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University of Iowa News Release


July 12, 2007

Cram Receives Grant To Continue Research On Specialty Hospitals

A University of Iowa researcher has received a $300,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to study the impact of specialty hospitals on the delivery of care to financially vulnerable populations.

Peter Cram, M.D., assistant professor of internal medicine in the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine, has received the grant from the RWJF Physician Faculty Scholars program. The grant will fund research to help determine if the growth of specialty hospitals in local markets increases disparity in terms of the quality of health care received by people of different socioeconomic statuses.

"The number of specialty hospitals that focus very narrowly on very lucrative procedures, like orthopedics and cardiac care, is growing rapidly," Cram said. "There are concerns that those hospitals may only be accessible to well-insured or wealthy patients. These factors may also coincide with racial differences."

Cram and his colleagues will use a variety of research methods to determine the effects of these specialty hospitals on financially vulnerable populations. The research will also assess the impact of specialty hospitals on competing general hospitals and safety-net hospitals, which provide care to low-income or uninsured populations.

The project will continue through June 30, 2010. It is an extension of research on specialty hospitals Cram has conducted for the past three years. The study will be conducted through collaboration with the Center for Studying Health System Change in Washington, D.C.

The research team also includes Gary Rosenthal, M.D., professor, and Levent Bayman, data analyst in the general medicine division, both in the UI Department of Internal Medicine; John Schneider, Ph.D., assistant professor of health management and policy in the UI College of Public Health; Thomas Gruca, Ph.D., the Henry B. Tippie Research Professor of Marketing in the UI Tippie College of Business; and Heather Reisinger, medical anthropologist and qualitative investigator at the Veterans Affairs Iowa City Health Care System.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Physician Faculty Scholars program is designed to strengthen the leadership and academic productivity of junior medical school faculty dedicated to improving health and health care.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Health Science Relations, 5139 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1178

MEDIA CONTACT: David Pedersen, 319-335-8032,