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Current Projects

Expanded Substance Abuse Treatment Capacity for Family Drug Courts: Iowa Court Collaborative Evaluation

Principal Investigators: Michelle Johnson Motoyama, PhD; Jody Brook, PhD; Becci Akin, PhD

Research Staff: Mindi Moses, GRA

Iowa Court Collaborative (ICC) is a federally-funded project evaluating expanded substance abuse treatment capacities at five Iowa family drug courts.  The project includes implementation of two evidence-based parenting programs: Strengthening Families Program and Celebrating Families. This project partners with the Iowa Supreme Court’s Advisory Committee for Children’s Justice. Subcontract with Iowa State Court Administration. Primary funding from Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services ($175,500 over 5 years for evaluation). The project began in 2012 and is expected to end in 2017.

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.

Families and Communities Together

Principal Investigators: Jody Brook, PhD; Becci Akin, PhD

Research Staff: Margaret Lloyd, GRA

Families and Communities Together (FACT) is a federally-funded Regional Partnership Grant project designed to expand the family drug court model in Wapello County, Iowa, to include a system of service coordination for families with children ages 0-12 who are in, or are at risk of entering, foster care placement due to parental substance abuse.  This project partners with the Iowa Supreme Court’s Advisory Committee for Children’s Justice.  Subcontract with Iowa State Court Administration. Primary funding from DHHS, Administration for Children and Families (primary funding for $2,500,000; subcontract amount approximately $500,000 over 5 years). The project began in 2012 and is expected to end in 2017.

The Oklahoma Partnership Initiative - 2 (OPI)

Principal Investigators: Jody Brook, PhD; Becci Akin, PhD

Research Staff: Yeuqi Yan, GRA; Margaret Lloyd, GRA

This project is a continuation of the Oklahoma Partnership Initiative, which is a federally-funded project to address the risks to children associated with parental substance abuse.  The primary goals include improving outcomes for children in, or at risk of entering, foster care by continued utilization of a universal substance abuse screen in the Oklahoma child welfare system. Primary funding from DHHS, Administration for Children and Families (primary funding for $3,250,000; subcontract amount approximately $500,000 over 5 years). The project began in 2012 and will end in 2017.

Parent Support and Training (PST)

Principal Investigator: Thomas McDonald, PhD

Research Staff: Sharah Davis-Groves, LMSW; Kathy Byrnes, MA, LMSW, RN; April Patton; Lori Daly

The Parent Support and Training (PST) Team is engaged in two projects funded by the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services to promote family engagement in children’s mental health care. The first is a multi-site program evaluation to investigate the intervention effects of the PST Practice Protocol in relationship to caregiver’s perceived strain, social support, parenting strategies, family empowerment, and home stability through structural equation modeling. Specifically, we hypothesize that when the PST Practice Protocol is carried out with high fidelity and when team practices are family-driven, parents will experience decreased strain, enhanced social support, enhanced parenting strategies, and increased empowerment, which all mediate home stability outcomes for youth. The second project focuses on training and technical assistance supports to implement the PST Practice Protocol with high fidelity.

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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