Population Health

April 24, 2018

Progress reported by inaugural round of pilot research grant awards

Pilot Research GrantsThe Population Health Initiative pilot research grant encourages new interdisciplinary collaborations among investigators for projects that address critical components of grand challenges the University of Washington seeks to address in population health.

The initiative funded an inaugural round of five pilot research grants to faculty-led teams from 10 different UW schools and colleges in October 2017. Since that time, the five teams have made significant initial progress towards achieving their goals for their yearlong projects. Highlights of their work includes:

Behavioral health workforce development

Patricia Areán, Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences
Patrick Raue, Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences
Amelia Gavin, School of Social Work
Zoran Popovic, Computer Science and Engineering
Shannon Dorsey, Psychology
Deborah Cowley, Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences
Anna Ratzliff, Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences

Project update
To address the significant shortage of clinicians who can provide high-quality evidence based psychosocial treatments, this project team is working on a scalable and accessible method to train bachelor-level students in the effective elements of psychosocial interventions through an innovative use of flipped classroom approaches and rapid skill building through adaptive computerized training.

The team has completed the following:

  1. Developed a course in behavioral interventions for health and mental health promotion for undergraduate students interested in health care professions,
  2. Created online training modules and webinars,
  3. Developed case-based scenarios to be used in the classroom settings; and,
  4. Created micro-concepts for an early prototype of an intelligent tutoring system (ITS) that will consist of increasingly complex role-play scenarios tailored to the students’ performance.

Programming of the ITS is slated to be completed in the next three months. The team has published its course in the UW registry, and the first class is scheduled to begin June 18, 2018.

Connecting fishery and health policies for diet-specific solutions for vulnerable populations

Edward H. Allison, School of Marine and Environmental Affairs
John Zachary Koehn, School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences
Jennifer Otten, School of Public Health (Nutrition)
Christopher M. Anderson, School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences
Ray Hilborn, School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences

Project update
On the U.S. West Coast, rich and underutilized fishery resources exist alongside poor and malnourished people. This pilot project aims to examine the scope and mechanisms for improved utilization of available food sources to improve diets and reduce incidence of non-communicable disease burdens in poor and marginalized coastal communities.

To meet its objectives, the team is nearing completion on an extensive collection of spatially-explicit secondary data, including U.S. Census data on socioeconomic conditions and business patterns, food access and environment surveys from US Department of Agriculture, fishery landing and price data from the Pacific Fisheries Information Network and public health data from the Center for Disease Control.

After pulling together this data, it became apparent that there were an insufficient number of reports that systematically established the landscape for fishery-based interventions into the healthy food system. As a result, the team has identified that a survey of such initiatives is necessary to address how to identify how underutilized fish can be made available to low-income groups through changes in fishery management, market structures and fish-processing practices. To meet these objectives, a two-stage interview methodology has been designed to fill in knowledge gaps. These are now ready to apply.

InterACTION Labs: Piloting an interdisciplinary built environment community health program with an informal settlement in the Peruvian Amazon

Joseph R. Zunt, Global Health, Neurology, Epidemiology, Medicine (Infectious Diseases)
Sarah Gimbel, Family and Child Nursing
Rebecca Neumann, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Peter Rabinowitz, Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences
Ana Lucia Seminario, Dentistry
Ben Spencer, Landscape Architecture

Project update
The overarching goal of our project is to improve the human and environmental health of the informal floating community of Claverito in Iquitos, Peru. The project team is pairing interventions in the built environment designed to improve health and wellbeing with microbiome testing and conventional health assessment tools as a means of learning about the intertwined relationships between health, humans, animals and their shared environment.

As of this progress report, the project team has involved more than 17 disciplines and an estimated 45 students, faculty and professionals from both the UW and Peru to work alongside the residents of Claverito. They have collected pre-intervention baseline health and microbiome measurements and started the community participatory design and construction process. The landscape intervention includes improved stairs, paths and gardens to reduce exposure to harmful microbiome and increase exposure to helpful microbiome.

Prepare for the IT workplace program (PREP for IT)

Hala Annabi, Information School
Jill Locke, Speech and Hearing Sciences
Gary Stobbe, Neurology

Project update
The PREP for IT initiative aims to empower young adults with autism who are pursuing IT careers to define their professional path and develop the tools to excel in the IT workplace.

In the first six months of this pilot project, the team designed and deployed a workforce preparation program to empower post-secondary education students with autism at the University of Washington who are pursuing IT careers to secure, persist and advance in employment in the IT workplace. The program uses an individual, strength-based approach for career planning and skill development that emphasizes community and collaboration with IT professionals. Over the course of their participation, students will engage in a series of workshops, mentoring engagements, shadowing experiences, company visits and coaching.

The funded pilot project will produce an evidence-based curriculum model and materials transferrable to other post-secondary education settings to prepare students with autism for the IT workplace nationwide. The team developed research instruments to measure students’ work-readiness, self-efficacy and self-advocacy. They also established the baseline measure for the current cohort and will assess student progress over time.

Islamic trauma healing: Somalia feasibility study

Lori A. Zoellner, Psychology
Debra Kaysen, Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences
Michele Bedard-Gilligan, Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences
Hamza Zafer, Near Eastern Languages and Civilization
Shannon Dorsey, Psychology

Project update
Rates of PTSD are considerably higher in war-torn regions like Somalia, known for sexual violence and other human rights violations (e.g., 50.1%; Johnson et al., 2010). In the aftermath of substantial war- and refugee-related trauma, there is a clear need for research addressing the significant, under-addressed mental health needs of Somalis and the broader Muslim community. Although efficacious PTSD treatments exist, such treatments typically require extensive training of providers. The Islamic Trauma Healing program has the potential to provide a low-cost, self-sustaining model of a faith-based intervention that can address the psychological wounds of trauma. If effective, Islamic Trauma Healing can be easily scaled-up through mosques, community centers, and refugee programs.

During the initial set up phases of the study, the project team systematically reviewed the Islamic Trauma Healing Manual, addressing issues that arose in the pilot data collection and through Somali leader feedback. These issues included things such as simplifying how breathing retraining was taught and condensing some of the prophet narratives to read more coherently. One of the major changes the team made was shifting all the verses that were from the Qur’an from English to Arabic; this was recommended and preferred by lay leaders.

The team has also developed training materials to enable lay leaders to be good discussion leaders, utilizing the content of the manual for promoting trauma healing. With the manual finalized and training materials in place, the team is now positioned to submit its application for Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval.

The next funding call for population health pilot research grant applications will occur during Winter Quarter 2019. Abstracts from the recently announced 2018 awards can be viewed by visiting our News section.