Monday, May 12, 2014

Catch up with the Research Centers of HBHE, Part 2

This is the second installment of a series covering the many Centers associated with HBHE and its faculty. You can find the first installment here. Whether you worked with one of these Centers at HBHE or they are new to you, here’s a brief introduction to two of them:

  • Center for Health Communications Research (CHCR)
  • Center for Managing Chronic Disease (CMCD)

CHCR: Using Innovation for Tailored Health Interventions

What does CHCR do?
Established in 1995, the Center for Health Communications Research (CHCR) creates and researches tailored health interventions that use different types of media and technology, covering a wide variety of health topics, and delivered to many kinds of audiences. This is done by integrating behavioral science, technology and art with the goal of inspiring informed health decisions, broadening access to health information, and advancing the field of health communications.

What are some current projects?
One of our recent projects is Get Connected, which we worked on in collaboration with SexLab. This is a tailored online search engine that’s designed to help young men who have sex with men identify places to get tested for STIs that meet their testing needs (for example, location, type of testing, cultural competency). Like most of our projects here at CHCR, the intervention is tailored to each individual user, so that when he logs in, the page will highlight how his values might connect with testing, address his barriers to getting tested, and help him search for providers who will meet his needs.

Another recent project of ours is Visualizing Health, done in collaboration with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. This is a website that contains graphic displays of different kinds of health information: small risks, small risk differences, risks related to biomarkers that don't have a zero value (like A1c or blood pressure), and so on. Our goal here was to create a large gallery of graphs and charts of health data (like weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, etc.) make sense to people. We also wanted to make these graphics available to the people who communicate risk – other designers, journalists, and health educators. The graphics are all available online under a Creative Commons license, so that organizations can use them as they like.

Opportunities for HBHE students and alumni
Our Behavioral Science department usually has 1-3 graduate student interns working part-time throughout the school year, and full-time during the summer. Our other departments, such as Project Management, Technology, and Design employ interns as well.

Hear from HBHE alumni
Holly Derry (’97), MPH, first got involved after hearing Dr. Vic Strecher (CHCR’s founder) talk at the HBHE welcome reception. After hearing him speak, she knew she wanted to be a part of CHCR’s vision of bringing people from different disciplines together to work on health education and began working as an intern during her second year in HBHE. When she graduated, she transitioned to a full-time position. She loves CHCR’s creativity because she works with smart, creative people from various disciplines that are different than her own. She also loves the variety of projects because she can apply theories and health education concepts and techniques (eg: tailoring) across an amazingly wide variety of health topics.

Shannon Considine Dunn (’05), MPH, MSW started working at CHCR during her first year in HBHE as a summer intern. When she graduated in December of 2005 she was offered a full time job as a health behavioralist. At CHCR she loves the constant flow of new topics and audiences and finds it fun to work on a nutrition program for a couple of months and then be able to switch gears to start working on something totally different — like HPV vaccine education. She’s been able to work on projects across a huge spectrum of topics — asthma, walking, smoking cessation, supine sleep, fighting and violence, breast cancer genetics, nutrition, exercise, vaccines, etc. It never gets boring! 

Sarah Pennewell (’09), MPH, was accepted in the HBHE program in 2007 and from the beginning Dr. Vic Strecher stuck out to her because of his expertise in Health Communications. When she began looking for a work-study job she found an eligible posting at CHCR. It rang a bell. She searched the center and realized it was because Dr. Strecher was the founder. Since day one at CHCR, she has enjoyed working on exciting projects with innovative colleagues who are experts in their field. Aside from getting to work with some of the coolest people she knows, she really likes working at CHCR because of the collaboration that takes place. The collaboration is vital to the success of their projects and occurs across all of their departments.

Learn more about CHCR:

CMCD: Collaborating to Impact Practice and Policy

What does CMCD do?
The Center comprises the work of a large, diverse, multidisciplinary group of researchers and program specialists.  Our goal is to conduct studies and disseminate findings that will have an impact on public health practice and policy. The Center’s focus is people at risk with an emphasis on the most vulnerable and those who can help them--families, clinicians, communities, and systems. We foster collaborations that create new approaches to disease control and adapt successful projects and programs for use in new places. We disseminate proven interventions so they reach the largest number of people, in particular, low-income families, minority groups, children, older adults, and women. While no one intervention is likely to solve all the problems that accompany chronic disease, we believe that careful research of an array of solutions can lead to potential policies and practices that collectively can achieve optimum health and well-being.

What are some current projects?
The Center’s work encompasses intervention and evaluation programs in all areas of chronic disease, including asthma, chronic pain, depression, diabetes, epilepsy, heart disease, and obesity. Examples of three current projects are:

Women of Color and Asthma Control
A randomized controlled trial to evaluate an innovative intervention in African American women with asthma. It is the first to use a highly tailored telephone counseling approach to address both specific cultural factors affecting asthma and the influence of female sex and gender on asthma control. The results will provide important information about the feasibility and value of programs to address persistent racial and gender disparities in asthma outcomes.

Accelerating Impact Program (Translating Research to Action)
The Center is establishing an Accelerating Impact Team to move effective interventions out into the world as quickly as possible. Our goal is to build an effective team that can coordinate and facilitate the adaption and implementation of proven chronic disease interventions, explore ways to reach large numbers of vulnerable people, and learn how to make the translation process most effective and efficient.

Comprehensive Opioid Management in Patient Aligned Care Teams (COMPACT)
A multi-site randomized effectiveness trial using a technology supported treatment to address quality of care gaps in chronic opioid therapy (COT) monitoring, education and self-management support with veterans. COMPACT uses a web-enabled electronic, interactive voice response (IVR) telephone monitoring and care management system to conduct regular opioid monitoring, provide education, and deliver empirically validated self-management support between visits.

Opportunities for HBHE students and alumni
The Center provides training and mentorship to a large number of graduate students each year through internships and research assistant positions. Our students gain experience with program planning, grant writing, program implementation, telephone counseling, data collection, data analysis, and disseminating research results. The Center regularly sponsors guest speakers at the School of Public Health as well as online webinars. 

Alumni can keep in touch with the Center’s activities by joining our email list at

Hear from a HBHE alumni
Shelley Coe Stoll (’96), MPH, a Research Specialist Senior at the Center for Managing Chronic Disease (CMCD), manages two very different projects:  a randomized, controlled trial testing a self-management program for adults with epilepsy and their caregivers, and a cross-site evaluation of care coordination programs for underserved children with asthma.  Shortly after earning her MPH, she put into practice her newly learned community organizing principles as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ecuador.  Before coming to CMCD in 2006, she played a key role at SPH in establishing the Michigan Public Health Training Center and experienced the corporate culture at Pfizer.  Shelley enjoys the variety her roles entail, from grant writing to program development to qualitative analyses. She is grateful for meaningful, challenging work and the collegial culture of the CMCD.

Learn more about CMCD:

Did you work at a Center as a student? Or do you collaborate with them now? Leave a comment below!

No comments:

Post a Comment