AJPH October 2016 highlights

Date: Oct 13 2016

AJPH Research: Reducing gun violence, increasing bicycle use, improving dental care

CONTACT: For copies of articles or full table of contents of an issue, contact Mandi Yohn at amanda.yohn@apha.org or 202-777-2509.

American Journal of Public Health highlights:

1. Repairing abandoned buildings and vacant lots reduces gun violence, returns money to cities

2. Expanding bicycle lanes increases bicycle use, improves cyclist safety in Boston

3. Rural Maryland community dental program reduces emergency room visits, cuts costs

Repairing abandoned buildings and vacant lots reduces gun violence, returns money to cities

Repairing abandoned buildings and cleaning up vacant lots significantly reduced firearm violence and costs in Philadelphia, according to a new study in the American Journal of Public Health.

Researchers analyzed the impacts and economic returns on investment of urban blight remediation programs involving more than 5,000 abandoned buildings and vacant lots on firearm and non-firearm violence in Philadelphia from 1999-2013. Abandoned building repairs included inexpensive installation of working doors and windows, and cleaning of building facades. In vacant lots, trash was removed and dilapidated land was greened to create inexpensive parklets.

Results showed as much as a 39 percent reduction in firearm violence in and around blighted spaces that had been remediated. Neither program had a significant effect on non-firearm violence. Additionally, for every dollar invested in the treatment of abandoned buildings and vacant lots, returns on investment were $5-$26 in net taxpayer benefits and $79-$333 for society at large.

“Simple remediation of abandoned buildings and vacant lots is a high-value intervention to reduce firearm violence," the authors explain. “They involve straightforward, inexpensive and reproducible implementation and maintenance protocols that are scalable to entire cities, ask little if anything of local residents to be sustained over time and allow residents to remain in their home neighborhoods without the need for expensive and unwanted relocation.”

[“Urban Blight Remediation as a Cost-Beneficial Solution to Firearm Violence.” Contact: Charles Branas, PhD, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.]

Expanding bicycle lanes increases bicycle use, improves cyclist safety in Boston

According to a new study in the American Journal of Public Health, adding more miles of bicycle lanes in Boston significantly increased the number of bicycle commuters and reduced bicycle accidents involving injuries.

Researchers measured bicycle lane mileage and the number of bicycle commuters in Boston following the initiation of “Boston Bikes” in 2007 — a program that rapidly expanded the city’s bicycle infrastructure. They also calculated the number of reported bicycle accidents from 2009-2012.

Results showed that Boston increased its total bicycle mileage from less than 0.04 miles in 2007 to more than 92 miles in 2014. The percentage of bicycle commuters increased from less than 1 percent in 2005 to more than 2 percent in 2014. The percentage of bicycle accidents involving injuries decreased from more than 82 percent in 2009 to less than 75 percent in 2012.

“Our findings may have broad implications for bicycle infrastructure expansion with respect to several areas of public health, including public policy, environmental health and personal health,” the authors explain. “Cities wishing to improve overall bicycle commuting, reduce automobile congestion and pollution and improve the health of their citizens might consider policies similar to those of Boston for their bicycle infrastructure plans.”

[“Bicycle Use and Cyclist Safety Following Boston’s Bicycle Infrastructure Expansion, 2009-2012.” Contact: Felipe Pedroso, MD, MPH, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts. Department of Surgery, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, New York.]

Rural Maryland community dental program reduces emergency room visits, cuts costs

The expansion of a community dental access program in rural Maryland prevented hundreds of dental-related emergency room visits and saved taxpayers significant costs, according to new research in the American Journal of Public Health.

Researchers reviewed data from a rural western Maryland community dental program’s claims database and claims data for dental-related visits to a regional emergency department. They examined the association over time between visits to the community dental program and the emergency department for fiscal years 2011-2015.

Results showed that the community dental program served over 1,600 unique clients across 2,700 visits during fiscal years 2011-2015, providing thousands of x-rays, extractions and restorations to patients needing urgent dental care. The model suggested that if the program had not provided these services during that time period, about 670 additional dental-related emergency department visits would have occurred, resulting in $215,000 more in costs.

“As with medical care, many people who do not have insurance or the ability to pay out of pocket go to emergency departments with pain or infection associated with dental conditions because they do not know where or how to access dental resources in the community,” the authors explain. “This study shows that offering an accessible alternative for urgent dental care to low-income and underinsured adults can divert them from using the emergency department as a source for care.”

[“Impact of a Community Dental Access Program on Emergency Dental Admissions in Rural Maryland.” Contact: Jonathan Leider, PhD, Department of Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland.]

Find a full list of research papers published online on Oct. 13, 2016, at 4 p.m. EDT below:

  • Lack of Cost-Effectiveness Analyses to Address Healthy People 2020 Priority Areas
  • Changes in Reported Sexual Orientation Following US States Recognition of Same-Sex Couples
  • Impact of AIDS Education and Training Centers on the US HIV Medical Workforce
  • Variation in Vaccination Data Available at School Entry Across the United States
  • Vision Zero in the United States Versus Sweden: Infrastructure Improvement for Cycling Safety
  • Deaths From Unintentional Injury, Homicide, and Suicide During or Within 1 Year of Pregnancy in Philadelphia
  • Effectiveness of a Scaled-Up Arthritis Self-Management Program in Oregon: Walk With Ease
  • Impact of Dietary and Metabolic Risk Factors on Cardiovascular and Diabetes Mortality in South Asia: Analysis From the 2010 Global Burden of Disease Study
  • Trends in HIV Infection Among Persons Who Inject Drugs: United States and Puerto Rico, 2008–2013
  • Tuberculosis in Jails and Prisons: United States, 2002–2013
  • Urban Blight Remediation as a Cost-Beneficial Solution to Firearm Violence
  • Decreases in Suicide Deaths and Attempts Linked to the White Mountain Apache Suicide Surveillance and Prevention System, 2001–2012
  • Bicycle Use and Cyclist Safety Following Boston’s Bicycle Infrastructure Expansion, 2009-2012
  • Impact of a Community Dental Access Program on Emergency Dental Admissions in Rural Maryland
  • Neighborhood Disadvantage, Poor Social Conditions, and Cardiovascular Disease Incidence Among African American Adults in the Jackson Heart Study
  • Ecological Association of Human Papillomavirus Vaccination with Cervical Dysplasia Prevalence in the United States, 2007–2014

The articles above was published online Oct. 13, 2016, at 4 p.m. EDT by the American Journal of Public Health under “First Look.” “First Look” articles have undergone peer review, copyediting and approval by authors but have not yet been printed to paper or posted online by issue. The American Journal of Public Health is published by the American Public Health Association, and is available at www.ajph.org.

Complimentary online access to the Journal is available to credentialed members of the media. Address inquiries to Mandi Yohn at APHA, 202-777-2509, or email her. A single print issue of the Journal is available for $35 from the Journal’s Subscriptions Department. If you are not a member of the press, a member of APHA or a subscriber, online single issue access is $30, and online single article access is $22 at www.ajph.org. For direct customer service, call 202-777-2516, or email us.

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The American Journal of Public Health is the monthly journal of the American Public Health Association. APHA champions the health of all people and all communities. We strengthen the public health profession. We speak out for public health issues and policies backed by science. We are the only organization that influences federal policy, has a 140-plus year perspective and brings together members from all fields of public health. Visit www.apha.org