Nursing faculty receive UW Population Health pilot research grants

Nursing faculty receive UW Population Health pilot research grants

Two UW School of Nursing faculty have received pilot research grants as part of the university’s Population Health Initiative.

The Population Health Initiative pilot research grant encourages new interdisciplinary collaborations among investigators for projects that address critical components of the grand challenges the UW seeks to address in population health. This year’s awardees were selected from a pool of 33 applications from faculty investigators representing the UW Bothell and UW Tacoma campuses as well as nearly every school and college on the UW Seattle Campus.

“Our judges were very impressed by the scope of these projects, the range of disciplines represented and the scale of matching funds that teams were able to assemble,” said Ali H. Mokdad, vice chair of the Population Health Initiative and professor of global health. “We believe each of these projects has the potential to make significant progress towards reducing disparities and improving population health at the local, national and international levels.”

Human-animal bond for health

Dr. Josephine Ensign, UW professor of nursing, received a grant for her project, Health for Homeless Youth and Companion Animals in Seattle: Pilot Research into Healthcare, Social Services and Rights for the Human-Animal Unit. Her co-investigators include Peter Rabinowitz, Center for One Health at the School of Public Health; Lisa Kelly, School of Law; and, Charlotte Tucker, School of Social Work.

This project — an extension of the Doorway Project for which Dr. Ensign is lead investigator — will focus on the remarkable human-animal bond between homeless youth and their companion animals, and the creation of an innovative One Health clinic that treats the human-animal unit. The research will focus on the interdependent health and social needs of teens and young adults experiencing homelessness and their animals including mental health, food security, substance dependence, and risk of infection and injury, as well as the legal and ethical issues related to housing, education and access to medical care.

The study will identify and help close service delivery gaps, include homeless youth in the development of a plan for the One Health clinic, and help create policy and legal reform solutions.

Social and economic inequities in vulnerable populations

Dr. Barbara Cochrane, UW professor of nursing, is co-investigator on the project, Addressing Health Disparities in Washington State: The Role of Social and Economic Inequities in Intersectional Marginalized Populations. Dr. Karen Fredriksen-Goldsen from the School of Social Work is leading the project.

This newly-assembled research team includes the Schools of Medicine, Nursing and Social Work and the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance. Collaborators represent the Seattle and Tacoma campuses. They are the first to comprehensively investigate population health in Washington State across two intersecting vulnerable populations.

The project will use data from the Washington State Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System to examine 14-year time trends of disability, multiple chronic health conditions, and mental health by race/ethnicity and sexual orientation and gender identity to identify high-risk health disparate groups. Researchers will pilot-test an online population-based survey designed to identify key modifiable mechanisms, including social and community level risks (for example, stigma, lack of community connection, and barriers to health care) and economic inequities (for example, resource instability, food insecurity, and lack of housing and mobility) and to improve health outcomes.

The team will create a full-scale research program to develop and test interventions to reduce health disparities at the state level, ensure sustainability, and extend our educational training mission for students to better serve underrepresented communities.

About the grants

Eight pilot research grants of $50,000 each were awarded to faculty-led teams from 11 different UW Bothell, Seattle and Tacoma schools and colleges. This $400,000 in funding was more than doubled by matches from additional school, college and departmental funds, bringing the total value of these awards to nearly $890,000.