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ERP Preparedness and Emergency Response Research Centers (PERRCs) - Current Awards

Emory University

PI Name: Ruth L. Berkelman, MD
Project Period: 9/30/08-09/29/13
Title of Project: Emory Preparedness and Emergency Response Center


The overarching mission of the Emory PERRC is to support innovative research that generates knowledge to guide local, state, and federal public health leadership in creating and maintaining sustainable preparedness and emergency response systems. Our proposal includes four interdependent research projects (Incident Command and Emergency Operations Centers; Academic-Community Partnerships in Preparedness; Improving Disaster Planning for Nursing Home, Home Health and Dialysis Providers; Immunization Systems and Public Health Preparedness), a new investigator program involving doctoral students and fellows, and an innovative pilot project program. Collectively, we will examine the organizational characteristics (e.g., administration, structure, and workforce) of local and state public health systems for preparedness and emergency response, including emergency operations centers. We will also assess the response capacity and interoperability of immunization systems and registries, poison control centers, academic institutions, and healthcare providers for selected medically vulnerable populations. Supporting this research mission is an integrated data environment that will link research databases for cross-disciplinary collaboration and facilitate timely dissemination of results. The studies proposed are unique in the populations surveyed, their scale, their capacity to validate responses across organizations, and their integrated and multidisciplinary analyses. Such research can result in identifying best practices and capability assessments for preparedness and emergency response to improve performance of public health agencies across geographic areas and leverage assets from healthcare systems and academic institutions.

Harvard University

PI Name: Kasisomayajula "Vish" Viswanath, PhD
Project Period: 9/30/08-9/29/13
Title of Project: Linking Assessment and Measurement to Performance in PHEP Systems (LAMPS)


A unique multidisciplinary team from Harvard University and other institutions will employ a public health systems research approach to generate valid and reliable criteria and metrics to assess, and ultimately improve, public health emergency preparedness (PHEP) in the United States. Despite the national investment of billions of dollars in PHEP training since 9/11, the IOM recently noted that the country lacks" validated criteria and metrics that enable public health systems to achieve continuous improvement and to demonstrate the value of society's investment." To address this need, we propose LAMPS (Linking Assessment and Measurement to Performance in PHEP Systems), a new center that will pursue a coordinated and integrated four-step approach to the development of PHEP criteria and metrics through four projects. These projects are framed by a measurement development cycle that addresses four key questions: (1) why measure - clarify the purposes and uses of the measurement effort; (2) what to measure -- identify the domains and criteria to be measured; (3) how to measure - develop specific metrics for each concept; and (4) how well do the metrics work -- assess the validity, reliability, utility, and practicality of the measures developed. Project 1, Linking Assessment and Measurement to PHEP Systems Improvement ("PHEP Systems Improvement") focuses initially on the first step of the Cycle, i.e., why measure- to clarify the purposes and uses of the measurement effort related to guide PHEP systems improvement efforts using the innovative work of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI). Project 2, Linking Assessment and Measurement to PHEP through Engineering Systems Analysis ("Engineering Systems Analysis") will focus on the second step of the Cycle, i.e., identifying what to measure with respect to preparedness domains and criteria non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) for pandemic influenza. Project 3 Linking Assessment and Measurement to Performance in PHEP Communications ("PHEP Communications") addresses how to measure metrics for domains relevant to exposure, processing and attention to information pertaining to PHEP communications, and the intended outcomes. Project 4 Linking Assessment and Measurement to Performance in PHEP Drills and Exercises ("Drills and Exercises") will start at the fourth step of the Cycle by examining how well metrics related to drills and exercise perform with respect to their validity and reliability. Through these projects and a Core training initiative, LAMPS will illuminate science and public health practice for the future.

