My research is focused on patients with multiple chronic diseases and has several goals: 1.) to improve care delivery for these patients, 2.) to improve their self-management and 3.) to reduce the care disparities that exist for this population. I center my research efforts in underserved communities, where challenges are compounded because of limited resources, high levels of chronic disease and elevated risk factors.
To address my research goals, I serve as a liaison between UB researchers and our community partners. With 20 years community-based experience, I have a network of collaborators throughout Western New York. I work with primary care practices and their patients to design and implement research, using a mixed-method approach founded on epidemiology and qualitative analysis, to measure outcomes within the context of individuals’ personal experiences. Together, we conduct community education and build and evaluate community programs.
In one such partnership, I work with the Patient Voices Network (PVN) on interventions to help patients with chronic conditions in underserved communities. The PVN is a community of informed patients living with chronic conditions. My research team and I work closely with them and their doctors to address decisions about their health care and to expand this self-management to other patients.
In our mammography outreach project, PVN patients identified barriers preventing women in their neighborhoods from getting screened. We use a mobile mammography unit so that women can be screened in the comfort of their own primary care office. To ensure that cost is not a deterrent, we also partner with the free Cancer Services Program of Erie County to help enroll women who are uninsured or underinsured. Patient Ambassadors from the PVN work on screening days to offer participants support and encouragement.
This project has had community impact in several ways. It supports effective chronic-disease self-management by connecting patients to the right resources; it provides patient-centered care by connecting primary care with community resources; it empowers patients to become more active in their health care and take charge of their own health and it encourages patients to partner with their doctors.
Additionally, the project created a sustainable model for preventive screening: the system we put in place is meant to endure, and the service will continue after the grant ends.
In addition to improving the quality of care in primary care practices, I have trained residents, conducted research and educated the community about the importance of preventive care. Undergraduate, graduate and medical students interested in community-based and practice-based research are welcome to conduct research with me.