UC Study Looks at Ways to Improve Immunization Rates for Underserved
CINCINNATI—University of Cincinnati researchers have received $250,000 from Pfizer Medical Education Group to conduct a research study titled, "A Community-Academic Partnership to Improve Immunization Rates in an Underserved Population.”
The study is being led by an interprofessional team from UC’s colleges of medicine, nursing and pharmacy, and the community partnership aspect takes place at the Society of St. Vincent DePaul in the West End, where a free self-management clinic is overseen by UC faculty volunteers and students from the Academic Health Center.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), says co-investor Rebecca Lee, PhD, a public health clinical nurse specialist and assistant professor in the UC College of Nursing, recommends those aged 65 years and older and those aged 19 to 64 with certain health conditions be immunized against pneumococcal disease; however, according to CDC data, the rate of immunization is significantly lower in poor and minority populations.
"Much work has been done to understand barriers to vaccination, but despite past health promotion efforts, invasive pneumococcal disease is a leading cause of vaccine preventable illness and death in the U.S.,” she says.
The study will be conducted in two phases. Lee says Phase I is an attempt to gain a holistic understanding of the beliefs, attitudes and behaviors related to immunization in underserved populations. To accomplish this, she will conduct focus groups with members of the West End community members as well as heath care faculty, students and agencies.
"If you want to develop informed programs that are effective,” says Lee, "then you need to go to the people who are actually experiencing the health care issues.”
The data from the focus groups will drive a quality improvement plan in Phase II to be led by Tiffiny Diers, MD, associate professor of general internal medicine in UC’s College of Medicine, and Bethanne Brown, PharmD, associate professor in the James L. Winkle College of Pharmacy.
This study was born out of a smaller research study, funded by the American Pharmacist Association Foundation, which was conducted at the St. Vincent DePaul self-management clinic and led by a UC PharmD student Kayla Swearingen in 2012. Adults were screened for their eligibility to receive the vaccine and asked to return to set vaccine clinic days, which were run in conjunction with the self-management clinic on Saturdays. It was discovered that even after adults were informed about the vaccine, they did not return to be immunized.
"There were a high number of patients who should have received the vaccine and didn’t, and we don’t know why,” says Brown, who acted as faculty advisor on the former study.
All three researchers are members of the Health Professions Education Collaborative (HEC), a group of faculty from across UC’s Academic Health Center who came together in 2008 to promote interprofessional education and health promotion among vulnerable populations.