Johns Hopkins University

PI Name: Jonathan Links, PhD
Project Period: 9/30/08-09/29/13
Title of Project: Mental and Behavioral Public Health Systems Preparedness Research


This is a P01 application in response to FOA RFA-TP-08-001; it focuses on mental and behavioral public health systems research in preparedness and emergency response. The application consists of a research core and four inter-related projects. The Research Core will provide project and administrative grant management. It will also support new research initiatives in the form of new investigator and pilot project funding (beyond the four proposed research projects). The four research projects themselves are heavily interrelated and synergistic. They represent different elements of a unifying organizational paradigm based on the 3 phases of an emergency: pre-event, event, and post-event, and a unifying theoretical paradigm, the Extended Parallel Processing Model. The application explicitly targets three of the major components of the public health system: (1) Government Public Health Infrastructure, (2) the Media, and (3) Communities (specific elements thereof) - The major goal of our proposed research is to build the capacity, competency, and coordination of the public health system to prepare for and respond to mental and behavioral health aspects of emergencies. Our research seeks to identify and mitigate deficiencies in organization, pre-conditioning, breadth of response capacity, competency, and coordination, and the legal environment, with a specific focus on mental and behavioral health issues. The four projects are Project #1: Applying the Extended Parallel Process Model to Willingness-to-Respond in the Public Health System; Project #2: Fostering Coordinated Mental Health Preparedness Planning; Project #3: Role of the Media in Resistance; and Project #4: Legal and Ethical Assessment Concerning Mental and Behavioral Health Preparedness.

In emergencies and disasters that have occurred to date, psychological "casualties" outnumber physical casualties by as much as 100:1, yet our public health system are woefully unprepared to handle them. The four projects, new investigator and pilot project programs, together, will significantly enhance the capacity, competency, and coordination of the public mental health system in times of emergency.

University of California, Berkeley

PI Name: Tomás Aragón, MD, DrPH
Project Period: 9/30/09-09/29/13
Title of Project: Achieving Pub Health and Community Readiness for Today's Challenges and Future Threats


The events of September 11, 2001, the subsequent anthrax attacks that followed, and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina demonstrated that there were clear weaknesses in public health's ability to respond in an emergency. The Center for Infectious Diseases & Emergency Readiness, a CDC-funded Center for Public Health Preparedness, is applying to become a CDC Preparedness and Emergency Response Research Center (PERRC). The mission of the Center is to conduct public health research that improves the capability of public health departments and communities to prevent, detect, investigate, and respond to public health threats from all hazards. In achieving our mission, we will serve effectively our most vulnerable populations. With the theme to Create and Maintain Sustainable Preparedness and Response Systems, we will focus on the following public health systems research areas: (1) all-hazards communication to improve the resilience of vulnerable populations; (2) early warning, investigation, and surveillance: epidemiology networks in action; (3) closing the chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear gaps in public health all-hazards preparedness; (4) optimizing public health emergency management systems; and (5) California Exercise Laboratory: systems research using statewide operations-based exercises. We have assembled a multi-institutional, interdisciplinary all-hazards research team involving: the University of California at Berkeley, School of Public Health; Louisiana State University, School of Business & the Stephenson Disaster Management Institute; Monterey Institute of International Studies, James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (specializing in terrorist threats from chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear weapons); State of California (California Department of Health, Governor's Office of Homeland Security, and Emergency Medical Services Authority); State of Hawai'i Department of Health, Division of Disease Control; and the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health PERRC. As a center in an academic institution, our tradition of partnering with local and state health departments will enable us to tackle the challenges of studying public health systems in order to strengthen all-hazards public health emergency response nationally.

