Seton, UT Partner on Research Studies


Grad-student_DSMCHow many injured patients come into emergency rooms not knowing they also suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD)? Can they be screened to address their needs sooner – before their PTSD symptoms worsen?

Can therapists keep youths from dropping out of behavioral health treatment programs by using new electronic measurement systems?

Can medical providers get diabetics to better take care of themselves with a more comprehensive educational approach?

How are physicians managing electronic health records – and how many of them are inadvertently creating more work for themselves by continuing to handwrite notes about their patients?

Answers to these questions are anticipated from some of the seven medical research studies funded by Ascension Seton as part of a new partnership with The University of Texas at Austin’s Center for Health and Social Policy (CHASP) at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs. The research will generate new, important knowledge and guidance for improving health policy, healthcare services delivery and health outcomes for patients.

“Construction of UT’s Dell Medical School finishes next year, but we’re already fostering high-quality medical research involving UT faculty and our medical professionals,” said Ryan Leslie, Ascension Seton vice president for Academics and Research. “Ultimately, these studies can lead to better care that is sensitive to each patient’s expectations and further build a long-term, medical research partnership between UT and Seton.”

The research partnership between Ascension Seton and the LBJ School was established in August 2014 to provide $500,000 in funding support for research. Each of the seven studies received awards ranging up to $50,000.

A range of university-based organizations are involved in this first phase of studies, including the Departments of Educational Psychology, Organizational Communication & Technology, Computer Science, Economics and Kinesiology & Health Education; the Schools of Information, Social Work, Nursing and Public Affairs; the College of Pharmacy; and the Center for Health Communication and Center for Identity. Also included are the Texas Child Study Center at Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas and University Medical Center Brackenridge.

Other partners in the seven studies include Central Health, Travis County’s healthcare district, and the Community Care Collaborative, a Central Health/Ascension Seton joint venture developing an integrated delivery system for Travis County residents living at or below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level.

“This new research partnership recognizes that our most critical health and healthcare services delivery problems will only be resolved by bringing together medical and social scientists, along with those based in the community who grapple with these challenges on a daily basis,” said Carolyn J. Heinrich, Sid Richardson professor of public affairs, affiliated professor of economics and CHASP director in the LBJ School.

“We think the fact that we received 29 high-quality, collaborative research proposals in this first research competition suggests that there is considerable local demand for support of this type of research,” she said. “We expect that the proposals selected for funding in this first round will make substantial contributions to the health of the community and help us to significantly improve the delivery and effectiveness of health care services.”

The studies are as follow:

  • Impacting Acute Trauma: Does a Brief Preventive Intervention Affect PTSD Outcomes? Principal investigators (PIs) are Dr. Ben Coopwood, Director of Surgical Critical Care at UMC Brackenridge, and Stacey Stevens Manser, associate Director of the Texas Institute for Excellence in Mental Health in the UT School of Social Work.
  • Improving Youth Behavioral Health Outcomes: A Feasibility Trial of Electronic Measurement Feedback and Flexible, Evidence-Based Training. PI is Sarah Kate Bearman, assistant professor with UT’s Department of Educational Psychology. Co-PIs are David Heckler, psychologist with the Texas Child Study Center at Dell Children’s, and Jane Gray, director of psychology training at the Texas Child Study Center.
  • Understanding How Human, Communication and Technology Factors Influence Effective and Efficient Electronic Heath Records (EHRs) Use. PI is Dr. Brenda L. Berkelaar, assistant professor in Organizational Communication & Technology and affiliated faculty with UT’s Center for Health Communication and Center for Identity. Co-PI is Dr. Jay M. Bernhardt, founding director of the Center for Health Communication and a UT professor of Communication Studies.
  • Manual and Automatic Analysis of Patients’ Values and Preferences Using Ascension Seton Hospital Consumer Assessment for Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) Surveys. PIs are Drs. Kenneth R. Fleischmann, associate professor with UT’s School of Information; Bo Xie, associate professor with UT’s School of Nursing and School of Information; and Byron C. Wallace, assistant professor with UT’s School of Information and Department of Computer Science.
  • Incorporating Resilience-Based Diabetes Self-Management Education into the Group Medical Appointment for Adults with Type 2 Diabetes. The community partner is Dr. Deborah Morris-Harris, CommUnityCare’s chief medical officer. PI is Professor Mary Steinhardt with Health Behavior & Health Education, Department of Kinesiology & Health Education in UT’s College of Education. Co-PIs are Dr. Susan K. Dubois, medical director with the Family Wellness Center in UT’s School of Nursing; Sharon A. Brown, the Joseph H. Blades Centennial Memorial Professor of Nursing in UT’s School of Nursing; and Hiro Tanaka, exercise physiology professor in the Department of Kinesiology & Health Education in UT’s College of Education.
  • Evaluation of Ascension Seton’s “High Alert Program.” PIs are Todd Olmstead, associate professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, and Brendan Kline, assistant professor in the UT Department of Economics.
  • Transforming Pediatric Healthcare Delivery: Analysis of Texas Medicaid Claims Data to Support an Ongoing Randomized Controlled Trial. PI is Dr. Karen Rascati, Eckerd/Turley Endowed Professor in the UT College of Pharmacy.

About the Center for Health and Social Policy

Faculty and researchers at the Center for Health and Social Policy (CHASP) at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs address bold questions about how health and social policy can be improved. Through their work in designing and conducting rigorous and innovative research that advances policymaking and health, economic and social program outcomes, they aim to:

  • Drive significant advances in education, health, social service system and workforce development outcomes;
  • Elevate policy debates with knowledge and guidance that forge new policy directions to meet community needs; and
  • Prepare the next generation of policy leaders and program implementers who will shape the future of education, workforce, health and social service systems.

A hallmark of the research, education and outreach efforts of CHASP faculty, staff and students is their direct connection to public sector initiatives, agencies and policymakers, who are working to address pressing health, economic and social needs.