Background: Regardless of which definition or methodology of maternal mortality is used, there is an irrefutable pattern in the data when it comes to who is at greater risk of dying (CDC). Black pregnant persons, as well as other people of color, are dying at alarmingly higher rates than other populations and there is now a large, national effort underway to better understand and counteract this crisis.
Proposed Solution to the Problem: The REPRO Project will center the growing momentum on maternal health equity to optimize PCOR/CER engagement in CHCs in two HRSA-funded Health Center Controlled Networks (HCCNs), AC and HCN, which together, serve over five million patients.
Objectives: The specific aims include:
- Identify and engage a cohort of 8 FQHCS for participation
- Conduct environmental scan, per FQHC, to identify:
- Research capacity and readiness, including current and future priorities and/or partnerships
- Existing Maternal health research questions based on current priorities/initiatives
- Connect each site with an external partner to plan evaluation of research question
- Develop a community of partners via sustainable infrastructure for ongoing collaboration and dissemination of relevant research findings
Activities: The project team will conduct outreach across the AllianceChicago and HCN networks of FQHCs and identify eight organizations (four in each network) that express interest in conducting PCOR/CER related to maternal health, develop a standardized rubric by which to assess each site’s research capacity and current maternal and/or reproductive health ongoing activities, and assess across both networks the research partnerships that can be generated. Both Alliance Chicago and HCN have strong ties to academic research institutions with a broad array of quantitative, qualitative, and content expertise. The project leadership team will begin outreach to these partners, with a plan of connecting researchers and FQHC partners, with a specified research question and a preliminary project plan, by the culmination of the first project year. They will also work with their FQHC partner sites to inform the development of a mechanism for ongoing communication and dissemination.
Projected Outcomes and Outputs: The ideal output of these partnerships, by the end of the second project year, is an analysis of the identified research question, with an accompanying plan for dissemination/sustainability beyond the REPRO partnership. Longer term, the hope is that the outcomes generated from this work will be disseminated widely, and that this effort will mark the beginning of a sustainable platform for communication and dissemination, serving as a springboard for ongoing collaboration, partnership building, and collective impact in the FQHC setting on behalf of reproductive and maternal health equity.
Patient and Stakeholder Engagement Plan: In addition to leveraging its and HCN’s relationships with FQHC clinicians, care teams, and leadership, as well as academic research partners, AllianceChicago will work with EverThrive Illinois’s stakeholder councils of Illinois families most at risk for adverse maternal outcomes; feedback gained from these councils will be weaved into REPRO’s programming; dyads will be provided with findings from these councils to inform their own workplans, ensuring research partnerships and questions that are responsive to the population served.
Project Collaborators: Both AllianceChicago and Health Choice Network have a robust CHC engagement infrastructure that has been in place for more than two decades, with ample access to CHC staff and patients. Moreover, as per above, AllianceChicago is in the second of three years of funding for the Chicago Collaborative for Maternal Health, with seven participating sites, demonstrating the ability to engage and recruit sites on this issue. Secondly, as part of the community engagement aim of this effort, partner organization EverThrive Illinois has developed an expert advisory group of individuals with lived experience, and will be integrated, along with CHC patients to bring their voices to this work.