A national panel of independent experts, chaired by University of Iowa College of Public Health Dean Sue Curry, has issued a new report evaluating the evidence for Total Worker Health interventions as well as a set of recommendations to advance the science of such efforts to improve the overall health of American workers.
The report concluded that a small body of evidence suggests that Total Worker Health (TWH) interventions — which aim to integrate injury and illness prevention efforts with work-related safety and health efforts — may help employees improve some health behaviors, but more research is necessary to determine whether these interventions decrease injuries or improve overall quality of life.
The report, published in Annals of Internal Medicine, summarizes a scientific review conducted by researchers for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), along with expert presentations and public comment at a 1.5-day workshop held in December 2015. The report also includes a response from the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), which first introduced the TWH model in 2011.
“While evidence was slim in most areas of interest, the researchers did find limited evidence that integrated Total Worker Health interventions can improve health behaviors, such as reducing tobacco use and sedentary behavior and improving diet,” noted Curry. “Our recommendations plot a course to support continued development of the science of integrated interventions in TWH research. Included in these recommendations is the critical need for investment in infrastructure to support the development of a seminal body of research.”
Sue Curry, dean of the UI College of Public Health and distinguished professor of health management and policy, has been appointed vice chair of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). Curry was appointed by the director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and her term will begin in March 2016.
“We are honored to have Dr. Curry return to the task force in a leadership role,” said vice chair David Grossman, M.D., M.P.H. “Her expertise in disease prevention and her experience with community-based and self-help interventions will be an important addition to the task force as we work to improve the health of all Americans.”
The USPSTF is an independent, volunteer panel of national experts in prevention and evidence-based medicine. The task force works to improve the health of all Americans by making recommendations about clinical preventive services, such as screenings, counseling services, or preventive medicines. Members come from many health-related fields, including public health, medicine, behavioral health, and nursing.
Curry has been dean of the College of Public Health since 2008. She previously served as a member of the USPSTF from January 2009 to December 2014. Her many professional activities include past service as vice chair of the board of directors of the Truth Initiative (formerly the American Legacy Foundation), member of the National Cancer Institute’s Board of Scientific Advisors, and associate editor for clinical practice for the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Curry was elected to the National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) in 2010 and is a member of its Board on Population Health and a section chair.
Her research focuses on disease prevention and behavioral risk factor modification, with a primary focus on tobacco use. Curry’s research in tobacco includes studies of motivation to quit smoking, randomized trials of promising smoking cessation and prevention interventions, evaluations of the use and cost-effectiveness of tobacco cessation treatments under different health insurance plans, and health care costs and utilization associated with tobacco cessation.
The 2016 Health Care Summit will address What’s Next in Health Care Delivery & Finance? The event will conclude with the Corridor’s Worksite Wellness Awards and Luncheon. Recipients are selected by the Linn and Johnson County Boards of Health.
Keynote Address: David Brown, Wellmark Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Iowa
Hospitals CEO Panel Discussion Panelists:
Tim Charles, Mercy Medical Center
Judy Johnson-Mekota, Iowa City VA Health Care System
Ronald Reed, Mercy Iowa City
Jean Robillard, University of Iowa Health Care
Ted Townsend, UnityPoint Health Cedar Rapids
Moderator: Scott Fisher, McCrossen Consulting
Innovation & Collaboration in Health & Wellness Panel Panelists:
Gerd Clabaugh, Iowa Department of Public Health
Nick Gerhart, Iowa Insurance Commissioner
Jami Haberl, Healthiest State Initiative
Laura Patterson, Rockwell Collins
Jeff Russell, Delta Dental
Moderator: Sue Curry, UI College of Public Health
Workplace Safety Update
Diane Rohlman, UI College of Public Health and the
Healthier Workforce Center for Excellence
The University of Iowa College of Public Health’s Dean Sue Curry has been appointed to the Institute of Medicine Board on Population Health and Public Health Practice. She will serve for three years.
The Board on Population Health and Public Health Practice is broadly concerned with promoting the health of the public – physical, mental, and social – particularly through population-based interventions. The board examines and develops strategies for disease prevention, taking into account the multiple factors affecting health – genetic, endowment, social and environmental conditions, individual behavior (including tobacco use, alcohol consumption, diet, and exercise) and personal preventive services. The Board addresses the science base for such interventions, the public health infrastructure, and the education and supply of health professionals necessary for carrying them out.
The Board has an ongoing program of studies on public health infrastructure; women’s and children’s health; immunization; AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases; and environmental and occupational health. In particular, the board has identified three priority areas: re-examining public health capacities and responsibilities to meet public health challenges; population-based interventions to promote healthful behavior; and occupational and environmental health issues.
Dean Curry is recognized internationally for her expertise in behavioral science and translation of research findings into health policy. Her extensive research in chronic disease prevention and management includes studies of tobacco cessation, dietary change, modification of risky drinking patterns, and methods of increasing compliance with recommended cancer screening.
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She has served as a principal investigator or co-investigator on 30 grants funded by NIH, CDC, and major foundations. Dean Curry is a member of the Institute of Medicine and a fellow of both the Society of Behavioral Medicine and the American Psychological Association. Her numerous professional activities include prior service on the Board of Directors of the American Legacy Foundation, and as a current member of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, Chair of Section 9 (Public Health) of the IOM, and member of the National Research Council’s Report Review Committee.
