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The University of Alabama

UA to Host Patient-Centered Outcomes Workshop for Health Professionals

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The University of Alabama’s Capstone College of Nursing will host a Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute workshop to encourage community engagement for health initiatives and research.  The conference is Thursday, April 21, at the Capstone College of Nursing.

The workshop, “Funding Opportunities and How to Submit a Successful Application,” is free and open to the public. It will include talks by institute personnel and UA psychology faculty who have received PCORI funding for service and research programs in Alabama. Those interested in attending must RSVP no later than Monday, April 18. Call 205/348-4395 or email Stefanie O’Neill, grants and contracts specialist for the Capstone College of Nursing, at Nursing CEUs are available.

“We’re hoping for a good turnout from health care professionals in the West Alabama area and throughout the state,” O’Neill said. “Because PCORI funding is patient-centered, many existing community partners are eager to apply for funding. We welcome their participation.”

PCORI is a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization in Washington, D.C. The institute has awarded more than $40 million in research funds since 2010. The institute’s research addresses the “questions and concerns most relevant to patients, and we involve patients, caregivers, clinicians and other healthcare stakeholders,” according to its website.

Dr. Beverly Thorn, psychology professor at UA and one of the guest speakers Thursday, has received two PCORI awards since 2013. One is a $1.27 million research award to compare the effectiveness of two group psychosocial treatments for the management of chronic pain as potential “value-added” approaches to medical treatment as usual. A second project, funded through a $250,000 Eugene Washington PCORI Engagement Award, is running concurrently with the first. That project created the Alabama Initiative for Integrated Primary Care-Behavioral Health Services. Over the last two years, the initiative has worked with leaders and staff members of community health centers throughout the state to assess their capacity for the integration of behavioral health into their clinics.

PCORI has increased the budget and extended the timeline for Thorn’s research award until December to provide staff time and expertise to analyze the data collected from the 300 participants who were enrolled and treated, Thorn said.

“We’re just now starting to analyze the data,” Thorn said. “Through this research collaboration between our community partner, Whatley Health Services and The University of Alabama, PCORI has provide the unique opportunity to collect data from a ‘real-world’ setting and, under the framework of clinical research, free clinical services to participants who otherwise would not have gotten it.”

Thorn said she will discuss what it’s like for a university researcher to develop inroads with community partners and how to make those relationships work to achieve better patient outcomes.

“Researchers aren’t really used to spending that amount of time building relationships to get their participants, who usually come to the university,” Thorn said. “We went to them for these projects, which is vastly different. We had to really adopt the culture of the community partners and the facilities we worked with. That’s been a crucially important learning experience.”

Dr. Rebecca Allen, professor of psychology at UA, will also speak during the workshop. Along with Dr. Pamela Payne-Foster of The College of Community Health Sciences, Dr. JoAnn Oliver of The Capstone College of Nursing and Chris Spencer of the Center for Community-Based Partnerships, she is conducting a $250,000 PCORI project titled “Sharing Opinions and Advice about Research in the Deep South.” Project SOAR is based at Hill Hospital in Sumter County and in Holt. The contract supports development of Project Advisory Councils and allows UA research partners to learn from community PACs their advice on research recruitment, surveys and interventions.

The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.

  • CONTACT: David Miller, UA Media Relations, 205/348-0825,
  • SOURCE: Stefanie O'Neill, contracts and grants specialist, Capstone College of Nursing, 205/348-4395,