Effectively teaching patients about self-care is at the heart of what nurses do. And cutting edge research is happening now at the University of Texas at Austin’s School of Nursing to help nurses further improve the quality of life for patients.
The school’s Center for Transdisciplinary Collaborative Research in Self-Management Science is creating innovative methods to expand patient’s knowledge about self-care and increase their self-management skills for several chronic diseases to improve health outcomes.
Funded by a P-30 Grant from the National Institutes of Health, the center is in its first year of operation and led by Miyong Kim, PhD, RN, FAAN. “[The center] facilitates research from multiple disciplines such as nursing, psychology, social work and technology/IT, to collaborate on addressing the complexities of the healthcare system and finding solutions to address the health disparities that exist for some populations,” Kim said.
The following Q&A with Kim will shed more light on the research being done at the TCRSS.
Q: Can you talk about some of the TCRSS Center community engagement activities?
We held three events in 2015. The first one in February was held at a local church and called, “How Healthy is your Zip Code?” It was free and open to the public, students, faculty and community leaders and provided an opportunity to discuss health issues experienced by the residents in Travis County, Texas, and collaborate on possible solutions to address their concerns. We had two moderators, two panelists and an open forum for questions from the audience for this community dialogue.
The second one took place in April at the School of Nursing. It was a networking fair with 80 community organizations participating, with a goal of partnering with community groups and academic departments to find ways to help residents of Central Texas improve their health.
The third event focused on grant writing: how to write a competitive grant, discuss resources that provide funding and identify innovative approaches to partner groups for health related projects.
Q: How does the center determine which chronic illnesses to target?
We identify patient subpopulations that are typically ignored by the healthcare system such as those from lower socioeconomic groups and integrate self-care management science. We also look at trends regarding societal needs to address chronic health problems such as CHF, CKD and HIV. In the future, we plan on researching cancer survivors and asthma patients.
Two of our research projects are partnered with electronic game developers. One uses game technology to educate people living with CHF. We’ve created a slot machine type of system that has a Q & A program to help educate patients about CHF and self-care measures. The second one is for those living with CKD. Given that CKD patients spend a lot of time undergoing dialysis, we’re creating an entertaining game they can play during treatment that helps them learn about self-care and living with CKD.
We also have nurse researchers in community safety net clinics in Travis County, assessing patient’s health literacy and determining their barriers to accessing care and health information. We’ve identified some causes already such as long working hours, low wages and language difficulties. Once our research is done, we’ll develop interventions to target their needs and implement them next year.
Q. What obstacles did you overcome in the first year of operation?
The biggest obstacle can be dealing with bureaucracies when trying to implement a change from the way things may have always been done.
Q. What is the center’s biggest success story so far?
Our second community engagement event held in April was a great success! The response was tremendous with 80 groups in attendance. Their high level of excitement was very encouraging.