Dartmouth Researchers Receive Awards from Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute

Dror Ben-Zeev, PhD, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Dartmouth's Geisel School of Medicine, and Rachel Thompson, PhD, an assistant professor of health policy and clinical practice at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, received $1.88 million and $2 million respectively, from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) to support their research.

PCORI-funded projects advance the field of comparative clinical effectiveness research and provide patients, healthcare providers, and other clinical decision makers with information that will help them make better-informed choices.

“Through their support of comparative effectiveness research, PCORI grants augment results from traditional clinical trials.  This represents a vital aspect of health care delivery science and these awards to Dror and Rachel demonstrate the innovative research that we are conducting in this important area of medicine,” says Duane Compton, PhD, interim dean of the Geisel School of Medicine.

At the forefront of developing technology-based resources to support psychiatric care, Ben-Zeev and his team are comparing mobile health and clinic-based self-management interventions for people with serious mental illness.As principal investigator, he will lead the Chicago-based project in partnership with patients and providers at Thresholds Psychiatric Rehabilitation Centers. The study focuses on examining the engagement, satisfaction, and clinical outcomes of individuals with psychiatric illnesses who use a novel smartphone intervention in their own environments in comparison to those who receive clinic-based care.

“I am very excited to work with a talented team of academic researchers, mental health advocates, and patient-investigators on this innovative project,” says Ben-Zeev.  “There is a lot of enthusiasm in the healthcare community about using mobile tools, such as smartphones, to deliver treatments for psychiatric illnesses. This will be one of the first studies to directly examine whether such mHealth strategies can produce patient outcomes that are equal or even superior to more traditional approaches.”

Thompson is examining the comparative effectiveness of patient- and provider-directed strategies for increasing shared decision-making in reproductive health care. In response to her recent findings that women and doctors have different opinions about what is important when discussing and choosing birth control—Thompson and her team have developed tools to bridge that conversational divide in order to arrive at the best contraceptive option for each woman.

“In the U.S., 51 percent of all pregnancies are unintended,” Thompson says. “This award from PCORI will allow us to conduct critical research on how best to improve communication and shared decision-making about contraceptive methods and also examine downstream effects on women’s satisfaction with their contraceptive method, adherence, and experience of unintended pregnancy.”

PCORI Executive Director Joe Selby, MD, MPH, says the projects were selected not only for their scientific merit and commitment to engaging patients and other stakeholders, but also for their potential to fill an important gap in our health knowledge and give people information to help them weigh the effectiveness of their care options. “We look forward to following the studies’ progress and working with the Dartmouth team to share the results.”

Ben-Zeev’s and Thompson’s studies were selected through a highly competitive review process in which patients, clinicians, and other stakeholders joined clinical scientists to evaluate the proposals. Projects were assessed for scientific merit, how well they will engage patients and other stakeholders, and their methodological rigor among other criteria. The awards have been approved pending completion of business and programmatic reviews by PCORI staff and issuance of formal award contracts to Dartmouth.

About the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute

PCORI is an independent, non-profit organization committed to seeking input from a broad range of stakeholders to guide its work. It has approved $671 million to support 360 research studies and initiatives since it began funding research in 2012. For more information about PCORI funding, visit http://pcori.org.

About the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth

Founded in 1797, the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth strives to improve the lives of the communities it serves through excellence in learning, discovery, and healing. The Geisel School of Medicine is renowned for its leadership in medical education, health care policy and delivery science, biomedical research, global health, and in creating innovations that improve lives worldwide. As one of America’s leading medical schools, Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine is committed to training new generations of diverse leaders who will help solve our most vexing challenges in health care.