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2022 AAMC Innovations That Bolster Community Trust in Science Award

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The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) announces four recipients of the 2022 Innovations to Bolster Community Trust and Engagement in Science Award. This is the ninth annual award developed in collaboration with the GREAT Group and GRAND leadership. The GREAT (Graduate Research, Education, and Training) Group is the AAMC’s professional development group for the faculty and administrative leaders of biomedical PhD, MD-PhD, and postdoctoral programs. The GRAND (Group on Research Advancement and Development) leadership is the AAMC’s professional development group for research deans, deans of clinical research, and other research leaders at academic medical centers.

The primary goal of this year’s awards program is to highlight Innovations that Bolster Community Trust and Engagement in Science. This includes pioneering approaches to bolstering community trust and engagement in scientific developments that promote human health. In an application cycle with an unprecedented number of applicants, four awarded projects were selected by a panel of leaders in biomedical research, education, and training from AAMC-member institutions as well as AAMC staff. Entries were judged on creativity, impact, and feasibility of replication of the innovation.

The AAMC will be hosting a webinar in late spring to discuss the winning awards. Details are forthcoming.

First Prize Winner

Community Engagement Model that Bolsters Trust and Trustworthiness
University of Florida, College of Public Health and Health Professions; College of Medicine
Linda B. Cottler, PhD, MPH, FACE

Second Prize Winner

Solano County Interdisciplinary Collaboration and Cultural Transformation Model (ICCTM) Innovations Project
University of California, Davis School of Medicine
Sergio Aguilar-Gaxiola, MD, PhD

Third Prize Winners, Tied

Empowering Healthcare Workers to Bolster Trust in Science and Vaccination During the Pandemic: Making IMPACT
University of Chicago, Pritzker School of Medicine
Vineet Arora MD, MAPP


A Pivot to Reduce COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy and Improve Health Equity
Dr. William M. Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine at Rosalind Franklin University
Martin Charles Yorath, DPM

The abstracts of the awardees are included below.

Awardee Abstracts

Community Engagement Model that Bolsters Trust and Trustworthiness
Linda B. Cottler, PhD, MPH, FACE; Catherine W. Striley, PhD, MSW, ACSW, MPE; Michael S. Gutter, PhD – University of Florida

Our initiative is built on the HealthStreet model – the community engagement program of the UF CTSA with four pillars to:1) assess medical problems and concerns from community members, 2) link people to medical/ social services and opportunities to participate in research, 3) engage in multi-directional communication with and for the community and 4) be a trustworthy partner to the community. Community Health Workers (CHW) meet people where they are and assess health needs and concerns, and level of trust in research and researchers, using a standardized assessment. People are then linked by CHWs to medical and social services and relevant UF IRB approved health research.

Since the pandemic, we have unified efforts with the Land Grant Extension Program. CHWs and Extension Agents, both trusted sources in the community, are working together to deliver culturally and linguistically diverse health messages in plain language about COVID-19 in areas of high vaccine hesitancy, bring vaccines to people where they are, and even distribute NARCAN for opioid overdose prevention. We monitor and track Our collective impact, and Community Advisory Board helps guide the initiative for racial and ethnic minority, rural, and socially vulnerable populations as we work to transform the science of community engagement.

Solano County Interdisciplinary Collaboration and Cultural Transformation Model (ICCTM) Innovations Project
Sergio Aguilar-Gaxiola, MD, PhD; Hendry Ton, MD, MS – UC Davis Health

This 5 ½-year ICCTM Innovations Project was to expand the participation of three historically un/underserved Filipino American, Latino, and LGBTQ+ populations with mental illness lived experiences, and establish an interdisciplinary team approach that incorporated their voices and experiences as community-defined strategies/solutions to advancing health equity. This collaborative—UC Davis Center for Reducing Health Disparities, Solano County, and three community-based organizations—jointly developed the project as a Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) training framework combined with community-driven stakeholder recommendations to increase a county’s capacity to address unmet service needs of these three populations. Overarching goals consisted of designing, conducting focus groups and community forums, providing CLAS curriculum/training, engaging community-based organizations (CBOs), and implementing and evaluating community-driven quality improvement action plans. A Quadruple Aim approach generated four key outcomes: (1) improved patients’ experiences; (2) reduced costs; (3) advanced population well-being; and (4) improved providers’ experiences. The impact from these outcomes showed a positive trend in patients, from the three populations of focus, accessing and utilizing outpatient/inpatient county and CBOs services and reinforcing early prevention and intervention behaviors which translated into reducing costs with less crisis services. The model is being scaled up to 39 CA counties.

Empowering Healthcare Workers to Bolster Trust in Science and Vaccination During the Pandemic: Making IMPACT
Vineet Arora MD, MAPP; Shikha Jain, MD, FACP – University of Chicago; University of Illinois at Chicago

The Illinois Medical Professionals Action Collaborative Team (IMPACT) was founded in March of 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic with representatives from major academic teaching hospitals in Chicago (University of Chicago, University of Illinois, Rush, Northwestern) and community-based organizations.  Through crowdsourcing on social media, IMPACT engages grassroots networks of thousands of Illinois healthcare workers and the public to identify gaps, needs, and viewpoints to improve local healthcare delivery during the pandemic.  Our goals include correcting misinformation, amplifying trusted sources of information, and ultimately improving equity of vaccination across our communities.  To address vaccine misinformation, IMPACT created “debunking” infographics disputing top vaccine myths informed by crowdsourcing that have generated >100K impressions and informed the development of vaccine education Chicago Public Libraries.  IMPACT has delivered 13 policy letters with >2000 Health Care Workers (HCWs) signatures collected through social media, to policymakers, published >50 op-eds including in high impact news outlets, and has contributed to over 200 local and national news features.

IMPACT has also mobilized volunteers through social media to staff over 360 vaccine events that reached 69,035 adults and 3,413 children.  Our group’s collective recommendations have influenced public health awareness campaigns and initiatives, research, advocacy, and policy recommendations.

A Pivot to Reduce COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy and Improve Health Equity
Martin Charles Yorath, DPM; Guadalupe Rodriguez, APN – Rosalind Franklin University Health Clinics at Rosalind Franklin University

RFU’s Community Care Connection (CCC) is a free, mobile health program that serves medically underserved communities (particularly communities of color and people with limited mobility) in Lake County, Illinois. In 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the CCC shifted its operations to address the most pressing needs in the county: (1) to reduce COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy and (2) to increase access to vaccinations. Building upon its trusted reputation, the CCC set out to dispel misconceptions about the vaccines by setting-up pop-up clinics at partner locations and delivering presentations about the benefits of the vaccines while making it easy for patients to register for and receive vaccinations. These services were particularly needed within the county’s African American and Latinx communities where COVID-19 cases were significantly higher than the general population. Recent studies have shown that these populations suffer the worst health-related measures in the county, making them more susceptible to the gravest scenarios from COVID-19 infection. The overall program goal was to increase health literacy about COVID-19 and provide vaccinations to the underserved and hard-to-reach populations in Lake County. From February 2021 through August 15, 2021, 2,639 COVID-19 vaccinations were administered among these hard-to-reach populations.

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