How Patients and Their Families Manage Life on the LVAD Heart Device – Frances Barg PhD

Observing that “lifesaving technologies have proliferated dramatically within the past few decades, yet there is scant understanding of the ramifications of such technologies in the world of patients and their families,”  PRC Researcher Frances Barg, PhD, MEd, and co-authors examine how patients and their families face health decisions that accompany use of the LVAD (left ventricular assist device) heart pump in  the January 2017 issue of The American Journal of Bioethics

“The findings from our study sound the call for further investigation of nuanced approaches to patient-centered interventions that take into account the impact of technologies on meaning, identity, and patient and family experience,” according to the authors. “Such intervention may better prepare and orient patients and their families to life with the LVAD. It is incumbent upon those of us who work with these technologies to recognize the complexities of these experiences and reflect upon the emergent ethical, clinical, and social cultures that can obscure them.”

 

PHLI Goes To The White House: PRC Researchers on University Engagement in Promise Zone Neighborhoods

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On September 23, 2016, PRC Principal Investigator, Fran Barg, PhD, and Co-Investigators Heather Klusaritz, PhD, Karen Glanz, PhD and Peter Cronholm, MD, for the Philadelphia Health Leadership Institute (PHLI) project traveled to Washington to participate in a White House Workshop on Research and University Engagement in Promise Zones.

In his 2013 State of the Union address, President Obama announced the establishment of the Promise Zones Initiative to partner with high-poverty communities across the country to create jobs, increase economic security, expand educational opportunities, increase access to quality, affordable housing, and improve public safety. Philadelphia was one of three cities to receive the first Promise Zone designations in 2014. Today, twenty-five communities have received a Promise Zone designation.

 

hklusaritzkglanzpcronholm-phli-whconferencecropThe White House workshop brought together leading researchers and academic institutions from Promise Zone communities to examine how university partnerships can support Promise Zone initiatives and advance the goals of the program.

Dr. Klusartiz lead the Access to Care working group and, with Drs. Barg and Glanz, participated in a discussion on best practices for academic-community partnerships and the challenges faced in building these partnerships.  The PHLI was used as an example of the capacity building role universities bring to partnering with Promise Zone communities.

Klusaritz said “this event demonstrates the Federal government’s commitment to promoting and supporting Academic-Community partnerships. And the participants showed an equal commitment to addressing the concentration of health and social needs in their Promise Zone neighborhoods.”  Noting the importance of the Promise Zone initiative and of  the role of universities in working towards President Obama’s declaration that a “person’s zip code shouldn’t decide their destiny,”  Klusaritz added “sharing time with other Promise Zone projects around the country brought home how our Penn PHLI project is uniquely positioned to build capacity to effect change in the Philadelphia Promise Zone.”

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Qualitative Assessments and Mapping Allow Researchers to Identify Asthmatic Triggers

A new study based on qualitative research conducted in West Philadelphia finds that the main triggers for asthma are stress, environmental irritants, and environmental allergens. The team of researchers, which included UPenn PRC advisory board member Frances Barg, UPenn PRC director Karen Glanz, and UPenn PRC project manager Sarah Green, involved qualitative interviews and GIS mapping to categorize a variety of influences that influence asthma events in smaller sub-sections of West Philadelphia, which are primarily low-income and African American. By using a mixed-methods procedure, the researchers were able to more fully understand and define the components of “stress,” including aggravated assault and theft, in the study of asthma.

By combining the techniques of “free-list” interviews (interviews in which participants are asked to list the things that can trigger their asthma) with mapping, researchers could better understand asthma triggers in an urban, mostly minority environment. The combination of these qualitative study methods has a positive implication for the outcomes of community-based research. It allows for a body of researchers and community members to create a network of information that can allow for a better understanding of environmental triggers based on geography. This information can ultimately lead to more effective control of asthma in a variety of communities.

Read the article here.

Keddem S, Barg F, Glanz F, Jackson T, Green S, George M. Mapping the urban asthma experience: Using qualitative GIS to understand contextual factors affecting asthma control. Social Science & Medicine, July 2015, 140:9-17.