Public Release:  BMC receives 2 awards to study delivery of patient care

Studies showcase BMC's innovative approach to health care delivery

Boston University Medical Center

(Boston) - Boston Medical Center (BMC) has been approved to receive two research awards from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI). One will study the delivery of cancer care to patients who face socio-legal barriers and the other will test the effectiveness of integrative medical group visits (IMGV) for treating chronic pain. BMC received two of nine awards, totaling more than $3.5 million in the health disparities category, which illustrates the hospital's commitment to deliver the most innovative health care to its patients.

Tracy Battaglia, MD, director of the Women's Health Unit at BMC, will lead the cancer research project. Previous research shows that delays in care persist for low-income patients with socio-legal barriers, such as unsafe/unstable housing, unlawful utility shutoffs or job termination. Partnering with patients, key community stakeholders and Medical-Legal Partnership | Boston (MLP) (a nationally replicated program founded at BMC that assists healthcare teams in detecting and addressing patients' socio-legal barriers to health), the researchers will compare standard navigation, using lay health workers to address patient barriers and coordinate cancer care services, with an MLP navigation model that offers legal support to low-income cancer patients.

"We believe addressing socio-legal barriers to care with MLP navigation will improve patient-reported outcomes and lead to more timely care delivery," said Battaglia. "Because of widespread national availability of patient navigation and MLP programs at hospitals serving vulnerable patients, this intervention can be quickly replicated to improve patient experience and survival."

Paula Gardiner, MD, MPH, assistant director of Integrated Medicine at BMC as well as a family medicine physician at the hospital, will lead the research project on chronic pain. It will focus on reducing disparities to access effective non-pharmacological treatments for people from predominantly low-income minority backgrounds with chronic pain and associated conditions.

"A growing body of evidence suggests that a group medical visit model is effective for treating chronic pain. If we show that IMGV is safe and effective, it has great potential as a new, patient-centered, group-visit model for managing chronic diseases," said Gardiner.

"These projects were selected for PCORI funding not only for their scientific merit but also for their potential to fill an important gap in our health knowledge and ultimately help patients and those who care for them make more fully informed decisions about their care," said PCORI Executive Director Joe Selby, MD, MPH. "These projects reflect PCORI's commitment to support patient-centered comparative effectiveness research, a new approach to health research that emphasizes the inclusion of patients and caregivers at all stages of the study process. We look forward to following the study's progress and working with BMC to share the results."

The BMC studies are two of 71 projects totaling more than $114 million approved for funding by PCORI's Board of Governors. The awards were a mix of projects that included the first made to studies specifically targeting improvement of research methods. All were selected through a highly competitive review process in which scientists, patients, caregivers, and other stakeholders helped to evaluate more than 570 proposals that responded to five PCORI funding announcements.

Proposals were evaluated on the basis of scientific merit, how well they engage patients and other stakeholders, their methodological rigor, and how well they fit within PCORI's national research priorities. All awards were approved pending completion of a business and programmatic review by PCORI staff and issuance of a formal award contract.

The awards are part of PCORI's latest round of primary research funding. Through previous funding cycles, including a round of pilot projects, and other initiatives, PCORI has committed a total of $304 million since 2012 to support patient-centered comparative effectiveness research.

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For more information about PCORI funding, visit http://pcori.org/funding-opportunities.

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