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New study finds only slight increase in marijuana use after legalization

June 19, 2018

A new assessment of marijuana use in Washington State published by PHI's Alcohol Research Group found only a 1.2 percentage point increase in past year use after recreational marijuana was legalized—suggesting that a previous report showing an increase of 3.8 percentage points may have been overestimated due to respondents underreporting their consumption when marijuana was still illegal.

"If our study better represents how often people used the drug, marijuana legalization’s short-term impact on use in the state may have been quite small," said William C. Kerr, lead author and senior scientist at the Alcohol Research Group.  more

Policies targeting alcohol use during pregnancy tied to worse birth outcomes

June 18, 2018

A majority of state-level policies targeting women’s alcohol consumption during pregnancy—even policies designed to support pregnant women—lead to more adverse birth outcomes and less prenatal care utilization, according to a new study from the Alcohol Research Group, a program of the Public Health Institute, and Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH), a program at the University of California, San Francisco, published today in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

“Presumably these policies are intended to improve birth outcomes and longer-term child wellbeing, but our study suggests that regardless of whether these policies are designed to be supportive or punitive, at best they do nothing, and at worst they cause measurable harm,” said lead author Meenakshi Sabina Subbaraman, Ph.D., a biostatistician with the Alcohol Research Group.  more

USAID Awards Public Health Institute $94 Million to Develop Global Health Professionals and Build Long-Term Collaborative Partnerships

May 02, 2018

The Public Health Institute (PHI) is pleased to announce that the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has awarded it a $94 million Cooperative Agreement, the Sustaining Technical and Analytical Resources (STAR) project. Through STAR, PHI will continue to identify and strengthen the capacity of diverse and international, talented global health professionals at all levels to make innovative, measurable contributions to the field. The STAR project also focuses on building long-term partnerships and systems between U.S. and low-and-middle-income country (LMIC) health-focused academic and professional institutions to facilitate learning and technical excellence within the broader global health community.  more

California Border Community Discovers 10x More Air Pollution Events than Detected by Government

April 26, 2018

A network of air monitors installed by community members in California’s Imperial County has found 10 times more episodes of high particulate matter (PM2.5) levels than had been detected by the government’s regulatory monitors, according to preliminary findings presented today by local organization Comité Cívico del Valle, the Public Health Institute’s California Environmental Health Tracking Program (CEHTP) and researchers from the University of Washington.

“Communities deserve accurate, understandable and actionable information about their local levels of pollution, so they can protect their health,” said CEHTP’s Michelle Wong, MPH. “This new information, brought to light through a scientifically-rigorous, community-designed air monitoring network, means residents in the Imperial Valley are also better equipped to engage with the government and to advocate for better air policy and ultimately, better air.”  more

Marin County is the Healthiest in California, Say New Rankings

March 14, 2018

Marin County ranks healthiest in California and Lake County is the least healthy county in the state, according to the ninth annual County Health Rankings, released today by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute (UWPHI). 

“The County Health Rankings crystalize what we know from practice: the factors that shape health and determine who has access to it are deeply embedded in our society,” said Mary A. Pittman, DrPH, CEO and president of the Public Health Institute.  more

More Paths to Successful Sobriety than Just Alcoholics Anonymous, Says New Study

February 26, 2018

People with an alcohol use disorder who participated in alternative mutual help groups had abstinence outcomes equivalent to those who participated in traditional 12-step groups at the same level, a new study from the Alcohol Research Group, a program of the Public Health Institute, found. This is the first longitudinal, comparative study of 12-step groups and their alternatives, including Women for Sobriety (WFS), LifeRing Secular Recovery (LifeRing), and SMART Recovery (SMART).  more

Leading Global Gender Equality Organizations Launch Ambitious Collective Effort to Increase Economic Power of Women and Girls in India

February 06, 2018

Some of the world’s most effective and engaged gender equality organizations will harness their individual expertise into an innovative collective impact project that aims to increase the economic power of women and girls in India. The three year project, “Collective Impact Partners: Women's and Girl’s Economic Empowerment Advocacy in India,” will be led by the Global Fund for Women, Global Women’s Leadership Network, Public Health Institute, Rise Up and World Pulse.  more

