Research and Evaluation

The Research and Evaluation unit of the Division of Community Health evaluates division programs and collaborations, conducts externally-funded evaluation and research, and disseminates what is learned in multiple ways.

Researchers participate in the division’s teaching and advising mission, including developing new curricula and teaching materials. In addition to participating in the division’s educational program, researchers teach medical students and family medicine residents in the Department of Community and Family Medicine, among others.

Evaluation of Division Programs

As a learning organization, the Division of Community Health continually evaluates our programs and collaborations. Evaluations range from assessment of program implementation to collection of client and patient perspectives to documenting program outcomes, such as improved access to care, changes in health management and health status, and reductions in emergency room use. Decisions about evaluation questions and methods are made together with those who make these programs happen. Our goal is to enhance the relevance of evaluation and reduce the burden on program staff.

Partner Evaluation Survey

To enhance its efforts to contribute to the health of Durham and other communities, the Duke Division of Community Health surveys its partners about their satisfaction with and perception of the outcomes of the Division’s work.  Survey questions addressed satisfaction with Division collaborations, the impact of these collaborations on the health of the community, and related issues. Read the most recent survey results.

Externally-Funded Research and Evaluation

The division conducts and collaborates on externally-funded research and evaluation related to the division’s mission of finding new ways to improve population health, especially for the underserved.

See the video/transcript of Mina Silberberg, PhD, Vice Chief for Research and Evaluation, Duke Division of Community Health, discussing the difference between research and monitoring & evaluation and how it plays an integral role in improving population health and all the multiple factors that we know affect health.

The following are other current or ongoing projects:

Healthy Places NC: Evaluation

Mina Silberberg and her research and evaluation team received a grant in 2013 and a subsequent grant in 2015 to continue and expand the evaluation of Healthy Places NC, an initiative of the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust. The goal of the Healthy Places initiative is to create a new model for grant-making foundations to activate communities to improve health and overall well-being. This new model of supporting a whole community movement toward well-being is markedly different from the status quo of providing grants for a small period of time to individual projects. In order to gauge the success of such an innovative idea, a process of formative evaluation is necessary. Our work supplies the needed data and analysis to help the trust understand its current progression and where changes are needed. The Duke team provides the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust with the information it needs to assess the effectiveness of the Healthy Places NC project and refine its approach moving forward.

Addressing Barriers to Adult Hearing Healthcare

PIs: Debara Tucci and David Witsell, Dept. of Surgery

The goals of this project are to: 1) determine what level of involvement by the primary care practitioner (PCP) is required to inform and encourage adults age 65-75 to follow through with routine hearing screening; 2) develop a model of effective adult hearing screening, based on resource utilization and screening compliance in each intervention group, that maximizes identification of hearing loss in affected patients and minimizes burden to the PCP and patient; 3) determine what factors are important to adults 65-75 in making decisions about hearing screening and interventions and develop strategies to optimize appropriate intervention; and 4) provide data on the ability of patients, audiologists and primary care providers to identify significant medical conditions that should be evaluated by an ear specialist prior to hearing aid procurement.  

An Innovative Model to Predict Hospital Readmissions in Adults with Cardiovascular Disease (An NIH funded project)

PI: Matthew Dupre

The major goal of this five-year grant is to advance our understanding of how socioeconomic, psychosocial, behavioral, and clinical factors predict hospital readmissions in adults with cardiovascular disease (CVD). The research will use nationally representative panel data of U.S. older adults that will be linked with Medicare claims data from 1992 to 2012. The foundation for this grant is an extension of Dr. Dupre’s work in understanding how social factors impact human health and aging. This interdisciplinary research marks a shift from previous research because it will integrate Medicare claims data with social survey data over an extended period. Understanding the social, psychosocial, and behavioral determinants of adverse outcomes in adults with CVD is a major goal of Healthy People 2020 and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). The results of this project will provide new science to help identify high-risk patients and will provide new knowledge to develop innovative tools to reduce the excess burden of disease in vulnerable segments of the population.

Community Engaged Research

Community Engaged Research (CEnR) “begins with a research topic of importance to the community, has the aim of combining knowledge with action and achieving social change to improve health outcomes and eliminate health disparities" (WK Kellogg Foundation Community Health Scholars Program (2012)).

The Research and Evaluation unit conducts community engaged research projects and provides guidance, resources and training to other researchers using this approach.

Key aspects of our work in CEnR include:

  • Working on projects of importance to the community.
  • The presence of community stakeholders on project steering committees and other deliberative and decision-making bodies
  • Community advisory boards
  • Compensation for the community’s time and other contributions
  • Dissemination of results back to the community

Disseminate Models, Lessons Learned, and other Research/Evaluation Findings

The Research and Evaluation unit of the Division of Community Health seeks to share what we have learned about improving population health with a wide variety of stakeholders. Modes of dissemination include: