Supported Projects

The following provides a snapshot of projects funded through CDHW.

Collaborative Projects

Strengthen Opioid Prevention Project (STOPP): Developing a Social Media Intervention to Prevent Use

Cynthia Ayres, PhD, RN, FNAPPrincipal InvestigatorAssociate ProfessorRutgers School of Nursing, Camden
Mary Wunnenberg, EdD, RN, CNECo-InvestigatorClinical Assistant ProfessorRutgers School of Nursing, Camden
Amy Beth Jordan, PhDCo-InvestigatorProfessor, Journalism and Media StudiesCommunications and Information, Rutgers University, New Brunswick
Corina Lelutiu-Weinberger, PhDCo-InvestigatorEndowed Chair of the François-Xavier Bagnoud Center, Assistant ProfessorRutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences--School of Nursing
Peter T. Rosario, CFRECommunity PartnerPresident and CEO, Ocean County YMCA and Co-Director, Toms River Family Health and Support CoalitionOcean County YMCA
Pamela CapaciCommunity PartnerCEOHope Sheds Light, Inc

The skyrocketing use of opiates has become the number one health care crisis confronting New Jersey with a drastic surge in heroin and opiate abuse. Ocean County is the epicenter of a growing opioid epidemic gripping our state. New and innovative ways to prevent substance use in this community must be explored, as current initiatives are ineffective as evidenced by the worsening trajectory. The proposed study provides an innovative and novel approach in opioid prevention among adolescents. First, it will identify the content, format and delivery of a social media intervention. Second, it will help develop a social media intervention to be tested in a subsequent feasibility study. Lastly, it will develop study measures that will be used to evaluate impact of the social media intervention.

Developing an interactive county mapping tool to advance age-friendly policies, programs, and planning in New Jersey

Led by: Emily Greenfield

This project aims to produce a dynamic, web-based mapping tool for Bergen and Somerset Counties to identify the spatial locations of high concentrations of older residents with unique characteristics, such as a municipality in which there is a large percentage of older residents who speak English as a second language or who are caring for grandchildren. The mapping tool also will display the spatial locations of organizations and other community assets that are important for residents who are aging in place (e.g., libraries, social service organizations, mass transit stops, emergency shelters). The project is strategically engaging county government leaders in designing the map to optimize the tool’s utility for policymakers and professional staff, as well as to deepen university-community partnerships around population aging at the county level. The team will use a case study design to examine how the map is developed, ways in which the stakeholder groups collaborate, and how the mapping project enhances age-friendly actions within county government systems and beyond.

Project Dream, Own, Tell: Feasibility of Engaging Significant Adults in Teen Sexual/Dating Violence

Led by: Victoria Banyard

Sexual and dating violence (SDV) disproportionately affects youth and are an early and pernicious risk factor for negative physical and mental health across the lifespan, and health disparities across communities. Yet few prevention initiatives lead to reductions in exposure and are grounded in the experiences of marginalized youth who acutely bear this health burden. A diverse group of youth engaged by the NYC Alliance Against Sexual Assault through Project Dream, Own, and Tell (DOT) have identified the lack of effective SDV prevention efforts in their community and have clearly identified the need to engage significant adults in prevention work. A collaboration between researchers, practitioners, and community members will conduct a feasibility process evaluation of current youth work with significant adults in the DOT program.

Towards Designing for Engagement in Indoor Air Quality in Low-Income Households

Led by: Sunyoung Kim

Indoor air pollution (IAP) is one of the most important risk factors. Low-income families are at particular risk of IAP since they often lack access to information about health problems associated with IAP and the means to address them. This project will investigate if persuasive technology tailored to unique needs of low-income families will motivate them to easily engage in monitoring and assessing IAP, which will lead to better indoor air quality. The research aims to create a persuasive technology to empower low-income families to better engage in indoor air quality; in turn, enhancing general knowledge of human perceptions and behaviors related to health threats due to IAP. Ultimately, it may lead to effective solutions to improve quality of life in impacted communities.

