The following Pilot Projects are currently being undertaken under the auspices of the College of Health and Human Services' funding provided through the $5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NCMHD).
Disparities in Access to Hospitals with High Technology
by Tae Hyun Kim
Access to quality health services is directly associated with improvements in health status, and should be the focus of national health policy. However, studies indicate that disparities exist in the utilization of various health care services. Particularly, in the United States, racial/ethnic minorities may be less likely than whites to have adequate access to high-technology services, partly because of minority group members’ lower levels of health insurance coverage, education, and income. The objective of this study is to examine the association between race/ethnicity and admission to a hospital offering high-technology services in an attempt to explain whether disparities exist in both access to and quality of health care, since technology may help improve quality of care.
This study will test if minority and underserved populations are less likely to be admitted to hospitals that provide high-technology services, such as CT scanner, PET scanner, MRI, and diagnostics radiation facility. This research project will be conducted by statistical analysis of secondary data sets that include the Healthcare Cost & Utilization Project (HCUP)’s Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS) and the American Hospital Association (AHA)’s Annual Survey Data. The results of this study will contribute to a better understanding of how access to care varies by race/ethnicity, and may suggest strategies to reduce disparities in health.
Barriers To Higher Education For Hispanic/Latino/Latina Students
by Maristela Zell, Ph.D.
This study aims to understand what prevents community colleges’ Latino students from transferring to four-year universities. Given the size and continued growth of the U.S. Hispanic population, the college participation rate is still low compared to other populations.
Also, research shows that the rate of Latino students who transfer to four-year institutions after graduating from community colleges is very low. For Governors State University, the number of Hispanics enrolled college-wide is very low, although it is increasing. In both the BSW and MSW programs, for example, the Hispanic participation rate is almost non-existent.
Yet given the growing Hispanic population and the health disparities associated with this population, Hispanic social workers, nurses, and other health care professionals are needed to meet the growing demands for service. Conducting one-on-one interviews with Latino students who are currently in community colleges, as well as Latino students who have successfully made the transition into a school of health professions, this researcher hopes to better understand the factors leading to Latino students’ academic success and identifying better ways to mentor these students.
Making Meaning of HIV and AIDS in Economically Marginal African American Communities
by Gerri Outlaw, PhD, and Cynthia Carr
This study seeks to reveal and illuminate alternative approaches to HIV and AIDS education and prevention through the exploration of the contexts (i.e., the community, the norms, values, and society) in which the meaning of AIDS and HIV is constructed by the African American women at greatest risk -- the poor.
Following Wolcott (1994), this qualitative study follows these three stages of data transformation technique:
- Analysis, and
- Interpretation of the culture-sharing group.
Data will be collected from two groups. First, focus groups will be held among stakeholders to assess community approaches to HIV/AIDS education and prevention among African American women. Second, ethnographic interviews will be conducted among African American women to assess the norms, values and communication structure in African American mother-daughter relationships.
Variation in Fiber Types and Cross-Sectional Areas of Human Jaw-Closing Muscles
by Robert Druzinsky, Ph.D.
Past studies of human masticatory muscles have found these muscles to be heterogeneous and containing interesting combinations of fiber types, quite unlike, for example, the patterns found in limb muscles (Ringqvist, et. al., 1982; Thornell, et. al., 1984). In addition, studies of muscle fiber diameters demonstrate that human masticatory muscles are different from almost all other muscles that have been studied.
In normal muscles, Type I (slow twitch) muscle fibers are smaller in diameter than Type II (fast twitch) fibers, except in pathologically-atrophied muscles (e.g., Edström, 1968, 1970; Brooke and Engel, 1969) or a few other exceptions (e.g., Maxwell, et. al., 1979; Rowlerson, 1990; Hermanson and Cobb, 1992). In human masticatory muscles, most Type II fibers are smaller in diameter than the Type I fibers (e.g., Rinqvist, 1973, 1974).
