Population Health

June 30, 2022

Awardees of 2021 pilot research grants report on project progress

Aerial view of Drumheller FountainThe Population Health Initiative awarded eight pilot research grants in March 2021 to faculty-led teams representing seven different University of Washington schools and colleges as well as external partners.

These pilot research grants are intended to spur new, interdisciplinary collaborations among investigators for projects addressing major population health challenges.

Now at the project mid-point, investigators are reporting significant progress in their work, with work completed to date from the respective projects described in the following sections.

Addressing Inequities in Speech-Language Pathology Services for Children with Communication Disorders

Sara Kover, Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences
Carly Roberts, College of Education
Natasha Arora

Project update
This project is designed to deepen understanding of contributors to disparities in speech-language pathology service delivery to children with communication disorders of diverse racial, cultural, and linguistic backgrounds, as well as to initiate local community connections. To date, we have connected with speech-language pathologists and administrators in King and Pierce Counties in both public school settings and early intervention settings.

Through qualitative interviews, we are seeking to understand the perspectives and experiences of those who provide or oversee speech-language pathology services to children with communication disorders of diverse backgrounds. Themes from these interviews related
to facilitators and barriers to equitable service delivery will inform next steps for community collaborations.

Characterizing Risk Communication around Smoke Exposure in Rural and Tribal Communities in the Okanogan River Airshed Emphasis Area

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.

Ernesto Alvarado, School of Environmental and Forest Sciences
Savannah D’Evelyn, Department of Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences
Nicole Errett, Department of Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences
Cody Desautel, Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation

Project update
The goal of this project was to describe how tribal and non-tribal communities in the Okanogan River Airshed Emphasis Area (ORAEA) receive and communicate information about smoke exposure.

Between June and November, we completed 17 key informant interviews and six focus groups, which we recorded and transcribed for analysis. Our graduate student RA is currently completing an analysis to share with our project team for feedback before preparing a report and other products for dissemination.

This work is setting the stage for new and continued community-academic partnerships in the Okanogan River Valley to develop effective and relevant resources and risk communication to enhance the resilience to, and reduce the disproportionate health risks of, smoke exposure.

Supporting Equitable Land Management Decisions Through the Characterization of Wildfire and Prescribe Smoke Exposure for At Risk Communities

Tania Busch Isaksen, Department of Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences
Julian Marshall, Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering
Claire Schollaert, Department of Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences

Project update
This study seeks to differentiate fine particulate matter (PM2.5) exposure from wildfire smoke and prescribed burn events. Investigators also aim to quantify any disparities in the distribution of these exposures and the allocation of forest management resources relative to the locations of at-risk populations.

The project team has created their source-specific smoke emissions inventory by overlaying emissions inventories with a burn tracker to classify emissions events as either wildfires or prescribed burns for fires greater than 1,000 acres. For smaller emissions events, they combined state and federal databases of burn treatments, permit systems, and administrative records, which they compared with the emissions inventory to get source-specific information on daily emissions levels. The project thus far has focused primarily on creating the source-specific smoke emissions inventory, and has not yet completed the proposed exposure model.

The project team plans to begin runs of the model before the end of the calendar year, after which they will carry out their model validation protocol. The team plans to apply for additional funding to continue model runs and to work with community and government partners to translate findings into resources that can be used in future forest management planning activities.

A Collaboratory to Support Equitable and Just Climate Action

Jeremy Hess, Departments of Emergency Medicine, Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences, and Global Health
Jason Vogel, Climate Impacts Group
Julian Marshall, Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering
Sara Curran, Jackson School of International Studies and Department of Sociology
Kris Ebi, Departments of Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences and Global Health
Nicole Errett, Department of Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences
Andrew Dannenberg, Departments of Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences and Urban Design & Planning
Tania Busch Isaksen, Department of Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences
Esther Min, Front and Centered
Deric Gruen, Front and Centered
Tim Sheehan, Department of Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences

Project update
The project team proposed to form a Collaboratory between the University of Washington (UW) and Front & Centered (F&C), a coalition of environmental justice organizations in Washington, to pursue just and equitable climate action in Washington state.

Collaboratory members developed and finalized a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) regarding collaboration between the UW and F&C, which includes a shared approach to data collection and ownership and a communications plan. The group has outlined and is implementing a process for updating policy priorities; this includes a review and adjustment of existing priorities. The group has shifted from relying solely on focus groups for this process to developing methods based on the Delphi process to facilitate community input. The group has developed a beta version of the visualization tool with baseline demographic and climate information.

The team is currently processing downscaled projected information on weather hazards,
developing the source-receptor matrix needed to evaluate impacts of changes in air pollution
on health, and developing demographic projections to projections for HIA modeling. They plan to leverage the tools and methods developed as part of the Collaboratory to support research and policy at the state and federal level. Identified sources of future funding include the state government, private foundations related to health equity, and federal agencies funding research.

