MU receives $4.5 million federal grant for patient-centered outcomes research

Contact: Jeffrey D. Hoelscher, media coordinator,, (573) 884-1608

COLUMBIA, Mo. ? The University of Missouri has received a $4.5 million federal grant that will lay the foundation for multiple, multidisciplinary types of patient-centered research at MU, university officials announced Thursday, Dec. 19.

The grant will support the formation of the MU Center for Patient-centered Outcomes Research as part of a national effort to help patients and their physicians make informed decisions in today’s complex health care environment.

“This grant is significant because it will expand the capacity of the university to focus on improving outcomes for patients everywhere,” said Steve Owens, J.D., University of Missouri interim chancellor.

The project, funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality of the Department of Health and Human Services, will be a multidisciplinary, five-year effort involving researchers from throughout MU, including the MU School of Medicine, the Sinclair School of Nursing, the School of Health Professions and the School of Journalism.

“As we all know, health care today is very complex,” said David Mehr, M.D., the principal investigator on the grant and a nationally recognized family physician and geriatrician who heads inpatient and outpatient geriatric consultation at MU Health Care. “We have multiple providers and health systems. Patients and health care providers are bombarded with information about the latest advances in medical research and treatments. At the same time, because people are living longer, we are seeing more patients with multiple, complex chronic diseases.

“In this environment, how can we help patients and providers know and understand which prevention, diagnosis and treatment options are best for each individual?”

“Our ultimate goal is to help give each patient a stronger voice in his or her health care decisions,” said Mehr, who also serves as the William C. Allen Professor and director of research in the Curtis W. and Ann H. Long Department of Family and Community Medicine at MU.

As part of the grant, MU researchers will conduct three major projects:

• The first project will compare whether open surgery or less invasive procedures through arteries are more effective at saving limbs and avoiding repeat hospitalizations. Results will help physicians and patients in deciding which approach best matches the patient’s needs.

• In the second project, researchers will test ways to improve the discharge process for patients returning home from skilled nursing facilities. Many older adults spend time in nursing homes for recovery and rehabilitation after a hospitalization. The goal is to improve communication between nursing home staff and providers of outpatient health care to prevent problems that could precipitate a new hospitalization.

• In the third project, researchers will be studying multiple primary care practices to improve decision-making about prescribing narcotics for chronic pain, an issue of national concern.

“Health sciences researchers, educators and clinicians are increasingly focused on patient-centered care,” said Les Hall, M.D., interim dean of the University of Missouri School of Medicine and a professor in the school's Department of Internal Medicine. “In our medical school curricula, in our hospitals and clinics, and in our research, it is about putting patients at the heart of everything health professionals do.”

“What we hope to do over the next five years is to develop new research approaches that will benefit patients in reaching decisions and managing their illnesses,” Mehr said. “In addition to the research projects, we will be training and mentoring other faculty so that they can be competitive in applications for the increased funding in this area now available on a national level.”

Among other MU faculty members who will be involved in the research, the principal investigators for the three major projects include Lori L. Popejoy, Ph.D., assistant professor of nursing in the Sinclair School of Nursing; Daniel C. Vinson, M.D., professor emeritus of family and community medicine in the School of Medicine; and Todd R. Vogel, M.D., associate professor of vascular surgery in the School of Medicine and vascular surgeon at MU Health Care.

The project also includes a collaborative agreement with the American Academy of Family Physicians Nation Research Network.


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