University of Wisconsin–Madison

NIH grant awarded to study online social support system for elders with multiple chronic conditions

The Center for Health Enhancement System Studies secured a grant through the National Institute of Health for $3.45 million to study how an online social support system can help elders with multiple chronic conditions. The grant was awarded to a team of UW researchers, including David Gustafson, Jane Mahoney, Louise Mares, Randy Brown, and Dhavan Shah, Maier-Bascom Professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

A central and costly role of primary care is the treatment and continuing care of patients with chronic diseases, especially among older adults. Strong evidence shows that multiple chronic conditions have significant behavioral components (e.g., poor adherence) that are often incompletely addressed in primary care. A team of researchers from primary care, geriatrics, engineering, and communications propose an innovative, evidence-based eHealth technology to create a coordinated system for older adults that addresses behavioral dimensions of multiple chronic conditions and dramatically reduces barriers (such as delays in responding to patient condition changes) to successful disease management.

Dhavan Shah and members of the Health Information Technology Studies (HITS) research group will provide analytical and computational support to this project, which extends their past research as part of the Active Aging Research Center. HITS is a research group within the Mass Communication Research Center, which Shah directs.