Twelve new projects have been funded by the 2022 Trailblazer Awards and Planning Grants, which are supported by Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (CTSI) Community Health Partnerships. Learn more about the Trailblazer program here.
The Trailblazer Award supports collaborative, community-engaged research projects that focus on topics that have potential to improve health equity in Indiana. Seven projects were funded with up to $25,000 each.
- Elaine Hernandez, PhD, Indiana University, and Ivan Hicks, First Baptist Church North Indianapolis, received an award for, “An Opportunity for Racial Equity in Health Care Access.” For this project, they are planning to examine whether the complex, multi-tiered Medicaid expansion Healthy Indiana Plan (HIP) administrative burdens represent racialized burdens, and the extent to which removing burdens, and reintroducing them, affects racial inequities in health care access for HIP Medicaid members. They will pair in-depth semi-structured interviews with a random sample of HIP Medicaid beneficiaries (in Indianapolis, Gary, and South Bend) and analysis of statewide HIP Medicaid enrollment and utilization data. They will write a report, present results, and evaluate the community-academic partnership, as well as write a policy brief, present results at academic conferences, and scale up the study to submit an NIH grant using data from multiple states.
- Zoe Peterson, PhD, Indiana University, and Meagan Shipley, IU Health, received an award for, “Healthy Relationships and Rural Youth: Evaluation of A Professional Development Training for Youth-Serving Adult Mentors.” The Healthy Relationships for Rural Youth Initiative (HRRYI) is a collaboration between Indiana University Bloomington and rural community partners. It consists of educational programs designed to prevent sexual assault and violence in rural Indiana through empirically-supported psychoeducation. Given that rural Indiana counties have higher rates of sexual assault than other areas of Indiana, this train-the-trainer program seeks to increase health equity among rural Indiana youth by promoting widespread and sustainable sexual assault prevention. This project seeks to evaluate the youth-serving adults’ train-the-trainer program.
- Melissa Franks, PhD, Purdue University, and Katrina Riggin, IU Health Ball, Blackford and Jay Hospitals, received an award for, “Promoting Physical Activity Among Female Patients Following Cardiac Rehabilitation.” The focus of their project is to illuminate close social partners as a resource for female patients’ maintenance of exercise after cardiac rehabilitation. Their two primary project aims are: to investigate two distinct types of exercise support female patients receive from care partners, and to examine the association of each type of support with patients’ exercise self-management. They will recruit a sample of 30 female patients who recently participated in a hospital-based outpatient cardiac rehabilitation program in East Central Indiana. They plan to submit a subsequent NIH proposal to conduct a longitudinal, dyadic investigation of female patients together with their care partners, with a focus on collaborative adjustments in exercise support as circumstances challenging patients’ exercise maintenance change over time.
- Kara Cecil, PhD, University of Indianapolis, and Kelsey Stinson, CICOA Aging and In-Home Solutions, received an award for, “Hidden Families: Identification of and Assistance for Vulnerable Caregivers.” This project focuses on kinship care families and how to best support them. Kinship care occurs when biological parents are unable to care for their children and a family member, most often a grandmother, temporarily provides this care. This work is significant because there is an increasing number of children requiring care from a family member or foster parent. Data will be collected by survey and focus groups in the Central Indiana area, which will inform a training disseminated to CICOA and ADRC staff, as well as, other state agencies and departments to better serve these at-risk children and kinship caregivers. It is the hope of this project team that the demand for kinship care providers may decrease in the future and that systems will be changed going forward to better recognize the unique needs of this population and provide support.
- Richard Brandon-Friedman, PhD, Indiana University, and Marissa Miller, Trans Solutions Research and Resource Center, LLC, received an award for, “Pilot Testing the VISION Program to Enhance the Wellbeing of Transgender People of Color.” This partnership grew from a shared recognition of the significant health disparities facing transgender and gender-diverse (TGD) People of Color (PoC) and a joint commitment to creating safe, affirming spaces for TGD PoC to receive healthcare-related services. TGD PoC are disproportionally impacted by mental health and substance use concerns, poverty, nutritional deficits, and engagement with the legal system, all of which are important social determinants of health. Our partnership is designed enhance the well-being of TGD PoC through development and evaluation of healthcare-related programming provided in spaces designed for and by TGD PoC.
- Erin Macey, PhD, Indiana University, and Colleen Rusnak, Indiana Health Fund, received an award for, “Impact of Medical Debt Relief for Pregnant/Postpartum Women.” Indiana Health Fund (IHF) and the Grassroots Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Initiative are teaming up to translate the impact of a medical debt relief intervention for pregnant and postpartum individuals into policy and practice changes. Research is needed on the impact of medical debt on prenatal and postpartum health outcomes. This exploratory qualitative project will use a health equity approach, engaging a university-community team to conduct semi-structured interviews with 10-15 pregnant and postpartum participants in IHF’s medical debt relief program, generating a better understanding of the sources and impact of medical debt for this population, as well as the effects of relief.
