Population Health

March 16, 2020

Initiative announces award of 2020 pilot research grants

r. The Block W statue at the North entrance to the UW Seattle campus.The University of Washington Population Health Initiative announced the award of approximately $250,000 in pilot research grant funding to six different faculty-led teams. These teams are composed of individuals representing 10 different schools and colleges. Funding was partially matched by additional school, college and departmental funds, bringing the total value of these awards to roughly $480,000.

“The breadth of innovative project ideas and interdisciplinary collaborations represented in this year’s round of applications is impressive,” said Ali H. Mokdad, the university’s chief strategy officer for population health and professor of health metrics sciences. “We believe each of these projects has strong potential to improve the population health of communities on our own campus, in our region and state, and around the world.”

The Population Health Initiative pilot research grant encourages new interdisciplinary collaborations among investigators for projects that address different challenges in population health. The awardees are:

PATHSS Study: Participatory Active Transportation for Health in South Seattle

Katherine Hoerster, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Barbara Baquero, Department of Health Services
Rachel Berney, Department of Urban Design & Planning
Dori Rosenberg, Department of Health Services
Stephen J. Mooney, Department of Epidemiology
Brian E. Saelens, Department of Pediatrics
Crystal Hall, Evans School of Public Policy & Governance

Project abstract
Driving cars harms human health, social and economic well-being, and our planet. Seattle’s diverse South Beacon Hill neighborhood experiences high rates of preventable conditions like obesity, pollution and car accidents, which could be addressed by improving access to “active transportation” (walking, biking, wheelchair travel and/or taking public transit). Thus, the Seattle Department of Transportation is launching a project to improve the three-mile multi-use Beacon Hill Trail (BHT).To better ensure equitable positive impacts, they are partnering with community organizations and want to enhance their standard engagement processes.

Guided by the expertise and priorities of our newly-formed interdisciplinary community-academic-policy partnership, we propose to examine mobility challenges and opportunities among people living and working in South Beacon Hill using participatory research methods: 1) community member photography-enhanced storytelling, 2) brief community member-led interviews with randomly-identified people in South Beacon Hill, and 3) community member-partnered mobility audits measuring safety, comfort and pleasantness on and near the BHT. We also will examine community partners’ perspectives regarding their experience in this collaboration, including perceived feasibility and usefulness of our processes for their future advocacy efforts.

We will share findings and actionable recommendations with numerous stakeholders and decision-makers in a community forum, and in a mutually-developed policy brief. Lastly, findings will inform a future participatory research grant proposal to study change in transportation choices, equitable mobility, various health indicators, social and economic well-being and resilience as transportation improvements are made in South Beacon Hill. This work is positioned to broadly improve equity and resilience in our region.

Environmental and human health impacts of a new invasive species in Madagascar

Half of the funding for this award came via a partnership with UW’s EarthLab, which works in partnership with others to co-produce and catalyze actionable science.

Chelsea Wood, School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences
Peter Rabinowitz, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences
Luciano Andriamaro, Réseau International Schistosomiase Environnement Amenagement et Lutte
Susanne Sokolow, Stanford University
Giulio DeLeo, Stanford University
Julia PG Jones, Bangor University

Project abstract
In 2005, the marbled crayfish (Procambarus virginalis) appeared for the first time in lakes, ponds, and streams of Madagascar. Once limited to the area around the capital, the crayfish’s range now encompasses an area of 100,000 km. The project team is interested in the multifarious environmental and human health impacts of this new invasion.

On one hand, Madagascar is a biodiversity hotspot with a diverse, endemic freshwater fauna that could be affected by this invasive species, and with a large population of rural, poor people whose diet staple is rice, an agricultural product that might be endangered by non-native crayfish. On the other hand, the rapidly reproducing marbled crayfish is a voracious predator of freshwater snails that transmit the disease schistosomiasis to people, so it is possible that the invasion could have beneficial effects on infectious disease burden. In addition, the marbled crayfish itself could represent an important food in where it is established, providing a rapidly renewable protein source in a country where ~50% of children experience stunted growth due to malnourishment.

We propose to address this problem with a new interdisciplinary collaboration, including two Malagasy partners: RISEAL and Madagascar’s Ministry of Health. The proposed pilot project would facilitate a larger funded project, where our goal would be to arm the Malagasy government with the information it needs to appropriately manage the marbled crayfish in ways that minimize impacts on local biodiversity while maximizing benefits to public health.

Analysis to Translation: Accelerating and Tailoring Responses to Student Mental Health

Paula Nurius, School of Social Work
Jennifer Mankoff, Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering
Eve Riskin, Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering
Anind Dey, Information School

Project abstract
The undergraduate student experience provides an exciting and valuable opportunity to learn, innovate and grow. However, this experience can also involve significant challenges. College students routinely encounter stressful life experiences, ranging from academic and peer difficulties to more serious types of traumatic events such financial hardship, discrimination and assault. These experiences can significantly increase risk for a wide range of mental health problems.

Our proposed interdisciplinary approach will identify predictors of negative outcomes that can be used to develop tailored approaches to prevention and treatment. Our longitudinal study contributes a unique data set of fine-grained objective measurements of sleep, activity and social interaction using passive sensing, as well as self-reported measures of stress, mental and physical health and coping. We have initial evidence of the benefits of this data for understanding the sequelae of adverse events (discrimination), and now propose focused analysis relevant to mental health and wellness services on campus.

