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Current Projects

Evaluation of Cornerstones of Care Nurse Case Management

Principal Investigator: Amy N. Mendenhall, PhD

Research Staff: Sarah Tham, GRA

Since 2009, the Missouri Department of Social Services, Children’s Division, has contracted with Cornerstones of Care to provide Nurse Case Management (NCM) for children in foster care in Jackson County, and in 2013 Cass County was added to the program.  The Nurse Case Management Program aims to: 1) improve coordination of health care for children in foster care, 2) reduce health care risks that are unique to children in foster care, 3) increase positive health and mental health outcomes, 4) improve the placement stability for children in state custody, and 5) reduce the inappropriate  use and cost of psychotropic medications.  Cornerstones of Care has contracted with Dr. Amy Mendenhall to evaluate the effectiveness of the program in addressing these aims.  The evaluation will assess the overall impact of the program on children in foster care by tracking individual child level outcomes, assessing community knowledge and satisfaction with the program, soliciting feedback and satisfaction from youth and caregivers, and evaluating impact of medication trainings and consultations on professionals.  These evaluation activities will provide the program with feedback about potential areas of improvement and overall effectiveness of the program and feasibility of expansion.  The evaluation is funded through a subcontract from Cornerstones of Care as part of a grant from the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City, and it is expected to occur from January 2014 to January 2015.

Expanding Behavioral Health in Frontier Counties Through Circuit Riders

Principal Investigator: Megan O’Brien, PhD

Project Manager: Cheryl Holmes, MPA

KU staff is conducting the evaluation of a program designed to increase access to behavioral health services in frontier counties through the use of “circuit riding” therapists, Local Advisory Councils, and televideo. The work is conducted through a contract with Compass Behavioral Health using funds from Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and United Methodist Health Ministry Fund and runs from July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2015. Read more about the grant

Rural Patient and Provider Perspectives on the Patient Centered Medical Home Model

Principal Investigator: Amy Mendenhall, PHD

Research Staff: Cheryl Holmes, MPA, and Michelle Levy, AM

Rural residents face challenges in obtaining health care, which can result in poorer outcomes. Nationally, the patient-centered medical home model (PCMH) is used as an effective way to improve patient outcomes and support the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s Triple Aim: improving patient care and population health and reducing costs. Yet, opportunities exist to learn more about PCMH in rural settings and how it can support outcomes important to rural patients, caregivers, and others. This year-long project is designed to prepare a local steering committee to participate in comparative effectiveness research (CER), obtain baseline information to learn more about PCMH from a rural perspective, select an area in need of CER, and create channels for sharing those results. Foundational partners include the University of Kansas School of Social Welfare, REACH Healthcare Foundation, Thrive Allen County, Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas, and Health Care Collaborative of Rural Missouri. A national advisory group will assist.

As part of this project, the researchers have recently completed an Overview of the Patient-Centered Medical Home for Rural Patients, Caregivers, and Healthcare Stakeholders (pdf).

Social Networks and Health During Pregnancy Among Women of Mexican Descent--Data Analysis Phase

Principal Investigator: Michelle Johnson-Motoyama, PhD

Research Staff: Susana Mariscal del Villar, PhD; Kaela Byers, PhD Candidate, LMSW; Jennifer Chappell-Deckert, PhD Candidate

Health disparities among women of Mexican descent represent an important area for study given perinatal health that appears to deteriorate with increasing acculturation to a U.S. lifestyle, and infant low birth weight proportions among certain Latino subgroups that exceed Healthy People 2020 targets. In recent years, calls have been made for new perspectives on the relationship between acculturation and health among Latinos that considers the interactions between individuals and the environment. The examination of women’s social networks and their neighborhood dynamics holds promise for elucidating these interactions to inform the development of strategies to reduce perinatal health disparities within the Mexican-origin population. In-depth interviews were conducted with women of Mexican descent who were expecting their first child and were considered at risk of poor pregnancy outcomes given their demographic profiles. The study had four aims: (1) to map and measure the relationships that affect women of Mexican descent during pregnancy; (2) to identify how relationships within these women’s social networks and neighborhood characteristics influence health during pregnancy; and (3) to identify directions for the development of strategies at the individual and community levels that reduce disparities in perinatal health among women of Mexican descent. The data collection phase of this study was funded by the National Institute of Nursing Research, UCLA Center for Vulnerable Populations Research (P30NR005041), ($10,000); UCLA Center for the Study of Women - Junior Faculty Research Development Grant ($3,000); and the UCLA Council on Research - Faculty Grants Program ($5,000).

Technical Assistance and Field Support for the Rural Health Initiative

Principal Investigator: Cheryl Holmes, MPA

Supported by a grant from the REACH Healthcare Foundation, Cheryl Holmes provides technical assistance to the Rural Health Initiative, which is designed to increase health access and reduce disparities for rural residents living in three of the six counties in the REACH Foundation service area. Funding began in January 2013 and runs through December 2015. For more information, visit the REACH Healthcare Foundation website.


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