Thursday, December 27, 2018

Cultivation theory holds that the media is responsible for the public’s crime trend perceptions; but it is likely that the cultivation effect of media has been overstated in the previous research

Media consumption and crime trend perceptions: a longitudinal analysis. Luzi Shi, Sean Patrick Roche & Ryan M. McKenna. Deviant Behavior,

ABSTRACT: For over two decades, despite the downward crime trend, the American public has persisted in believing crime is on the rise. Cultivation theory holds that the media is responsible for the public’s crime trend perceptions. Previous cultivation studies heavily rely on cross-sectional data, which may lead to spurious conclusions due to reverse causation and omitted variable bias. This study aims to address these issues by utilizing longitudinal analyses. Drawing on three waves of the 2008–2009 American National Election Survey, we test the cultivation hypothesis using traditional OLS, OLS with lagged crime trend perceptions, fixed effects, and dynamic panel models. Newspaper and TV news consumption are related to crime trend perceptions in traditional OLS models. In other models, media consumption is not related to crime trend perceptions. The results do not support the cultivation hypothesis. It is likely that the cultivation effect of media has been overstated in the previous cross-sectional research.

Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program & rising deaths: Why are policies that profoundly influence patient care not rigorously studied before widespread rollout?

Did This Health Care Policy Do Harm? Rishi K. Wadhera, Karen E. Joynt Maddox and Robert W. Yeh. The New York Times, Dec 21 2018.

A well-intentioned program created by the Affordable Care Act may have led to patient deaths.

Excerpts with almost no supplementary data. Check the original for the full text with links:

         The authors are cardiologists and health policy researchers.
No patient leaves the hospital hoping to return soon. But a decade ago, one in five Medicare patients who were hospitalized for common conditions ended up back in the hospital within 30 days. Because roughly half of those cases were thought to be preventable, reducing hospital readmissions was seen by policymakers as a rare opportunity to improve the quality of care while reducing costs.

In 2010, the federal agency that oversees Medicare, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, established the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program under the Affordable Care Act. Two years later, the program began imposing financial penalties on hospitals with high rates of readmission within 30 days of a hospitalization for pneumonia, heart attack or heart failure, a chronic condition in which the heart has difficulty pumping blood to the body.

At first, the reduction program seemed like the win-win that policymakers had hoped for. Readmission rates declined nationwide for target conditions. Medicare saved an estimated $10 billion because of the reduction in hospital admissions. Based on those results, many policymakers have called for expanding the program.

But a deeper look at the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program reveals a few troubling trends. First, since the policy has been in place, patients returning to a hospital are more likely to be cared for in emergency rooms and observation units. This has raised concern that some hospitals may be avoiding readmissions, even for patients who would benefit most from inpatient care.

Second, safety-net hospitals with limited resources have been disproportionately punished by the program because they tend to care for more low-income patients who are at much higher risk of readmission. Financially penalizing these resource-poor hospitals may impede their ability to deliver good care.

Finally, and most concerning, there is growing evidence that while readmission rates are falling, death rates may be rising.

In a new study [] of approximately eight million Medicare patients hospitalized between 2005 and 2015 that we conducted with other colleagues, we found that  the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program was associated with an increase in deaths within 30 days of discharge among patients hospitalized for heart failure or pneumonia, though not for a heart attack.

The study [...] found that although post-discharge deaths for patients with heart failure were increasing in the years before the program, the trend accelerated after the program was established. Death rates following a pneumonia hospitalization were stable before the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program, but increased after the program began.

For both conditions, the increase in deaths after the program were concentrated in those patients who had not been readmitted to the hospital after discharge. If we assume that the program was directly responsible for these increases in mortality and that prior trends would have continued unabated, the program may have resulted in 10,000 more deaths among patients with heart failure and pneumonia.

Our findings build upon a smaller-scale study by independent research groups that has also shown that the program was associated with an increase in post-discharge death [...].

How might this have happened? Though policymakers assumed that reductions in readmissions under the program were solely due to improvements in quality of care, our findings suggest otherwise. It is possible that some hospitals treated patients in the emergency room or in an observation unit when they would have benefited most from an inpatient readmission. It is also possible that shifting clinicians’ focus to readmissions distracted them from working to reduce mortality, since the readmissions penalties are over 10 times higher than the financial penalties for high death rates.