New Resources Help Leverage Hospital Data to Improve Health Equity in Communities

December 06, 2017

A new tool increases transparency in discovering how local hospitals support efforts to improve health and wellness in their communities, as mandated by the federal government. Community Benefit Insight (CBI) is a clearinghouse of data on how hospitals meet federal community benefit requirements. The release of Community Benefit Insight coincides with the launch of the Center to Advance Community Health and Equity—or CACHE—an organization aimed at increasing alignment and impact of community efforts to improve population health. CACHE is housed at the Public Health Institute.  more

18 Women Leaders Selected for Carol Emmott Fellowship

November 29, 2017

The Carol Emmott Fellowship, based at the Public Health Institute, selected 18 women from 15 health organizations nationwide for its class of 2018. They will be part of a one-of-a-kind program for accomplished professionals who have demonstrated potential to ascend to senior executive and board-level roles.

The fellowship is tailored to expand the connections and experiences that top leadership candidates require to have the most influence in improving health for all. Fellows are nominated by their sponsoring organization and compete for acceptance into the program with a proposed impact project that transcends their current role to advance an area of health. They continue to work for their organizations during the fellowship, which provides them with more opportunities to build networking relationships with other top leaders as well as exercise high-level skills as they implement their impact projects. The program fills a crucial unmet need in overcoming gender disparity by accelerating the leadership capacity and impact of women leaders in health. Women are underrepresented in senior executive and board-level positions in health because of systemic barriers that influence decision making.  more

Can Librarians Save Us from the Opioid Epidemic?

October 06, 2017

A local librarian in Humboldt County who successfully reversed an opioid overdose before paramedics arrived may serve as the new model for stemming California’s opioid death rate. The Public Health Institute (PHI) announces today it will take a leadership role to manage and build capacity in the California Health Care Foundation (CHCF)’s California Opioid Safety Network. 

In 2016, five Californians died every day in from opioid overdoses.  PHI’s Center for Health Leadership and Practice (CHLP) will work with a broad spectrum of stakeholders to shift how we talk about addiction, manage pain, and ensure that the most important tools — safer prescribing practices, medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and harm reduction strategies such as making naloxone, a medication that reverses the deadly potential of opioid overdose more widely available — are acceptable, accessible, and affordable to all. Forty VISTA volunteers a year, up to 120 over a three year period, will join the effort, helping to deepen community outreach and engagement.  more

Marijuana use has increased sharply across the US, but not because of legalization

September 12, 2017

A new study from the Alcohol Research Group, a program of the Public Health Institute, shows a sharp increase in marijuana use in the U.S. since 2005. Marijuana use among women has almost doubled, from 5.5% in 1984 to 10.6% in 2015. Men’s use declined from the 1980s to 2000 but has since increased to 14.7%, matching earlier rates. However, the research suggests that these increases in use were not specifically associated with medicinal or recreational marijuana legalization.  more

Jobs, Revenue Rise after Berkeley Soda Tax

May 16, 2017

A new analysis of City of Berkeley economic data released by a Public Health Institute researcher found that a year and a half after passage of the nation’s first large soda tax, food sector sales tax revenue rose by 15% in the city, and 469 new food sector jobs were created—an increase of 7.2%.  more

A Third of Children Exposed to Lead in the U.S. Likely Undiagnosed

April 27, 2017

Oakland, CA — As concerns about lead exposure peak across the U.S., a new PHI study published in Pediatrics indicates that lead reporting may be capturing just 2 out of every 3 children poisoned by lead. "Assessing Child Lead Poisoning Case Ascertainment in the US, 1999-2010," found states where more than 80% of lead-poisoned children remain unidentified—and researchers expect that testing rates have only declined in the subsequent years.  more

Berkeley Residents Buying Fewer Sugary Drinks and More Water Thanks to Soda Tax

April 18, 2017

A new study published in PLOS Medicine by the Public Health Institute and the University of North Carolina showed that Berkeley’s sugar sweetened beverage tax is working as intended.