One aim of this project is to conduct research on human masticatory muscles for the simple reason that far less is known about these muscles than is known about most other major muscles in the human body. However, the ultimate goal of this project is to test the hypothesis that most adults in the USA have atrophied jaw muscles.
If it can be shown that the small Type II fibers in human masticatory muscles are atrophied -- rather than simply normal, but unusual, fibers -- this research could lead to profound changes in approaches to orthodontia and even changes in recommended diets for growing children and adults.
After establishing and refining the research protocol on mice, specimens of human masticatory muscles will be obtained during autopsies at large local hospitals. Biopsy specimens (approx. 1cm square) will be taken from left and right temporalis muscles just superior to the tip of the coronoid process. This region is usually accessible during routine procedures to remove the brain at autopsy and does not require any additional disfigurement of the body. An additional specimen from a post-cranial muscle (e.g., psoas major m.) will also be obtained as a control, used to demonstrate that there is no systemic disease process present affecting the skeletal muscles of the individual.
Emergency Room Usage by Patients with Access to a Primary Care Provider
by Catherine Tymkow, ND, and Nancy MacMullen PhD, APN/CNS
Uninsured Americans are increasingly relying on emergency departments for their health care because of decreased access to other sources of primary medical care, (Cunningham & May, 2003). Not only does this drive up health care costs, but this increases the likelihood that potentially serious, but treatable, diseases may go undetected or progress to a stage where treatment is more difficult.
The aim of this study is to determine if the Access to Care (ATC) program -- a program that provides free physician primary care services to the uninsured population within suburban Cook County, Illinois -- reduces emergency department (ED) utilization among participants as compared to non-participant, uninsured individuals.
This study, using a quasi-experimental design, surveys long-term adult users of the ATC program within a specific geographic area regarding physician and hospital visits over the past year and compares their responses to newly-enrolled ATC patients. Newly-enrolled is defined as participating in the program three months or less. Nonrespondents to this initial mail survey will be resurveyed to ensure an adequate level of response. The hospital records of individuals who report visiting the emergency department will be used to verify the reason and result of the visit.
The results of this research should help to illuminate components of the ATC program that need to be improved or modified. Since the population in ATC is heavily Hispanic, this research makes a significant contribution to understanding patterns of healthcare-seeking behavior among Hispanics. The research may also help to identify unique barriers and issues of access to care among this population.
Issues of Access to Services for Individuals with Cerebral Palsy
by Robbie O’Shea, PT, Ph.D., and Elizabeth Cada, EdD, OTR
The goal of this research is to identify the variety of barriers faced by young adults (over 18 years of age) with cerebral palsy (CP). This age is particularly critical, since this is when individuals become too old to receive the state-provided services directed to children with CP.
The data collected for this research will come directly from the recruited subjects and, in some cases, their families via an electronic data collection system that ensures anonymity and is maintained by the University of Illinois at Chicago. Prospective subjects will be identified by clinic and hospital staff and other health providers with whom the researchers have collaborated previously, using an established protocol directed to the data collection website.
The type of data collected from the research subjects includes their experiences in the course of seeking and receiving medical, caretaker, and related services regarding CP. These experiences could include the effects on their family members and friends.
The results of this research could lead to recognition of the need for resources for young adults with CP or to changes in the way that services for this population are funded.
Knowledge, Attitude, and Self-Efficacy in Pregnant Asthmatics
by Nancy MacMullen, Ph.D., APN/CNS
Most research on pregnant women with asthma focuses on treatment and prevention. Very little is understood about successful self-management of the disease. The purposes of this research are to:
- Develop and validate the survey instruments needed to describe knowledge of and attitudes toward asthma among pregnant women with the disease and;
- Using the appropriately validated instruments, measure how effectively asthmatic pregnant women are managing their disease during pregnancy. Data will be collected at various local hospitals and clinics that treat asthmatic pregnant women.
The results of this research could lead to the development of educational programs and the distribution of critical information that improve and facilitate the management of asthma among pregnant women.