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Kessler Foundation receives grants to study health disparities in people with disabilities

West Orange, NJ. November 23, 2011. Kessler Foundation received two government grants to study the impact of culture, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status on the rehabilitation and reintegration of people with spinal cord injury. The grants totalling $296,261 were awarded to Denise Fyffe, PhD, a research scientist in the Spinal Cord Injury/Outcomes & Assessment Laboratories. Dr. Fyffe, a clinical psychologist, is an expert in health disparities in underserved populations including the elderly and the disabled.

"Dr. Fyffe's research expands our expertise in spinal cord injury research," said Trevor Dyson-Hudson, MD, interim director of Spinal Cord Injury Research at Kessler Foundation, "and will contribute to a higher standard of care for all people with spinal cord injury."

The 2-year Research Supplement to Promote Diversity in Health-related Research for $266,261 was awarded by the National Institute of Arthritis, Musculoskeletal, and Skin Diseases . Dr. Fyffe will study the impact of culture on perceived health-related quality of life among children and young adults with disabilities using the Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS). The PROMIS project is a cooperative network of outcome scientists from seven institutions funded under the NIH Roadmap for Medical Research Initiative. This award is a supplement to Drs. Alan Jette and David Tulsky's project, "PROs (Patient Reported Outcomes) for Children and Young Adults with Disabilities".

This grant enables Dr. Fyffe to enhance her expertise in rehabilitation medicine, outcomes measurement, psychometric theory and practice, and cultural adaptation of measurement instruments. "I am very excited for this opportunity to examine the cultural sensitivity of the PROMIS quality of life that is being developed for disabled groups," said Dr. Fyffe.

Dr. Fyffe also was awarded $30,000 for a pilot project, "Predictors of functional disparities among individuals living with spinal cord injury." Using data from the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center database, Dr. Fyffe will investigate social, cultural and clinical factors associated with poor functional outcomes in people with spinal cord injury. This collaborative project is funded through the Center for Rehabilitation Research Using Large Data Sets (CRRLD) Pilot Project Program. Dr. Fyffe is working with the CRRLD director Kenneth Ottenbacher, PhD, OTR and Anne Deutsch, PhD, CRRN, RN from the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, Consortium PI/Director Technique Development.

The CRRLD comprises a consortium of investigators at the University of Texas Medical Branch, Cornell University, the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and the Uniform Data System for Medical Rehabilitation (Buffalo, NY). The program is funded by the National Institutes of Health National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research in the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke The goal of the Center is to build rehabilitation research capacity by increasing the quantity and quality of rehabilitation outcomes research using large administrative and research datasets.

"This award provides the opportunity to bridge my previous work in health disparities, obtain the conceptual and methodological expertise needed to conduct research using large databases, and apply my knowledge to a new study population in rehabilitation," explained Dr. Fyffe.


Contact: Carolann Murphy
Kessler Foundation

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