As she embarks on a three-month visiting professorship at the University of Iowa, Naowarut Charoenca can’t help but appreciate the value of relationships — those developed over a lifetime, as well as the new ones she looks forward to cultivating with colleagues in the College of Public Health.
Charoenca, an associate professor at Mahidol University in Bangkok, Thailand, is a pioneering environmental health researcher who has helped to foment a movement to study tobacco use and control in her home country.
“I’m interested in visiting with Professor Peter Thorne from the Department of Occupational and Environmental Health and meeting the outreach team of the Environmental Health Sciences Research Center (EHSRC),” says Charoenca. “The EHSRC has a project dealing with frac sand. Particulates is an aspect of that, and back home I have been concentrating on particulate matter from secondhand smoke indoors. I’d also like to speak with Professor William Field from occupational and environmental health, who is an expert in radon measurement.”
Charoenca’s path to this May-to-July post at the UI has been a zig-zag of trips between Thailand and the United States that began in 1975-76, when she spent the school year in Cresco, in northeast Iowa, as an American Field Service exchange student.
Later, as a college student doing volunteer work in refugee camps in Thailand, her memories of relationships with Cresco’s “wonderful people, their kindness sincerity, warm feelings, and hospitality” led to a friendship with a fellow volunteer, an environmental health specialist named Stephen L. Hamann from Elkader, also in northeast Iowa.
“He said, ‘I haven’t met anybody in Thailand who knows Iowa, not to mention northeast Iowa!’” Charoenca recalls. The two later married. “We come back here quite often, almost every year.”
Along the way, they studied together at the University of Hawaii, where Charoenca earned a master’s degree in public health and a doctorate in environmental health. When the couple returned to Thailand, the nation was embroiled in a “tobacco war” brought on by an influx of imported foreign cigarettes.
Charoenca and Hamann began conducting a wealth of research on tobacco use and the effects of smoking on the Thai population. They were supportive in the early establishment of the Thai Health Promotion Foundation, which uses funding from a government ‘sin tax’ to encourage awareness of tobacco and alcohol abuse.
Since 2003, Charoenca has been a member of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco, the source of another key professional relationship — with the organization’s 2008 president, Sue Curry, dean of the UI College of Public Health. Curry invited Charoenca to work at the UI for the summer. “I have long admired her and Dr. Hamann’s work in tobacco,” Curry says.
The Department of Community and Behavioral Health along with the Department of Occupational and Environmental Health are co-hosting Charoenca’s visit.
“We consider ourselves incredibly fortunate to be able to host Dr. Charoenca and benefit from her expertise and research experiences,” says Edith Parker, professor and head of community and behavioral health. “She’s working with us on an outreach project with Dr. Peter Thorne’s Environmental Health Sciences Research Center and also sharing her experiences with faculty and learning about their current research projects.”
Charoenca says she’s also interested in exploring options for exchange programs or collaborative research between Iowa and Mahidol University.
Charoenca never forgets the power of encouraging those kinds of ties, professionally or personally. In her office in the College of Public Health Building, she proudly holds up a pair of envelopes hand-addressed to her.
“Can you believe it?” she says. “Since I’ve been here, I’ve received two letters from my 95-year-old former teacher in Cresco. “That’s why I love being here. A good relationship means a lot to me.”
The Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco has selected Sue Curry, dean of the College of Public Health, to receive the organization’s 2015 John Slade Award. The award honors individuals who have made outstanding contributions to public health and tobacco control through science-based public policy and public advocacy.
Sue Curry, PhD, is a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Health Management and Policy, and former dean of the University of Iowa College of Public Health. She is currently interim provost of the University of Iowa.
Dr. Curry joined the university as dean of the College of Public Health in 2008. Prior to that, Dr. Curry served as professor of health policy and administration and director of the Institute for Health Research and Policy in the School of Public Health at the University of Illinois at Chicago. From the late 1980s until joining UIC in 2001, Dr. Curry was professor of health services in the School of Public Health and Community Medicine at the University of Washington and senior investigator and director at the Center for Health Studies, Group Health Cooperative. She also served as a scientist in the country’s first Cancer Prevention Research Unit at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.
Dr. Curry is recognized internationally for her expertise in behavioral science and translation of research findings into health policy. Her extensive research in chronic disease prevention and management includes studies of tobacco cessation, dietary change, modification of risky drinking patterns, and methods of increasing compliance with recommended cancer screening. Dr. Curry’s research also encompasses studies of the use and cost effectiveness of prevention treatments under different health insurance plans and health care costs and utilization associated with tobacco cessation.
Dr. Curry was appointed chair of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force in March 2018. She was previously appointed vice chair in March 2016 and served as a member from 2009 through 2014. Dr. Curry was elected to the National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) in 2010 and is a member of their Board on Population Health and past section 9 chair. She is a member of the CDC’s Interagency Committee on Smoking and Health and Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health Board of Directors. Dr. Curry’s past professional service activities include vice chair of the Board of Directors of the Truth Initiative (formerly the American Legacy Foundation) and member of the Board of Scientific Advisors for the National Cancer Institute. She is a fellow of both the Society of Behavioral Medicine and the American Psychological Association.
Dr. Curry is the recipient of numerous awards, including the American Society for Preventive Oncology’s Joseph R. Cullen Memorial Award in 2000, the Society of Behavioral Medicine’s Distinguished Scientist Award in 2001, and the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco’s John Slade Award in 2015.