University of California, Los Angeles

PI Name: Kimberly Shoaf, DrPH
Project Period: 9/30/09-09/29/13
Title of Project: Preparedness and Emergency Response Research Centers: A Public Health Systems Approach


The overall goal of this proposed Preparedness and Emergency Response Research Center is to establish a collaborative research effort within the UCLA Center for Public Health and Disasters (CPHD) which will facilitate the conduct of translational public health systems research to strengthen and improve the ability of federal, state, and local public health agencies to prepare for, respond to, and recover from natural and human-induced (including terrorism) disasters. The Center for Public Health and Disasters will achieve this goal by concentrating the research focus on Priority Theme Number 3: Create and Maintain Sustainable Preparedness and Response Systems. The five independent research projects proposed in this program project application will achieve these specific aims through an integrated strategy to explore the inter-organizational cooperation that is necessary to create and sustain a public health system that is resilient to disasters. The five projects are: 1. Improving Collaboration between the School System and Public Health to Enhance Preparedness; 2. Building Effective Public Health Partnerships with Community-Based and Faith-Based Organizations for Disaster Readiness; 3. Developing an Integrated Data Management and Surveillance System to Identify Response Triggers; 4. Improving Emergency Preparedness for Vulnerable Populations through CIS; 5. Community Based Participatory Research to Develop Environmental Health Emergency Resilience. With these five subprojects and the proposed pilot projects, this research program project looks at the many aspects of the public health system. Two of the projects are conducting a coordinated survey of a national sample of health departments to explore how governmental public health agencies collaborate with schools, community-based organizations and faith-based organizations. The other three projects further these relationships to explore the use of specific tools that take into consideration these relationships. Hazardous events create a unique set of circumstances that simultaneously increase the need for public health and disrupt the ability of the public health system to respond to the health needs of the public. In order for public health systems to function in the chaotic and surge environment of a disaster, the very systems and the organizations which make up those systems must themselves be resilient to disasters. In this light, the research agenda of the UCLA Center for Public Health and Disasters aims to improve the resilience of the public health system.

University of Minnesota

PI Name: Debra K. Olson, DNP, MPH, RN
Project Period: 9/30/08-09/29/13
Title of Project: University of Minnesota: Simulations and Exercises for Educational Effectiveness


Based at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health (UMN-SPH), University of Minnesota: Simulations and Exercises for Educational Effectiveness (U-SEEE) focuses on the priority theme "to enhance the usefulness of training." The specific aims of this program are to identify best practices (e.g. design, usability, modalities) for the conduct of training and to identify metrics for measuring the dimensions of effectiveness and efficiency in improving and sustaining high-level performance of the public health preparedness system. Special consideration is given to training that incorporates experiential exercises, computer-based simulations, and virtual environments that are role-based and capability-linked to demonstrate self-efficacy expectations, knowledge, skills and response performance. Conceptually, U-SEEE is working to create a model that builds system capacity while individuals apply knowledge to public health practice and demonstrate functional competency in planning for and responding to public health threats. To accomplish this, U-SEEE supports a multi-disciplinary administrative and scientific program core, opportunities for the development of new research investigators, pilot projects undertaking innovative research initiatives, and four interdependent and inter-related research projects.

University of North Carolina Chapel Hill

PI Name: Edward L. Baker, MD, MPH
Project Period: 9/30/08-09/29/13
Title of Project: North Carolina Preparedness and Emergency Response Research Center (NCPERRC)


The North Carolina Preparedness and Emergency Response Research Center (NCPERRC) will be created to conduct systems and services research related to public health preparedness systems in North Carolina. The research team, headed by Dr. Edward Baker, Director, North Carolina Institute for Public Health, UNC School of Public Health, will include senior researchers from UNC School of Public Health, other components of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and academic researchers from North Carolina State University, and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, . The research program will consist of a core which will support a range of coordination and translation activities including funding for pilot projects and new investigators. The core will include a research translation committee chaired by a senior representative of the North Carolina Division of Public Health to ensure rapid translation of research into policy and practice in North Carolina. The core will support research projects in four areas which will apply state-of-the-art public health systems research methodology to the study of specific elements of the North Carolina public health preparedness system. We will study current surveillance systems including NC DETECT, a syndromic surveillance system, and NC EDSS, an electronic disease surveillance system in our first project. A second research project will study public health regional surveillance teams (PHRST) using systems research methodologies. A third project will address systems issues using systems engineering methodologies as applied to the study of the North Carolina Health Alert Network (NCHAN). A final project will study the impact of local health agency accreditation on preparedness of the North Carolina public health system. Results of all research activities will be actively disseminated through peer review publications and through appropriate national meetings. In addition to directly benefiting public health preparedness in North Carolina, study findings will have broad national benefit.

