Consumer / Employer, Social Determinants

PCORI Pours $80.5M Into Research On Maternal Health Inequities

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute announced that it is funding four studies focused on reducing maternal health inequities. The studies all leverage partnerships with community organizations.

women's health

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) announced Tuesday that it is contributing $80.5 million to support four studies focused on health inequities in maternal health.

Washington, D.C.-based PCORI is an independent nonprofit organization that funds research focused on improving patient outcomes. It was authorized by Congress in 2010. The funding for the maternal health studies is part of $225 million in funding PCORI approved for dozens of studies and other projects.

The four maternal health projects approved for funding from PCORI include:

  • Delivering HOPE (Helping Women Optimize Prenatal Equity): This project is led by the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. It is focused on promoting a healthy pregnancy weight to reduce maternal health complications among low-income individuals in Arkansas. It will research the impact of healthy grocery delivery services on maternal health outcomes. The project’s budget is nearly $17.5 million.
  • Pathways to Perinatal Mental Health Equity: UMass Chan Medical School is leading this study and will address mood and anxiety disorders for perinatal women across seven states. Perinatal refers to the period of time between getting pregnant and up to a year after giving birth. The study will analyze what happens when healthcare and community teams work together when caring for perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. According to the study summary, the researchers intend to answer the question of “Should we put our resources into a healthcare system approach or a healthcare-community partnership approach to mental health care?” The budget is nearly $21 million.
  • Comparative Effectiveness of Three Health Equity Interventions to Improve Maternal Health: The Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York are leading this study. It aims to improve maternal health weight during pregnancy and postpartum through nutrition and physical activity counseling. It will focus on patients in New York City. The budget is nearly $21 million.
  • Thriving Hearts: Healing-Centered, Integrated, Community Maternity Care: This study, led by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, aims to address hypertensive disorders of pregnancy through home-based blood pressure monitoring, provider education and support for community health workers. The study will take place across 10 counties in North Carolina. Its budget is $21 million.

The studies were chosen for funding after an extensive review process, according to Dr. Tracy Wang, chief of comparative clinical effectiveness research at PCORI. This included an independent review from a group of scientists, clinicians, patient representatives and other stakeholders. The projects had to focus on addressing health inequities and involve partnerships with community organizations, such as community health workers.

“We felt that community partnership is really critical here because the community can really reflect some of the patient identification strategies or design strategies for the study,” Wang said in an interview. “[Community organizations] also have a strong finger on the pulse in terms of what really can help improve maternal outcomes in their communities and things that are not always in the clinical domain, things like access to healthy foods, access to community resources and transportation costs.”

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