Lawley and Alvarado win PCORI’s Tier I award

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Dr. Mark Lawley, TEES Research Professor in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Texas A&M University, and Dr. Michelle Alvarado, a postdoctoral research associate in the department, were recently presented the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute’s (PCORI) Tier I award. 

The award, which is for a total of $15,000 over nine months, will help fund the Diabetes Education and Wellness Through Faith-based Organizations (FBOs) in Texas project, developed in partnership with Dr. Hye-Chung Kum, associate professor at the Texas A&M School of Public Health.

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“In 2014 I had an Aggie Challenge group do a study on diabetes resource access in Texas,” Lawley said. “We found that diabetes education is one of the most difficult resources for most patients to find and use. So, with this work, we are interested in identifying new avenues fordiabetes education and self-management training.”

“The incidence of type 2 diabetes is increasingly prevalent in the Texas population,” said Alvarado, “We feel that utilizing FBOs as a means of communicating diabetes education and wellness can be effective in reducing this prevalence.”

FBOs of various religious affiliations are uniquely suited for health promotion and diabetes education, as they have regular captive audiences and credibility within the community. By connecting over 40 diabetes researchers, educators, physicians, patients and FBOs, the project will help determine if receiving diabetes education from FBOs is more effective than receiving it through traditional means.

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“We think faith-based organizations provide several advantages, including motivation, trust and strong presence in Texas,” Lawley said. 

Only 17 percent of proposals submitted were selected to receive PCORI’s Tier I award. Projects selected for the Tier I award are eligible to compete for advancement to Tier II, which provides $25,000 for 12 months, and later Tier III, which provides $50,000 for 12 months. The purpose of the three-tier system is to develop a strong, collaborative partnership of stakeholders who, in turn, produce high-quality research proposals on the comparative effectiveness of patient-centered outcomes. 

“This award is to put together a stakeholder network, people who will help us understand what research needs to be done to improve access to diabetes care and education, and whether faith-based organizations can play a role,” Lawley said.

“The PCORI funding will be instrumental in allowing us to develop the partnerships necessary to pursue this research idea,” said Alvarado.

Dr. César Malavé, Industrial and Systems Engineering department head, commented, “This award is significant for the collaboration opportunity it provides Mark Lawley and his research team and the door it opens for advancing their very important work.”