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2018 Health MIRG Program Awardees Announcement

The Office of Research and Sponsored Programs is pleased to announce the three winners of our 2018 Health Multidisciplinary Internal Research Grant (Health MIRG) program:

  1. Project Title: Preventing Hospital Readmission for Older Adults: A Community Focused Intervention
    • Research Team:
      • Jessica Parker-Raley, Health Professions (PI)
      • Eun hae Kim, Social Work (Co-I)
      • Donna Gardner, Respiratory Care (Co-I)
      • Viola Benavente, Nursing (Co-I)
    • Abstract
      A readmission task force was created at Central Texas Medical Center (CTMC) in response to the high readmission rates of older adults experiencing complications related to sepsis, pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart failure, and stroke. The task force is comprised of CTMC providers and Texas State University faculty focused on improving the health of older adults. A needs analysis unveiled four key barriers that stand in the way of decreasing readmission rates at CTMC for older adults, including outpatient care coordination, readmission education, discharge summaries, and the community care gap. Thus, the purpose of this project is twofold. The task force is seeking MIRG funding to: (1) Develop and pilot test a community focused intervention that targets identified barriers to reduce the CTMC readmission rates of older adults experiencing symptoms related to sepsis, COPD, pneumonia, heart failure, and stroke. (2) Sustain this community-focused intervention by applying for the National Institute of Aging T2 Translational Research Grant designed to fund intervention projects that lead to new healthcare practices, community programs, and policies affecting older adults nationwide.
  2. Project Title: Does Social Media Make Us Sick? A Pilot Study of the Effects of Social Media on Physiological Reactivity and Mental Health
    • Research Team:
      • Krista Howard, Psychology (PI)
      • Natalie Ceballos, Psychology (Co-I)
      • Tom Grimes, Journalism and Mass Communication (Co-I)
      • Stephanie Dailey, Communication Studies (Co-I)
      • Yongmei Lu, Geography (Co-I)
      • Sam Lee, Computer Information Systems (Co-I)
      • Shobhit Sharma, Biology (Co-I)
    • Abstract

      Social media use has been steadily increasing in recent years, and its association with
      mental health remains unclear. The purpose of this study is to determine if certain types of social
      media posts induce measurable physiological responses, including cardiovascular indices and
      changes in blood and salivary stress biomarkers, that may ultimately influence physical and
      psychological health. For the proposed study, we first intend to develop a set of social media
      posts, called the Social Media Stimulus Set (SMSS), and systematically determine whether each
      post is interpreted as benign or anxiety provoking. We will then conduct a laboratory-based
      experiment to assess physiological reactivity to the SMSS. Cardiovascular measures (systolic
      and diastolic blood pressure and pulse rates), salivary biomarkers (cortisol and alpha-amylase),
      and the blood plasma biomarkers (BDNF and ACTH) will be assessed. The data from this
      MIRG study will serve as pilot data for two external interdisciplinary grant proposals. The first
      proposal will further test the effects of exposure to the SMSS on inflammatory and immune
      system responses. The second proposal will develop an intervention using artificial intelligence
      and machine learning, which will lead to the creation and testing of an algorithm to interpret
      posts on individual social media feeds and automatically alert the individual once their social
      media feed reaches a threshold proportion of anxiety provoking posts that has been previously
      determined (via the current MIRG project) to cause measurable physiological and psychological

  3. Project Title: Storytelling, generativity, and well-being among persons living with dementia
    • Research Team:
      • Kyong Hee Chee, Sociology (PI)
      • Olga Gerhart, Philosophy (Co-I)
      • Seoyoun Kim, Sociology (Co-I)
    • Abstract

      TimeSlips’s storytelling program is an arts-based intervention for persons living with dementia. Research has identified some positive outcomes for its participants, including improvement in communication and quality of life. The mechanisms of such benefits are, however, largely unknown. Further, no research has examined whether the program offers benefits for cognitive ability. The Generativity Research Group is seeking MIRG funding of $17,991 for an interdisciplinary study to address these issues and to extend previous research on the theory of generativity. As a mechanism to well-being in later life, generativity involves contributing to and promoting the lives of others and oneself. Upon implementing group storytelling sessions with individuals living with dementia in a memory care community, the researchers will analyze the content of their stories and videotaped data, qualitative data from interviews with staff and family carers, and the changes in pre- and post-well-being measures. The goals are to identify generative expressions and to find associations between those and well-being (Quality of Life in Alzheimer’s disease, Activities of Daily Living, and Mini Mental State Examination). Results from this study will be the basis for applying for funding from two foundations that support applied research for the well-being of older adults. The Group’s long-term goal is to implement and assess a storytelling intervention for non-institutionalized, community-dwelling persons with dementia with R15 funding from Institute on Aging (NIA). NIA’s strategic plan D-5 is developing interventions to address care needs of dementia patients and the needs of carers, which corresponds with the Group’s research program.

Please direct Health MIRG questions to