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Health Services and Health Policy

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Chronic Low Back Pain and Opioid Use Disorder
  • Tammy Anderson, Primary Investigator
  • Gregory Hicks, Co-Investigator
  • Joshua Stout, CDHS Graduate Research Assistant
  • Logan Neitzke-Spruill, CDHS Graduate Research Assistant

Our project is funded by the National Institute of Drug Abuse and features a collaboration with UD's Department of Physical Therapy. The study's specific aims include:

1) investigating whether comorbid CLBP and opioid addiction is associated with increased pain sensitivity (via measures of central and peripheral pain processing) and increased psychological risk profiles (via measures of fear avoidance behaviors and pain catastrophizing) compared to individuals with CLBP alone and to pain-free individuals without a history of opioid misuse. 

2) investigating whether comorbid CLBP and opioid addiction is associated with PTSD/Depression (DSM5 –PCL 5 tool and PROMIS short form), history of substance abuse (in participant and family- qualitative interviews), and availability of opioids (from family, peers and healthcare professionals- qualitative interviews) 

3) examining which biopsychosocial risk factors are associated with LBP-related disability (Oswestry Questionnaire), opioid misuse (Current Opioid Misuse Measure) and health-related quality of life (PROMIS-29).

Promoting Integration of Primary and Behavioral Health Care
  • Laura Rapp, Principal Investigator
  • Dan O'Connell, Co-Investigator
  • Ronet Bachman, Qualitative Lead
  • Ron Beard, Qualitative Coordinator
  • Eileen Sparling, Researcher
  • David Borton, Research Associate
  • Jessie Arnold, Research Associate
  • Solange Ealy, Research Associate

Promoting Integration of Primary and Behavioral Health Care (PIPBHC) is a 5-year federal SAMHSA grant awarded to states for the purpose of improving the integration of behavioral health with primary care. The project aims to promote full integration between primary and behavioral healthcare and to improve the overall wellness and physical health status of adults with Serious Mental Illness (SMI) or children with Serious Emotional Disturbance (SED). It also offers integrated care services related to screening, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of mental and substance use disorders, and co-occurring physical health conditions and chronic diseases. There are three Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) that serve as hubs to support improved care coordination for individuals at high risk for poor health outcomes. 

The Delaware Child Psychiatry Access Program (DCPAP)
  • Sharon Merriman-Nai, Principal Investigator
  • James Highberger, Research Associate
  • David Borton, Research Associate

The Delaware Child Psychiatric Access Program, conducted by the Delaware Department of Services for Children, Youth and their Families, is developing a network of pediatric primary care providers who enlist with the state, or it’s contracted service providers, to receive telehealth consultation and educational services as needed, to provide better and more prompt psychiatric treatment for their patients.  This may reduce the number of children who need to be referred to a child psychiatrist, which often is delayed by six (6) to eight (8) months due to the shortage of child psychiatric practitioners in the state. In particular, the project is expected to substantially expand pediatric psychiatric services in the rural areas of Kent and Sussex Counties, both of which are underserved and designated health provider shortage areas. The Center for Drug and Health Studies is providing project evaluation, which includes a needs assessment.

Rape Prevention and Education - Building Evaluation Capacity
  • Sharon Merriman-Nai, Principal Investigator
  • Brandie Pugh, Graduate Research Assistant
  • Rachael Schilling, Graduate Research Assistant

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides funding to conduct rape prevention and education activities statewide. CDHS is working with the Division of Public Health to increase the State's capacity to evaluate these efforts, collaborate with key stakeholders, and to promote sustainability of prevention efforts.

