients remained relatively stable.

Harold Swartz, M.D., Ph.D., was awarded $16.6 million from the National Institutes of Health to develop a portable device to measure radiation exposure in survivors of a nuclear catastrophe.

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