As a top 10 research institution, UF is focused on fostering understanding in the world.
UF recently announced it received $776.2 million for research in 2019, and all 16 colleges received money to conduct research.
So, here’s an update on some of the latest research:
Effectiveness of Fitness Trackers (Or Lack Thereof)
Wearable fitness trackers might not be as effective as one believes.
UF researchers found wearing a fitness tracker might not contribute to improving outcomes like weight loss, cholesterol, blood glucose and high blood pressure.
The study focused on the impact of using wearable devices without outside influences like a personal trainer, said Ara Jo, a UF clinical assistant professor for the department of health services, research, management and policies. The study consisted of reviewing 550 articles and selecting six randomized control trials.
“They didn’t actually find significant change, like increased blood glucose or blood pressure to the optimal level,” she said.
But despite this, Jo says these devices are helpful if one needs encouragement.
“The devices may help motivate people, but it doesn’t make them really move or exercise,” she said.
UF professor and Chair of the Department of Health Services, Research, Management and Policies Arch Mainous said there is data suggesting these devices make people move, but there’s uncertainty on the efficiency of it.
“The question is, is that enough to make a difference? Or is it intense enough? Or is there something else that has to do with it?” he said.
Overall, Jo said the significance of this research is that it allows people to understand the product they’re buying.
“My studies kind of give them a guide on how to use these devices effectively and to improve their clinical outcomes,” she said. And this is done by recognizing the product is useful for motivation, but might not produce the outcomes one wants on its own.
A New Solution for Citrus Greening Disease
UF research shows injecting antibiotic products like oxytetracycline in the trunks of citrus trees might be more effective than more popular spray treatments.
These antibiotic products are used to protect citrus trees from greening disease, which is a bacterial disease that causes fruit to drop and branches to die, said Michael Rogers, a professor at UF’s Citrus Research and Education Center.
This disease has been affecting the citrus industry and the trees for about 14 years now, he said.
“There’s been a lot of interest in the Florida citrus industry in finding tools to be used that can be used to control the bacterium which causes citrus greening disease,” Rogers said.
And this UF research was conducted to do just that.
But even though tree injections were found to be more effective than a spray, they haven’t been approved to use, said UF microbiology and cell professor Nian Wang.
“Trunk injection of oxytetracycline hasn’t been approved to use and more work needs to be done to help the citrus industry fight citrus greening disease,” Wang said.
However, Rogers says this research is especially important for growers to understand.
“I think it's also important for and maybe more useful for growers, because they may need to rethink how they're using some of these products,” Rogers said. “There may be better ways in the future.”
A “Teach Back” Technique Might Reduce Hospital Visits
Increased discussion and understanding between patient and physician might lead to a decrease in hospitalization.
A UF study shows the “teach back” technique might reduce patient hospital visits. This technique is when a patient repeats back a physician’s instructions, said Young-Rock Hong, a 33-year-old UF PhD student in the department of health services research, management and policy.
This technique helps doctors understand if a patient is missing information so they can fill in any gap, he said.
It was found with this technique, patients were 15 percent less likely to be hospitalized and 23 percent less likely to be repeatedly hospitalized. This was based on adults with high blood pressure, type two diabetes and more.
But despite this, research found a nearly third of the 14,110 patients said their doctors never asked them to teach back, he said.
Even though researchers don’t know why this technique would lead to less hospital visits, it’s hypothesized that it’s due to patients having a clear understanding before they left, said Michelle Cardel, a UF assistant professor in the department of health outcomes and biomedical informatics.
“I think when providers take time to ensure the patient understands what they're recommending for them to do moving forward, patients are more likely to do it,” she said. “And that decreases these hospital admission rates.”
Cardel encourages physicians to use this technique, but says a patient could also ask for clarification if need be.
Hong says it’s important for physicians to be proactive and do more than ask if a patient has any questions.
“A doctor will ask do you understand or do you have any questions, but this is kind of a yes or no question,” he said. “And then people tend to just say yes even though they didn't understand.”
Citrus tree infected with citrus greening.