Addressing the Need for Culturally Responsive and Bidirectional Research Communication with the Latinx Community – The BRIDGE Project

Nathalia Jimenez, Department of Anesthesiology & Pain Medicine
Carmen Gonzalez, Department of Communication
Daniel Cabrera, Department of Medicine
Diana Maria Oliveros, Mexican Consulate in Seattle
Meg Gomez, School of Social Work
Aida Hidalgo, School of Public Health
Mikaela Freundlich Zubiaga, UW Latino Center for Health

Project update
BRIDGE proposes a program that captures community needs through personal stories to understand gaps in care, education, and outreach related to COVID-19. Based on the review of existing literature and gaps in education and information on COVID-19 for Latino communities in Washington, the BRIDGE team identified five Latinx groups to focus on: immigrants living in detention centers, AfroLatinx, indigenous populations, women during the perinatal period and Latinx living with disabilities.

They developed an interview structure to examine the impact of COVID-19 on these communities and their interactions with the healthcare system. The team has conducted two of the three interviews with community leaders and have done analysis to identify key themes. They have scheduled two interviews with UW faculty to respond to the themes. They are also in the process of producing four video clips based on the first two interviews.

The team plans to create a website to sustain a continuous relationship with communities. The website will host the videos resulting from the interviews, as well as resources from the School of Medicine, the Department of Communications, and the Latinx Center for Health. The project team will apply for additional funding to maintain the website and support a project manager.

Rapid Community Partnered Mixed-Methods to Promote Vaccine Uptake in Diverse Communities

Theresa Hoeft, Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences
Bonnie Duran, School of Social Work
Diem Nguyen, Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences
Morhaf Al Achkar, Department of Family Medicine

Project update
The study team and community partners at the Vietnamese Health Board (VHB) will work with a advisory board of diverse partners to develop a toolkit for partnered rapid mixed-methods research. UW and the VHB will also seek advice from a methods advisory group of experts in mixed-methods research, implementation science and community-based participatory research to support toolkit development.

The project team has met with partners at the Vietnamese Health Board and the Community Health Board Coalition (CHBC) to discuss the toolkit and recruit members for a Community Planning Group (CPG). The team met with the CPG several times; discussions included feedback on content to include in the toolkit, as well as ways to gather feedback from the broader community on the toolkit and how communities assess which academic and public health researchers will make good collaborators. They have also worked with the CPG to develop strategies to improve the effectiveness of its partnership with the core team.

The project team continues to revise the table of contents for the toolkit and will have meetings with the methods advisory group in 2022 to collect draft feedback. They plan to apply for additional grant funding to support the continued development and refinement of the toolkit.

Co-Designing a Culturally-Responsive, Advanced Technology Intervention to Support the Health and Development of Young Children in King County

Julie Kientz, Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering
Kendra Liljenquist, Department of Pediatrics

Project update
The purpose of this project is to engage in collaborative design efforts to develop more advanced smartphone-based interventions to provide culturally relevant activities and health recommendations.

To date, the project team has developed consent protocols workshop materials, including COVID-19 safety procedures, for the co-design sessions. They also presented to and met with prospective community partners focused on developmental screening. They established a relationship with a partner serving BIPOC mothers in Kent, WA and began recruiting families for in-person co-design sessions, which are scheduled for December 2021 and January 2022. In working toward a usability assessment, investigators conducted a literature review of parent-use technologies and a content analysis of apps related to early childhood health available through the Apple App Store and Google Play. They developed an initial framework for evaluating cultural relevance of parent-use apps and presented to experts for feedback.

The project team is slightly behind schedule on its first aim, but was able to accomplish several tasks related to its second aim ahead of schedule. The team anticipates needing to apply for a no-cost extension. The current project funded by PHI is laying groundwork for the team’s application for a larger work that will allow investigators the time and resources to implement their technology designs and conduct pilot studies with target communities. They plan to apply for grants in the summer or fall of 2022.

Community-Based Formative Research to Advance Reproductive Health Equity in Iñupiaq Alaska

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, including with sovereign tribal nations.

Elizabeth Harrington, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology
P. Joshua Griffin, School of Marine and Environmental Affairs and Department of American Indian Studies
Dian Million, Department of American Indian Studies
Corina Kramer, Maniilaq Association
Lucas Trout, Maniilaq Association

Project update
This project seeks to understand the social, medical and place-based factors affecting women’s sexual and reproductive health in Northwest Alaska through community-based participatory research.

To date, we have created a robust collaborative relationship between UW and Maniilaq Social Medicine. Teams of investigators from both institutions have co-designed project goals to center community-relevant knowledge production for health equity across the region. We have hired a local research coordinator and women’s health consultant; co-designed qualitative instruments; and completed half of our interviews with reproductive age women.

This month we are launching key informant interviews. We have formed a seven-member Community Advisory Group of regional health practitioners, Elders, and youth to support and guide our work. During summer 2022 we will hire a UW doctoral student RA to coordinate our qualitative analysis team. In the Fall 2022 we will hold dissemination and interventional concept workshops.

More information about the Population Health Initiative pilot grant program, tiering and upcoming deadlines can be found by visiting our funding page.