May 28, 2020 02:24 pm Michael Devitt – Last year, the AAFP Foundation and the AAFP National Research Network partnered to launch the Family Medicine Discovers Rapid Cycle Scientific Discovery and Innovation initiative. The program's objective was to recruit family physicians who were interested in conducting clinical research -- but who lacked the time or money to move forward with their idea -- and provide selected candidates funding and assistance to complete their projects. Those projects were intended to find meaningful solutions to real-world clinical questions facing FPs and others in primary care.
In September 2019, the initiative began accepting applications from FPs interested in becoming RapSDI scholars. After an application process that spanned several months, the program has selected two winners for 2020.
Vijay Singh, M.D., M.P.H., M.S., a clinical assistant professor in the departments of Family Medicine, Internal Medicine/Hospital Medicine and Emergency Medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, received a grant for his research project, "Adapting Evidence-Based Male Intimate Partner Violence Perpetration Interventions for Use by Family Medicine Clinics and Patients."
"I was interested in applying to be an FMD RapSDI scholar to access program resources to complete a research project, with salary support and dedicated time to adapt an evidence-based male intimate partner violence intervention to the needs of family medicine patients and providers," Singh said of his research. "I was interested in the opportunity to build a mentoring and topical expert team, work with program staff experienced in qualitative data analysis, develop an abstract for submission to the North American Primary Care Research Group annual conference, and create a peer-reviewed manuscript for submission to a medical journal."
Singh told AAFP News that his research will provide practice-based evidence on ways FPs can identify and respond to male IPV perpetration, using a community advisory board of men with a history of IPV to adapt and later test an intervention, along with a focus group of FPs and staff to discuss barriers to and facilitators of male IPV identification and intervention.
"One in five men report lifetime IPV perpetration, and family medicine physicians can use male IPV perpetration screening tools validated in health care settings, but interventions are limited," Singh explained. "This project can benefit family medicine patients and providers through adapting a violence intervention to the unique work environment in family medicine with continuity of care and physicians who may provide care to an IPV perpetrator, victim and child exposed to parental IPV."
Lauren Ciszak, M.D., a practicing family physician with the South End Community Health Center in Boston, also received a grant for her research project, "Medically Tailored Meal Kits as a Means of Decreasing ED visits and Hospitalizations in Primary Care Patients with Chronic Disease." She told AAFP News that she has had a longstanding interest in nutrition and primary care, but that one patient turned that interest into something more.
"I had a particular patient who had end-stage renal disease and received meal deliveries at home, but often when she would travel with her family she didn't know what foods to prepare or choose and three times in one year ended up hospitalized on family vacation due to choosing the wrong foods with too much sodium," Ciszak told AAFP News. "I thought to myself, 'If she received a meal kit that she or her family prepared rather than food that was already prepared and just handed to her, maybe she would learn which foods she could choose when cooking or dining out with her family. And if we could prevent even one hospitalization per year, a meal kit would be cost-effective.'"
Ciszak said that she hopes to prove that such a meal kit delivery service can help better manage the health needs of patients with nutrition-related chronic diseases, which, in turn, would reduce or prevent hospitalizations and emergency department visits. Given enough evidence, she said, it may be possible to demonstrate that such a meal service should be covered by Medicare and Medicaid.
"I also hope to show how access to healthy foods can support health in general," Ciszak added. "Our clinic has a robust office-based addiction treatment program, and I am excited to see if access to healthy foods may help patients with substance abuse disorders have extra time and mental resources to focus on their recovery."
Overall, she concluded, "I hope that this will help push us to focus more and more on the importance of adequate nutrition and understanding that access to healthy and easily available food can help patients with multiple chronic diseases, is cost-effective and could and should be a covered service."
Each scholar will receive a $40,000 grant to help mitigate project-associated costs and/or offset the time and salary needed to develop and complete their project within 12 months. Both scholars also will receive support and mentorship from NRN staff to refine research protocols, perform related project activities and analyze study data.
The expected start date for each research project is June 1. On completing their research, scholars will have the opportunity to participate in one or more research conferences and author a manuscript in a peer-reviewed journal.
For AAFP members interested in becoming FMD RapSDI Scholars, the 2021 application period will open July 1. Members must be practicing FPs in any post-residency career stage to apply. Potential applicants are encouraged to visit the FMD RapSDI webpage often for periodically updated application information.