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Claire Brown, PhD, MPH, Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health, assistant professor of medical science at the University of Arkansas (UAMS), has received a K01 grant from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities.
, LITTLE ROCK – Claire Brown, PhD, MPH, assistant professor of medical science at the University of Arkansas (UAMS) Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health, has received a K01 grant from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities. ,
Brown will use the prestigious award, which is worth $496,000 over four years, to conduct the study, “Algorithmic objectivity in prediction models to eliminate disparities in adverse infant outcomes: A case for race.”
“Receiving this award is a great honor for a researcher because you have to convince a panel of peer researchers that you are worthy of receiving the award,” she said.
“For the next four years, this grant will allow me to focus my research on disparities in adverse infant and maternal outcomes, specifically with respect to race. Because this is a training grant, a portion of my time will be spent on black, Training and learning about the cultures of Hispanic and Marshallese women and ways to reduce adverse infant outcomes will also be included.
Brown’s study will have two primary objectives.
The initial objective will focus on creating a predictive algorithm for low birth weight using the Arkansas All-Paers Claims Database, which holds insurance claims and birth certificates for infants in Arkansas.
“I will create algorithms to predict low birth weight and run tests to see if using racial and ethnic information helps with algorithmic objectivity,” she said.
Brown’s second objective is when — and how — insurance companies collect race and ethnicity data. That effort will involve interviewing women from three racial/ethnic subgroups in Arkansas.
“We will have focus groups of black, Hispanic and Marshallese women,” Brown said. “Information from the focus groups will help us determine when race and ethnicity data should be collected and what ancillary data should be used for.”
Brown said most insurance companies do not collect racial and ethnic information, making it difficult for the industry to recommend methods that can reduce racial and ethnic health disparities in infant and maternal outcomes.
“Insurance companies may be reluctant to collect race data for fear of being blamed for or charging higher premiums for minority race and ethnicity populations,” he added. “Meanwhile, minority populations may be fearful of providing racial and ethnic information to insurance companies as many populations may be fearful of racial targeting.”
In Arkansas, adverse infant and maternal outcomes are disproportionately high for black infants and their mothers. However, this race-related health consequence is not a new development. In fact, Brown’s interest in addressing the issue dates back to 2014 when she was pursuing her master’s in public health in college.
For this reason, not only is Brown excited about the K01 grant — but she’s also excited about the chance to focus on creating the most predictive and unbiased algorithms for predicting low birth weight. In the meantime, she will also create guidelines for insurance companies about the best and most respectful ways to collect race and ethnicity information.
“By identifying who is at risk, we can help reduce those consequences,” she said. “There are huge health disparities in the United States—and Arkansas in particular—in infant and maternal outcomes—and this is the only way I know to help. I am not a physician. However, by doing this research I hope to help physicians, health policy makers And help provide program officials with data that can help reduce adverse outcomes and disparities. This is a really great opportunity.”
UAMS is the state’s only health sciences university with colleges of medicine, nursing, pharmacy, health professions, and public health; a graduate school; a hospital; a main campus in Little Rock; a northwest Arkansas regional campus in Fayetteville; a statewide network of regional campuses; and seven institutes: Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, Jackson T. Stephens Spine and Neurosciences Institute, Harvey and Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Psychiatric Research Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, Translational Research Institute and Institute for Digital Health and Innovation. UAMS includes UAMS Health, a statewide health system that includes all of UAMS’ clinical enterprises. UAMS is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. UAMS has 3,240 students, 913 medical residents and fellows, and five dental residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 11,000 employees, including 1,200 physicians who care for patients at UAMS, its regional campuses, Arkansas Children’s, VA Medical Center and Baptist Health. Visit www.uams.edu or uamshealth.com. Find us on Facebook, Twitteryoutube or instagram.