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News and Notes   |    
News Briefs
Psychiatric Services 2009; doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.60.10.1410
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Standards for race-ethnicity data: Collecting data on race, ethnicity, and English-language proficiency is a key step in identifying populations at risk and disparities in care. However, a lack of standardized categories has been cited as an obstacle to greater collection and use of these data. The Institute of Medicine's Subcommittee on Standardized Collection of Race/Ethnicity Data for Healthcare Quality has released a report that identifies current models for collecting and coding race, ethnicity, and language data; reviews challenges involved in obtaining these data; and makes recommendations for a nationally standardized approach for use in health care quality improvement. For example, the report recommends a preferred order for posing questions about a person's ethnicity, race, and language and calls for better research on optimal ways to word such questions. The subcommittee recommends collection of "granular" ethnicity data—that is, asking individuals to self-identify as a member of a subgroup of a large ethnic group such as Hispanics—and addresses the question of developing standardized terms for these subgroups. A prepublication copy of the 269-page report, Race, Ethnicity, and Language Data: Standardization for Health Care Quality Improvement, can be downloaded from the National Academies Press Web site at www.nap.edu.

SAMHSA Web site on financing of care: The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has launched a new Web site that features up-to-date information on the financing of mental health and substance abuse services and delivery systems. The site also provides relevant articles from the behavioral health financing industry, along with reports and issue briefs. Visitors can access and sign up for SAMHSA's Weekly Financing News Pulse, a new product that provides information about national, state, and local behavioral health financing news, including upcoming U.S. congressional hearings. The new Web site is available at www.samhsa.gov/financing.

Family-focused depression care: A National Academy of Sciences (NAS) report urges a more coordinated approach to treatment of parents' depression because of its potential impact on their children. A new family-focused model of depression care will require collaborative experiments with nontraditional ways of organizing, paying for, and delivering services, according to the advisory committee that developed the report, which was chaired by Mary Jane England, M.D., child psychiatrist and president of Regis College in Weston, Massachusetts. About 15.6 million children under 18 live with an adult who has had major depression in the past year. Typically, adult screening does not consider the impact of parents' mental health status on their children. In addition, there is no intervention model or comprehensive strategy to prevent problems among children when a depressed parent is being treated. Among many specific steps, the committee recommends extension of Medicaid coverage for mothers to 24 months postpartum and an end to payer restrictions on certain services, such as home visits. The 382-page report, Depression in Parents, Parenting, and Children: Opportunities to Improve Identification, Treatment, and Prevention, is available online on the National Academies Press Web site at www.nap.edu.

AHRQ toolkit to improve study recruitment process: The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has developed the Informed Consent and Authorization Toolkit for Minimal Risk Research to facilitate the process of obtaining informed consent and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act authorization from potential research participants. The toolkit, designed for people responsible for ensuring that potential participants are informed in a manner consistent with medical ethics and regulatory guidelines, is needed because there is significant evidence that current practice does not meet these guidelines. The toolkit includes a model process for obtaining written consent and authorization, easy-to-read samples of consent documents, a certification tool to promote the quality of the consent process, and links to resources from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The toolkit is available on the AHRQ Web site at www.ahrq.gov.

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