Research Areas of Excellence

Faculty and students conduct science that makes a difference in several areas of excellence, including:

 

PATIENT-REPORTED OUTCOMES

Using patient reported outcome (PRO) tools, patients provide information about the effects of therapy that cannot be found using traditional clinical measures. Research using these measures allows clinicians to better understand how various treatments might affect what patients are able to do, how they feel, and the symptoms they experience. Active collaborations with the Department of Orthopedics and the Department of Quantitative Health Sciences contribute to this effort.

Select faculty members working in this research area include John Ware, PhD, whose internationally-recognized work focuses on improving PRO tools used in population health surveys and clinical research, and Patricia Franklin, MD, MBA, MPH, the principal investigator of the AHRQ-funded FORCE-TJR registry, a nationwide, comprehensive database of total joint replacement surgical and patient-reported outcomes.

Students involved in PRO research include MD/PhD candidate Dan Frendl, MS, who explored the utility of patient-reported functional health and well-being measures to improve risk prediction models of other-cause mortality risk in older men with prostate cancer, and Barbara Gandek, MS, who conducted a psychometric evaluation of joint-specific PRO measures before and after total knee replacement using the FORCE-TJR registry.

 

HEALTH PROMOTION & DISEASE PREVENTION

Health promotion and disease prevention research aims to enable people to increase control over their health and its determinants, and thereby improve their health. It explores the behavioral, social and environmental influences on health and develops interventions to minimize disease and maximize wellbeing. Active collaborations among the CPHR program and the Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine led by Judith Ockene, PhD, Med, MA, the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, and the Worcester Country Prevention Research Center contribute to this effort.

Select faculty members working in this area include Stephenie Lemon, PhD, the head of the Worcester County Prevention Research Center and principal investigator on several studies examining community- and work-based weight loss interventions, as well as Thomas Houston, PhD, a lead investigator in the Veterans Administration’s eHealth Quality Enhancement Research Initiative who explores ways to use technology to streamline health communication and improve the health of veterans.

Students in the CPHR program are actively involved in health promotion and disease prevention research. Rui Xiao, MPH is working under the mentorship of Molly Waring, PhD, to examine psychosocial predictors of postpartum weight retention. Daniel Amante, MPH, is working to improve disease management in people with diabetes through use of electronic physician-patient communication portals.

 

HEALTH DISPARITIES

Health disparities research targets health improvement in populations disproportionately affected by disease, injury and disability. Active collaborations with the Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine, the Department of Quantitative Health Sciences,the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, and the NIH funded Center for Health Equity Intervention Research (CHEIR) contribute to this effort.

Select faculty members involved in health disparities research include Milagros Rosal, PhD, whose work includes evaluations of facilitators and barriers to mental healthcare utilization among low-income Latinos, and Jeroan Allison, MD, MScEpi, Principal Investigator of CHEIR, whose research focuses on quality measurement, implementation science, and statistical methodology, with an emphasis on eliminating racial/ethnic disparities in medical care and health outcomes.

 

HEALTH SERVICES RESEARCH

Health services research is a multidisciplinary field focused on the organization, financing, delivery and outcomes of health care. This research aims to support higher quality, more efficient and less expensive medical care to populations. Active interdisciplinary collaborations with the Department of Quantitative Health SciencesMeyers Primary Care InstituteCenter for Health Policy and Research at Commonwealth Medicine and the US Department of Veteran Affairs Healthcare System contribute to this effort.

Select faculty members involved in health services research include Allison Rosen, MD, MPH, ScD, whose work focuses on how best to measure and improve the value of U.S. health care spending, and Robin Clark, PhDwho analyzes treatment patterns and costs for mental illness and substance use disorders in underserved populations.

CPHR students involved in health services research include Lisa Lines, MPH, mentored by Arlene Ash, whose AHRQ-funded predictive modeling of emergency department (ED) visits may identify patients at risk of future ED use, and Gillian Griffith who is working under the tutelage of Dr. Clark to examine patterns of contraceptive uptake in women with opioid dependence.

 

AGING

The “graying” of the population makes research into the determinants and effects of aging on health a priority. In collaboration with the Division of Geriatric Medicine and the Meyers Primary Care Institute, both led by Jerry Gurwitz, MD, aging research initiatives at UMMS aim to promote health, prevent functional decline, and improve quality of life among older adults.

Kate Lapane, PhD, Jen Tjia MD, and Jerry Gurwitz MD conduct geriatric pharmacoepidemiologic studies and studies of other medication issues among chronically ill or elderly patients.

CPHR students involved in aging research include Camilla Pimentel, MPH, who evaluated analgesic medication patterns among U.S. nursing home residents with cancer, and Alexandra Hajduk, MPH, who examined cognitive status as a predictor of secondary preventive lifestyle change in patients with acute coronary syndrome.

 

 

CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE

Cardiovascular disease is the #1 killer of Americans, and several faculty and students in the CPHR program are committed to finding ways to better diagnose and treat diseases like myocardial infarction and heart failure. Cardiovascular disease research is supported in CPHR program through collaboration with the Center for Outcomes Research and Education’s Transitions, Risks and Actions in Coronary Events (TRACE-CORE) study, led by and theDepartment of Quantitative Health Sciences.

Select faculty engaged in cardiovascular disease research include Catarina Kiefe, MD, PhD, PI of the TRACE-CORE study and Chair of the Department of Quantitative Health Sciences, who, examines outcomes in ischemic cardiovascular disease, and Robert Goldberg, PhD, anationally recognized PI of several CVD surveillance studies such as the 3 three-decades-long Worcester Heart Attack Community Surveillance Study.

Dr. Goldberg mentored Han-Yang Chen, MS, who used TRACE-CORE data and data form the Worcester Heart Attack Study. 

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