We don’t know exactly why we see the patterns we do. And another recent study reported that although deaths after discharge were increasing for heart failure and pneumonia, they did not accelerate under the program. They argue that other changes could have been responsible for the trend, such as an increase in the medical complexity of patients who were admitted to the hospital.

While the problem is complex, the short-term answer is simple — err on the side of caution. Further expansion of the program, from six conditions to all conditions warranting hospitalization, as some policymakers have advocated, makes little sense given legitimate concerns our study and others raise about its repercussions.

In the long term, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services should conduct an investigation into the patterns we and others report. All possibilities should be considered, from coding changes to inappropriately turning patients away from the emergency room to changes in risk factors among Medicare patients. The agency must also engage physicians and patients to understand how this program has influenced “on the ground” care.

More broadly, this continuing debate about the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program highlights a bigger issue: Why are policies that profoundly influence patient care not rigorously studied before widespread rollout?


Rishi K. Wadhera is a cardiology fellow at Harvard Medical School. Karen E. Joynt Maddox is a cardiologist at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Robert W. Yeh is a cardiologist and director of the Smith Center for Outcomes Research in Cardiology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
A version of this article appears in print on Dec. 22, 2018, on Page A23 of the New York edition with the headline: A Harmful Health Care Policy?.

On consumer finance, personal characteristics, & health, many prefer to remain in a state of active ignorance even when information is freely available

Ho, Emily and Hagmann, David and Loewenstein, George F., Measuring Information Preferences (September 14, 2018).

Abstract: Advances in medical testing and widespread access to the internet have made it easier than ever to obtain information. Yet, when it comes to some of the most important decisions in life, people often choose to remain ignorant for a variety of psychological and economical reasons. We design and validate an information preference scale to measure an individual’s desire to obtain or avoid information that may be unpleasant, but could improve their future decisions. The scale measures information preferences in three domains that are psychologically and materially consequential: consumer finance, personal characteristics, and health. We present tests of the scale’s reliability and validity and show that the scale predicts a real decision to obtain (or avoid) information in each of the three domains, as well as in the domain of politics, which is not explicitly measured in the scale. We find that across settings, many respondents prefer to remain in a state of active ignorance even when information is freely available, and that information preferences are a stable trait but can differ across domains. (Under R&R at Management Science)

Keywords: Information Avoidance, Scale Development, Information Preference, Health, Consumer Finance
JEL Classification: D83, D91, C90, I12

5-year-olds judged conventional eaters more positively than unconventional eaters, judge ingroup & outgroup members negatively for unconventional choices

Children judge others based on their food choices. Jasmine M. DeJesus et al. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, Volume 179, March 2019, Pages 143-161.

•    5-year-olds judged conventional eaters more positively than unconventional eaters.
•    Unconventional foods were judged as negatively as disgust elicitors.
•    Children judge ingroup and outgroup members negatively for unconventional choices.
•    Children appreciate food choice as a behavior conveying social meaning.

Abstract: Individuals and cultures share some commonalities in food preferences, yet cuisines also differ widely across social groups. Eating is a highly social phenomenon; however, little is known about the judgments children make about other people’s food choices. Do children view conventional food choices as normative and consequently negatively evaluate people who make unconventional food choices? In five experiments, 5-year-old children were shown people who ate conventional and unconventional foods, including typical food items paired in unconventional ways. In Experiment 1, children preferred conventional foods and conventional food eaters. Experiment 2 suggested a link between expectations of conventionality and native/foreign status; children in the United States thought that English speakers were relatively more likely to choose conventional foods than French speakers. Yet, children in Experiments 3 and 4 judged people who ate unconventional foods as negatively as they judged people who ate canonical disgust elicitors and nonfoods, even when considering people from a foreign culture. Children in Experiment 5 were more likely to assign conventional foods to cultural ingroup members than to cultural outgroup members; nonetheless, they thought that no one was likely to eat the nonconventional items. These results demonstrate that children make normative judgments about other people’s food choices and negatively evaluate people across groups who deviate from conventional eating practices.