Towards Fairness in Mental Health Prediction Apps

Led by: Kaitlin Costello

This project seeks to identify and address disparities in automated mobile mental health prediction. Mobile and ubiquitous data can be used to infer the general state of an individual’s mental health, and these algorithmic predictions often have high accuracy. Although these efforts hold great promise for developing and delivering health interventions, they may also be inequitable, reproducing or magnifying existing disparities in healthcare.

This project aims to: (1) Contextualize and characterize the problem of algorithmic fairness in mental health prediction via an audit of existing mental health-related algorithms; (2) Develop a framework for defining and understanding fairness by conducting focus groups and interviews with key stakeholders; (3) Propose a method for improving the fairness of mental health algorithms based on these findings.

Increasing Breast Cancer Screening in Women with Severe Mental Illness

Sheila Linz, PhD, PMHNP-NP, RNPrimary InvestigatorAssistant ProfessorRutgers University, Camden, School of Nursing
Bonnie Jerome-D'Emilia, PhD, MPH, RNCo-InvestigatorAssociate ProfessorRutgers University, Camden, School of Nursing
Adam Okulitz-KozarynCo-InvestigatorAssociate ProfessorCamden College of Arts and Sciences
Sharon SimonCommunity PartnerRothenberg Center for Family Life CoordinatorJewish Family Services

Individuals with severe mental illness (SMI) have more difficulty accessing health care and die some 10 to 30 years earlier than the general US population. Additionally, women with SMI have an increased breast cancer risk, with greater mortality rates. Although, breast cancer screening is an acknowledged strategy for early breast cancer detection, women with SMI are 32% to 50% less likely to have regular mammography screenings. We will address this healthcare disparity through a participatory action research and budgeting project with our community partners, the South Jersey Breast Health Initiative and Jewish Family Services of Atlantic and Cape May Counties, whose Women’s Health Network Program is the only community based program in New Jersey that has successfully focused on breast cancer outreach, education, and screening for women with SMI.

Investigating Facilitators and Barriers to Health Information: Collaborating with New Brunswick organizations to Describe Health Information Needs of New Jersey Residents

Charles Senteio, PhD, LCSW, MBAPrincipal InvestigatorAssistant ProfessorRutgers University School of Communication and Information
Camilla Comer-CarruthersCommunity PartnerManager, Community Education at Robert Wood Johnson University HospitalAffiliation; Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital
Kavita PandeyCommunity PartnerLibrarian, New Brunswick Free Public LibraryNew Brunswick Free Public Library
Teresa VivarCommunity PartnerFounding Executive DirectorLazos America Unida

Low-socioeconomic status and ethnic minority populations, who are overrepresented in New Brunswick and Camden, experience barriers to health information which contribute to health disparities. Known barriers include limited health literacy, low English proficiency, and sociocultural factors. Nevertheless, health informatics and disparities literature does not elucidate barriers that institutions may present to access to health information. Therefore, we aim to describe these barriers by convening community organizations (i.e., Lazos America Unidas), healthcare (i.e., RWJU hospital) and information institutions (i.e., New Brunswick Free Public Library ) in three steps: 1) recruit subjects (New Brunswick) who represent community lived experience, beliefs, and attitudes, 2) craft solutions with these institutions to enhance health information access, and 3) transfer learnings to New Jersey communities beyond New Brunswick, specifically Camden.

Media for Patient and Health Education

Gloria Bachmann, MDPrincipal InvestigatorProfessor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Medicine, Associate Dean for Women's Health;Director, Women's Health Institute Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
Allison Cabinian, MDResearch CoordinatorResearch CoordinatorRutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
Lee AnnSchein, PhD, ACUEStudy Coordinator (medical students)Medical Educator; Program Director, Medical Physics Certificate Program; Assistant Professor, Department of PharmacologyRutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
Ann Dey, PhDStudy Coordinator (community health workers)Senior Research Program Manager, HIV Prevention Community Planning Support and Development Initiative (HIV Prevention CPSDI)Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy
Margaret Gabanyi, PhD, PMPProject ManagerProfessional CasualRutgers, The State University of New Jersey and RWJMS Women's Health Institute

In collaboration with filmmakers, doctors, and scientists who followed the case histories of patients seeking treatment for HIV/AIDS, a three-part documentary film called Target Zero ( was produced that models how patients should access care they need to maintain wellness. The film shows the journeys of several HIV patients and uses molecular animations to demonstrate how current treatments target proteins in the HIV virus, thereby preventing infection. The original goal of this film was to create media for medical education, but our team noted that the films appeared useful for educating a broader audience. Focus groups of patients or providers will be shown the film to collect feedback, and their responses will determine the requirements needed to refine the film for broader audiences.

