iTHRIV Backs Community-Based Research Projects with $80K in Seed Grants

The integrated Translational Health Research Institute of Virginia, or iTHRIV, a National Institutes of Health-funded Clinical and Translational Science Award hub, has awarded almost $80,000 in seed funding to two community-focused projects focused on helping people with autism in crisis and on reducing HPV vaccine hesitancy.

The seed grant program is part of iTHRIV’s goal to promote translational science that bridges the gap between health researchers and the community. The projects also reflect iTHRIV’s commitment to promoting health equity by funding research that will benefit underserved groups across Virginia.

“These projects provide an opportunity for our community-based partners to identify research priorities related to health issues that affect our communities and to work with university researchers to help solve them,” said Kathy Hosig, PhD, RD, iTHRIV’s Community and Collaboration Core Lead. “Community and university-based partners learn from each other and the participants in their projects in the process, which builds their capacity for conducting community-engaged research.”

Community-Focused Information Campaign to Combat HPV Vaccine Hesitancy

Michael Wampler, Executive Director of Mountain Empire Older Citizens Inc. (MEOC), and UVA’s Kathleen Porter, PhD, will examine the effect of vaccine hesitancy on HPV vaccination rates and create a multi-level marketing and communications intervention to address that hesitancy. The researchers, along with nursing and dental assistant students from Mountain Empire Community College, will develop public-service announcements after receiving training about HPV vaccination and health communication.

The PSAs will be used in a social-marketing campaign executed through a regional transportation system managed by Mountain Empire Older Citizens. The team has three main goals: assess the intervention’s effect on community members’ HPV vaccine hesitancy, assess the intervention’s effect on perceptions and actions related to HPV vaccination and, ultimately, evaluate the program’s effect at the community and institutional levels. The team will assess progress using surveys, focus groups, meeting minutes and implementation record. The findings will be used to inform future health and public-awareness campaigns. Read more