Research Spotlights July 2017

Research Spotlights July 2017

Increasing physical activity in children could save billions in medical costs

Only about a fifth of children in the United meet the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) physical activity guidelines.  Increasing the percent of children meeting the physical activity guidelines (i.e., 60 minutes per day of moderate intensity activity such as walking) to 50% would save $11.4 billion in direct medical costs, $25.1 billion in lost productivity, and $5.9 million in quality of life years annually as estimated by a study funded by NICHD.

Utilizing computational modeling, cost savings from increasing the percent of children reaching the CDC guidelines were estimated. The authors used an agent-based model, with each child being an independent agent (i.e., each child was a mathematical representation of a real child and could make independent decisions) and matched demographics to real children based on characteristics derived from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. When these simulated children reached age 18, the model shifted to a Markov model that extended the simulation for each agent until death.

If current trends continue, 63% of children in the U.S. will develop one or more major obesity-attributable diseases (e.g., type 2 diabetes, stroke, cancer, coronary heart disease) by 2020. Results suggest that savings far outweigh the cost of interventions targeted at increasing physical activity.

Lee BY, Adam A, Zenkov E, Hertenstein D, Ferguson MC, Wang PI, et al. 2017. Modeling the economic and health impact of increasing children’s physical activity in the United States. Health Aff 36(5): 902-908

Children do not see negative consequences of digital tracking by strangers

Mobile devices have become ubiquitous, with a greater number of children using these technologies.  As these technologies have become integrated into many aspects of daily life, there has been growing concern over digital privacy and security, especially amongst children.  But how do children view privacy? This was the question asked by researchers funded by NICHD.

The study included children 4-10 years of age who were shown an overhead drawing of a room. The experimenter then showed the children a button that corresponded to a dot on the drawing of the room, the dot moved correspondingly to the button. This was to show the children how GPS works. Participants were then asked if it was acceptable or wrong to use the button to track objects under various circumstances. Ownership of the object, object itself, and age of the child were all tested.

Results showed that young children positively evaluated an individual tracking another’s possessions with GPS, while adults negatively evaluated this same behavior.  Surprisingly, children viewed the act of placing the mobile tracker without tracking as being worse than the act of tracking. This study suggests children may be vulnerable to tracking by others as to their whereabouts and provides insight into how children’s view of privacy develops.

Gelman SA, Martinez M, Davidson NS, Noles NS. 2017. Developing digital privacy: Children's moral judgments concerning mobile GPS devices. Child Dev doi: 10.1111/cdev.12826.

Opioid overdose education increases knowledge and can reduce behavioral risk factors for opioid overdose

Interventions aimed at teaching opioid overdose responses without access to naloxone increase knowledge about appropriate overdose response. This study funded by grants from NIDA tested different delivery methods for teaching those with opioid use disorder how to respond to overdoses.

Participants were undergoing opioid detoxification and were randomly assigned to one of three intervention groups: pamphlet, Computer, or Computer plus Mastery. The pamphlet was a print out of the information presented on the computer, Computer plus Mastery involved knowledge checks but was otherwise identical to the Computer condition. Demographic characteristics were similar in all groups. All participants received the same information and completed baseline assessments, 57% completed follow up tests at 1 and 3 months post intervention.

All groups showed significant gains in knowledge of how to respond to an opioid overdose. Differences were not large enough to suggest that any delivery modality is superior; 100% of participants would recommend their training to family or friends. Participants who completed all follow up sessions had significant reductions in the behavioral risk factor of using opioids while alone. This study suggests that interventions aimed at teaching how to respond to an opioid overdose could be used alongside naloxone to reduce the number of deaths from opioid overdose.

Dunn KE, Yepez-Laubach C, Nuzzo PA, Fingerhood M, Kelly A, Berman S, Bigelow GE. 2017. Randomized controlled trial of a computerized opioid overdose education intervention. Drug Alcohol Depend 173: S39-S47.

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