Screening for Social Determinents of Health (SDOH) in the Medical Intensive Care Unit

Led by: Sabiha Hussain

When managing patients who are critically ill and complex, addressing social determinants of health (SDOH) can be challenging. A health providers lack of awareness of a patient’s unmet SDOH may impact the clinical and medical decisions they provide on a daily basis and long term outcomes. Thus, it is necessary to educate and offer health care providers with resources and an efficient system that incorporates social determinants of health into routine ICU medical care. Currently, such a system does not exist in despite the need to meet patients’s SDOH needs. There is also a gap between patients’ needs and available resources in the community. This can be improved by creating and operationalizing a system that is efficient and practical, and that is incorporated into the critical care setting, and included as part of patient’s medical record to be available to care providers. This will also allow patients to be followed up even after they leave the hospital to provide continuity of care and ensure continued efforts to address their unmet social determinants of health.Through this project, we propose that screening for social determinants of health in the MICU will close the existing gap between unmet social needs and community resources, decrease readmissions following an ICU admission, and improve patient quality of life. This will also develop healthy and effective communication among healthcare providers and social workers and community stakeholders and train health care providers to be competent in SDOH.

Faculty Fellows and Graduate Student Awards

Unpacking “Agrihoods”

Lewis Bivona

There is very little research on “agrihoods,” which is a new trend in housing and community development. This project begins with a basic question: what are these real estate developments called “agrihoods”? More specifically, what are their physical design and cultural qualities, their demographic profile, and their geographic distribution? To collect this information, I will conduct an online survey of agrihood projects in the United States. The resulting responses to these questions will refine the underdeveloped concept of agrihoods, and to differentiate between: 1) agrihoods and similar types of community development projects (e.g. intentional communities, ecovillages) and; 2) different types of agrihoods. Clarifying the concept of “agrihoods” is a contribution to community development research and an important prerequisite to completing the next steps of my dissertation, including appropriate case selection.


Better Communicating the Transplant Journey

Sarah Fadem

Patients who may benefit from a bone marrow transplant (BMT) are faced with a significant amount of complex information as they and their caregivers navigate this potentially life-altering procedure and work to make sense of its potential consequences. For instance, the morbidity and mortality rates associated with the procedure often lead to high uncertainty. Patients and caregivers may have difficulty accurately predicting and conceptualizing potential future outcomes and how they might respond to them. Given these challenges, understanding patient and caregiver information needs as they go through their transplant journey is critical for clinicians to provide the support required for both an informed decision and a successful recovery.



Family Coaching Interventions for Patients with Type 2 Diabetes

Kristin August, PhDPrincipal InvestigatorAssociate Professor, Psychology/Health SciencesRutgers University, Camden
Kathleen Jackson, MDNP, MA, APRN, BC-ADMCo-InvestigatorAssistant Clinical Professor, NursingRutgers University, Camden
Marsha Rosenthal, PhDConsultantVisiting Faculty, Institute for Health, Heath Care Policy, and Ageing ResearchRutgers, New Brunswick
Francine Grabowski, MS, CDEConsultantLead Diabetes EducatorCamden Citywide Diabetes Collaborative

This project aims to determine the feasibility of incorporating a family coaching intervention for patients with type 2 diabetes into primary care. We will partner with primary care providers and office staff to conduct focus groups to assess their attitudes about our intervention and challenges to implementation. This particular project is the third phase in a multi-phase project that aims to use a collaborative and multidisciplinary approach to designing, implementing, and testing a family coaching intervention informed by the scientific literature and community. Specifically, we plan to leverage existing family member involvement in appropriate ways to support patients’ goals and self-efficacy, reduce relationship tensions, and result in positive well-being for patients and their family member.