Center for Global Health Equity Scholars conduct global health research with diverse faculty representing multiple disciplines and collaborative engagements. As we shift to emphasize our long-term commitment to ending health disparities, please join us to honor equity even more in our activities including student recruitment, choice of projects, and commitment to sustaining reciprocal partnerships.
For examples of prior projects conducted virtually during summer 2020, please see the 2020 CGH University Scholar Poster Presentations.
Below please find examples of available projects in 2021.
Climate change health risks of underserved populations in Charlottesville
Climate change disproportionately affects the poor. Heat exposure is one example. To quantify this situation in Charlottesville we will map addresses of patients at the Charlottesville Free Clinic (CFC) onto a heat map of Charlottesville. This will allow us to identify the most at-risk patients. We will then assess heat-related risk for these clients, and inventory their mitigation ability (air conditioners, dehumidification etc). We will also query patients on heat exposure at work (or even have them wear recording thermometers) and assess their risks. We can use the same data to build a "climate risk" profile for clients, including such items such as obesity, renal function, mental health status, etc. We can determine if these diseases correlate with climate change exposure.
Clinical outcomes associated with telemedicine
CFC completely switched to telemedicine during the COVID-19 pandemic. This provides an opportunity to assess the impact of telemedicine usage on clinical outcomes in an underserved population. For all patients receiving care through CFC we will compare blood pressure and HbA1c (a measure of diabetes control) in CFC patients with hypertension and diabetes mellitus (and possibly other measures) and compare with pre-pandemic values. We may could look at simple interventions (eg. drive-through BP and HbA1c during pharmacy hours).
Telemedicine: Effect on acute care visits at CFC
The switch to telemedicine at CFC has undoubtedly affected the kind of diseases that patients sought care for. In order to help plan which telemedicine services should be offered for the future it is important to know how the visit reasons changed. Students involved in this project will review and code visit reasons from before and after the complete switch to telemedicine services and interpret the data.
Telemedicine: Effects on chronic disease management
Telemedicine makes physical examination essentially impossible, and obtaining laboratory data is more cumbersome as samples can not be obtained in the office. It is important therefore to know if the CFC switch to telemedicine resulted in chronic diseases being managed without timely data. Specifically, did medication refills happen without obtaining blood pressure measurements for hypertensive patients, HbA1c measurements for diabetic patients, etc? Students will review charts from prior to and after the switch to telemedicine, and calculate to what extent chronic disease management was done according to guidelines, and where it deviated from those guidelines.
MindTrails: Digital Mental Health
Since 2016, our team of psychologists, engineers, and computer scientists has directed MindTrails (https://mindtrails.virginia.edu/), a digital mental health program that delivers brief interventions to the public to reduce unhealthy thinking patterns associated with anxiety using an intervention called “cognitive bias modification.” We have created multiple versions of the program that can be offered by computer, mobile phone, or tablet, and we have successfully delivered these programs to more than 5000 people struggling with anxiety in more than 50 countries around the world. We seek research support over the summer from CGH scholars interested in working on one or more of the following projects (specific tasks would be matched to CGH scholar's skillset; e.g., Spanish language proficiency, experience with different programming languages, etc.):
- Helping to develop novel training materials and improve the user experience of the program
- Help with translation and materials development for the Spanish translation version of MindTrails (soon to be launched)
- Help with data management and assuring data integrity
- Help with coding and development work to prepare for new launches
- Help with app development (we are creating an app version of the web-based program now)