PH3 Awards: Summer 2019

Written by Kim Furlow, communications manager for the Institute for Public Health

The Institute for Public Health has awarded Public Health-Cubed (PH3) Cycle 3.0 grants of $15,000 each to six project teams.

PH3 is a rapid seed funding mechanism to support cross-disciplinary projects proposed by the Institute’s Faculty Scholars. All projects funded focus on health equity issues in the St. Louis region.

The next deadline for cycle 3.0 is December 13, 2019. The summer funding has been awarded to the following projects:

Investigating Dynamic Models of Successful Aging and Perception of Alzheimer’s Disease Risk among African Americans and Caucasian Older Adults in St. Louis City using System Dynamics

Team: Ganesh Babulal, PhD; Jean-Francois Trani, PhD, MA; Peter Hovmand, PhD, MSW

By 2050, the older adult population (age 65+) in the U.S. will double to 88 million, where Alzheimer’s disease (AD) prevalence will triple to 14 million according to the Alzheimer’s Association. The risk and burden of the disease disproportionately affects racial and ethnic minorities. This project will explore how larger social systems impact older adults, specifically in the context of St. Louis. System dynamics methodology will be used with African Americans and Caucasian older adults to define the system-level factors that make their ageing successful and what barriers impact it. This project will identify possible scenarios that could improve outcomes for older adults in St Louis. The results from this systems dynamic approach combined with longitudinal data from other aging studies is expected to provide a more comprehensive understanding on how aging differs for racial groups.

Linking Patients to Community Resources at the Point of Care: Achieving Health Equity among Adolescents at Risk for Type 2 Diabetes

Team: Maura Kepper, PhD; Randi Foraker, PhD, MA; Ross Brownson, PhD

The increasing incidence of type 2 diabetes among youth in the U.S. particularly among minorities or those of low-socioeconomic status (SES), is a major public health concern. Physicians recognize the need to address social determinants to promote more equitable health outcomes for their patients, but they often lack the patient-specific data necessary to provide contextually tailored care within their routine of practice. This project will develop an electronic health record compatible tool that will give healthcare providers access to patient-centered, community-level determinants in real-time to address social determinants during the clinic visit.

Pilot Study of the Association Between Local Community Needs and Capacity and Preventable Acute Care Events

Team: Karen Joynt Maddox, MD, MPH; Joe Steensma, EdD, MPH, MA, United Way of Greater St. Louis

It is increasingly recognized that social risk factors, such as poverty, unstable housing, and a lack of social support are powerfully linked with adverse health outcomes. Despite this knowledge, there is inadequate investment in addressing such social needs, in part due to a lack of granular data regarding which and how particular needs impact poor health outcomes. This research project will contribute to efforts to better understand links between community needs and capacity and health outcomes, which will help prioritize, target, motivate, and potentially track the effects of future interventions. This project will have direct local public health implications given the importance of social determinants of health to St. Louis and the surrounding areas.

Analysis of Health Disparities in Contraception Use among Low-Income Women: Cost Analysis of the Contraceptive Choice Center

Team: Timothy McBride, PhD, MS; Tessa Madden, MD, MPH; Abigail Barker, PhD

Unintended pregnancy carries significant public health costs including reduced maternal quality of life, adverse maternal health, and poorer infant outcomes. Individual and societal costs are also large, including reduced educational attainment, employment opportunities, and economic stability as well as a higher likelihood of dependence on public assistance. U.S. taxpayers pay roughly $11 billion each year in costs associated with unintended pregnancy. This project aims to perform a detailed cost-effectiveness analysis of the Contraceptive Choice Center (C3) program at Washington University in St. Louis. It will analyze the effectiveness of the C3 program in reducing total costs for contraception and maternity-related services for C3 participants as compared to non-participants. The project brings focus on a very timely and important topic (unintended pregnancy) and a novel, well-accepted clinical solution (long lasting reversible contraception provided through a program designed at C3), and has the potential for great savings for the health system and recipients, and public programs.

Using Innovation Core (I-Corps) Methods to Adapt an Interactive Obesity Treatment Approach (iOTA) for Transition-age Youth in Community Mental Health Clinic (CMHC) Settings

Team: Ginger Nicol, MD; Rachel Tabak, PhD, Places for People

Obesity is highly prevalent among chronically-treated individuals with serious mental illness, contributing to type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and premature mortality. This project aims to use mixed methods to adapt an effective, scalable, interactive obesity treatment approach for obesity prevention in early serious mental illness defined as “including individuals who are early in their illness, generally between the ages of 18 and 45.” The ultimate goal will be to make adaptations to an existing, evidence-based weight loss treatment to improve effectiveness in the vulnerable population of young people with severe mental illness. 

Researching the Effect of Perceptions of Justice and Participation in the Justice Process on Healing after Atrocities among the St. Louis Bosnian Refugee Community

Team: Madaline George, JD, Leila Nadya Sadat, JD; Rupa Patel, MD MPH; Aimee James, PhD, MPH

Mass atrocity crimes (genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes) are international crimes perpetrated against large populations. Crimes against humanity are the most widespread of these and include ethnic cleansing, the persecution of a population based on ethnic or religious identity, and sexual and gender-based violence, often involving rape, torture, and population displacement. The desired outcome of this project is to understand how perceived notions of justice and participation in the judicial process play a role in individual, family, and community mental health status, wellbeing, and the healing of psychological trauma among refugee populations of atrocity survivors. The project outcomes will assist policymakers, governments, prosecutors, and other stakeholders to better formulate government policies, to responsibly involve victims in the judicial process, structure reparation plans, and provide care that is more appropriate for refugees so as to deliver justice in a manner consistent with the short- and long-term psychological needs of the victims. In addition, healthcare providers and support staff can incorporate the study findings into psychosocial supportive care programs that serve refugees in St. Louis.