September 28, 2022

The Yale Global Health Leadership Initiative has been awarded a highly competitive research grant exceeding $1 million to reduce inequities in sepsis care and outcomes among African American/Black and Latinx communities.

The R01 grant was awarded by the National Institute of General Medical Studies, a division of the National Institutes of Health. Advancing health equity and social justice is one of the core values of the Yale School of Public Health. A detailed description of the novel research initiative appears in BMC Health Services Research.

Sepsis is a life-threatening medical condition in which the body is harmed due to an immune dysfunction while responding to an infection. It is one of the leading causes of death in the U.S. African American/Black and Latinx people with sepsis experience higher rates of complications, deviations from standard care, and readmissions compared with non-Hispanic white populations, the researchers said.

The goal of the funded research is to develop and evaluate a coalition-based leadership intervention that will help eight U.S. hospital systems and their surrounding communities address structural racism and drive measurable reductions in inequities in sepsis care and outcomes, said Erika Linnander, director of the Global Health Leadership Initiative and one of the principal investigators for the project.

“Any complex health outcome that requires the coordination of various parts of a health care system is perfect for an intervention on leadership and organizational culture,” Linnader said. “A culture needs to be fostered where people can come together and do problem-solving around these complex issues, especially related to racism.”

Over the next three years, the researchers will develop and test the intervention using quantitative and qualitative data analysis to observe changes in organizational culture. The team will then examine the impact of change in organizational culture on the reduction of racial inequities related to sepsis focusing on three outcomes: early identification and treatment, readmissions, and mortality.

The other principal investigators for the study are Yale School of Health Professor Leslie Curry and Dr. Dowin Boatright, assistant professor of emergency medicine at the Yale School of Medicine.

The R01 research grant’s prestige is matched by its arduous application process. Linnander credited a new internal peer review process implemented by Yale School of Public Health Associate Dean of Research Melinda Irwin with aiding in the group’s success in securing the grant in its initial funding application.

“Our initial application draft was significantly strengthened by the critical review of our peers, which helped us identify areas of the proposal that required more in-depth clarification,” Linnander said.

Curry agreed. “The reviews, especially taken together, offered very substantive critique and detailed constructive recommendations for refinement. We absorbed every single comment.”

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