September 29, 2022

Faculty Members Michael McKee and Michelle Meade to co-lead newly funded initiative to advance health outcomes for people with disabilities from marginalized communities

Funding from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) will support Family Medicine researchers, who will contribute significant efforts to the initiative.

Professor Michelle Meade, Ph.D. and Associate Professor Michael McKee, MD, MPH, members of Family Medicine, will co-lead a newly funded research center dedicated to enhancing the health and functioning of individuals with disabilities, particularly those from marginalized and underserved communities. The new Rehabilitation Research Training Center (RRTC) on Equity in Health and Functioning will serve as a hub for research, education, and consultative services related to disability.

Associate Professor Michael McKee, MD, MPH

The announcement represents a major collaboration between technical experts, clinicians and researchers from the University of Michigan, the University of Central Florida and Augusta University.  Meade and McKee, who are also faculty members of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and co-directors of the Center for Disability Health and Wellness at the University of Michigan, will serve as principal investigators of the new center. Reshawna Chapple, Ph.D., MSW, LCSW, associate professor at the School of Social Work at the University of Central Florida will serve as the co-principal investigator alongside McKee and Meade. Additional collaborating organizations include the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation (CHRT) at U-M and the Michigan Disability Rights Coalition (MDRC) in East Lansing, Mich.

Rehabilitation Research and Training Centers (RRTC) are funded by National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) to conduct programs of research, training and information dissemination in topical areas of strategic importance to the public.  Thanks to a five-year, $5 million dollar grant from NIDILRR, the center will serve as a home for researchers, advocates, and decision makers focused on reducing inequities in health outcomes for people from marginalized communities with physical, cognitive, sensory, and developmental disabilities.

Dr. Michelle Meade
Michelle Meade, Ph.D.

“This critical grant will help our researchers and collaborators raise awareness around the health disparities encountered by people with disabilities from marginalized communities who have historically been overlooked and underserved by the current health care system. We’re looking to bring about meaningful change in clinical, research, and community settings.” Meade said.

Planned activities include:

  • The creation of a dashboard allowing researchers to conduct annual analyses and reviews of publicly accessible national surveys to examine and visualize rates of healthcare disparities among individuals with disabilities in the United States. (Led by Meade with Co-Director Elham Mahmoudi, Ph.D. of Family Medicine. Collaborators including co-investigators Diane Harper and Lisa Meeks, Ph.D., both from Family Medicine, as well as Joshua Ehrlich, MD, MPH, Susan Ernst, MD, Mark Peterson, Ph.D., Margaret Takako Hicken, Ph.D., and Katharine Seagly, Ph.D.)
  • Examination of the relationship of social determinants of health and health utilization among Medicare and Medicaid enrolled people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. (Participating U-M members including Peterson, Takako Hicken and Seagly)
  • A study of HIV prevention and risk behaviors among individuals with disabilities, including accessibility of community-based HIV testing programs. (Led by Tyler James, Ph.D., MCHES, post-doctoral research fellow in the Department of Family Medicine)
  • An integrative team-based program in primary care designed to address virtual health care access and medication safety and quality for patients with intellectual and developmental disabilities. (Led by McKee and Steven Erickson, PharmD, with co-investigator Lorraine Buis, Ph.D., associate professor of Family Medicine)
  • The development of an equity tool and implementation process targeted at healthcare systems that will operationalize, report and encourage those systems to enhance health outcomes for individuals with disabilities (Led by Meade, with collaborator Patricia Anderson)

“Investing in this research will advance efforts to enhance the lives of all adults living with disabilities, especially those from communities facing heightened rates of poor health and wellness outcomes,” said McKee. “Thanks to our continued partnership with the CDHW, we have built an incredible team of disability health researchers, clinicians, technical experts and community liaisons to ensure that our findings are grounded in the realities faced every day by patients with disabilities, while helping us move forward to achieving true equity for these individuals.”

Project title:

The Rehabilitation Research And Training Center (RRTC) On Equity In Health And Functioning For Adults With Physical, Cognitive, Sensory And Developmental Disabilities From Marginalized Communities