Our interventions focus on preventing
obesity, tobacco dependence, substance abuse and often target vulnerable populations.
Imagine how much more difficult it would be to take steps toward health improvement if you were suffering from a serious mental illness or disability, or were a member of a vulnerable population, such as the frail elderly? The statistics are startling. People with serious mental illness, for example, die about 25 years earlier than the rest of the population, largely due to cardiovascular disease.
An interdisciplinary group of researchers at The Dartmouth Institute is working to design, test, and scale innovative new models for health interventions. The interventions we work on focus on preventing obesity, tobacco dependence, substance abuse and often target vulnerable populations, such frail elderly or those with serious mental illness. The Mobile Wellness Obesity Intervention, for example, which targets obese frail elderly patients, uses a simple Theraband and a health tracking device to provide in-home health and exercise promotion and real-time feedback between the patient and physical therapist. The hope is that patients using this technology will improve their physical function, allowing them to age-in-place.
While health interventions are among the most effective ways to prevent disease and improve the health of individuals and communities, we often lack evidence about what makes an intervention successful or how to scale-it up to reach a wide number of people. That’s why we are using data, collected by our researchers and others, to test effectiveness and determine the best evidence-based approaches to intervention. For example, our researchers are collecting and analyzing long-term data to determine if using incentives like fitness trainers, gym memberships, Weight Watchers memberships, and smoking cessation programs can help people who have mental health challenges make measurable health improvements.
We also are partnering with community mental health centers, community based organizations, and fitness centers to provide interventions, such as InSHAPE, an evidence-based health promotion program for individuals with serious mental illness. The InSHAPE intervention has proven successful with half of participants: Those participants achieved clinically significant weight loss or improved their fitness, and sustained those improvements over 18 months. Our scientists are now working to scale the InSHAPE model nationwide—studying how evidence-based health interventions like InSHAPE can be implemented in mental health organizations across the country.
AREAS OF EXPERTISE:
Anna Adachi-Mejia is the director of the Health Promotion Research Center at Dartmouth (HPRCD) and an associate professor at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth. She supervises multiple research teams and works with partners in academic, community, and non-profit organizations across the country. She is a faculty Fellow with the Center for Program Design and Evaluation (CPDE) and a program member of the Cancer Control Research Program at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center. She also teaches at The Dartmouth Institute.
Adachi-Mejia's research leverages her multidisciplinary training and collaborations to apply novel strategies to measure both human behavior and health outcomes. She has developed innovative approaches to data collection from humans (youth and adult) to determine the influence of the micro (e.g., bedroom) and macro (e.g., community) environment on health behaviors. The long-term goal of her research is to inform interventions to promote healthy living in healthy environments.
Study sites: Individual, family, home, school, afterschool, child care, worksite, community
Research Methods: Mixed Methods (qualitative and quantitative), Surveys, Focus Groups, Telephone Interviews, Photo-Elicitation, Photovoice
Age ranges: Early Childhood, Elementary School, Middle School (tween years), Adolescence, Older Adults
Populations: Rural Health, Underserved Populations
For more information about the Health Promotion Research Center at Dartmouth, visit: www.hprcd.org
For more information about the Center for Program Evaluation and Design, visit: https://geiselmed.dartmouth.edu/cpde/