Project Summary

Background: Medical and clinical research is an important aspect of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) programs. Yet, data show a disparity in veteran patient research engagement between Institutional Development Award (IDeA) states and territories and non-IDeA states and territories. IDeA is a congressionally mandated program that builds research capacity in states that historically have had low levels of National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding. VA medical centers (VAMCs) in IDeA states and territories receive substantially less of the annual VA research funding than VAMCs in non-IDeA states and territories. Together, these facts suggest that if provided ample and proper research resources, VAMC research programs in IDeA states and territories may grow their research capacity and expand the opportunities for veteran patients, caregivers, and clinicians in IDeA states and territories to engage in research as equitable research partners.

Proposed Solution to the Problem: To address the disparity in veteran patient research engagement, the long-term vision of the project team is to formally join an array of NIH IDeA program research resources (grantsmanship, mentorship, peer support, bioinformatics, and biostatistics) to IDeA state VAMCs. This joining will build research infrastructure to grow and sustain research capacity/capabilities that expand patients’ and stakeholders’ abilities as engaged partners in research. As a first step, activities proposed for this 12-month engagement award will intentionally connect Delaware’s IDeA Network research resources to Delaware’s Wilmington VAMC.

Specific Aim 1: Convene 65 Delaware stakeholders associated with the Delaware IDeA Network, the University of Delaware, and the Wilmington VAMC and identify barriers/opportunities to connect Delaware IDeA Network research resources to the Wilmington VAMC in support of conducting veteran patient-centered outcomes research (PCOR).
Specific Aim 2: Create a comprehensive roadmap of pathways that connect Delaware’s IDeA Network research resources with Wilmington VAMC research investigators to increase opportunities for Delaware veteran patients and family members to engage in patient-centered outcomes research.

Methods for Specific Aim 1:

  • Convene to collect opinions, experiences, and ideas from 20 clinician stakeholders about the resources necessary to conduct patient-centered outcomes research (PCOR) with veteran patients
  • Convene to collect opinions, experiences, and ideas from 15 researchers across the IDeA Network about the resources currently being used to successfully conduct PCOR outside of the VA
  • Convene 20 experts (e.g., PCORI, VAMC, DE-INBRE, DE-ACCEL) experienced in PCOR to inform the design of a meaningful and practical roadmap that aligns with and does not duplicate existing tools available

Methods for Specific Aim 2:

  • Create a roadmap that details specific pathways and strategies identified during Aim 1 activities
  • Convene stakeholders, including 10 veteran patients in up to six feedback loop sessions focused on the proposed roadmap and gather feedback on how its pathways might resolve/address barriers and support access to IDeA Network resources that support the conduct of PCOR

Projected Outcomes and Outputs: The project will produce the DRIVE Roadmap that details pathways and strategies for connecting IDeA Network research resources to VAMCs. The benefit is that contributing stakeholder participants will view the Roadmap as the primary tool to guide the setup of a sustainable research program that ultimately leads to veteran patient, family member, peer clinician, and community member engagement in patient-centered outcomes research.

Patient and Stakeholder Engagement Plan: The partnership between the University of Delaware, two Delaware IDeA Network programs, and the Wilmington Veterans Affairs Medical Center ensures the meaningful and active engagement of professionals and patients subject to the proposed project outcomes. The project’s stakeholder leadership team, composed of members from each partner organization, will meet regularly to oversee the project’s activities. The project director and three clinician stakeholders will manage stakeholder convening sessions. Stakeholders will meet in two stages, at first to discuss the design of, and second, to give feedback on the DRIVE Roadmap.

Project Collaborators: The University of Delaware, the Wilmington Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and two National Institutes of Health-funded IDeA programs: Delaware IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (DE-INBRE), and Delaware Accelerating Clinical and Translational Research (DE-ACCEL).

Project Information

Suzanne A. Milbourne, PhD
University of Delaware

Key Dates

15 months


Project Status
State State The state where the project originates, or where the primary institution or organization is located. View Glossary
Last updated: February 2, 2023