Population Health Research
The CCTS Population Health Research Foundation for Discovery, co-directed by Drs. Tom Greene and Angela Presson, provides methodological and data analytic support to investigators seeking to perform research seeking to improve the health of patient populations. The broader Population Health Core includes five integrated cores which specialize in Study Design and Biostatistics, Cancer Biostatistics, Health Measurement and Survey Methods, Health Economics, and Systematic Review. Members within each core apply state of the art research methodology in their respective areas, and are available to collaborate with clinical and translational researchers throughout the University of Utah and partner institutions.
The Study Design and Biostatistics Center (SDBC), also co-directed by Drs. Tom Greene and Angela Presson, provides expert collaborations on study design, statistical analysis, and interpretation of results to support clinical and translational research. The SDBC is comprised of approximately 30 biostatisticians and epidemiologists, and provides biostatistical support for more than 500 projects each year. The SDBC also develops novel statistical techniques and software for biomedical research and teaches the principles of biostatistics in the Master of Science in Clinical Investigation (MSCI) and the Master of Statistics (MSTAT) programs.
The membership of the SDBC specializes in a wide range of biostatistical areas including the design of clinical trials and observational studies, longitudinal analysis, linear and nonlinear mixed models, survival analysis, multivariate methods, modern causal inference, methods for patient-centered research, Bayesian modeling, statistical genetics and genomics, computational statistics, and diagnostic testing. SDBC members collaborate throughout the research process, assisting with clarification of research hypotheses and study aims, optimizing study design and outcome measurements, providing sample size/power calculations and statistical analysis plans, conducting statistical analyses, interpreting analysis results, grant writing, and scientific manuscripts.
The Cancer Biostatistics (CB) Shared Resource, led by Dr. Kenneth Boucher, provides broad biostatistical support for cancer-related research projects. The primary objective of the CB Shared Resource is to provide state-of-the-art biostatistics and research design support to laboratory, translational, clinical, and population sciences investigators at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI). CB Shared Resource staff members also develop new statistical methods for use in cancer research and support cancer researchers by providing didactic and one-on-one mentoring to educate HCI investigators in principles of study design, development of analysis plans, and interpretation of data.
The Health Measurement/Survey Methods, led by Dr. Lenora Olson, supports a broad spectrum of research by providing expert guidance on measurement of outcomes and the design and implementation of surveys. The core’s services range from expertise in the identification and/or adaption of existing measures to the design, validation and application of new instruments including pre testing, pilot testing and initial validation. The core staff has extensive expertise in Patient Reported Outcomes (PROs), including the application of item response theory to evaluate the performance of PROs and other instruments as well as experience in the development and application of Computer Adaptive Tests (CATs). In the area of survey methods, the Health Measurement/Survey Methods core provides comprehensive consulting services using evidence-based best practice knowledge for survey design and implementation providing guidance on data collection protocols including IRB, participant recruitment and response rates, methods of compiling and managing survey data and aiding in writing sections of grant proposals and manuscripts.
The Health Economics core led by Dr. Norman Waitzman, provides expert collaborations involving the modeling and analysis of healthcare cost and utilization data at the specialty, clinic, organizational and system levels. The core also supports the generation of cost-effectiveness, cost-benefit, and cost identification analyses, as well as health policy evaluation with an economic dimension. The members of the core assist with writing sections describing health economic analyses in IRB protocols, grant applications, and manuscripts, and also in their execution. Examples of data that can be used to conduct cross-sectional and longitudinal health economics research include healthcare claims data (Medicare, Medicaid, Utah’s all payer claims database (APCD), MarketScan database), Electronic medical record (EMR) data (Intermountain Healthcare, University of Utah, Department of Veterans Affairs), Medical Expenditures Panel Survey (MEPS), Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project’s (HCUP) National Inpatient Sample (NIS) and Statewide Inpatient Database (SID), and the Utah Population Database (UPDB) linked to Utah State Inpatient Discharge, ER, and Ambulatory Data.
The Systematic Review team, led by Melissa Rethlefsen, MLA, AHIP, provides in-depth literature reviews to answer a specific research question using a highly structured process of identifying, appraising, selecting and synthesizing the best available research. The structure minimizes bias, offers transparency and ensures replication of results. Systematic reviews examine medical and other scientific databases, grey literature including white papers, clinical trials and hand searching to find relevant research.
The five cores of the Population Health Research Foundation for Discover are closely integrated and operate through a common project management and tracking system. This system coordinates support of core members throughout the research process based on the areas of expertise of each core. The CCTS Population Health Research focus area is also closely affiliated with the Department of Population Health Sciences, including the Division of Health Systems and Innovation Research under the direction of Dr. Rachel Hess. The partnership provides the Population Health Research core with added expertise in the design of studies involving process of care interventions and other areas of health systems research, and in Patient Centered Outcomes Research (PCOR) methods. PCOR methods include pragmatic clinical trials, studies of clinical effectiveness, and mixed methods studies. The Population Health Research cores play an integral role in the clinical and translational research productivity at the University of Utah and its partner institutions.