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Team Wins 2 Grants from NIA to Look at Tailoring Nudges to Improve Vaccination and Cancer Screening

A team involving several CHIBE members has won two grants from the National Institute on Aging to study nudges in cancer care and vaccination.

Liao, Patel, Linn, Navathe headshots

Congratulations to the four investigators: Mitesh Patel, MD, MBA, a member of CHIBE’s leadership team and Director of the Penn Medicine Nudge Unit; Amol Navathe, MD, PhD, CHIBE Associate Director and Assistant Professor of Health Policy and Medicine, Perelman School of Medicine; Kristin Linn, PhD, CHIBE-affiliated faculty member and Assistant Professor of Biostatistics at Penn; and Joshua Liao, MD, MSc, Associate Professor of Medicine at University of Washington School of Medicine and an Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Leonard Davis Institute.

The phased innovation awards are R61/R33 grants that include two years of pilot testing, and then in the three-year R33 phase, a clinical trials at a main site and a replication site.

“These grants will help us to develop the next generation of using nudges to improve health care,” Dr. Patel said. “The projects will include nudges to both clinicians and patients. They also will use machine learning methods to identify high-risk populations and target interventions to tailor nudges that are most appropriate for those groups.”

One focus will be to develop and test electronic health record-based nudges among older adults (including members of racial and ethnic minorities, individuals of low socioeconomic status, and other high-risk groups) to improve cancer screening rates and reduce disparities in care.

The other project will test the use of personalized nudges directed at both clinicians and patients to overcome barriers to vaccination among older adults, with a focus on patients from disadvantaged minority groups for whom vaccination rates are lower compared with other groups. Within the two years of pilot testing, the team will decide on the specific vaccine to study. Since their target group is individuals age 50 or older, they may look at influenza, pneumococcal, and shingles (or a COVID-19 vaccine if one becomes available).

”It’s tremendously exciting to get the opportunity to improve care in not one, but two, clinical areas,” Dr. Navathe said. “And we are lucky to have great research partner organizations that will help us test and scale the most effective interventions into real-world settings across the nation. It is the embodiment of the type of innovative, yet pragmatic, behavioral economics research for which Penn has become a global leader.”