Population Health Research
The CCTS Population Health Research (PHR) 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 coordinated cores that specialize in Study Design and Biostatistics, Cancer Biostatistics, Qualitative, Survey and Measurement, 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 Drs. Kenneth Boucher and Ben Haaland, provides broad biostatistical support for cancer-related research projects. It is overseen by Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) as a shared resource, is solely focused on cancer, and collaborates with CCTS in a variety of domains.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 HCI and investigators across campus proposing cancer-relevant projects. The project request and tracking system used by the PHR directs all cancer-related projects to the CB Shared Resource. The CB Resource also receives requests for collaborations internally within 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 Qualitative, Survey and Measurement Core (QSM) is led by Drs. Susan Zickmund and Lenora Olson. The core staff provides expert guidance on qualitative methods and analysis, survey design and implementation, psychometrics, as well as general consultation on measurement methods. The QSM services include trained staff available to collect interview and focus group data, provide verbatim transcriptions, and masters and PhD-level staff to code qualitative texts and perform thematic analyses. QSM faculty members also will identify and/or adapt existing measures to a current study. We also advise on survey data collection protocols and item construction that can yield high quality data and maximize survey response rates. Faculty members have extensive expertise in Patient Reported Outcomes (PROs), as well as experience in the development and application of Computer Adaptive Tests (CATs). In addition, QSM faculty serve as co-investigators and aid in writing methodological sections of grant proposals and scientific manuscripts across all areas.
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 cores of the Population Health Research Foundation for Discovery are closely coordinated 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.