“Changes in prices, sales, consumer spending ,and beverage consumption one year after a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages in Berkeley, California, US: A before-and-after study” is the largest-to-date evaluation of the nation’s first sugar sweetened beverage (SSB) tax, covering 15.5 million supermarket checkouts. It found that the volume of sugar sweetened beverages sold in Berkeley declined significantly, by 9.6%, in the year following implementation. Because sales for healthier beverages also rose, there was no negative impact on overall beverage sales at studied local businesses. Overall grocery bills (consumer spending per checkout) did not go up.

“The Berkeley tax is a home run—residents chose healthier options, it raised revenue for promoting health, and we saw no evidence of higher grocery bills for consumers or harm to local business revenue,” said lead author Lynn Silver, MD, MPH, of the Oakland-based Public Health Institute. “These findings suggest that sugary drink taxes make health and economic sense.”  more

Poorer People Get Medication Less Often

April 12, 2017

People with alcohol use disorders (AUD) who live in poorer neighborhoods in Sweden were less likely to pick up prescriptions to help treat their disease than those living in areas that are more affluent, a new study from PHI's Alcohol Research Group found. The study was published online in the journal Addiction.

Several AUD medications can play an effective role in addressing this condition. Researchers also found decreased rates of prescription pick-up among individuals with AUD who had lower incomes and less education. Women also were less likely to pick up medication, as were foreign-born individuals. These differences are likely due, at least in part, to differences in physicians’ prescribing practices in poorer neighborhoods.  more

San Mateo Displaces Marin as Healthiest County in California

March 29, 2017

San Mateo County has overtaken Marin County as the healthiest county in California for the first time, according to the eighth annual County Health Rankings, released today. The Rankings also find that more than 16,000 deaths in the state could be avoided each year if all residents had a fair chance to be healthy.

“The 2017 Rankings point to an urgent need to make sure that clinical providers and public health practitioners are working closely together to make sure everyone can access care—and that we are working to prevent people from getting sick in the first place,” said Mary A. Pittman, DrPH, president and CEO of the Public Health Institute, which helps disseminate the County Health Rankings in California.  more

Maternal Smoking and Exposure to PCB Chemical Linked to Low Birth Weight

March 24, 2017

Women who were exposed to higher levels of a toxic byproduct of a common PCB chemical and who also smoked during pregnancy had babies with significantly lower birth weight, according to a new study from the Public Health Institute published in the journal Reproductive Toxicology. This is the first-ever human study on the impacts of exposure to PCB byproducts—known as hydroxylated polychlorinated biphenyls (OH-PCBs)—during pregnancy.  more

Harms to Children from Someone Else’s Drinking May Be Higher than Previously Reported

February 21, 2017

According to a new national study from the Alcohol Research Group, 7.4 percent of surveyed respondents reported that children in their care experienced harm as a result of someone else’s drinking. Studies in the U.S. have found general child maltreatment rates to be approximately 1 to 2 percent. These new caregiver responses indicate that the actual rates of harm to children could be much higher.   more

Announcing Inaugural Class of Carol Emmott Fellowship for Women Leaders in Health

December 15, 2016

Fifteen dynamic and innovative women from across the US have been selected to the inaugural class of the Carol Emmott Fellowship (CEF), a cutting-edge program based at the Public Health Institute which accelerates the leadership capacity and impact of women leaders in health. The newly launched Fellowship is one of only a few mid-career initiatives seeking to fill a critical vacuum in establishing the next generation of women leaders who will further transform health.  more

Study Finds People Drink More Alcohol after a Cancer Diagnosis than Before

December 08, 2016

Cancer survivors were more likely to report heavy drinking and more frequent heavy drinking occasions compared to others at the same ages with similar drinking histories, according to a new study in Preventive Medicine from the Alcohol Research Group, a program of the Public Health Institute.  Heavy drinking was defined as having five or more drinks at any one time.  more

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