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Release: Jan. 17, 2002

UI College Of Public Health Names New Award Recipients

Four University of Iowa College of Public Health faculty members have been awarded College of Public Health-College of Medicine New Investigator Research Awards. The awards assist newly appointed primary or joint faculty in the College of Public Health or College of Medicine to advance their research activities. Each recipient will receive up to $10,000 of funding for independent research projects.

The recipients are: Brian Kaskie, Ph.D., assistant professor of health management and policy; Faryle Nothwehr, Ph.D., assistant professor of community and behavioral health; John Schneider, Ph.D., assistant professor of health management and policy; and Holly Wardlow, Ph.D., assistant professor of community and behavioral health and anthropology.

"These pilot grant awards recognize the tremendous promise and potential of young investigators working in the College of Public Health," said James Merchant, M.D., Dr.P.H., dean of the UI College of Public Health. "The work conducted in these projects will expand the scientific basis for the practice of public health and advance the very promising careers of these awardees, as well."

The award recipients were chosen on the basis of their proposed research projects' scientific merit, relevance to the UI College of Public Health mission, strategic plan and goals, and probability of attracting subsequent extramural research funding.

Following are descriptions of each of the winning research proposals:

-- "Policy Factors Associated with Medicare Mental Health Services" -- Brian Kaskie

One of every five Americans over the age of 65 experiences a diagnosable form of mental illness each year, yet less than 25 percent of older adults with a mental illness obtain any form of professional treatment in a given year. One factor that may prevent older adults from seeking mental health care is the lack of a comprehensive Medicare mental health service policy. This study will compile specialty mental health service policies from the 21 carriers contracted to provide Medicare services, analyze their content, identify the factors most likely to influence specialty service use and establish empirically how these local policies influence the use of specialty mental health services.

-- "RIDE - The Rural Iowa Diet and Exercise Study" -- Faryle Nothwehr

Each year an estimated 300,000 U.S. adults die of causes attributable to obesity, and several predominantly rural states, including Iowa, have consistently ranked among the top 10 states with regard to obesity prevalence. Researchers from the Rural Iowa Diet and Exercise Study will conduct focus groups and surveys with residents from Keokuk County, Iowa, to assess community members' attitudes and beliefs regarding body weight and health, diet and exercise habits, and barriers and supports for behavior change. This preliminary data will be used for a future intervention study on weight management and weight gain prevention among adults in a rural community.

-- "Economic Analysis of Health Plan-Provider Contract Regulation in California, 1997-2001" -- John Schneider

State enactment of managed care regulations has spread rapidly in the United States during the past five years. Nationwide, as a growing number of health plans rely on relational contracts with provider groups to supply health care services, health plan-provider contract regulation has emerged as an important and increasingly prevalent form of regulation. While the economic effects of regulation in general are well understood, plan-provider regulation has not yet been closely examined. This study will statistically explore the impact of plan-provider regulations on health plan costs and quality. The one-year pilot study will provide the necessary background research to support a larger project extended to other states, including Iowa.

-- "Smoking Practices and Knowledge About Smoking-Related Health Risks Among Papua New Guinea Women" -- Holly Wardlow

In developed countries, per capita consumption of cigarettes has fallen by approximately 10 percent since 1970, but in developing countries, smoking has increased by approximately 67 percent over the same time period. This research project will investigate three interrelated topics: Papua New Guinea women's smoking practices and the ways in which these practices are culturally and socially shaped; their knowledge about smoking-related health risks; and their exposure to, and interpretation of, tobacco marketing campaigns. This project will contribute to what is currently a small body of data on cross-cultural, gender-specific smoking beliefs and practices.