Public Release: 

$1.79 million NIH grant to CWRU supports training to manage multiple chronic illnesses

Case Western Reserve University

Case Western Reserve University's Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing will begin training predoctoral and postdoctoral researchers to study people with multiple chronic illnesses in hopes of discovering better methods for managing such a complex combination of illnesses.

The school of nursing received a five-year, $1.79 million training grant from the National Institute of Nursing Research at the National Institutes of Health for the program, which starts July 1.

The program was based on the need to research and better understand the complex health-care situations presented by patients with multiple chronic conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension and heart disease, said Shirley M. Moore, RN, PhD, FAAN, the Edward J. and Louise Mellen Professor of Nursing, Associate Dean for Research and director of the Self Management for the Advancement through Research and Translation (SMART) Center.

Moore, who will direct the project, said the program's goals are to:

  • Reduce health disparities in vulnerable groups.

  • Train and educate a culturally diverse workforce with research skills to identify what causes complex multiple chronic illnesses and how each illness might relate to the others.

Most at risk for multiple chronic illnesses are African-American and Hispanic people from low-income neighborhoods who lack access to appropriate health care and education, according to Moore.

The project, "Multiple Chronic Conditions: An Interdisciplinary Nursing Scientist Training Program," will support eight doctoral students and nine postdoctoral researchers, providing each with stipends for two years. The grant also provides full tuition support for the PhD program and additional courses for postdocs during the two years in training.

Although trainees will not begin until July, Moore said the first group has been accepted.

Each researcher will work with mentors from various medical and social sciences fields. Trainees will also work with educators and mentors in the field of statistics to analyze and interpret complex data to find connections or patterns that might lead to new and better treatments for patients.

They will study why and how some chronic illnesses appear in clusters, which could help identify, for example, childhood health issues that lead to other diseases later in life, Moore said.

The grant also allows Case Western Reserve to partner with Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University's School of Nursing, a historically black college, and Lehman College and Graduate School at City University of New York, which has a large Hispanic student population.

CWRU's school of nursing will exchange education programs and seminars online and recruit top students from these institutions into a new complex health-care field.

Traditionally, treating illnesses--even when a person has more than one--involves examining each disease separately.

"We don't really understand the complexity of, metabolically and biologically, what it means for your body, or psychologically or behaviorally what it means to integrate all those things," Moore said. "This grant is about producing the next generation of nursing scientists to take into account better ways of caring for people with multiple chronic illnesses."

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To learn more about the program, contact Moore at shirley.moore@case.edu.

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