Individual wellness is linked to the well-being of our society, including the environments in which we live, work, and play. In our community lab, we are committed to social improvement. We believe social improvement efforts need to be of, by, and for the community. Our work involves collaborating with students, researchers, and community members to cultivate a more equitable, healthy and compassionate society that promotes justice. Using an ecological perspective nested in the fields of implementation and improvement science, we study the relationship between individuals and their environments to understand the complexity and determinants of individual and organizational improvement. What hinders, postpones, and propels improvement? How can we give research “feet” so that it can be more useful in community settings? Our laboratory is the real-world. Our work is highly applied and action-oriented. We take what we learn from research and give it back to the community to improve the status quo. We use a capacity building orientation and believe that "one's grasp is farther than the reach." (Click here to see some cool stick figures and to learn more about our philosophy to capacity building.) Our broad mission is to promote collective wellness (i.e., wellness of all individuals and communities). Within this mission, we are particularly committed to promoting health equity and reducing health disparities.
We are currently involved in three major areas of action-research:
Mental health is inextricably linked to physical health. Integrated care is a patient-centered approach to addressing the mental and physical health needs of a individuals involving collaboration among mental health and other healthcare services. It is a promising approach for reducing health disparities. This domain of action-research currently involves two projects: (1) Readiness for Integrated Care, which focuses on building readiness for integrated care through the Integrated Care Leadership Program (ICLP); and (2) The Post-partum Depression Study, which aims to improve the identification and referral of mothers experiencing post-partum depression. Both projects focus on promoting health equity by working with underprivileged populations. To learn more about our work in the area of integrated heatlhcare, click here.
MATERNAL & INFANT WELLNESS
Breastfeeding confers a host of biological, psychological, and social benefits for infants, mothers, and society as a whole. However, few mothers breastfeed for the recommended duration of time and significant socio-demographic disparities exist in breastfeeding outcomes. This area of action research seeks to examine and promote breastfeeding initiation and duration. This is a new area of inquiry for us.
My interest in this area of research and advocacy was spawned by the birth of my daughter and my personal journey to breastfeed while I continued working. Under this research umbrella, we have two active projects: a) examining workplace attitudes and experiences with breastfeeding among healthcare service providers, and b) Investigating the relationships between infant feeding and caregiving practices among first-time mothers (I work with Dr. Laura Armstrong in our Psychology Department on this particular study). To learn more about these projects, click here.
Health service organizations play a critical role in the goal of advancing health equity. There are two broad categories of health service organizations: a) those that provide service directly to patients/consumers (Delivery System), and b) those that work to impact population health (patient/consumer) outcomes by supporting healthcare delivery systems (Support System). In our lab, we work with health service organizations within both delivery and support systems (e.g., Morehouse School of Medicine, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation) to measure and develop their organizational capacity. Under this action-research area, we have two active projects: (1) the Philanthropy-Private Cross-Sector Partnership initiative involves evaluating a partnership between two large-scale organizations. (2) The Organizational Readiness initiative involves developing tools and scholarship around organizational readiness to further the capacity of non-profits, particularly health service organizations. To learn more about these projects, click here.