OU Study Clarifies Risky Decision Making During A Heart Attack
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NORMAN -- In a recent study to determine why some individuals who experience symptoms for acute coronary syndrome decide to seek medical attention more quickly than others, a University of Oklahoma researcher has identified numeracy—the ability to understand and apply numerical concepts as the primary decision delay risk factor for individuals experiencing the medical condition. Cardiovascular disease, which includes conditions such as acute coronary syndrome, is the number one killer worldwide responsible for about one in three deaths.
Edward Cokely, Presidential Research Professor and associate professor of psychology, OU College of Arts and Sciences and National Institute for Risk & Resilience, and his collaborators followed up with 102 survivors within five days after having experienced ACS. A questionnaire was administered to measure numeracy, decision delay and other relevant factors, such as anxiety, depression, symptom severity, knowledge and demographics. Cokely and collaborators learned that numeracy assessments may predict which patients are at greater risk for life-threating decision delay, which could support development of risk communications for a diverse range of patients who vary in risk literacy.
“We have better insights as to why people do not go to the hospitals, so now we have to find a way to empower these people. Asking specific questions and creating individualized plans or interventions could reduce a person’s risk in the future,” said Cokely.
Dafina Petrova and Rocio Garcia-Retamero, researchers from the Mind, Brain and Behavior Research Center at the University of Granada, coordinated the international patient study with collaborators from the Cardiology Department at the University Hospital Virgen de las Nieves in Spain. Eligible patients who agreed to participate in the study were identified by a qualified practicing cardiologist who also extracted information regarding final diagnosis and angiogram results. Special care was taken to minimize any burden on patients due to fatigue, illness or other difficulties.
“Seeking medical attention quickly during ACS also reduces the risk for complications that lower quality of life and increase the burden of follow-up care for individuals, families and health systems,” said Petrova.
In this study, low patient numeracy was related to longer decision delay, which, in turn, related to higher odds of positive troponin (a protein that indicates heart damage) on arrival at the hospital. A patient with high versus low numeracy was about four times more likely to seek medical attention within the critical first hour after experiencing symptoms. ACS survival rates and outcomes can be improved by up to 50 percent when treatment is administered within one hour of initial symptoms.
A patient’s decision to delay treatment can increase the risk for serious complications, major disability and even death. A skill relevant to decision delay is a person’s practical ability to solve problems involving probability, which is a predictor of diverse health and medical outcomes. Patients with lower numeracy tend to have more negative perceptions of health. They are more likely to be hospitalized and visit emergency services more frequently.
Numeracy is a predictor of health outcomes because it is closely related to general-decision making skill. In particular, numeracy skills help people evaluate and understand risk—i.e., risk literacy (see www.RiskLiteracy.org for an example of a two-minute statistical numeracy test designed for educated adults in industrialized countries). Research shows that numerate people generally deliberate more during decision making, becoming better-informed decision makers who more realistically evaluate decision benefits, risks and tradeoffs. They also spend more time thinking about their own reasoning and feelings, more precisely integrating available information into an intuitive mental model.
Numeracy is an acquired skill that can be improved through deliberate practice and formal education. Even short training interventions help patients, medical professionals and primary school children solve complex statistical reasoning problems. Well-designed decision aids that help individuals represent relative risks and relationships without requiring mathematical transformations can eliminate large differences in decision quality between more and less numerate individuals.
During ACS, the decision to seek medical attention may involve many skills, such as estimating severity and intensity and identifying and evaluating sources of risk precisely and confidently. Acknowledging symptoms as urgent or serious and association of symptoms to a heart attack are two factors that lead to shorter decision delay times. As numeracy fosters an understanding of the ACS risks and tradeoffs, more numerate people are likely to recognize the potential of and need for immediate action.
“Numeracy Predicts Risk of Pre-Hospital Decision Delay: A Retrospective Study of Acute Coronary Syndrome Survival,” authored by Cokely and a team of researchers, was published in the Society of Behavioral Medicine’s Annals of Behavioral Medicine. Support for this project was provided by the Ministerio de Economia y Competitividad in Spain and the National Science Foundation. For more information about this research project, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stephenson Cancer Center Earns National Cancer Institute Designation
NORMAN -National, state and local leaders joined the Stephenson Cancer Center at the University of Oklahoma today to celebrate the center’s designation as a National Cancer Institute (NCI) Cancer Center. With this award, the Stephenson Cancer Center joins an elite group of 70 NCI-Designated Cancer Centers nationwide. Read more
OU Meteorologists Studying Arctic Atmospheric Barriers
NORMAN - A University of Oklahoma meteorology team, led by Steven Cavallo, is studying the role of tropopause polar vortices as a barrier in limiting predictability over the Arctic with three, five-year grants totaling $2.9 million from the U.S. Department of Defense, Office of Naval Research. TPVs occur in the upper troposphere of the Arctic, but the data doesn’t exist from this barren region to improve prediction. The OU team plans to conduct aircraft data-collection experiments during an international field campaign associated with the ‘Year of Polar Prediction.’ Read more
OU Student Receives Udall Scholarship
NORMAN - University of Oklahoma honors student Daniel R. Hayden has been named a 2018 Udall Scholar. The Udall Foundation Scholarship recognizes undergraduate students who demonstrate a commitment to careers related to the environment or to Native American public policy or health care. Hayden is one of 50 nationwide selected for the honor. Read more
OU Professor to Receive IEEE Satellite Communications Technical Contribution Award
Mohammed Atiquzzaman, is the recipient of the prestigious Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Satellite Communications Technical Contribution Award for 2018. The annual award is given to an accomplished, senior-level researcher who has achieved outstanding results in satellite communications and recognizes excellent scientific contributions done by academia and industries. Atiquzzaman will receive the award at the IEEE International Conference on Communications in Kansas City, Missouri, May 20-24. Read more
OU Physicist Developing Quantum-Enhanced Sensors for Real-Life Applications
A University of Oklahoma physicist, Alberto M. Marino, is developing quantum-enhanced sensors that could find their way into applications ranging from biomedical to chemical detection. In a new study, Marino’s team, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, demonstrates the ability of quantum states of light to enhance the sensitivities of state-of-the-art plasmonic sensors. The team presents the first implementation of a sensor with sensitivities considered state-of-the-art and shows how quantum-enhanced sensing can find its way into real-life applications. Read more
OU Class of 2018 Gift to Honor Borens
NORMAN – The University of Oklahoma Class of 2018 will celebrate their time at OU through a dedicated green space that will add to OU’s national reputation as one of America’s most beautiful campuses. Located along Lindsey Street in front of the newly completed Residential Colleges, this year’s class gift will fund a picturesque lawn named The Boren Green. Read more
OU Students Receive National Security Education Program Award for International Study
NORMAN – University of Oklahoma senior James Ratcliff and OU junior Libby Trowbridge recently were selected as recipients of the prestigious Boren Award for International Study, sponsored by the National Security Education Program. Thirty-four OU students have received the award since the program began in 1994. Read more