University of Pittsburgh

PI Name: Margaret A. Potter, JD
Project Period: 9/30/08-09/29/13
Title of Project: University of Pittsburgh Preparedness and Emergency Response Research Center


Though capacities for preparedness and emergency response within the public health system have increased during the past six years, justifiable concerns persist. The lack of meaningful indicators of effectiveness and efficiency in response to emergencies continues to impede attempts to measure "readiness" among states and localities. The University of Pittsburgh Preparedness and Emergency Response Research Center (UP-PERRC) will conduct research to generate criteria and metrics for measuring the effectiveness and efficiency of preparedness and emergency response systems with applications for both evidence-based preparedness planning and information-based emergency response decision- making. UP-PERRC will conduct multi-disciplinary research with a unifying foundation in complex adaptive systems modeling. While intending results for all hazards response systems, UP-PERRC will focus initially on infectious disease outbreaks of varying intensity and scale; later in the funding period, additional hazard types will be added according to the priorities agreed upon by the practitioners, policy makers, and researchers. The geographic settings for four Research Project Arms will combine national, state-specific, and region-specific settings, permitting attention to urban, suburban, rural, and mixed demographic areas. Research advisors will include experts from Carnegie-Mellon University, the Public Health Foundation, and the Walsh Center for Rural Health Analysis as well as emergency planners and managers, public health agencies, the judiciary, hospitals, and private business interests. UP-PERRC will produce criteria and measures for performance improvement, model laws and ethical standards, a modeling tool for planning, and a modeling tool for decision-support during emergency response. UP-PERRC will build the numbers of experienced researchers and new investigators and will fund pilot studies to attract additional funding from other sources. Other outcomes include the uptake of performance improvement criteria by public health agencies, the enactment of model statutes and ethical standards, and the use of modeling and decision-support tools by practitioners and policy makers.

University of Washington

PI Name: Mark W. Oberle, MD, MPH
Project Period: 9/30/08-09/29/13
Title of Project: Northwest Preparedness and Emergency Response Research Center


The Northwest Preparedness and Emergency Response Research Center (NWPERRC) will contribute to the improvement of public health emergency preparedness and response systems by conducting research on communicating important information for emergencies. The six Northwest states present tremendous diversity of populations and a wide range of recent and potential emergencies. The individual research projects of the NWPERRC are complementary and interrelated aspects of a common theme: how best to reach essential or vulnerable audiences, specifically health care providers and vulnerable populations, with critical information in emergency situations. The projects apply diverse quantitative and qualitative research methodologies from other disciplines to these public health system questions. The three research projects are: Project 1: Effective Emergency Communications with Limited English Proficiency (LEP) Populations. This project focuses on identification of barriers to using phone-based emergency communication and response systems to reach Limited English Proficiency communities; Project 2: A Randomized Trial of Communication Methods Between Public Health and Health Care Providers. This project focuses on the best ways to reach diverse groups of health care providers with information for emergency preparedness; and Project 3: SMS Text Messaging for Public Health Emergencies. This project focuses on the feasibility of using text messaging for reaching diverse populations with persuasive messages for emergency preparedness. Research sites include Seattle-King County, Kitsap County (WA), five counties of South Central Washington, and Montana. Populations included in the research are a wide range of health care providers: Spanish-speaking, Mandarin-speaking speaking, Native American, deaf/hard of hearing; urban, rural and frontier. Through pilot projects and expansions of the primary three projects, the research will include additional states and localities, and tribal and community organizations of the six Northwest states. The NWPERRC draws upon the extensive research resources of the University of Washington, which is widely recognized for its breadth of research and for its interdisciplinary research.

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