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AHRQ awards $4.5M in research grants

Mike Miliard, Editor, Healthcare IT News

Grants totaling $4.5 million have been awarded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to support three research centers that focus on clinical preventive services.

The project will be led by three universities and includes a separate award for coordination and evaluation of the research. Areas of focus include practices such as screening, counseling and use of preventive medications for patients.

[See also: AHRQ awards $34M for infection prevention measures]

The innovation for these centers is made possible through the Prevention and Public Health Fund – part of the Affordable Care Act – and is designed to expand and sustain the necessary capacity to prevent disease, detect it early and manage conditions before they become severe, officials say.
States and communities are also funded to acquire the resources they need to promote healthy living.

Through this initiative, the National Prevention Strategy was established to bring together leaders across the government to establish priorities for the new frontiers of knowledge and implementation of preventive health.

Consistent with the National Prevention Strategy of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services interest and energy, AHRQ planned a significant research effort to establish the Research Centers for Excellence in Clinical Preventive Services that are located in Chicago, Chapel Hill, N.C., and, Aurora, Colo. The centers will serve to advance the national research agenda in clinical preventive services in three specific areas:

• Health equity – to learn more about how to reduce disparities in the use of clinical preventives services.
• Patient safety – to better the understanding of risks and harms associated with clinical preventives services.
• Health systems implementation – to study how primary care practices, public health resources and the larger health care system can improve the delivery of evidence-based clinical preventive services.  

[See also: AHRQ awards contract for Web-based clearinghouses]

"We know that preventing disease is the key to improving the health of all Americans, but we also know that there are some very serious gaps in clinical preventive services research," said AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, MD. "AHRQ's investment in these new research centers will help us find ways to enhance the quality of clinical preventive services."

Each center will conduct research projects during the three-year grant, including pilot and exploratory projects affecting children, the elderly, minorities, those with disabilities and those who receive healthcare in rural and inner city settings.

The centers will be located at the following institutions:

• Northwestern University, Chicago (Award: $1.4 million). The Center for Advancing Equity in Clinical Preventive Services will develop and test interventions to achieve equity in clinical preventive services by focusing on health literacy, health communication, quality improvement methods and health information technology.
• University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Award: $1.5 million). The UNC Research Center for Excellence in Clinical Preventive Services will focus on research to improve patient safety and reduce potential harms to patients by improving the appropriate use of clinical preventive services in primary healthcare practices.
• University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus (Award: $1.5 million). The Center for Excellence in Research in Implementation Science and Prevention will involve primary care and public health experts to conduct research on how to increase use of preventive health services within primary health care settings while meeting national public health goals.

In addition, Abt Associates, of Cambridge, Mass., has received an award to help coordinate and evaluate the research being conducted at the three centers.

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