Libraries Can Be a Health Resource for Vulnerable Populations: PRC Researchers Cannuscio, Grande, & Klusaritz

cannusciograndeklusaritzforwebsiteIn a recent Fox News Health report, UPenn PRC Community Engagement Core Lead Carolyn Cannuscio ScD, shed light on the role modern-day libraries can play as multi-faceted community resource centers. “Some people would argue that libraries are old-fashioned, outmoded institutions that are irrelevant in the digital age,” said Cannuscio, a social epidemiologist at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. “Our work shows very clearly that libraries are vital, dynamic organizations that know their patrons well and respond creatively to community needs.”


Through the Healthy Library Initiative, Cannuscio and fellow PRC Researchers David Grande, MD, MPA, and Heather Klusaritz, PhD, MSW  identified ten programs aligned with the Free Library of Philadelphia which address social determinants of health within the Philadelphia community. After conducting interviews, the researchers found that libraries provided a safe space, for especially vulnerable populations which include “homeless people, people with mental illness and substance use, recent immigrants, and children and families suffering from trauma.”


In this new model, librarians assist with employment searches, applications for health insurance, and support other helpful programs such as classes on nutrition and youth leadership. The 54 libraries across the city of Philadelphia see 5.8 million in-person and 9.9 million online visits annually.  Cannuscio emphasizes the importance of having a space that provides shelter and services without any charge.


Read more about the study in Health Affairs.



Epinephrine Auto-Injector Use Among Young Adults Aided By Financial Incentives: PRC Researcher Carolyn Cannuscio

CCannuscio DGrande comboNew research from UPenn PRC Community Engagement, Partnerships, & Technical Assistance Core Leads Carolyn Cannuscio, ScD, and David Grande, MD, MPA, shows that financial incentives may encourage epinephrine auto-injector use among young adults.

Published in the  Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. their study found that young adults ages 18- 30 who received both financial incentives and text messages appear to carry their epinephrine auto-injectors far more often than those who received only text messages. Prompt administration of epinephrine is critically important in case of anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction that can include trouble breathing or swallowing.

“We were impressed by the effects of the incentives,” said lead researcher Carolyn Cannuscio, a social epidemiologist with Penn’s Center for Public Health Initiatives, faculty member at the Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics (CHIBE),  and assistant professor of family medicine and community health at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. “Adolescents and young adults have the highest rate of adverse events from food allergies,” with a high fatality rate, she said. When children move from elementary to middle school, school support for those with food allergies tends to drop off, according to Cannuscio, who said it’s a difficult transition to navigate.”We have learned that in very active situations, sporting events or socializing, going out to nightclubs,” said Cannuscio, “those are times when people really need to have their auto-injectors present.”

Read more about Cannuscio and Grande’s study here.


David Grande and Carolyn Cannuscio review “Remaking the American Patient: How Madison Avenue and Modern Medicine Turned Patients Into Consumers”

Grande, David - PennMed - headshot(3-sm)OutdoorsUPenn PRC Community Engagement, Partnerships, and Technical Assistance Core Leads, David Grande, MD, and Carolyn Cannuscio, ScD, reviewed “Remaking the American Patient: How Madison Avenue and Modern Medicine Turned Patients Into Consumers” by Nancy Tomes in the April 2016 issue of Health Affairs.

Noting that “Tomes illustrates the long and storied path to our current reality, characterized by trends such as medicine as business, retail models of health care delivery, widespread direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs, and the rapid growth of high-deductible health plans marketed as “consumer-directed health care,”  Grande and carolyn-cannuscioCannuscio credit Tomes with identifying the dueling values of science, professionalism, entrepreneurial aspiration, and patient engagement.  “This book, which will intrigue students and scholars of health care systems and health systems management, charts the emergence of consumerism in health care beginning in the early twentieth century.”


Read the complete review here.


The Strained 9-1-1 System and Threats to Public Health

CCannuscio-handscrossed(1)In the Journal of Community Health,  UPenn PRC Core Lead Carolyn Cannuscio, ScD, and researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University examine how the public’s use of the 9-1-1 system impacts the first-responders who deliver emergency services.

In 2013, the United States (U.S.) fire service responded to more than 31 million 9-1-1 emergency response calls. The majority of those calls (68 %) were for medical assistance, while only 4 % of calls were fire-related, highlighting that the 9-1-1 system serves as a critical public health safety net.

In focus groups and interviews with 123 firefighters from 12 fire departments across the United States, the researchers developed consensus regarding key themes. Firefighters concurred that the 9-1-1 system is strained and increasingly called upon to deliver Emergency Medical Services (EMS) in the community. Much like the hospital emergency department, EMS frequently assists low-income and elderly populations who have few alternative sources of support. Firefighters highlighted the high volume of low-acuity calls that occupy much of their workload, divert resources from true emergencies, and lead to unwarranted occupational hazards like speeding to respond to non-serious calls.

As a result, firefighters reported high occupational stress, low morale, and desensitization to community needs. Firefighters’ called for improvements to the 9-1-1 system—the backbone of emergency response in the U.S.—including better systems of triage, more targeted use of EMS resources, continuing education to align with job demands, and a strengthened social safety net to address the persistent needs of poor and elderly populations.

Read more here: