BUSPH Team Receives VA Award for Research on Disclosing News of Adverse Events

Posted on: May 27, 2014 Topics: health law, policy & management

A team of researchers led by Rani Elwy, an assistant professor of health policy and management at BUSPH, received a regional Veterans Administration “I CARE” award for innovative work on communicating information about large-scale adverse events.

The ICARE awards were established in 2013 to recognize people affiliated with the VA who demonstrate core organizational values that are the “foundation of VA culture and support VA’s mission to provide the best care and services to Veterans, their families, and beneficiaries.”

I CARE is an acronym for the values “Integrity, Commitment, Advocacy, Respect and Excellence.

The award honored the ongoing Study of the Communication of Adverse Large-Scale Events (SCALE), which, Elwy said, is designed to determine the most effective way to disclose adverse events to veterans in a way that lessens veterans’ anxiety and distress and increases their confidence and trust in the VA. SPH collaborators in the study include Barbara Bokhour, an assistant professor of health policy and management, and Allen Gifford, a professor of health policy and management.

“As researchers, we aim to do work that is meaningful for everyday hospital and health system practice. What is most important about our SCALE work is that we have done just that,” Elwy said. “Throughout our study, we were able to present results in real-time to a wide audience of Department of Veterans Affairs officials, who then were able to implement changes right away on how disclosures were communicated. To be able to have our research have that kind of immediate impact was really exciting.”

SPH Dean Robert Meenan said the award “highlights the team’s important work as well as the long-term and productive partnership between BUSPH and the VA New England Healthcare System.”

SCALE hopes to give VA administrators a better way of managing large-scale adverse events that can occur during the course of a patients’ care. In most cases, patients would not be affected by the event, but until they undergo the needed testing and follow up care, no one can be sure, Elwy said.

How this information is communicated to patients has implications for whether they stay with the VA healthcare system and VA providers, whether they return for follow up testing and care, and whether they continue to trust the system and providers, and how satisfied they are with their care, Elwy said. “There are currently no guidelines on how to communicate this extremely sensitive information. That is where our study comes in.”

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