The Community Medical Center (CMC) Family Medicine Clinic in Falls City, Neb., and the Southeast District Health Department (SEDHD), Auburn, Neb., are collaborating with the UNMC College of Nursing and College of Public Health, and the Rural Health Education Network (RHEN), for the six-month study.
Rural Nebraska residents and inpatients at the CMC Family Medicine Clinic will work with a registered nurse coordinator and a community health worker to choose between smartphones, the internet and Vidyo on their preferred way to communicate during the study.
Two groups of 30 patients from CMC will be randomly selected. Participants must be 19 years or older, speak and understand English and have two or more documented heart disease risk factors.
The study was adapted for rural communities after it successfully reduced heart disease risk factors for inner city Baltimore residents, said Patrik Johansson, M.D., associate professor in the College of Public Health and director of RHEN.
He and Paula Schulz, Ph.D., associate professor, UNMC College of Nursing Lincoln Division, are co-principal investigators on the $50,000 grant awarded by the UNMC Center for Patient, Family and Community Engagement in Chronic Care Management (CENTRIC) to support the patient self-management study. Additional funds for the project come from the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services Office of Rural Health, the UNMC College of Nursing and College of Public Health, and RHEN.
Grant Brueggeman, preparedness manager/epidemiology surveillance at SEDHD and a graduate student in the UNMC College of Public Health, is project coordinator of the study.
"This project will further my understanding of public health frameworks associated with rural health care and give me considerable experience and professional development as a rural public health practitioner," Brueggeman said.
Rural Nebraskans experience higher mortality rates from heart disease in comparison to urban Nebraskans. Several risk factors for heart disease such as high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure and cigarette smoking can be prevented or modified through exercise, diet, medications or smoking cessation.
"We hope to identify solutions for how to better engage patients through community health workers using smart technology," Dr. Schulz said.
CENTRIC funds studies in clinical and community settings that test the effectiveness of self-management interventions for chronic conditions. The goal is to reduce burden and disability, improve functioning and health-related quality of life, strengthen patient activation and participation in health care, and prevent illness and complications.