Our proposed work will create a new UWEXP Research/Practice Consortium involving collaboration with two UW mental health services and the Resilience Lab. Using analysis and iterative design, we will create a pipeline of ideas that can be considered for translation to practice, and open the door to larger sources of funding. This two-way exchange will also channel input from UW mental health and well-being service leaders into the longitudinal study.

ActoKids Mobile Application: Information access to physical activity opportunities for diverse King County children and families

Julie McCleery, College of Education
Tracy Jirikowic, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine
Anat Caspi, Paul G. Allen School for Computer Science & Engineering
Cheryl Kerfeld, Seattle Public Schools
Nicholas Bennett, North Seattle College

Project abstract
Childhood physical inactivity is a global health crisis. Physical activity (PA) promotion for children of all ages and abilities is a public health priority. Adequate PA in childhood has wide-ranging, long-term impacts including improved cardiovascular health, cognition and mental health. Active lifestyles in childhood are also associated with PA in adulthood.

Despite the importance of PA for health and development, only 24% of children less than 18 years of age obtain the recommended amounts of PA. Moreover, there are disparities in who is physically active, with low-income youth, youth with disabilities, and girls less likely to meet the standard. Targeted community efforts are needed to increase children’s PA and reduce reported barriers such as transportation, inaccessible facilities and information access.

A recent community-informed research project led by the University of Washington – State of Play: Seattle-King County – confirmed King County is not immune from these challenges and barriers. King County’s rate of youth meeting the CDC’s recommendations for PA is 19%, below the national average. This project will address the barrier of information access.

We aim to develop an inclusive mobile application for children and their families to identify PA opportunities in King County with an emphasis on those most disenfranchised from PA opportunities (e.g., youth from low-income families, with disabilities). The project leverages a new academic public-private partnership of a UW interdisciplinary team and six community partners. Working together and building on preliminary efforts from each group, this collaborative will develop, test and pilot this mobile application.

Ensuring equal access to trauma care in Washington State through system modeling

Rebecca Maine, Department of Surgery
Shan Liu, Department of Industrial & Systems Engineering
Eileen Bulger, Department of Surgery
Charles Mock, Departments of Global Health and Epidemiology
Monica Vavilala, Department of Anesthesia

Project abstract
Trauma is the leading cause of mortality for children, adolescents and adults under 45 years of age in the U.S. Many injury survivors suffer long-term disability. Organized trauma systems save lives and improve outcomes after injury. These benefits arise from a complex interplay of multiple factors, including pre-hospital care, triage to appropriately resourced trauma centers, timeliness and quality of care in trauma centers and access to post discharge services.

The optimal trauma system balances access to care to limit preventable deaths, while avoiding duplication of resources in a geographic region as this can dilute the volume of seriously injured patients among too many centers, which may decrease quality of care and increase healthcare system costs. No validated, widely accepted method has been established to optimize the location of trauma centers. Previous methods focused on transport times to trauma centers or trauma center volume, but not patient outcomes.

This project will be a collaboration between the Department of Surgery in the School of Medicine, the Harborview Injury Prevention & Research Center and the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering to develop a mathematical modeling approach that accounts for the complex interaction between multiple inputs to the Washington State Trauma system to determine where trauma centers should be located. This approach can be used to help state law makers decide how to strengthen the trauma system. This novel approach has potential benefit for strengthening existing mature trauma systems around the U.S. as well as to help develop trauma systems in low-resource settings.

Formative Research with the Female Community Health Workers (Marwo Caafimaad) Program to Reduce Maternal Mortality in Puntland, Somalia

Half of the funding for this award came via a partnership with the UW Office of Global Affairs, which seeks to enhance the UW’s global engagement and reach.

James Pfeiffer, Department of Global Health
Anisa Ibrahim, Department of Pediatrics
Rachel Chapman, Department of Anthropology
Stephen Gloyd, Department of Global Health
Joel Walker, Department of History
Hamza Zafer, Department of Near Eastern Languages & Civilization

Project abstract
The proposed project is an innovative collaboration among the Seattle-based Somali Health Board (SHB), Health Alliance International (HAI, a UW Department of Global Health Center), and UW faculty and students to conduct formative research and design an intervention to help reduce maternal mortality in Puntland, Somalia.

Reduction in maternal mortality is a major priority for both the Somalia Ministry of Health and Social Care and the Puntland Ministry of Health, which has supported the development of this proposal. The primary objective of the proposed project is to conduct a needs assessment and formative research in Puntland, Somalia on a Ministry-led female community health worker program, known as Marwo Caafimaad, launched in 2012 across Somalia. Researchers will use the Consolidated Framework for Intervention Research to guide collection of qualitative data on facilitators and barriers to improvement of the Marwo program at eight sites, with a focus on increasing coverage of skilled attendance at delivery, including more successful referrals of high risk pregnancies to fixed maternal child health centers and rural hospitals.

The team will collect quantitative data on maternal and child health indicators from target health facilities, analyze the data, and develop an intervention study proposal. UW and DGH/HAI faculty will provide implementation science technical assistance in collaboration with SHB health professionals to lead the study. Somali-American UW MPH student researchers will participate in the team to support data gathering and analysis. The formative research will provide a foundation to pursue larger scale U.S. federal funding for an intervention study.

The next funding call for population health pilot research grant applications will occur during winter quarter 2021.