Researchers at the University of Cincinnati recently received $250,000 of funding from Pfizer Medical Education Group to conduct a research study to determine ways to improve immunization rates for the underserved.
The study, titled "A Community-Academic Partnership to Improve Immunization Rates in an Underserved Population," will be led by an interprofessional team from the university's colleges of pharmacy, nursing and medicine. Faculty volunteers and students from the school will oversee a free self-management clinic at the Society of St. Vincent DePaul in the West End.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people aged 65 years and older and people aged 19 to 64 with certain health conditions be immunized against pneumococcal disease. Despite the recommendations, Rebecca Lee, a co-investor in the study and a public health clinical nurse specialist, said that the immunization rate is significantly lower in minority and poor populations.
"Much work has been done to understand barriers to vaccination, but despite past health promotion efforts, invasive pneumococcal disease is a leading cause of vaccine preventable illness and death in the U.S.," Lee said.
The study will consist of two phases. Phase I will attempt to gain a holistic understanding of the behaviors, attitudes and behaviors related to immunization in underserved populations through focus groups.
"If you want to develop informed programs that are effective, then you need to go to the people who are actually experiencing the health care issues," Lee said.
The focus group data will drive a quality improvement plan in Phase II to be led by two university associate professors.