- Brownsyne Tucker Edmonds, MD, Indiana University School of Medicine, and Andrea Voisard, Goodwill of Central and Southern Indiana Nurse-Family Partnership, received an award for, “Understanding birth team dynamics at Eskenazi Health and birth outcomes of Medicaid recipients who are MDwise members served by doulas.” Pregnant people in Indiana experience mortality and morbidity at rates that significantly outpace the national average. Of the reviewed pregnancy related deaths in Indiana in 2020, the Indiana State Department of Health determined 87% of these to be preventable. Indiana data suggests the use of additional pregnancy healthcare specialists such as doulas could reduce these rates. One goal of this project is to assess and improve pregnancy outcomes in the state of Indiana by increasing accessibility and trust between healthcare providers and their diverse clientele of maternity patients. The second goal of this project is to improve pregnancy outcomes of those who receive Medicaid as their primary pregnancy insurance.
The Trailblazer Planning Grants support the development of community-university partnerships that focus on improving health, examining social determinants of health, or enhancing health equity to result in future collaborative research proposals. Five projects were funded with up to $5,000 each.
- Jill Fodstad, PhD, Indiana University, and Deanna Dwenger, Indiana Department of Corrections (IDOC), received an award for, “Improving Care for Incarcerated Hoosier Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder through Developing an Indiana Department of Corrections Staff Training Workshop.” Data suggests that for reasons yet unknown the judicial system reprimands persons with Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) who have engaged in severe delinquent behavior and criminal offenses more often to forensic settings compared to non-ASD population, despite there being clear data suggesting that the rate of engaging in punishable offenses is no higher in those with ASD than the general population. The current proposal’s purpose is to foster a partnership between the applicants and their respective sites to begin the development of a training workshop to improve IDOC staff knowledge on ASD-specific topics.
- Melissa Klitzman, MD, Indiana University, and Tyfanny DyAnn Davis, Marion County Public Health Department, received an award for, “Community-University Partnership Establishing a Black Peer-Led Lactation Support Group for NICU Families.” The use of human milk is a core modifiable risk factor in reducing certain infections, chronic pediatric diseases, sudden unexpected infant death syndrome (SUIDS) and maternal adverse health outcomes. Breastfeeding rates and human milk consumption are lower among Black African Americans and Indigenous Americans compared to other races/ethnicities. The purpose of a new partnership is to establish a peer-led Black lactation support group for vulnerable neonatal intensive care patients and their families. Invested stakeholders will establish educational opportunities, team building, and infrastructure planning for the community-university partnership, build a shared knowledge base to support a Black peer-led lactation support group for NICU families, and develop an implementation-evaluation plan for the support group.
- Tatiana Kostrominova, PhD, Indiana University, and Ronald Walker, Gary Health Department (GHD) Commissioner, received an award for, “Building partnership for reducing health disparities in the City of Gary through research and education.” Racial/ethnic health disparities are multifactorial in nature and include socioeconomic factors, lifestyle behaviors, social environment, and access to preventive health-care services. The study team believes that improving health awareness and expanding preventive health measures will reduce health disparities in the Gary communities and minimize the effects of future infections/diseases on the vulnerable populations. The goal of the current proposal is to strengthen and expand existing partnerships between GHD and IU School of Medicine Northwest in order to design and develop future grant activities addressing and improving health disparities that are currently present in the Gary communities.
- Michelle Miller, PhD, Indiana University, and Rachel Emery, LMPN Women’s Health Center, Logansport Memorial Hospital, received an award for, “Building Partnerships for Trauma-Informed Care in Rural Perinatal Populations.” Pregnancy and the postpartum is a critical time when trauma exposure and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms can adversely affect the short and long-term health of childbearing individuals, infants, and their families. To improve perinatal mental health in areas serving rural patients, a collaboration is proposed between the LMPN Women’s Health Center and Dr. Michelle Miller of Indiana University School of Medicine. The goals of this proposal include building a strong partnership between Dr. Miller and the LMPN Women’s Health Center; collecting preliminary data on the scope of traumatic stress in perinatal rural women by expanding existing screening; and planning future collaborative research proposals and identify funding mechanisms.
- Zachary Weber, PharmD, Indiana University, and Tyne Parlett, Cultivating a Belonging Culture (CABC), received an award for, “Development of a Student-Centric LGBTQIA+ Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes (ECHO) Presentation Series.” The Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes (ECHO) series offers interprofessional healthcare practitioners an opportunity to improve care for diverse patient populations with complex healthcare needs. While the use of the ECHO model has largely been focused on licensed practitioners, this structure can also be used to increase the practical and applicable knowledge for health and social care leaners. A partnership between the Richard M. Fairbank’s IUPUI ECHO Center, the Indiana University Interprofessional Practice and Education Center, and CABC will facilitate the development a new series of student-centric ECHO sessions centered around the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, intersex, asexual/aromantic/agender (LGBTQIA+) community.