Faculty and students within the UIC SPH Community Health Sciences are involved in a number of exciting research projects that span a wide rage of areas related to public health. For example, Professor Barney Turnock is involved with the Illinois Preparedness and Emergency Response Learning Center (IPERLC), which will be housed in the MidAmerica Center for Public Health Practice at the UIC School of Public Health.
He will be developing and providing a competency-based training and education that will address the public health preparedness and response needs of the State and local public health authorities and will emphasize essential public health security capabilities.
IPERLC will also collaborate with other similar centers, funded at other accredited schools of public health, to serve in a national capacity to meet the needs of the U.S. public health workforce. This will contribute to the over-arching goal to improve the nation's public health and medical preparedness and response capabilities for emergencies, whether deliberate, accidental or natural.
Another example of exciting research involves type 2 Diabetes. Diabetes, especially type 2, has been identified as an epidemic in the U.S. and is continuing to grow in prevalence. The burden of diabetes, including prevalence and risk of complications, is greater for low-income individuals and minority groups, especially African Americans. The Healthy People 2010 report notes that the burden of diabetes can be reduced through facilitating optimal self-management. Few controlled studies have focused on strategies to enhance diabetes self-management in minority or other underserved populations. The internet offers a new approach to reaching large populations with diabetes, while removing barriers often seen in underserved populations and managing costs. In particular, Second Life, the most frequently used virtual world environment, has 6.9 million registered users worldwide creating a unique opportunity for reaching people with diabetes.
Professor Laurie Ruggiero is the principal investigator for this project and the purpose of this study is to develop, implement, and evaluate the feasibility, acceptability, and impact of a Second Life virtual reality intervention designed to provide diabetes self management education, training, and support to facilitate optimal diabetes self-management in low income African Americans with type 2 diabetes attending primary care clinics.
The primary aims of this study are
- To develop a Diabetes Second Life education and support program and evaluate its feasibility and acceptability in a low income African American adult population with type 2 diabetes attending primary care clinics;
- To evaluate the impact of the DSL program on psychosocial mediators/moderators (e.g., empowerment), behavioral outcomes (e.g., self-care patterns), and A1C in the DSL group at 6-month follow-up compared with baseline; and
- To evaluate the impact of the DSL Intervention on A 1 C levels compared to a no contact control group at 6- month follow-up.
These are just a couple of the exciting research projects within UIC SPH Community Health Sciences.