Project SAFETY
  • Sharon Merriman-Nai, Principal Investigator
  • Daniel Howard, Penn State, Harrisburg, Faculty Associate
  • James Highberger, Data Analyst
  • Initiated: 2008; Funding Source: Delaware Department of Services for Children, Youth, and Their Families

The Delaware Suicide Prevention Coalition’s (DSPC) Project SAFETY is a comprehensive, statewide suicide prevention initiative targeting youth ages 10-24. By creating new programming and leveraging existing sources, the DSPC aims to reduce negative behaviors and enhance resiliency in youth most at-risk for suicide. Project SAFETY takes a public health and community-based approach to suicide prevention by identifying the broader patterns of suicidal behavior through groups and populations. Following the Guiding Principles of the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention, DSPC is designed to be a catalyst for social change, with the power to transform attitudes, policies and services.

Suicide Prevention in Delaware 2015.pdf

Delaware School Health Profiles
  • ​Sharon Merriman-Nai, Principal Investigator
  • Roberta Gealt, Senior Consultant
  • Sofia Gonzalez, Project Manager
  • James Highberger, Data Manager
  • David Borton, Data Analyst
  • Initiated: 2004; Funding Source: Secondary School Survey--Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Adolescent and School Health through the Delaware Department of Education; Elementary School Survey— Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Adolescent and School Health through the Delaware Department of Education and Nemours Health Prevention Services.
  • 2014 School Health Profile Report.pdf and2014 DE School Health Profiles Trend Report.pdf 

The School Health Profiles (Profiles) is a system of surveys assessing school health policies and practices in states, large urban school districts, territories, and tribal governments. Profiles are completed biennially by middle and high school principals and lead health education teachers. The secondary school survey has been administered every other year in even-numbered years. The Center develops the Delaware version of the survey, based on a CDC survey, with input from state and community agencies. The study reports data which relates to other Center studies on substance abuse, and provides statewide data on health instruction, policies and practice in schools, as well as professional development for health instructors in specific areas relating to CDC priorities also addressed in the student survey, the Youth Risk Behavior Survey. The secondary school survey has been conducted since 2004 and the elementary survey, which is administered to principals only, was administered for the first time in 2010. These surveys are now conducted electronically. The basic CDC elementary school survey has been enhanced with additional questions consistent with the goals of Nemours.


  • Ann Bell, Principal Investigator 
  • Steven S. Martin, Co-Investigator
  • Daniel J. O’Connell, Senior Data Analyst 
  • Sofia Gonzalez, Field Coordinator
  • David Borton, Data Analyst
  • Judith Buchanan, Interviewer
  • Katherine Kafonek, Graduate Research Assistant
  • Initiated: 2016; Funding Source: University of Maryland (subcontract) through private funders

Delaware Contraceptive Access Now (Del-CAN), a public/private partnership between Upstream USA and the Delaware Division of Public Health, aims to reduce the state’s unintended pregnancy rate by increasing access to the full range of contraceptive methods, including the most effective IUDs and implants, for all women in Delaware. Upstream USA is providing training, technical assistance, and quality improvement support to large private health care providers and all publicly-funded health care providers in the state.

Researchers at the University of Maryland, College Park (UMD) have partnered with colleagues at the University of Delaware, Newark (UD), and with key Delaware stakeholders, on a systematic, mixed-methods evaluation of Del-CAN which aims to (1) reduce unintended pregnancies, (2) reduce Medicaid costs for unintended pregnancies, and (3) support policy development that enables contraceptive access to all women who desire it. The evaluation, led by Dr. Michael Rendall, Professor and Director of the Maryland Population Research Center, is designed to understand the Del-CAN’s effectiveness and cost-effectiveness, and to derive lessons about mechanisms leading to initial and sustained impacts in Delaware, and to impacts that are generalizable to other states.  As part of this 5-year evaluation, professor Ann Bell is leading a team to conduct qualitative interviews of women, their partners, and providers. CHDS is conducting a survey of Title X clinic family planning users, secondary analysis of data from teenagers completing the Delaware Youth Risk Behavioral Surveillance Survey, and a survey of primary care providers.

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Health Services and Health Policy
  • Center for Drug & Health Studies
  • 257 E. Main Street Suite 110
  • University of Delaware
  • Newark, DE 19716, USA
  • Phone: 302-831-6107