The College of Nursing has received more than $5.5 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop and use technology-based solutions to address a couple of today’s health care challenges. Two research projects, led by Professors Ken Ruggiero, PhD, and Frank Treiber, PhD, were federally funded to help mental health providers and the heart health of African-Americans.

More than $3.1 million was awarded to Ruggiero for his grant titled, “Improving quality of care in child mental health service settings,” to support mental health providers with interventions that will ensure that children and families receive the best quality care using mobile technology applications to increase engagement between the provider and child. Studies in child education show that interactive games, touch-screen learning, and demonstration videos enhance engagement, knowledge, motivation, and learning.

According to Ruggiero, nearly nine million children in the U.S. meet criteria for at least one mental health disorder at any point in time. Effective treatments exist for these disorders; however, children and families who seek these services rarely receive them. Mental health providers need more support in the delivery of these interventions to ensure that children and families receive the best quality care.

This project will take an important step toward addressing these challenges by testing a novel, technology-based solution designed to improve the delivery of child mental health interventions in real-world community settings.

Additionally, Treiber, who holds the endowed chair in the Center for Economics, was awarded more than $2.4 million from the NIH’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to study medication adherence by African-Americans with uncontrolled hypertension.

Treiber’s research represents an innovative, qualitative and quantitative approach aimed at testing and further optimizing a mobile health technology blood pressure and medication adherence monitoring program interfaced with a smart phone application for improving medication adherence and blood pressure control among African-Americans with uncontrolled hypertension.

Efforts to improve the effectiveness of patients with hypertension to following prescribed medication recommendations have been met with limited success. This research will test and refine a smart phone medication adherence program which includes automated reminders from an electronic medication tray, tailored text message/voice mail motivational feedback and reinforcement, automated summaries and direct alerts to providers.