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  • We're on a mission...

    The Center for Health Disparities Research at the Medical University of South Carolina is focused on eliminating racial/ethnic, socioeconomic and rural/urban disparities in health.

  • We're striving for a healthier future...

    through excellence in all phases of our work and continually improving our programs and practices based on new knowledge.

  • We focus on translating research...

    to communities through development of health interventions that are effective and practical in the real world.


The Charleston VA Health Equity and Rural Outreach Innovation Center (HEROIC), a Center of Innovation (COIN), is engaged in the following studies.

Health Services Research and Development (HSR&D) Merit: Telepsychology Service Delivery for Depressed Elderly Veterans
To evaluate the effectiveness of in-home telepsychology to deliver behavioral activation therapy to depressed elderly veterans. (Principal Investigator: Leonard Egede, MD, MS) HSR&D Merit: Racial Variations in Communication, Decision-Making, and Diabetes Outcomes This grant will improve the quality of care and outcomes and reduce disparities for black and white veterans with type 2 diabetes. (Principal Investigators: Charlene Pope, PhD, MPH/Egede)

HSR&D Merit: Ethnic Differences in Medication Adherence & Cost for Elderly Veterans with Type-II Diabetes Mellitus
The goals of this project are to characterize medication non-adherence (MNA) across racial/ethnic groups of elderly (age ≥ 65) diabetic veterans, to determine the longitudinal effect of MNA on health care costs to the VA and Medicare (federal payer) and mortality across racial/ethnic groups, and to determine whether racial/ethnic variations in MNA explain racial/ethnic disparities in health care cost and mortality among elderly veterans with diabetes. (Principal Investigator: Egede)

HSR&D Merit: Prolonged Exposure (PE) for PTSD: Telemedicine vs. In Person
The major objective of this study is to determine if PE delivered via telemedicine is as effective as in person PE in terms of (1) clinical; (2) process; and (3) economic outcomes for cases of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). (Principal Investigator: Ronald E. Acierno, PhD)

HSR&D Merit: Improving PTSD Service Delivery for Veterans with Severe Mental Illness
This study will provide important information on how to effectively deliver and improve the delivery of PTSD mental health services to veterans with severe and persistent forms of mental illness. (Principal Investigator: Anouk Grubaugh, PhD)

HSR&D Merit: Understanding Dual Use and Other Potential Determinants of Heart Failure Outcomes
This study will lead directly to the development of systems-level interventions to improve care quality for veterans with heart failure (HF), while focusing on priority VA research areas of access to care and chronic disease management in an operationally relevant manner. (Principal Investigator: Neal Axon, MD, MSCR)

HSR&D Pilot: Personal Health Record-Facilitated Diabetes Self-Management among Rural Veterans
The objectives of this study are to: (a) refine a brief My HealtheVet (MHV) intervention that takes advantage of MHV features that support development of DSM skills; (b) test feasibility and preliminary effectiveness of the brief MHV intervention on diabetes self-management (DSM) skills; and (c) evaluate veterans’ experience with the brief MHV intervention and identify perceived barriers, facilitators, and enablers, and assess the potential for wider dissemination among rural AA Veterans. (Principal Investigator: Cheryl Lynch, MD)

HSR&D Multiple Site Merit: Motivating Providers to Reduce Racial Disparities in Their Own Practice
This multi-site study will be developing and testing an intervention with primary care providers to address racial disparities in health services and strategies to promote health equity in the VA. (Charleston-site Principal Investigator: Pope)

HSR&D Multiple Site Merit: DVDs for Hypertension: Veterans Stories to Improve the Control of Hypertension
The Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center serves as a site for this multi-site study of a narrative communication intervention to improve hypertension outcomes and eliminate disparities for African Americans. (Charleston-site Principal Investigator: Pope)

HSR&D Merit: Story-Call: E-Mobile Support for Community Caregivers Of Veterans With Dementia
This mixed methods study uses a crossover design to develop and use a mobile application to enhance the well-being of working caregivers, particularly minority working caregivers. It is expected to decrease their perceived caregiver burden, increase their use of community resources and services, and potentially decrease caregiver costs through delay in institutionalization. The expected outcomes will examine if caregivers find that the app-recorded stories are easily accessible, increase knowledge about dementia and common problems in dementia care, decrease perceived caregiver burden, and increase awareness and access to community resources ranging from support groups to case management and in-home care. (Principal Investigator: Pope)

HSR&D Merit: Group Motivational Interviewing (GMI) For Homeless Veterans in VA Services
The proposed study will investigate the effectiveness, implementation process, and cost estimate of group motivational interviewing (GMI) in Veterans with substance use disorders (SUDs). (Principal Investigator: Liz Santa Ana, PhD)

Locally Initiated Project: Identifying facilitators and barriers to lung cancer screening in Veterans
The objectives of this study are to:
a) identify the best method with which to approach an eligible high-risk Veteran to discuss and offer LC screening
b) in those eligible Veterans who refuse lung cancer (LC) screening, understand and identify barriers to screening
c) identify barriers and facilitators among PCPs to offering LC screening to high-risk Veterans
d) integrate these findings to develop interventions that promote patient centered decision making in LC screening.

By examining and developing methods to facilitate acceptance of LC screening and identifying barriers to LC screening in high risk Veterans, the VA may better understand the best way to recruit eligible Veterans to undergo recommended LC screening. Identification of barriers to screening may contribute to future interventions that limit these barriers and increase the number of eligible Veterans screened for LC. (Principal Investigator: Nichole Tanner, MD)

Office of Rural Health: Identifying Rural-Urban Disparities in Chronic Disease Burden and Care
This quantitative project will inform the Office of Rural Health (ORH) about rural-urban disparities in chronic disease burden and care. The project will create a 10-year cohort to provide information at the national level on chronic disease burden and care in relationship to rural, highly rural and urban residence. (Principal Investigator: Kelly Hunt, PhD)

Office of Health Equity: Race/Ethnicity Data Collection in the Veterans Health Administration
This mixed methods project will inform the Office of Health Equity (OHE) about how to improve the process of obtaining information on racial and ethnic background in the VA, and how to address missing race/ethnicity data in current databases when investigating disparities in care. (Principal: Chanita Hughes-Halbert, PhD )

Pilot Evaluation of AboutFace: A Novel Peer Education Resource for Veterans
The feedback we receive in this pilot will be used to strengthen the quality of AboutFace in preparation for large-scale evaluation that will evaluate its reach and effectiveness. If AboutFace is found to increase access to services, data would have broad and significant implications for overcoming barriers to care for Veterans with stigmatized conditions. (Principal Investigator: Ken Ruggiero, PhD)

Contact Us

Rutledge Tower
135 Rutledge Ave., Room 280
Charleston, SC 29425-5930
Phone: 843-792-0906
Fax: 843-876-1201